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New Online Revenue Protection Tool from the Risk Management Agency

Pacific Northwest diversified crop and livestock producers now have a valuable online tool to help them better evaluate whole-farm insurance protection. AGR-Lite is a federally subsidized, whole-farm revenue protection package and is available through private crop insurance agents in 38 states. The tool will allow farmers to explore their eligibility to estimate premium costs specific to their farms, consider various future loss scenarios and print reports to assist in their insurance options. USDA’s Risk Management Agency (RMA) funded a partnership between the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) and Montana Tech of the University of Montana to develop AGR-Lite.

The tool uses a producer’s 5-year historical IRS farm income information and an annual farm report as a base to provide a level of guaranteed revenue for the insurance period. It also provides insurance coverage for multiple agriculture commodities in one insurance product and provides maximum liability coverage of $1 million. Read more »

Finding and Controlling Invasive-Plants? There’s an App for That

The Forest Service has added an iPhone/iPad application called Invasive Plants in Southern Forests: Identification and Management to its strategy of reducing nonnative invasive plants in the South.

The free app will allow more people to get involved in eradicating foreign plants, which, along with nonnative animals and pathogens, harm water supplies.  They also harm native plants, wildlife, livestock and property in both rural and urban areas at a cost of about $138 billion annually. Read more »

Taking Part in a “Yes We Can” America

Each year, USDA Rural Development assists thousands of limited income Americans achieve the dream of homeownership.  We do it with the support of our partners and our field staff.  Below, cross-posted from the White House website, is the story of one person in Utah who teamed with USDA to make a big difference.

Cross posted from the White House Champions of Change website:

Emily S. Niehaus is the Founder and Executive Director of Community Rebuilds, a nonprofit whose mission is to build energy-efficient housing, provide education on sustainability, and improve the housing conditions of the workforce through an affordable program.

In 2008, Presidential candidate Barack Obama declared “Yes We Can.” I, along with millions of other Americans, was inspired by this approach to politics. I understood this message to be a partnership request. I had a role to play. And so I founded Community Rebuilds to address an affordable housing need in my rural community with the larger goal of shifting the existing construction paradigm to have a lighter impact. Community Rebuilds’ mission is to build energy-efficient housing, provide education on sustainability, and improve the housing conditions of the workforce through an affordable program. Read more »

USDA Recognizes Manufacturers who are Making a Difference in Rural America

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack addresses Honorees as Business and Cooperative Programs Administrator Judith Canales looks on.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack addresses Honorees as Business and Cooperative Programs Administrator Judith Canales looks on.

Last month the White House and the USDA hosted the “Recognition of Manufacturing Success in Rural America” event at the White House Eisenhower Executive Office building in Washington, DC.  The ceremony recognized 46 rural manufacturing companies that have made outstanding contributions to the economy and job sustainability in their communities. Read more »

Got Questions about #AgCensus? Send Them Our Way!

Every five years USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service asks millions of people around the country to fill out the Census of Agriculture. And inevitably, we get millions of questions about it. This time around, we are taking advantage of communication tools that weren’t available to us last time and turning to Twitter to answer questions that farmers and ranchers may have. After all, times are changing and more and more operations have online access with each passing year.

Today at 1 p.m. EST, we will spend an hour on our agency’s Twitter account (@usda_nass) answering questions about the 2012 Census of Agriculture. We’d love to hear from all of you to address any concerns, reservations or just simple inquiries you may have about participating in the Census. To make sure that we see your questions, simply add the #AgCensus tag to your tweet. Read more »

Ensuring Food Stamp Integrity

Cross posted from Politico:

As agriculture undersecretary and a former director of state Health and Human Services departments in Maine, Oregon and Iowa, I know the importance of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as food stamps. In today’s difficult economic times, this vital program helps families across the nation put food on the table.

Despite a rash of recent stories about food stamp fraud, the facts are that the Agriculture Department has a zero tolerance policy on this. We aggressively pursue those trying to take advantage of America’s compassion for people in need. Read more »