Select Page
Census of Agriculture Countdown Begins

Census of Agriculture Countdown Begins



WASHINGTON – America’s farmers and ranchers will soon have the opportunity to strongly represent agriculture in their communities and industry by taking part in the 2017 Census of Agriculture. Conducted every five years by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), the census, to be mailed at the end of this year, is a complete count of all U.S. farms, ranches, and those who operate them.


“The Census of Agriculture remains the only source of uniform, comprehensive, and impartial agriculture data for every county in the nation,” said NASS Administrator Hubert Hamer. “As such, census results are relied upon heavily by those who serve farmers and rural communities, including federal, state and local governments, agribusinesses, trade associations, extension educators, researchers, and farmers and ranchers themselves.”


The Census of Agriculture highlights land use and ownership, operator characteristics, production practices, income and expenditures, and other topics. The 2012 Census of Agriculture revealed that over three million farmers operated more than two million farms, spanning over 914 million acres. This was a four percent decrease in the number of U.S. farms from the previous census in 2007. However, agriculture sales, income, and expenses increased between 2007 and 2012. This telling information and thousands of other agriculture statistics are a direct result of responses to the Census of Agriculture.


“Today, when data are so important, there is strength in numbers,” said Hamer. “For farmers and ranchers, participation in the 2017 Census of Agriculture is their voice, their future, and their opportunity to shape American agriculture – its policies, services and assistance programs – for years to come.”


Producers who are new to farming or did not receive a Census of Agriculture in 2012 still have time to sign up to receive the 2017 Census of Agriculture report form by visiting and clicking on the ‘Make Sure You Are Counted’ button through June. NASS defines a farm as any place from which $1,000 or more of agricultural products were produced and sold, or normally would have been sold, during the census year (2017).


For more information about the 2017 Census of Agriculture and to see how census data are used, visit or call (800) 727-9540.




USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer, and lender. To file a complaint of discrimination, write to USDA, Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue, S.W., Stop 9410, Washington, DC 20250-9410, or call toll-free at (866) 632-9992 (English) or (800) 877- 8339 (TDD)or (866) 377-8642 (English Federal-relay) or (800) 845-6136 (Spanish Federal-relay).


USDA Expands Meat and Poultry Hotline Hours

USDA Office of Communications
(202) 720-4623

USDA Expands Meat and Poultry Hotline Hours to Further Provide Food Safety Information to Consumers

WASHINGTON, April 3, 2017 — The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) today announced that it is increasing the delivery of safe food handling and preparation information by expanding the hours of its Meat and Poultry Hotline and Ask Karen chat services.  As detailed in the Agency’s 2017-2021 Strategic Plan, FSIS is focusing on the reduction of foodborne illness, and one way to contribute to that reduction is to increase public awareness of safe food handling information.

FSIS’ Meat and Poultry Hotline has been educating consumers since 1985. The toll-free telephone service assists in the prevention of foodborne illnesses by answering consumers’ questions about the safe storage, handling and preparation of meat, poultry and egg products. Beginning today, the hotline will be open for two additional hours, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET.

“Our hotline provides a valuable service in educating consumers about how to safely prepare food,” said FSIS Administrator Al Almanza. “By keeping the hotline open an additional two hours, we are expanding our reach to allow more consumers, including those on the West Coast, to have their food safety questions answered.”

The hotline is accompanied by Ask Karen, a 24-hour online service that provides answers to thousands of frequently asked questions and also allows consumers to email or live-chat with a food safety specialist during operating hours.

For 32 years the Meat and Poultry Hotline has answered questions about food manufacturer recalls, food poisoning, food safety during power outages, and the inspection of meat, poultry and egg products. From novice cooks roasting their first turkey to experienced food handlers asking about foodborne bacteria, the Meat and Poultry Hotline has answered more than 3 million calls since its inception.

“Our hotline staff are experts in their field and have backgrounds in nutrition, food technology and public health,” said Almanza. “Experts are available to talk with people in English and Spanish, so we are able to help address the food safety needs of diverse communities.”

Consumers can contact the Meat and Poultry Hotline to speak to a live food expert at 1-888-674-6854, or visit Ask Karen to chat or email (in English or Spanish), Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Eastern Time/7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Pacific Time.

