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A Dream of Farming Becomes a Reality for this Kentucky Farm Mom

Emily Diamond's daughter on the farm

Emily handles the day-to-day operations on the farm, but everyone in the family does their part, which is what makes Diamond Family Farm such a successful family business. Photo courtesy of Emily Diamond, used with permission.

Emily Diamond is a wife, mother, and farmer. She and her family own and operate the Diamond Family Farm in LaGrange, Kentucky. Emily’s farm supplies meat for her family and to the surrounding community through Community Supported Agriculture (CSA). Through CSAs, the community commits to buying the farm’s harvest, sharing both the bounty and risk of farming.

As new farmers, the Diamond family had a dream of producing healthy meat for their family on their own farm.

After hard work and saving their earnings, the family purchased land and began farming. “We built it all from scratch,” Emily said, “but looking back, it would have been easier if we would have purchased land with fencing and a barn already in place.” Read more »

Deadline is Today for Producers to Meet Conservation Compliance Filing Deadline

 The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is reminding producers to file a Highly Erodible Land Conservation and Wetland Conservation Certification form (form AD-1026) with their local USDA Service Center, either by filing in person or postmarking today, June 1, 2015.

The 2014 Farm Bill requires producers to have the form on file in order to remain eligible or to become eligible for federal crop insurance premium subsidies. Many producers already have a certification form on file since it’s required for participation in most USDA programs including marketing assistance loans, farm storage facility loans and disaster assistance. Read more »

Building a Better Future Together: Homeownership Month 2015

Homeowner Michelle Amrine taking a selfie with a crew of folks helping her build her home

Homeowner Michelle Amrine takes a selfie with a crew of folks helping her to build her home in Ohio.

Rural America faces a unique set of challenges when it comes to combating poverty in our towns and communities. Too often, rural people and places are hard to reach or otherwise underserved — but USDA makes sure they are not forgotten. I believe that USDA and its partners have the tools and the means to expand opportunity and better serve those living in poverty.  This month, Homeownership Month, we are celebrating a program that has helped rural families locate and climb ladders of opportunity into the middle class: The Mutual Self-Help Housing Program.

Fifty years ago USDA initiated The Mutual Self-Help Housing Program to provide very low- and low-income families the opportunity to achieve the American dream of homeownership, and in 50 years, USDA has partnered with more than 100 non-profit Self-Help Housing Organizations to help 50,000 rural American families accomplish homeownership. Read more »

Streamlined Process Helps Farmers Put Conservation on the Ground in Record Time

The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), is always looking for ways to do things better — whether it is how to conserve more soil on a farming operation or how to streamline internal business processes.

Recently, NRCS made vast improvements to its grants and agreements process making it easier, more timely and efficient for partners to work with us on locally-led conservation projects. Read more »

USDA Goes All in for Produce Safety Outreach

Small grower Warren Ford in a field

The Harmonized GAPs Food Safety audit provided by AMS has helped small grower Warren Ford expand his business from selling a couple hundred bushels of peas a summer to selling more than 3,000 cases a summer to Walmart. Photo courtesy Warren and Rosha Ford.

For the produce industry, the summer and fall of 2015 is more than a chance to share a new season of crops with customers. It’s when several of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) laws will become final. FSMA will make significant changes to the country’s food safety laws, including the first-ever regulation of fresh produce and a more proactive approach to preventing foodborne illnesses. My colleagues at the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) have been working hard with our partners to expand our outreach efforts about food safety to help the produce industry prepare for compliance.

One of the ways that we help the industry prepare for compliance is through a successful partnership with Cornell University and the FDA via the Produce Safety Alliance (PSA).  We recently renewed this partnership through a Cooperative Agreement that enables the three entities to devote funds for training and outreach events. Since 2010, AMS has enjoyed working with our colleagues to engage with produce growers, industry members, regulators, and extension educators through working committees, public meetings, focus groups, and webinars. Read more »

Key Sage Grouse Habitat Protected in Colorado through a Conservation Easement Partnership

Chris West (who directed CCALT up until May 2015), left, celebrating conservation progress at the Yust ranch with Jay and Jim Yust, and CCALT's Carolyn Aspelin

Chris West (who directed CCALT up until May 2015), left, celebrates conservation progress at the Yust ranch with Jay and Jim Yust, and CCALT's Carolyn Aspelin, who worked closely with the family to close this important conservation easement. Photo courtesy of Deborah Richie with SGI.

The recent conservation easement on the Yust Ranch in northwestern Colorado represents not only the preservation of a five-generation ranching entity, it also illustrates the vitality of partnerships that expand federal programs and initiatives aimed at protecting wildlife habitat, particularly for species of concern. Read more »