On March 19, USDA joined millions of Americans in celebrating National Agriculture Day.
National Agriculture Day provides an important opportunity each year to say “Thank You” to America’s farmers, ranchers and growers. It’s a time to recognize their productivity and to celebrate their abilities.
Their work has real impacts for every American. Our abundant food supply means that we spend a lower portion of our income on food than the people of any other developed nation. Meanwhile, America’s agricultural exports support more than one million jobs here at home.
As we celebrate their achievements, it’s important for all of us to understand the uncertainty faced by our farmers, ranchers and growers. In the past year, they have endured the worst drought in generations – putting an extra strain on farmers, and raising input costs for livestock and dairy producers. The drought continues to impact many areas of the nation today. Read more »
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 »
When Kathy Patterson and Stacey Schuett decided to write President Obama a letter, it wasn’t about the economy or climate change. They didn’t give their views on gun control and they didn’t express their feelings about the gridlock in Congress.
They simply said thank you.
“We are writing to express our heartfelt appreciation for the microloan program that was put into place in January,” the letter stated. “While $35,000 is tiny compared to other programs, for a two-family farm like ours, it is a game changer.”
Kathy and Stacey, owners of Sebastopol Microgreens, were the first in Northern California to receive the new microloans developed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) to help beginning, small and niche farmers. The loans ease certain requirements, streamline the application process and provide a faster turnaround time for approvals, when compared to regular operating loans.
“This program is like having a partner give you a boost when you need it most,” said Kathy. Read more »
Lincoln Manufacturing USA, LLC employee, Jeff Burkett, explains product details to Kentucky State Director Tom Fern, RBS Administrator Lillian Salerno, and RBS program director in Kentucky, Jeff Jones. USDA photos.
Kentucky is well-known for its “bluegrass” lands, horses, bountiful agriculture and mountainous hills in the Appalachian region of America. A region historically challenged economically. But today, it is a region on the cusp of new economic opportunity. I recently saw first-hand how the region’s collaborative approach to economic development is unleashing a blazoned entrepreneurial spirit that serves as a model for re-establishing the relevance of rural America to our global economy. Read more »
Rossie Fisher, co-owner of Brookview Farm in Manakin-Sabot, VA. March 8 is International Women's Day.
Today, March 8th, is International Women’s Day. What better day to recognize the incredible achievements of women in agriculture?
Women have always played a key role on the farm or ranch. Traditionally, women often kept the books and ensured the solvency of the business while men ran the day-to-day production operation. Read more »
Stakeholders meet with USDA staff in New York recently to discuss ways to use Rural Development programs to help small businesses create jobs and grow businesses. USDA photo.
Last month, USDA Rural Development’s Delaware – Maryland State Office and the State Office staff in New York hosted roundtable discussions on Revolving Loan Fund (RLF) availability. RLF programs are unique programs that provide funds to local and regional organizations to capitalize and operate revolving loan funds. Revolving loan funds are used to assist with business financing and economic development activities to create and/or retain jobs in disadvantaged and remote communities. As such, these are programs that have great potential for meeting USDA’s rural economic mandate in a time of scarce federal funding. Read more »