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Texas High Tunnels Boost Production Possibilities for Urban Farmers

Elvis d’Agrella visits with some of his regular weekly customers at the Conroe farmers market. Customers are welcome to fill small white buckets with an assortment of fruits and vegetables for an average cost of $4.

Elvis d’Agrella visits with some of his regular weekly customers at the Conroe farmers market. Customers are welcome to fill small white buckets with an assortment of fruits and vegetables for an average cost of $4.

‘Valley Girl’ and ‘Celebrity’ are just two of the sought-after tomato varieties sold at Elvis d’Agrella’s farmer’s market stand in the summer. And now his weekly customers can purchase those tomatoes well into the winter, because he and his wife, Pat, have constructed a seasonal high tunnel at their PEAS Farm outside Conroe, Tex.

“Our goal was to produce as much of the vegetables that you see here growing in the winter time that you would normally see growing in the summertime,” says Elvis. Read more »

FSA Loans Lend a Hand to California Farmer

Sam Pesina has grown his peach and sugar cane farm with the help of FSA loans.

Sam Pesina has grown his peach and sugar cane farm with the help of FSA loans.

Family adversity brought Sam Pesina back home to his family’s Fresno County, Calif., farm.  But it was the love of farming that kept him.

“When my dad got bone marrow cancer, there was never any question that I would return home,” said Pesina. “My dad wouldn’t have trusted anyone else [to run the farm].” So he packed his bags, glanced back at the 12 years he spent in Hawaii working in finance and starting his own mortgage brokerage company, and headed back to Orange Cove to care for his father and the farm he grew up on. Read more »

It’s Not Small Potatoes for Them

An opportunity to reach a new market is a big deal for any company, but this is especially true when it comes to our nation’s 23 million small businesses. In their search to reach new markets, they not only compete against each other they also compete with larger establishments. To help them meet their goals, the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) offers some contracts exclusively for small businesses. This allows companies with less than 500 employees to compete against similar sized organizations to provide a service or product to the government. Small businesses are the glue that holds our economy together and AMS is committed to supporting them.

Our Commodity Procurement Staff (CPS) recently purchased 25 million pounds of fresh russet potatoes in one of our small business procurements. While reducing a potential surplus in the market caused by a nearly 9 percent increase in U.S. potato production from the previous year, the purchase also enabled small businesses to sell products to the USDA. These companies sent their products to food and nutrition programs like the National School Lunch Program and food banks. Read more »

Forest Service Recognizes United Nations’ International Day of Forests

The Gifford Pinchot National Forest in Washington state. (Robert Westover/U.S. Forest Service Photo)

The Gifford Pinchot National Forest in Washington state. (Robert Westover/U.S. Forest Service Photo)

Try going one full day without using a product derived from a tree.

You won’t be able to use a pencil or paper or sit on your couch or at a desk. You won’t be able to check the mail or drink coffee while reading the newspaper. Read more »

Surveying America’s Farmers Online – An Innovation in Collecting Ag Stats

NASS’ Donald Buysse demonstrates the newly updated EDR to complete the Census of Agriculture survey online.

NASS’ Donald Buysse demonstrates the newly updated EDR to complete the Census of Agriculture survey online.

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 profile.

2013 is the International Year of Statistics. As part of this global event, every month this year USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service will profile careers of individuals who are making significant contributions to improve agricultural statistics in the United States.

Although the first Census of Agriculture dates back to 1840, the way the data is collected is most assuredly not stuck in the past.  Historically, the main mode of data collection for the ag census has been by mail. There is one reason for this – it has always been cheaper!  With advancements in technology, USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service has tapped into more cost-efficient ways to collect information. Read more »

With USDA Help, Rural African Farming Comes to Rural Massachusetts

World Farmers Inc. and some of the farmers it serves. (Left to right) Fabiola Nizigiyimana, Lucia Ngatia, Maria Mbonimpa, Maria Moreira (Executive Director World Farmers), and Virginia Apraiari.

World Farmers Inc. and some of the farmers it serves. (Left to right) Fabiola Nizigiyimana, Lucia Ngatia, Maria Mbonimpa, Maria Moreira (Executive Director World Farmers), and Virginia Apraiari.

What do immigrant farmers from Tanzania, Nigeria, Kenya, Burundi, Rwanda, and Liberia have in common with central rural Massachusetts?

The Answer:  World Farmers Inc. or WFI. Read more »