The United States Department of Agriculture USDA provides a map service through its Aerial Photography Field Office APFO department. It has been producing aerial photographs of farms and land for over 65 years.
The USDA is a federally regulated department of the Unites States government whose main task is to develop and implement policy on agriculture farming and food. It must meet the needs of farmers and ranchers; promote trade in agricultural products, promote food safety, conservation of natural resources and building of rural communities and eradication of poverty. It coordinates credit and emergency relief operation within the farming community. Promote s the education of farmers and overseas research activities within the agricultural disciplines. The USDA is also involved in hunger and food security issues abroad. The USDA coordinates the donation of surplus food to famine stricken countries through the United States Development Agency- USAID. USDA was involved in the historical Ethiopian famine of the 1980s that eventually killed more than a 1 million people.
USDA produces aerial photographs of farms all over 58 states every year. The USDA uses aerial photos to track records by drafting farm tracks and field boundaries onto farm aerial photograph enlargements. This helps the USDA to design programs geared towards the farmers. Counties are provided with these photographs as they help the county office in planning of infrastructure and construction.
The USDA is responsible for AFPO which runs programs under the NAIP (National Agriculture Imagery Program) program which produces imagery for different purposes related to land use. NAIP produces imagery during the growing season all over the United States; its main goal is to make available these images within a year in digital orthophotograph form.
NDOP National Digital Orthophoto Program covers the whole of USA and its territories and updates the images every 3 to 10 years. NRCS produces imagery mainly geared towards the Forest Service (FS) and Natural Resource and Conservation Service (NRCS).USFS has photographs produced for the Forest Service and the Natural Resource and Conservation Service.
The USDA photographs are useful not only within the farming community but also for education, in land disputes, conservation, pipeline planning and construction, tax assessments, keeping a record of property changes and for hunting, fishing and for water shed and reservoir planning.
Photographs and maps from the USDA are available in digital form especially in the case of newer productions but can also be ordered in hard copy. Older productions are available in hard copy but can be scanned and digitized for any client who wishes to have it in digital form. Users will need to have a sort of GIS software on their personal computer in order to be able to view the photographs.