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United States Department of Agriculture

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The United States Department of Agriculture is the executive branch department that governs all policy on farming, agriculture, and food. It aims to meet the needs of farmers and ranchers, promote agricultural trade and production, work to assure food safety, protect natural resources, foster rural communities, and end hunger, in America and abroad. Ed Schafer was the department's secretary, following his nomination by President Bush on October 31, 2007 and confirmation by the Senate on January 28, 2008.

Like most "regulatory" departments under modern Republican presidents, it wasn't really expected by the administration to do the job it was created by Congress to do.

Organic program[edit]

The USDA has maintained the United States's National Organic Program, which governs organic certification for the United States, since 2002. Any food product sold in the United States that claims to be organic must have the "USDA ORGANIC" seal on it.

Beware of labels that will try and trick you by putting "organic" on the label and in some way (without being illegal) imply that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has "certified" the product as organic. Only the USDA certifies organic food.

Relationship to capitalism[edit]

One may argue that the premise of the Department of Agriculture is regulation of the free market, because of its regulation of the organic food industry. This prevents companies from misleading the public like many did in that "lactose...milk" labeling scare, and like many are doing today with the "0g trans fat" label on products made with small amounts of partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, which does contain trans fat. It might be argued that the authority of the USDA should be extended so food companies don't mislead the public in these ways, which may very well help reduce American obesity.

The Department also administers billions of dollars in subsidies for farmers of various crops, which is in many ways the very opposite of the "free market".