I was honored to accompany Governor Lincoln Chafee at the Rhode Island Agriculture Day held at the Statehouse in Providence. In my remarks to farmers, agriculture organizations, legislators, and government officials, I emphasized the Obama Administration’s commitment to Rural America, and complimented producers for being a model for the nation in direct marketing of agricultural products.
Ten percent of Rhode Island’s agricultural sales move through direct marketing channels such as farmers markets, roadside stands and CSA’s. In addition, Rhode Island has developed a successful Farm-to-School program and a Farm-to-Plate program with local restaurants. Read more »
Deputy Secretary Merrigan far left shares a humors moment with , Local Food Hub Director Marisa Vrooman, USDA Rural Development State Director Ellen Davis, Local Food Hub Director Kate Collier and Local Food Hub staffer, Alan Moore.
“The Jefferson Area Board for Aging (JABA) are myth-busters, plain and simple,” said Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan at a recent funding announcement held at JABA’s main office and Adult Daycare Center in Charlottesville, Virginia. Read more »
The Historic Downtown Farmers Market in Hot Springs, Arkansas.
“It is our belief that by supporting our local farmers today, we can ensure that there will be farms in our community tomorrow.” - Kent Myers, former City of Hot Springs Manager
Recently Hot Springs, Arkansas dedicated its new Farmers Market Pavilion at the Historic Downtown Farmers Market in Hot Springs, Arkansas. This dedication is the culmination of years of effort that began with a Farmers Market Promotion Program grant in 2006 from the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service. Read more »
Farmers Markets offer in season, local produce to communities nationwide
Cross-Posted from the Let’s Move! Blog
Have you ever wanted fresh, local produce but didn’t know how to find the nearest farmers market? The USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) makes it easy with the National Farmers Market search engine, which lists more than 6,100 markets across the nation. Markets can be searched by name, city, zip code, and several other keyword fields. Read more »
The Department of Agriculture is a big institution, with a $149 billion budget and 114,000 employees. When Secretary Vilsack asked me to spearhead the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food initiative, my first impulse wasn’t to create new programs and authorities, but rather to figure out how better to use the resources at hand. Of course, I was aware of certain USDA programs that have, for years, focused on local food, such as the Farmers Market Promotion Program within the Agricultural Marketing Service. I was also aware that Congress, as part of the 2008 farm bill, took new interest in local foods by, for example, directing that USDA set aside 5% of funding to promote local foods within the Business and Industry Loan Program in the Rural Business and Cooperative Service. Finally, I knew many existing USDA programs, while not dedicated to local food, could be harnessed to better support local and regional food systems. Read more »
Yesterday, USDA and Virginia State University co-hosted the 3rd Annual USDA Outreach Conference in Petersburg, VA. Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan addressed Virginia’s farmers, rural businesses and rural community leaders at the event. The grass-roots conference focused on providing information about USDA programs and services with a goal of strengthening the partnership between small farms and USDA. Deputy Secretary Merrigan highlighted USDA resources ranging from the Farmers Market Promotion Program to Specialty Crop Block Grants and a multitude of assistance available through the Rural Development Agency.
The Deputy Secretary was introduced by Virginia State University President Eddie Moore, Jr. who is leading a University at the cutting-edge of agricultural research. VSU is exploring specialty crop production potential in Virginia through the use of high tunnels to extend the growing season for Virginia farmers.
During a tour of Virginia Cooperative Extension’s Randolph Farm and green houses, Extension Specialist Reza Rafie, Ph.D. and Research Specialist Christopher Mullins, highlighted green papayas, white guava, ginger, lemon grass, bitter melon, and raspberries among other specialty crops. The VSU team has been able to increase raspberry production using the high tunnels with a steady crop being produced from May to December. Dr. Rafie specializes in disseminating research-based, practical management information to assist small-scale horticulture. Mr. Mullins provides information and technical assistance to vegetable growers to increase their profits by raising commercial vegetables through various methods such as greenhouses and high tunnels to get a head start on production
USDA’s Natural Resource Conservation Service is promoting the use of high tunnels through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) cost-sharing program.