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USDA Extends Dairy Margin Protection Program Deadline

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack addresses dairy producers at the National Milk Producers Federation annual meeting in Dallas, Texas on Oct. 29, 2014

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack addresses dairy producers at the National Milk Producers Federation annual meeting in Dallas, Texas on Oct. 29, 2014

Over the past nine months, USDA staff in offices around the country have been hard at work implementing new initiatives under the 2014 Farm Bill. The Farm Service Agency in particular has been tasked with getting a number of new safety net features off the ground for farmers and ranchers, including the Agricultural Risk Coverage and Price Loss Coverage programs. Because these new programs are important to farmers’ and ranchers’ businesses, USDA also wants to make sure plenty of time and tools are available to help farmers and ranchers make the best decisions for their operations.

Last week, Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that America’s milk producers have an extra week to enroll in the voluntary Dairy Margin Protection Program. The program provides financial assistance to participating farmers when the margin – the difference between the price of milk and feed costs – falls below the coverage level selected by the farmer. The original sign up deadline was November 28, 2014, the day after Thanksgiving. The deadline has been moved to December 5, 2014, which allows both FSA staff and dairy producers to spend more time with their families over the holiday. Read more »

Meeting to Make a Difference in USDA’s Food Purchasing Programs

AMS Commodity Procurement Program Director Dave Tuckwiller opens the 2014 AMS Annual Industry Meeting for Contractors and Suppliers of USDA’s Commodity Purchase Programs.

AMS Commodity Procurement Program Director Dave Tuckwiller opens the 2014 AMS Annual Industry Meeting for Contractors and Suppliers of USDA’s Commodity Purchase Programs.

When you’re a contract specialist with USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), you’re part of a Commodity Procurement team that purchases 1.7 billion pounds of commodities a year to support domestic agriculture. You’re part of a network- which also includes the Food and Nutrition Service, the Farm Service Agency, and hundreds of American agricultural producers, processors, and suppliers- which reaches far and wide to send quality, wholesome, nutritious products that feed students and other recipients in federal food and nutrition assistance programs.

While the daily activities of contract management mean I am in constant contact with many people within this network, it’s still beneficial to get out and connect with new and existing stakeholders and promote the dual mission of these purchase programs. I recently had the privilege of making some solid connections at the 2014 AMS Annual Industry Meeting for Contractors and Suppliers in USDA’s Commodity Purchase Programs. Read more »

Federal Research Jumps from Lab to Marketplace

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.

An innovative network of public- and private-sector groups are working together to transfer federal research out of the lab and into the marketplace—where it can not only solve important agricultural problems, but also serve as an economic accelerator. Such is the Agricultural Research Partnerships (ARP) Network, a program created by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service, (ARS) Office of Technology Transfer.

The ARP Network is really sort of a 21st-century rolodex crossed with a marriage broker—a group of about 30 regional organizations across the U.S. who have close connections with companies, agriculture associations, economic development groups, venture capitalists and economic incubators within their region or State.  ARP Network partners match businesses and organizations in their regions that have technology needs to ARS researchers or ARS technologies that are ready for development and commercialization. Read more »

Hmong Farmer Overcomes Adversity, Makes the Most of American Opportunities

Poultry farmer Kao Her and former District Conservationist Lynn Jenkins look over a map of Her’s farm. Since beginning his poultry operation in 2005, Her has added two, 600-foot poultry houses to his property, as well as an updated stacking shed and composter, all with financial and technical assistance from NRCS. NRCS photo.

Poultry farmer Kao Her and former District Conservationist Lynn Jenkins look over a map of Her’s farm. Since beginning his poultry operation in 2005, Her has added two, 600-foot poultry houses to his property, as well as an updated stacking shed and composter, all with financial and technical assistance from NRCS. NRCS photo.

Kao Her is a self-taught poultry farmer. Everything he knows about poultry farming he learned over two weeks with the farm’s previous owner and nine years of on the job trial-and-error.

“I’ve learned a lot by mistake,” said Her, a member of the Hmong community. “My cousin always told me to do my research before getting into something new. But that’s never been my way of doing things.”

Her houses 235,000 broilers, or meat chickens, in six poultry houses in the small town of Noel, Missouri, located just six miles northeast of where Missouri, Arkansas and Oklahoma intersect. He walks three miles a day through his 500-foot and 600-foot houses checking on the chickens that help provide for his family. Since beginning his Class 1 poultry operation in 2005, Her has raised chickens for local commercial poultry operator, Simmons. Read more »

For Rural Communities, It’s More than Just a Library

U.S. Dept. of Agriculture Rural Development State Director for Michigan James J. Turner joined the Village of Lake Odessa at a groundbreaking ceremony for the new community library.

U.S. Dept. of Agriculture Rural Development State Director for Michigan James J. Turner joined the Village of Lake Odessa at a groundbreaking ceremony for the new community library.

In a knowledge-based economy, libraries have a central role in helping rural residents learn and communicate. I stressed this point at a recent groundbreaking ceremony for the Lake Odessa Community Library.

Libraries are increasingly important for rural communities. They have expanded their role from lending books to offering meeting spaces and providing high-speed internet connections, the latter often being difficult to obtain away from urban centers. The expansion of the Lake Odessa Community Library is an investment in new economic opportunities for the area. Read more »

USDA Works With Remote Utah Tribe to Prevent Future Flooding

USDA Under Secretary Robert Bonnie (left), Chairwoman Lori Bear of the Skull Valley Band of the Goshute, and Deputy Under Secretary Ann Bartuska (right) discuss the impact of flooding on tribal lands. USDA photo.

USDA Under Secretary Robert Bonnie (left), Chairwoman Lori Bear of the Skull Valley Band of the Goshute, and Deputy Under Secretary Ann Bartuska (right) discuss the impact of flooding on tribal lands. USDA photo.

A massive wildfire followed by heavy rains greatly damaged the landscape of a Utah valley, home to the Skull Valley Band of the Goshute Indian Tribe. The natural disasters broke water delivery systems and disrupted vital community infrastructure.

Recently, the band’s leadership met with USDA officials to find solutions on how they could recover and prevent future flooding events.

At a StrikeForce for Rural Growth and Opportunity meeting held in Tooele near the reservation, Tribal Chairwoman Lori Bear and Vice Chairwoman Kristen Bear-Stewart took the opportunity to share with USDA Under Secretary Robert Bonnie and Deputy Under Secretary Ann Bartuska some challenges they face on the reservation. The USDA officials also toured the flood-damaged area. Read more »