Department of Agriculture (USDA)
federal executive division responsible for programs and policies relating to the farming industry and the use of national forests and grasslands. The USDA works to stabilize or improve domestic farm income, develop or increase foreign markets, curb poverty and hunger, protect soil and water resources, make credit available for rural development, and ensure the quality of food supplies. Among its numerous agencies and services are the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), which inspects and monitors meat and poultry products; the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA), which enforces grain standards and ensures fair-trade practices in the marketing of livestock and related products; the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), which oversees food grading and classification standards in the marketing of farm produce and establishes minimum prices for certain commodities such as milk; the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC), which provides loans, purchases, and capped payments to commodity producers in the interest of stabilizing prices and farm income; the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation (FCIC), which offers producers financial protection in the case of crop loss; and the National Forest Service, which regulates the use of the nation's 193-million-acre National Forest System. Other units under the USDA are involved in rural community development, consumer information, overseas marketing, agricultural research, and various staff activities.