The USDA Symbol (also sometimes referred to as a logo) was created and approved for use by the Secretary in 1996. It stands for all of USDA's activities in its mission areas and agencies.
The Symbol is a graphic representation of the foundation of all agriculture, the soil. The Department's initials are the most recognizable element and unique to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. These two elements combined form the new symbol. It has been tested for use across all media.
The official colors for the USDA symbol are dark purple for the letters USDA, and dark green for the soil graphic. The symbol may also be reproduced in one color.
The USDA Seal
The USDA Seal was created in 1895. It was adapted for use as a general identifier with publication of the Department's Visual Management Manual in 1980. The seal will maintain a role within the Department's information system. Generally, it will be relegated for use on legal materials, in the Office of the Secretary, and for other functions as may be determined. The seal has been withdrawn as a departmental identifier on information products.
Source: "The USDA Symbol: Its Purpose and Use." USDA Office of Communications, Design Center, August 1996.
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