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Undersecretary Scuse Challenges Beginning Farmers to Let Their Voices Be Heard

A passion for agriculture is what brought 50 young farmers to the Washington, D.C., area this week, as part of a national networking forum for the next generation of producers.

“We want to let young producers know that their voice is important and they shouldn’t be hesitant or bashful about communicating with policymakers,” said Gordon Stone, executive vice president of the National Young Farmer Educational Association, or NYFEA, which sponsored Agriculture’s Promise: The Washington Forum.

Undersecretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services Michael Scuse joined several speakers on day two of the three-day event — held Monday, Feb. 4 at National Harbor — to provide an overview of the Farm Service Agency, Risk Management and Foreign Agricultural Service and encourage discussion about USDA’s programs and policies. Scuse mentioned a new microloan program designed to help small and family operations, beginning and socially disadvantaged farmers secure loans under $35,000. Microloans will help producers through their start-up years by providing needed resources and helping to increase equity so that farmers may eventually graduate to commercial credit and expand their operations. Scuse also spoke about the importance of communicating effectively with rural America. Read more »

USDA, National Endowment for the Arts, Artplace, work Together to Bring Opportunities to Rural Artists

WormFarm’s autumn D’Tour project in Sauk County, Wisconsin (Photo courtesy of WormFarm. Used with permission.)

WormFarm’s autumn D’Tour project in Sauk County, Wisconsin (Photo courtesy of WormFarm. Used with permission.)

As part of USDA’s effort to partner with foundations and increase investments in rural America, the Department has been working with the National Endowment for the Arts and Artplace to maximize grants that are being made in rural communities.  ArtPlace is a non-profit organization which implements a funding pool from thirteen national and regional foundations and six national banks.  In the past two years ArtPlace has invested nearly $30 million to support organizations aiming to improve their communities through creative place-making. Read more »

Building a Better Website for the Battle Against Forest Invaders

The emerald ash borer continues to expand its range in eastern forests and urban areas.

The emerald ash borer continues to expand its range in eastern forests and urban areas.

The Forest Service is making it easier than ever to report the spread of insects that have invaded America’s national, state, private and urban forests.

Forest Health Protection has released Version 2 of its mapping and reporting portal.  Built on the latest technology, the portal is an interactive and engaging complement to the agency’s Major Forest Insect and Disease Conditions annual reports. Read more »

International Trade Topics Featured at USDA Ag Outlook Forum

The theme for this year’s USDA Agricultural Outlook Forum is centered on managing risk in today’s markets. The forum will feature several international trade sessions highlighting strategies, challenges, and prospects for growth for U.S. agricultural exporters.

One of the international trade sessions, “Prospects for Export Growth in Mexico, Indonesia, South Korea, and Turkey,” will feature a panel of experts highlighting the many promising market opportunities for these countries. Commonly known as MIST, these markets accounted for more than 21 percent of U.S. exports with shipments reaching $29 billion compared to $18 billion only five years ago.

Panelists include Mitch Skalicky, the U.S. Wheat Associates Regional Vice President for Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean; Dennis Voboril, a returning USDA agricultural counselor from Indonesia; Michael Francom, a returning agricultural attaché from South Korea; and Kyd D. Brenner of DTB Associates, LLP, discussing Turkey. Read more »

Ten Best Cities for Urban Forests

Washington, D.C. (Photo courtesy District Department of Transportation)

Washington, D.C. (Photo courtesy District Department of Transportation)

America is home to more than 100 million acres of urban and community forests. These are the forests that line our streets, shade our buildings and burst with color every spring and fall. Trees also clean our air and help prevent pollution and flooding. That’s one of the reasons we like to call our urban trees ‘the hardest working trees in America.’ Read more »

New Generation Farmers Add 21st-Century Spin to New Mexico Operation

LESA/LEPA system on Gonzales’ alfalfa field

LESA/LEPA system on Gonzales’ alfalfa field

Joseph and Jeremy Gonzales are doing something different with their Gonzales Land and Cattle operation in Lovington, N.M., and it’s hard not to notice. Farming is hard enough without adding extra challenges. So the Gonzales brothers are using 21st-century technology to work smarter, not harder. Read more »