FSA Administrator Val Dolcini speaks at the 2015 National Pheasant Fest and Quail Classic.
I recently attended the 2015 National Pheasant Fest and Quail Classic in Des Moines, Iowa, where I met with sportsmen, farmers, young people, wildlife biologists and others who are committed to strengthening wildlife habitat throughout America. It was exciting to see firsthand the passion for the native and restored grasslands and woodlands that typify the rural American landscape.
I had the honor of speaking to the group, where I highlighted the 30th anniversary of USDA’s Conservation Reserve Program (CRP). CRP, one of the largest private lands conservation programs in the nation, is designed to reduce soil erosion, improve water and air quality, and provide habitat for wildlife. Interested landowners can establish long-term USDA-approved grasses or trees in exchange for USDA helping with the cost of establishing the plants and providing annual payments for 10 to 15 years. The covers along fields, streams and rivers prevent soil and nutrients from washing into waterways, reduce soil erosion that may otherwise contribute to poor air and water quality, and provide valuable habitat for wildlife. Read more »
Like many ranchers suffering from the effects of drought, LaNelle Martin paid $5,000 more for high-priced hay and feed to keep her small operation running.
This post is part of a disaster assistance program feature series on the USDA blog. Check back every Wednesday as we showcase stories and news from USDA’s Farm Service Agency.
When enrollment opened for the USDA disaster assistance programs this April, LaNelle Martin was one of the first to sign up at the Kimball County FSA office in Nebraska.
“After two years of a severe drought our pastures are limited and haven’t grown,” said Martin. “We need the pasture to support our cattle and the cost of feed and hay is pricey.”
Nebraska, along with portions of the southern and western parts of the United States has suffered one of the longest and most devastating droughts in history. Kimball County’s worst seasons were 2012 to 2013, when the area was named a primary natural disaster area by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. This year, some snow and spring rains provided a little relief, “But as most of our producers say, we are only four to six weeks away from another disaster,” said Patricia Perry, FSA program technician in the Kimball County office. Read more »
Andy Getting’s high tunnel, financed with a Microloan from FSA, protects his new strawberries.
This post is part of a Microloan Success feature series on the USDA blog. Check back every Tuesday and Thursday as we showcase stories and news from USDA’s Farm Service Agency.
Beginning farmer Andy Getting was doing some research on the Internet when he came across information on USDA’s Microloan program. The program allows beginning, small and mid-sized farmers to access up to $35,000 in loans using a simplified application process, and with up to seven years to repay.
Getting, an Iowa farmer, grows irrigated corn, soybeans and strawberries. He is a part-owner with his parents, Don and Mary Getting, who are starting their 30th farming season.
The Gettings started growing strawberries in 1983 on one acre. Next year, they will pick 17 acres of June-bearing strawberries. Their customers have the option of picking their own berries or they can buy pre-picked berries at the market, which also sells fresh strawberry shakes, muffins, bread and many other strawberry-flavored baked goods made by Getting’s grandmother. During the summer months, the market employs 15 to 30 people. Read more »
This year, passage of a long-term, comprehensive Food, Farm and Jobs Bill is critical to providing certainty for U.S. producers. This includes the continued availability of conservation programs that give our farmers, ranchers and private foresters the means to conserve the soil, protect our water and sustain America’s natural resources.
Thanks to programs provided by the Farm Bill, USDA has been able to enroll a record number of private lands in conservation practices. Over the past four years, we have worked with more than 500,000 producers, landowners and private foresters on projects that help the environment, while providing a new source of income.
From May 20 to June 14, USDA is holding the 45th General Signup under the Conservation Reserve Program – another important effort provided by a Food, Farm and Jobs Bill. Read more »
As we look ahead to the coming years, I know that rural America has unlimited capacity to continue providing a great deal for every American – including even more opportunities to enjoy the great outdoors.
We know that many Americans deeply value outdoor recreation. According to industry estimates more than 140 million Americans participate in some outdoor recreation activity annually. In fact, more than 38 percent of American adults participate in hunting and fishing alone.
These opportunities are important for those living in our cities, and for their families. Outdoor recreation helps us all to enjoy the beauty of the outdoors – from parks, to trails, to lakes and forests. Meanwhile, getting outdoors allows us to instill a love and appreciation of the environment for our youngsters. Read more »
Gary and Karen Ricley on their Flying 7 Ranch, Platte County, Wyoming.
Some people have “heaven on earth.”
Have you ever wondered who or what they were talking about? If you were in Wyoming, it might have been Gary and Karen Ricley and their ranch along Slater Flats.
When Gary was offered an early retirement from his executive job in the auto industry in 1998, he was just 52 years old, so the Denver resident and his wife looked for a new adventure. They learned about a short section of land for sale in southern Platte County, an area known as Slater Flats. Read more »