The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is a Federal agency whose mission is to provide
leadership on food, agriculture, natural resources, rural development, nutrition, and related issues
based on sound public policy, the best available science, and efficient management.
USDA’s vision is to expand economic opportunity through innovation, helping rural America to thrive;
to promote agriculture production sustainability that better nourishes Americans while also helping
feed others throughout the world; and to preserve and conserve our Nation's natural resources through
restored forests, improved watersheds, and healthy private working lands.
Founded in 1862, President Abraham Lincoln signed into law an act of Congress establishing the
United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
Two and one-half years later, in what would be his final annual message to the Congress, Lincoln called
USDA "The People's Department." At that time, about half of all Americans lived on farms, compared with
about 2 percent today. But through our work on food, agriculture, economic development, science, natural
resource conservation and a host of issues, USDA still fulfills Lincoln's vision - touching the lives of
every American, every day.
The Department of Agriculture is made up of seven mission areas aligned to seven major areas of the
Department’s mission. Each of these mission areas has two or more USDA agencies, or subcomponents of
the Department, with greater focus on the aspects of the Department’s mission. Further descriptions of
the mission areas related to foreign assistance activities and the nine USDA agencies that implement the
foreign assistance activities follow below.
Mission Area: Natural Resources and Environment
Natural Resources and Environment ensures the health of the land through sustainable management. USDA
agencies under this mission area work to prevent damage to natural resources and the environment, restore
the resource base, and promote good land management.
Mission Area: Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services
The Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services mission area helps to keep America's farmers and ranchers in
business as they face the uncertainties of weather and markets. They deliver commodity, credit, conservation,
disaster, and emergency assistance programs that help improve the stability and strength of the agricultural
The Foreign Agricultural Service in this mission area links U.S. agriculture to the world to enhance export
opportunities and global food security.
In addition to its Washington, D.C. staff, FAS has a global network of 96 offices covering 169 countries.
These offices are staffed by agricultural attachés and locally hired staff who are the eyes, ears, and voice
for U.S. agriculture around the world. FAS staff identify problems, provide practical solutions, and work to
advance opportunities for U.S. agriculture and support U.S. foreign policy around the globe.
Mission Area: Food Safety
Food Safety ensures that the Nation's commercial supply of meat, poultry, and egg products is safe, wholesome,
and properly labeled and packaged. This mission area also plays a key role in the President's Council on Food
Safety and has been instrumental in coordinating a national food safety strategic plan among various partner
agencies including the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Environmental Protection Agency
(EPA). The U.S. Codex Office in the Food Safety and Inspection Service agency is an interagency partnership
that engages stakeholders in the development and advancement of science-based food standards for the benefit
of the United States and the worldwide community.
Mission Area: Research, Education, and Economics
Research, Education, and Economics is dedicated to the creation of a safe, sustainable, competitive U.S.
food and fiber system, as well as strong communities, families, and youth through integrated research,
analysis, and education. This mission area is also focused on harnessing technologies to improve global
food production and food supply monitoring worldwide.
Mission Area: Marketing and Regulatory Programs
The Marketing and Regulatory Programs (MRP) facilitates domestic and international marketing of U.S.
agricultural products and ensures the health and care of animals and plants. MRP agencies are active
participants in setting national and international standards.
The Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) includes six commodity programs-Cotton, Dairy, Fruit and
Vegetable, Livestock and Seed, Poultry, and Tobacco. The programs employ specialists who provide
standardization, grading, and market news services for those commodities. They enforce such Federal Laws
as the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act and the Federal Seed Act. More information on AMS can be
Through International Marketing Services, AMS
offers an array of valuable services that give buyers and sellers of agricultural products a competitive
advantage in the global marketplace.
Note: In fiscal year (FY) 2013, AMS did not make any foreign assistance awards but may in future years.
The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is responsible for protecting and promoting U.S.
agricultural health, administering the Animal Welfare Act, and carrying out wildlife-damage management
activities. In recent years, the scope of APHIS' protection function has expanded beyond pest and disease
management. Because of its technical expertise and leadership in assessing and regulating the risks
associated with agricultural imports, APHIS has assumed a greater role in the global agricultural arena.
