“eGovernment” took a step forward last month with My.USDA.gov, which allows individuals to customize the USDA homepage for their unique needs. The launch is the latest installment in a January 2004 initiative “to standardize processes and provide tools to unleash the fuller potential of information technology,” says USDA Secretary Ann Veneman.

The initiative began with a new Web site design to improve access to USDA information and science. That was followed in March by improved functionality that included features such as a “customer statement,” that puts a whole range of USDA services and programs into a single report. Farmers are able to view their contracts in various conservation programs, commodity program payments and information on loans and crop insurance.

A customized page can be created in three easy steps by going to www.usda.gov and signing up for an ID by clicking on “Login” or “New User” buttons located on the left navigation bar.