Second Annual Conference on Native American Nutrition announced

Second Annual Conference on Native American Nutrition announced

Save the date

Second Annual Conference on Native American Nutrition
September 18-20, 2017
Mystic Lake Casino Hotel

The annual conference brings together tribal officials, researchers, practitioners, and others to discuss the current state of Indigenous and academic scientific knowledge about Native nutrition and food science, and identifies new areas of work.

An informal evening reception will be held on September 17 for those attending the conference.

Registration will open in March 2017. Sign up for the newsletter or go to the website to receive updates about the conference.

Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative Announced as New VISTA Hub

Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative Announced as New VISTA Hub

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Representatives from the Corporation for National and Community Service met with staff of the Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative at the University of Arkansas School of Law on Jan. 30-31 to discuss the implementation of a new national volunteer partnership program with VISTA, the Volunteers in Service to America.

Initiative director Janie Simms Hipp and members of her staff met with Opal Sims and Derek Cromwell, from the service’s Arkansas office, and Michael Laverty, the area manager of the service’s southwest cluster office of field liaison. They discussed how the organizations will work together to recruit, train and deploy a cadre of “Native Food Sovereignty Fellows” to selected locations across Indian Country.

The 21 initial fellows will be AmeriCorps VISTA volunteers working in low-resource Native American communities to establish and stabilize food sovereignty efforts, food systems, and tribal economies to build economic opportunities in food and agriculture.

Cromwell hopes that this partnership will improve the lives of Native American people.

“That’s what we are here for,” Cromwell said. “If we can change the life of one person, that’s a success. That’s important.”

The Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community in Minnesota announced earlier in the month that it will provide a $200,000 gift to the partnership to fund the cost-share for VISTA members’ living allowance in the first year of the program. The gift is part of the community’s Seeds of Native Health campaign to improve Native American nutrition and food access. This will be the first time a tribe has provided funding to deploy VISTA members nationally.

“There is a nutritional health crisis in Indian Country, and its leading cause is the lack of access to healthy, affordable food,” said Community Chairman Charles R. Vig. “This partnership offers a new model to address food access problems at the tribal level. Our tribe is excited to support the work of AmeriCorps VISTA and the Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative to recruit and place teams of volunteers with the training, creativity, commitment, and strong work ethic needed to assist tribes achieve better food access.”

AmeriCorps VISTA, operated by the Corporation for National and Community Service, is the national service program established specifically to help alleviate poverty. Founded as Volunteers in Service to America in 1965 as the domestic version of the Peace Corps, VISTA taps the skills, talents and passion of more than 8,000 Americans annually to build the capacity of nonprofit organizations or local government agencies to carry out programs that tackle poverty.

“We are so proud to support this culturally competent and innovative approach to addressing specific tribal community needs, by harnessing the organizational support available through our partner, the University of Arkansas’ Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative and the generosity of the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community,” said former AmeriCorps VISTA Director Max Finberg.

The initiative will recruit, train, deploy and supervise the work of these VISTA volunteers. Created by School of Law Dean Stacy Leeds and directed by Hipp, the initiative focuses on multidisciplinary research, service and education in support of native communities. Its work encompasses tribal food code development, feeding program analysis, national food systems scans and other food sovereignty related projects. The initiative also hosts the Native Youth in Food and Agriculture Leadership Summit, a 10-day educational event for at least 100 native youth to build their skills in food systems development and learn how food and agriculture policy impacts their tribal communities.

“Tribes across the country are struggling to access healthy food and develop sustainable food systems,” Leeds said. “The Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community has been a longstanding leader in support of tribal sovereignty and now is the national leader working on improving native nutritional health. Their support of AmeriCorps VISTA is critical to tackling hunger and food insecurity and building strong native food systems in Indian Country. This new effort will take these commitments one step further and support the deployment of VISTA recruits within tribal communities to gain on-the-ground experience and assist tribes in their work toward healthy food access.” 

