Jonathan and Jessica Gaskin and children operate a dairy farm in Adair County, Kentucky. Photo courtesy Kentucky Farm Bureau.
Jonathan Gaskin grew up on a beef cattle and grain farm in Adair County, Kentucky. And at 12, Gaskin was milking cows for the farm next door. The neighbor sold their farm when he was 18, and at that time, he always knew he wanted to have a dairy farm – he just didn’t realize he would buy that same farm a few years later.
He bought the farm in 2006 and started working with his soon-to-be wife, Jessica, to build a dairy operation together. They married in 2008 and started growing the 110-acre place.
“We started with 30 heifers and calved them one cow at a time,” Gaskin said. Read more »
Feeding students healthy, tasty and nutritious school meals can be a challenge. Just ask any one of the thousands of school nutrition professionals who carry out the National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program. They have to balance menu planning following nutrition standards, financial management, and inventory management, all while making meals that will be enjoyed by students – not always an easy audience. It is a testament to their dedication that over 90 percent of America’s schools have now implemented the improved standards found in the Healthy Hungry Free Kids Act of 2010.
USDA is working hard to find ways to continue to support their efforts. One way we are doing that is a new program that we recently piloted in Mississippi that provides free training through a partnership with the National Food Service Management Institute (NFSMI). The Team Up For School Nutrition Success Training (Team Up) is tailored to schools and covers topics like menu planning, financial management, procurement, meal presentation and appeal, as well as youth engagement tactics, and strategies to reduce plate waste.
Another partner in this initiative is First Lady Michelle Obama. Mrs. Obama is grateful for the hard work being done in our country’s school cafeterias, but also recognizes that some may need a little help. When she heard about our initiative, she took the time to make a video to not only thank and encourage the dedicated school food service professional around the country, but to encourage them to take advantage of Team Up. Hear with the First Lady had to say about Team Up:
Superior Battery used USDA support to improve efficiency and hire new workers for its battery manufacturing plant in Russell Springs, Kentucky.
Small business owners face countless challenges when it comes to finding success in the global marketplace – and for those in rural areas, the challenges are often more pronounced.
For more than 30 years, Superior Battery has been manufacturing a wide range of batteries from its plant in Russell Springs, Ky. The business is locally owned and operated, and was started by Randy Hart – an Air Force veteran and tool-and-die enthusiast – his wife and four nephews. Read more »
Shiela Corley is a statistician now, but her farming roots are deep. Corley's family has been farming for generations now and even today, her parents run a farm in her native Kentucky. Photo Credit: Shiela Corley
This post is part of the Science Tuesday feature series on the USDA blog. Check back each week as we showcase stories and news from USDA’s rich science and research portfolio.
Farmland is one of the biggest assets in U.S. agriculture. According to the most recent Census of Agriculture, American farmers own more than half of all U.S. farmland—however, more than 350 million acres are rented or leased. This means that hundreds of thousands of farmers are affected by rising farmland values and have to negotiate their land rental agreements regularly.
That’s where data comes in. Every year, we reach out to thousands of farmers across the nation to determine accurate estimates for farmland values. After all, to negotiate a fair deal, it helps to know the actual value of the land you already rent or hope to rent in the future. That’s also how we at USDA and other key policymakers know that U.S. farmland values have been increasing pretty steadily over the past decade. Read more »
NRCS staff discuss soil health efforts with Hopkins County jailer Joe Blue, right, and Deputy Jailer Billy Thomas and the jail’s gardener. NRCS photo by Christy Morgan.
Kentucky Jailer Joe Blue is passionate about rehabilitating inmates. Innovative ideas for teaching new skills are always on his mind, which is how the Hopkins County jail’s gardening program was started.
The Kentucky jail sits on several acres and has a large farm just across the street. As Blue was walking around the property one day, he looked across the street and thought: “What’s the difference in that land and our land? Why can’t we grow our own food here?” Read more »