Today, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) Office of Communications released a rundown of the agency’s 2017 accomplishments as identified by Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue. According to a press release, during the first year of President Donald Trump’s administration, “USDA made breakthroughs in agricultural trade, moved to reduce burdensome regulations, responded to natural disasters, and battled through the worst fire season on record, among other notable achievements.”
Since USDA is comprised of many different agencies and offices, the announcement listed accomplishments accordingly. Some of the most notable that relate to food safety are as follows:
- Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) provided significant support in negotiations that re-opened the market for U.S. beef to be exported to China for the first time in 13 years.
- Agricultural Research Service (ARS) added information on nearly 140,000 food items to the Branded Food Products Database, which makes it easier to find nutrients contained in manufactured or brand-name foods sold in supermarkets.
- Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) continued its work to ensure the free flow of agricultural trade by keeping U.S. agriculture industries free from pests and diseases. APHIS opened a potential $50 million live animal market in Kyrgyzstan, opened the sugar beet market in China, and reopened the $220 million dried distillers grain market in Vietnam, amongst many others.
- Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) continued its work to modernize operations and inspection systems to be more effective, efficient, and focus on food safety-related tasks.
- Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) organized trade missions to Egypt, Brazil, and India which generated more than $30 million in projected sales as a part of its ongoing efforts to help U.S. agribusiness expand its global reach.
- National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) launched the census of agriculture with an improved online questionnaire and items to document changes and emerging trends in agriculture.
- National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) invested in projects that resulted in transformative discoveries to meet our societal challenges. Research gains include making strides in combatting citrus greening, using plant products to treat Salmonella, and lowering ammonia emissions at livestock facilities.
The announcement also reads, “As 2017 comes to an end, the hard-working civil servants who make up USDA have a great deal to be proud of,” says Perdue. “Unlike any other federal department, USDA touches the lives of each individual in this country every day. In the wake of hurricanes, forest fires, and everything in between, the dedicated professionals at USDA worked tirelessly to serve the American people. As we look ahead to 2018, USDA will continue our efforts to be the most effective, efficient, and customer-focused department in the entire federal government.”