More information on APHIS can be found here.
To reduce the threat to U.S. agriculture, APHIS’s International Service (IS) cooperates in a number of
major surveillance, eradication, and control programs in foreign countries, focusing on nations where
economically significant pests or diseases are found. It plays a major role in ensuring that U.S. agricultural
exports are accessible to foreign countries and works with countries seeking to establish preclearance
programs. IS also represents the U.S. Government in dealing with many international and regional organizations
concerned with animal and plant health. More information on IS can be found
Agricultural Research Service (ARS) is USDA’s main in-house scientific research agency. ARS conducts
research to develop and transfer solutions to agricultural problems of high national priority and provide
information access and dissemination. More information on ARS can be found here.
The Office of International Research
Programs (OIRP) is the principle ARS contact for international issues. Its mission is to enhance
the productivity, effectiveness, and impact of the ARS National Programs through mutually beneficial
international research and development collaborations in agriculture and natural resources science.
Research Internships for
Early Career South African Agricultural Scientists is an ARS project that aims to provide, through
work experience, cooperative research, and scientific and technology exchange, methodologies useful for
solving technical problems within the South African agricultural context and to enhance or establish
income-generating opportunities in rural communities.
ARS also has many international research projects. More information can be found
The Economic Research Service (ERS) is the main source of economic information and research from the USDA.
The mission of ERS is to inform and enhance public and private decision-making on economic and policy issues
related to agriculture, food, natural resources, and rural development. More information on ERS can be found
ERS specialists within International Agriculture
provide wide-ranging research and analysis on production, consumption, and trade of key agricultural
commodities and on agricultural policies of countries and regions important to U.S. agriculture, as well
as on international trade agreements and food security issues.
The Market and Trade Economics Division at ERS
conducts economic research and analysis on U.S. and global economic and policy factors affecting the
structure and performance of agricultural markets and trade. The Division monitors market indicators;
provides mid- to long-term forecasts of agricultural market conditions; and assesses the technological,
economic, policy, and institutional forces that influence U.S. and world agricultural markets.
Note: In fiscal year (FY) 2013, ERS did not make foreign assistance awards but may in future years.
Established in 1905, the Forest Service (FS) manages public lands in national forests and grasslands.
The mission of the Forest Service is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the Nation’s
forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations. More information on FS can
be found here.
International Programs of FS coordinates the Forest Service’s
international work. It promotes sustainable forest management and biodiversity conservation internationally.
FS International Programs partners with many types of organizations, large and small, private and public,
on a wide range of technical cooperation and policy development issues. It provides technical skills by
tapping the expertise of a large number of FS researchers, foresters, wildlife biologists, hydrologists,
policymakers, and other specialists. International Programs has three main staff units: Technical
Cooperation, Policy, and Disaster Assistance Support Program (DASP).
As a scientific institution, the International Institute of
Tropical Forestry (IITF) at FS is committed to research in tropical forestry and the transfer
of technologies. To address aspects of physical, social, and economic issues in managing tropical forests,
the IITF has more than 60 years of experience in interdisciplinary research.
The Institute of Pacific Islands Forestry (IPIF) has
grown to become a center of research and technology transfer on matters of the management, preservation,
and restoration of natural ecosystems and landscapes throughout the Pacific. The Institute's work is
conducted by a unique structure of teams that include both scientists funded by FS research and
professionals funded through State and Private Forestry and International Forestry.
The Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) works to improve foreign market access for U.S. products, build
new markets, improve the competitive position of U.S. agricultural in the global marketplace, and provide
food aid and technical assistance to foreign countries. More information on FAS can be found
Information on FAS International Production, Market & Trade Reports and snapshot summary of supply and
demand situation for various commodities can be found here.
Global Attaché Information Network (GAIN)
is FAS’s web-based system developed to help disseminate agricultural knowledge. Over 3,000 reports
submitted per year, GAIN provides timely information on the agricultural economy, products, and issues
in foreign countries.
Information on the World Agricultural Supply and Demand
Estimates (WASDE) which provides comprehensive forecasts of supply and demand for major U.S. and
global crops and U.S. livestock.
