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Agri 2001: Special Topics in Agriculture

Government Documents Librarian


The U.S. Department of Agriculture was established in 1862 as a commission and later became a cabinet-level agency. It administers programs related to agriculture, nutrition, rural development, forestry, rural utilities, and research. This guide lists the major divisions, offices, and programs within USDA, but it does not include all of the agencies and offices that have been part of USDA throughout its history.

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National Agriculture Library (NAL)

Government Documents & the Dept of Agriculture

The United States Department of Agriculture is made up of numerous individual agencies and publishes thousands of resources per year.

Use this LibGuide to find resources from the various agencies that make up the United States Department of Agriculture.

Government Resources

The Agricultural Research Service (ARS) is the U.S. Department of Agriculture's chief scientific in-house research agency. Our job is finding solutions to agricultural problems that affect Americans every day from field to table. Here are a few numbers to illustrate the scope of our organization:

  • 690 research projects within 15 National Programs  
  • 2,000 scientists and post docs  
  • 6,000 other employees  
  • 90+ research locations, including overseas laboratories
  • $1.1 billion fiscal year budget


Search for ARS publications here.

ARS research is organized into National Programs. These programs serve to bring coordination, communication, and empowerment to approximately 690 research projects carried out by ARS. The National Programs focus on the relevance, impact, and quality of ARS research.

Nutrition, Food Safety/Quality



Animal Production and Protection


Crop Production and Protection


Natural Resources and Sustainable Agricultural Systems

The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (est. 1972) is a multi-faceted Agency with a broad mission area that includes protecting and promoting U.S. agricultural health, regulating genetically engineered organisms, administering the Animal Welfare Act and carrying out wildlife damage management activities. These efforts support the overall mission of USDA, which is to protect and promote food, agriculture, natural resources and related issues.


The Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion (CNPP) was created within the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 1994. Together with the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS), CNPP reports to the Office of the Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services. CNPP’s mission is to improve the health of Americans by developing and promoting dietary guidance that links scientific research to the nutrition needs of consumers.

The staff at CNPP is composed primarily of nutritionists who specialize in nutrition science, analytics, nutrition evaluation, education and communication – many of whom are Registered Dietitians. We also have economists, public health experts, policy advisors, graphic designers and librarians.

CNPP carries out its mission to improve the health of Americans by (1) serving as the Federal authority on evidence-based food, nutrition and economic analyses to inform policy and programs; (2) translating science into actionable food and nutrition guidance for all Americans; and (3) leading national communication initiatives that apply science-based messages to advance consumers’ dietary and economic knowledge and behaviors.

Sample Resources Include:

Dietary Guidelines

Nutrition Evidence Library

Monthly Reports on the Cost of Food

The EPA has a vast web presence but offers various means of navigating it. For basic information check out their "Learn the Issues" tab. More detailed scientific information on a variety of subjects is under "Science and Technology." There's also an interactive map for finding information by geographic area. Some major subsidiary sites of EPA are:

National Estuary Program (EPA)

Oceans and Coasts (EPA)

Beaches (EPA)

About FNS

The Food & Nutrition Service (FNS), established in 1969, administers food and nutrition programs in the U.S. It is best known for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps), the National School Lunch Program, and Women, Infants and Children (WIC).



Evidence-based analysis and rigorous evaluation are critical tools to promote effective policies and strong management in the Federal nutrition assistance programs. The Office of Policy Support (OPS) leads the development and execution of FNS's study and evaluation agenda. This web page is intended to provide access to OPS's work to program partners, other stakeholders, and the general public.

Food Safety & Inspection Service (FSIS)

Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) Mission Statement: Protecting the public’s health by ensuring the safety of meat, poultry, and processed egg products.

One Team, One Purpose—Protecting Public Health and Preventing Foodborne Illness
FSIS' agency mission book, One Team, One Purpose—Protecting Public Health and Preventing Foodborne Illness (January 2014) provides a brief overview of how the agency works to lower the incidence of pathogens that cause foodborne illness and limit the occurrence of outbreaks in our regulated products.

Data Collection & Reports

FSIS Data Analysis and Reporting

Learn what type of data FSIS collectswhat type of analyses are performed using the data, and how these analyses are used in performance management and strategic planning. Includes annual sampling plans and Public Health Regulations (PHR).


FSIS Datasets

Data files; establishment-specific data; sample datasets and corresponding data dictionaries.



FoodNet is a collaborative project among FSIS, CDC, and FDA to identify, control, and prevent foodborne disease hazards. FoodNet uses sentinel sites in various states to provide more stable and accurate national estimates of the burden and sources of specific foodborne diseases. See Also: OutbreakNet, CDC's Foodborne Outbreak Online Database

Additional Information

Access Fact Sheets on topics such as safe food handling, foodborne illness and disease, at-risk populations, and many more.


Learn about Food Safety Education.




Regulations, Directives, and Notices

The USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) conducts hundreds of surveys every year and prepares reports covering virtually every aspect of U.S. agriculture. Production and supplies of food and fiber, prices paid and received by farmers, farm labor and wages, farm finances, chemical use, and changes in the demographics of U.S. producers are only a few examples.

NASS is committed to providing timely, accurate, and useful statistics in service to U.S. agriculture. To uphold our continuing commitment, NASS will:

  • Report the facts on American agriculture, facts needed by people working in and depending upon U.S. agriculture.
  • Provide objective and unbiased statistics on a preannounced schedule that is fair and impartial to all market participants.
  • Conduct the Census of Agriculture every five years, providing the only source of consistent, comparable, and detailed agricultural data for every county in America.
  • Serve the needs of our data users and customers at a local level through our network of State field offices and our cooperative relationship with universities and State Departments of Agriculture.
  • Safeguard the privacy of farmers, ranchers, and other data providers, with a guarantee that confidentiality and data security continue to be our top priorities.

The mission of USDA's Economic Research Service is to anticipate trends and emerging issues in agriculture, food, the environment, and rural America and to conduct high-quality, objective economic research to inform and enhance public and private decision making.

ERS research and analysis covers a broad range of economic and policy topics:

  • Agricultural Economy – farm sector performance and farm households’ well-being; farm size and concentration; market analysis, data, and projections on commodity supply, demand, and prices; and Federal farm policies
  • Food and Nutrition – food security, food and nutrition assistance programs, food choices and health outcomes, food access and store proximity, food retailing and marketing, and food prices
  • Food Safety – societal benefits associated with reducing food safety risks, global trade implications and economic impacts of food hazards, and potential results of regulation versus industry decisions
  • Global Markets and Trade – domestic and international markets, trade, and the U.S. food and agriculture sector’s performance in increasingly globalized markets
  • Resources and Environment – economic impacts of alternative conservation programs, efficacy of policies designed to protect the environment, challenges of climate change and water scarcity, and enhancing agricultural competitiveness through technology
  • Rural Economy – investments in rural communities and the capacity of rural economies to prosper in a changing global marketplace, demographic change and its impact on rural communities, and drivers of rural economic performance


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