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Conservation Partnership Helps Family Farm Thrive

After partnering with government at the municipal, state and federal levels, Bushy Hill Orchard is thriving.

Allen and Becky Clark have been farming for 17 years. When they started their small business, they grew flowers, pumpkins and corn stalks. Four years ago, they began raising goats for milk and cheese and eventually started making soap as well. The Clarks had long wanted to expand their farm but couldn’t afford the high cost of land. But thanks in part to the Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program (FRPP) of the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), they recently realized their dream.  Read more »

Connecting Children to Food and Farming: Agriculture in the Classroom

As the population of the United States has transitioned from a predominantly agrarian society to an increasingly more urban one, our youth have become detached from a fundamental understanding of agriculture.  Nonetheless, we benefit from the innovations and efficiencies of our food supply on a daily basis.

USDA’s Agriculture in the Classroom (AITC) Program promotes agricultural literacy among the nation’s K-12 students.  This is accomplished by a network of AITC programs located across the country that serve nearly 5 million students and 60,000 teachers through workshops and other teaching activities each year.  AITC provides resources that incorporate other subjects, such as mathematics, language arts, history, and chemistry, into learning experiences that correspond to state academic standards.  Agricultural literacy is fundamental to the development of the next generation of scientists, teachers, and policy-makers to ensure a sufficient food supply for the world’s inhabitants. Read more »

Know Your Sooner, Know Your Food

Glynis Coleman and her son sell peppers and berries at a KYF2 Conference at the Kerr Center in Oklahoma.

Larry Wright leaned to his right and said, “I just realized that when I was up there introducing the conference, I forgot to tell everyone who I was.”Larry is the Oklahoma area coordinator for the Great Plains Resource Conservation and Development’s (RC&D) and worked tirelessly for five months planning a conference that would help build the rural communities his council serves.  After his first Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food Conference and Gala more than 250 attendees know exactly what Larry does, and will be telling their friends about him, too. Read more »

Agroforestry Means Food Prosperity….and More!

Nicola Macpherson is the owner of Ozark Forest Mushrooms in Salem, Missouri. With the assistance of her state’s forestry agency, a Forest Stewardship Plan was developed to help her sustainably manage the forest and produce wholesome mushroom products at the same time.

Imagine an open field of vegetables and greens, exposed to the sun and the wind on the outskirts of your town.  Now imagine a row of trees sheltering the crops from hot dry winds and producing more marketable melons than in open fields; more snap beans earlier and later in the season when prices are higher. Read more »

Farmers Markets as Small Business Incubators

The USDA Farmers Market is located at the corner of 12th Street and Independence Avenue and will be open every Friday from 10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. through November 16th.

Last Sunday, CBS News featured USDA Deputy Secretary Merrigan and discussed how farmers markets are part of a fundamental shift in the way people access their food and interact with their community.  And, as the story notes, “… [f]armers markets and other forms of selling straight to customers are helping to keep farmers in business,” which is why those of us at the Agriculture Marketing Service were excited to report that there are now 6,100-plus farmers markets, recognizing that these markets provide jobs and economic growth opportunities for their producers. Read more »

An Introduction to Mobile Slaughter Units

In the United States the slaughter and processing of meat sold in the marketplace must take place at a state or federally-inspected facility.  The USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, or FSIS, is responsible for this important task.  While these requirements are important for protecting the public’s health, they can create challenges for farmers, ranchers, and processors looking to do business.

For example, small livestock producers are finding it hard (and at times, cost prohibitive) to transport their livestock the long distances necessary to the closest FSIS-inspected slaughter facility.  This is especially troubling to producers at a time when markets for locally grown and specialty products are becoming more and more profitable.  FSIS-inspected “mobile slaughter units” provide a feasible option for small red meat and poultry producers wanting to provide safe, wholesome product to local and interstate markets. Read more »