What to watch for as USDA readies the 2012 Census of Agriculture

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is set to release the 2012 Census of Agriculture on Friday with more specific data by state and county and by agriculture product. The National Agricultural Statistics Service released a partial report in February. The full 2012 Census of Agriculture will also include more details about all of the individuals who own and work on farms. The preliminary report only profiled individuals listed as “principal operators.”

Reporter’s guide: investigating meat, poultry and eggs

Multiple federal and state agencies have roles in the regulation of our food system. When a problem occurs, producers, consumers and even members of the media can have a hard time figuring out which agency to turn to for answers. While each specific case can have its nuances, here is a general guideline for the oversight process of domestic production and distribution of chicken and meat.

Challenges to food safety prompt new federal action plan

A recent report by the Pew Charitable Trusts found that Food Safety and Inspection Service is failing to protect consumers from Salmonella. The report, Weaknesses in FSIS’s Salmonella Regulation , released in December, calls for mandatory recall authority and more stringent testing standards. This follows of a new federal food safety action plan.

Lack of evidence stopped federal recall request in 2013 Salmonella outbreak

An Office of Public Health official said the Food Safety Inspection Service agency was not able to link a specific Foster Farms product or production method directly to the Salmonella strain linked to a multistate outbreak. The U.S. Department of Agriculture food safety sector, lacked the appropriate evidence, said David Goldman, assistant administrator, Office of Public Health Science. Late last year, Costco and Kroger grocery stores recalled more than 40,000 pounds of Foster Farms chicken sold on the West Coast that was believed to have prompted a 23-state outbreak of Salmonella and sickened more than 400 people.

New virus threatens U.S. pork supply

The livestock and poultry industries are poised for expansion, but a new fatal virus and low inventory could prove challenging. Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus (PEDv) is taking its toll on the U.S. hog market. PEDv was first found in the U.S. in May 2013. Now nine months later, it is in 25 states and has killed 4 million pigs.

Food recalls, beef produce and dry weather cap USDA Ag Forum

The USDA’s 2014 Agriculture Outlook Forum concluded Friday with sessions on commodities, forestry, rural development and the weather. The two-day forum covered topics related to new producer assistance, food safety, and foreign and domestic markets. It also previewed the results of the 2012 Ag Census, a survey of America’s farms and food producers. Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting covered four of Friday’s sessions. Here are highlights from those sessions as reported by Sam Robinson.

Diversity in farming encouraged, incentives offered

The USDA-sponsored Ag Outlook Forum takes place in Arlington, Va. this week with multiple panels and discussions on produce, farmers, markets and other U.S. agribusiness. The Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting is following the event live. Yet as federal officials are urging more diversity – younger people, minorities and women – in farming, panel discussions and videos were less ethically diverse.