Crop Explorer is an FAS tool that offers global
food supply monitoring by region or crop via satellite imagery.
Note: In fiscal year (FY) 2013, FAS is reporting only international food aid awards. Other FAS
foreign assistance awards will be reported in the future.
The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is the public health agency in the U.S. Department of
Agriculture responsible for ensuring that the Nation's commercial supply of meat, poultry, and egg
products is safe, wholesome, and correctly labeled and packaged. More information on FSIS can be found
International inspection functions are carried out by the Office of Field Operations (OFO). The
international audit function is assigned to the Office of Investigation, Enforcement and Audit (OIEA),
to integrate with domestic audit functions. The export and equivalency functions are assigned to Office
of Policy and Program Development (OPPD).
Note: In fiscal year (FY) 2013, FSIS did not make foreign assistance awards but may in future years.
The National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) addresses many challenges facing the Nation
through exemplary agricultural science. NIFA works with the best and brightest scientists at universities
and colleges throughout the United States and around the world to find innovative solutions to issues
related to agriculture, food, the environment, and communities. With a timely, integrated approach and
collaboration with other Federal science agencies, NIFA also serves as a vital contributor to Federal
science policy decision-making. More information on NIFA can be found
Center for International Programs (CIP)
With today’s increasingly global society, USDA and its partner American colleges and universities must play a
major role in preparing U.S. citizens to work and succeed in a rapidly changing world. NIFA’s Center for
International Programs office is working with universities to find ways of engaging students, faculty,
and staff in the world outside our borders.
National Initiative to Internationalize Extension
The National Initiative to Internationalize Extension is a 3-year program funded by NIFA to strengthen the
international dimension of State extension programs. The initiative hopes to bring attention to the urgent
need for engagement with American audiences around global issues, interdependence, and the critical role
that extension can play in today's world.
International Science and Education (ISE) Competitive Grants Program
The ISE Competitive Grants Program supports research, extension, and teaching activities that will enhance
the capabilities of American colleges and universities to conduct international collaborative research,
extension, and teaching.
The NIFA Competitive Programs Unit manages funding opportunities that challenge the Nation's top researchers
to identify, solve, and put into practice solutions to problems that improve the safety, quality, productivity,
and security of our food supply and the well-being of animals, humans, the environment and natural resources,
and rural and urban communities.
Agriculture and Food Research Initiative - Food Safety
This AFRI Challenge Area promotes and enhances the scientific discipline of food safety, with an overall aim
of protecting consumers from microbial and chemical contaminants that may occur during all stages of the food
chain, from production to consumption. This requires an understanding of the interdependencies of human,
animal, and ecosystem health as it pertains to food-borne pathogens.
The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) puts over 70 years of experience to work in assisting
owners of America's private land with conserving their soil, water, and other natural resources. It delivers
technical assistance based on sound science and suited to a customer's specific needs. More information on
NRCS can be found here.
The role of International Programs in NRCS is to help other countries utilize their natural resources without
depleting them by providing technical assistance; exchanging scientific and technical information; contributing
to the overall achievement of United States (U.S.) foreign policy that seeks to promote economic stability,
reduce poverty, and solve world food problems; and providing opportunities that will broaden and increase the
technical knowledge and professional capability of NRCS personnel.
International Technical Assistance
NRCS receives numerous requests to provide technical assistance in foreign countries. It helps improve the
management and conservation of natural resources globally by providing long- and short-term technical assistance
and leadership with our foreign partners. Due to lack of statutory authority to fund technical assistance outside
the U.S. NRCS participates in these activities on a reimbursable basis, through USDA’s Foreign Agricultural
Service/International Cooperation and Development (FAS/ICD).
International Visitor Program
The Visitors Program is designed to provide specialized on-the-job training in the U.S. for foreign nationals
from other countries. Foreign officials are given opportunities to gain a better understanding of ecosystem-based
assistance by observing and discussing conservation programs in the U.S., in order to transfer applicable methods
back to their home countries. There are times, however, when NRCS employees are contacted directly by universities
or other institutions in order to provide assistance to these visitors. Funding sources vary from program to program.
Note: In fiscal year (FY) 2013, NRCS did not make foreign assistance awards but may in future years.