Here is how we handle your information when you visit our website:
When you browse through the USDA website, read pages, or download information, we may gather and store certain information about your visit automatically. We may use technologies to gauge your browsing habits or web surfing history to improve the information presented to you. For example, if you search for both USDA loans and rural communities during a website visit, on a subsequent visit you may also be provided with information about USDA rural loan programs.
The information we store does not identify you personally. We automatically collect and store only the following information about your visit:
We use this information to help us make our site more useful, to learn about the number of visitors to our site, the types of technology our visitors are using to visit our website, and to present relevant information to you based on your website browsing requests.
We do not track your web activities beyond your browsing the USDA website. We do not cross reference your browsing habits with other entities, and we do not sell or give away your information to other entities.
COPPA applies to the online collection of personal information from children under age 13. USDA complies with COPPA and does not knowingly collect personal information about children.
When you visit some websites, their web servers generate pieces of information known as cookies. Some cookies collect personal information to recognize your computer in the future.
Cookies are small files that web servers place on a user's hard drive that helps a website or service. There are two types of cookies:
USDA may use both types of cookies to improve our on-line services to you.
You can disable cookies by adjusting the setting on your web browser.
If you choose to provide us with personal information, as in an e-mail to the Secretary or other USDA staff, or by filling out a form and submitting it to us through our website, we use that information to respond to your message. This also helps us to locate the information you have requested. We treat e-mails the same way that we handle paper-based correspondence sent to USDA. We are required to maintain many documents under the Federal Record Act for historical purposes, but we do not collect personal information for any purpose other than to respond to you. We only share the information you give us with another government agency if your inquiry relates to that agency or as otherwise required by law. Moreover, we do not create individual profiles with the information you provide, nor will the information you provide be shared with any private organizations. USDA does not collect information for commercial marketing.
Please read the Privacy Statement of each website you visit. Our website has links to several other federal agencies. In a few cases, we link to private organizations with their permission. Once you access another site through a link that we provide, you are subject to the Privacy Statement of the other organization's site.
Information presented on the USDA website is considered public information and may be distributed or copied. Use of appropriate byline/photo/image credits is requested.
A privacy impact assessment (PIA) is an analysis of how information is handled: (i) to ensure handling conforms to applicable legal, regulatory, and policy requirements regarding privacy, (ii) to determine the risks and effects of collecting, maintaining and disseminating information in identifiable form in an electronic information system, and (iii) to examine and evaluate protections and alternative processes for handling information to mitigate potential privacy risks.
The E-Government Act requires federal agencies to conduct PIAs for electronic information systems and collections and, in general, make the assessment results publicly available.
The USDA uses third-party services such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube to communicate and interact with the public. You may encounter these services as separate websites (for example, the USDA Facebook page, or as applications embedded within the USDA's websites. These services are controlled and operated by third parties, and are not government websites or applications. By interacting with USDA through these third-party services, you may be providing non-government third parties access to your personal information which can be used to distinguish or trace your identity. Any information collected by a third-party service is subject to the privacy policies of the third-party service provider. These third-party services may, for example, use persistent (multi-session) cookies.
Generally, USDA does not collect, disseminate, or maintain any personally identifiable information about you maintained by third party sites. However, you should be aware that USDA may read, review, or rely upon information that you make publicly available or the USDA on these services (for example, comments made on the USDA's Facebook page), as authorized or required by law.
Please note that these third-party services supplement USDA's traditional communication and outreach efforts. Should you have concerns about communicating with USDA via these channels, please use traditional channels to contact us.
The purpose of the USDA's new media communication forums, such as USDA blogs, collaborative tools, and other sites, is to share news and information regarding the activities, policies, and programs of USDA and its employees. We encourage discussion and comments on posts. Your insights are important to ensure Americans nationwide are informed and can be a part of the USDA's work, every day.