For more information about this or other initiative programs, please contact director Janie Simms Hipp at

About the Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative: The initiative enhances health and wellness in tribal communities by advancing healthy food systems, diversified economic development and cultural food traditions in Indian Country. The initiative empowers tribal governments, farmers, ranchers and food businesses by providing strategic planning and technical assistance; by creating new academic and professional education programs in food systems and agriculture; and by increasing student enrollment in land grant universities in food and agricultural related disciplines.

About AmeriCorps VISTA: AmeriCorps VISTA is a program of the Corporation for National and Community Service, a federal agency that engages millions of Americans in service through its AmeriCorps, Senior Corps, and other programs, and leads volunteer initiatives for the nation. Since 1965, AmeriCorps VISTA has been at the forefront of helping communities across America alleviate poverty. Each year, more than 8,000 AmeriCorps VISTA members serve in 3,000 locations across the country, supporting programs that reduce homelessness, improve health services, expand job opportunities, develop financial assets, grow access to affordable food and housing, and expand access to technology for those living in rural and urban areas of poverty across America.

About the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community: The Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community is a federally recognized, sovereign Indian tribe located southwest of Minneapolis/St. Paul. Making its top priority to be a good neighbor, the SMSC is one of the top 10 philanthropists in Minnesota and donates more to charity than any other Indian tribe in America. It also focuses on being a strong community partner and a leader in protecting and restoring natural resources.

About Seeds of Native Health: Seeds of Native Health is the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community’s philanthropic campaign to improve Native American nutrition. Launched in 2015, the $5 million campaign has provided grants to local communities and funded research, education, and capacity-building efforts. Partners include the American Heart Association, First Nations Development Institute, MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger, the Notah Begay III Foundation, the University of Arkansas School of Law’s Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative, and the University of Minnesota. More information is available at

About University of Arkansas School of Law: The University of Arkansas School of Law prepares students for success through a challenging curriculum taught by nationally recognized faculty, unique service opportunities and a close-knit community that puts students first. With alumni in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, two territories and 20 countries, it has been ranked among the top 10 “Values in Legal Education” by the National Jurist magazine for four consecutive years and is among the top 46 public law schools, according to U.S. News and World Report.

IFAI named to “Organizations to Watch” by Food Tank

IFAI named to “Organizations to Watch” by Food Tank

Food Tank, a nonprofit healthy food advocacy organization, recently released its “117 Organizations to Watch in 2017” and the Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative was honored to be placed on the list.

According to the organization, “Efforts to increase access to healthy and local foods, support farmers’ livelihoods, and improve the overall sustainability of the global food system are ongoing and continuously evolving thanks to businesses, organizations, and individuals committed to building a better food future. As we wrap up the year, we have crafted a small preview of what is to come.”

Here are 117 organizations to watch in 2017.

IFAI featured in 2016 Good Food Org Guide

IFAI featured in 2016 Good Food Org Guide

Food Tank and the James Beard Foundation have selected the Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative to be included in the third annual Good Food Org Guide, which features 1,000 organizations creating a better food system across the United States. Download the guide and check out the website HERE!gfog_selected-badge-2016

With the help of an advisory board of food system experts, Food Tank and the James Beard Foundation created the guide to feature organizations that are creating a better food system. The organizations in this year’s Guide are effecting change in kitchens, schools, churches, labs, businesses, community centers, governments, urban farms, fields, food banks, and more. 

Since the inaugural Good Food Org Guide was released in 2014, it has highlighted groups who combat childhood obesity, malnourishment, and physical inactivity; prevent food waste; educate consumers on healthy, nutritious food choices; create networks of social entrepreneurs; protect food and restaurant workers; highlight solutions for restoring the health of people and the planet; work with indigenous communities to preserve traditions, culture, and biodiversity; inspire and educate individuals to cook more of their own food; and protect public health, human health, and the environment.

This year’s Guide, building on the success of the 2015 Guide, includes an online search tool.  The website enables users to search for organizations by the region and category of the organization’s work.  Each organization highlighted in the Guide has its own profile page, which includes their contact information, description, logo, social media links, location, photos, and related organizations.

”Working in collaboration with the James Beard Foundation, we are proud to bring the total number of listed organizations to the 1000 mark. It is a testament to the tremendous amount of growth and support we have seen in the ‘good food’ sector,” Danielle Nierenberg, president of Food Tank, said.