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Posts tagged: Farmers

Strength in Our Numbers—Even Small Ones Thanking Farmers, Ranchers, and Veterans

Barn side flag in rural america.

Barn side flag in rural america.

 There’s always something to give thanks for at harvest time, but our gratitude shouldn’t be limited to this page of the calendar. Farmers, ranchers, and veterans come to mind as leaves become memories and daylight diminishes. This small portion of our population ensures that what we sometimes take for granted as plans for the holiday season unfold, is also available for all year round. 

     When you think about it, each time we lift a fork from our table, a farmer or rancher makes possible almost every morsel of food on the plate.  At night as we enjoy resting peacefully in the comfort of our homes, a member of our military is somewhere in harm’s way providing a blanket of security for our uninterrupted sleep. The men and women responsible for these gifts display the best of rural America’s cultural landscape. Read more »

USDA Makes First Visit to Cuba Since 1961

“Today I had the opportunity to meet with Cuban fruit and vegetable farmers in the Antero Regalado Agricultural Cooperative in Güira de Melena, and hog and sheep producers in the Niceto Pérez Livestock Cooperative. They talked openly about the membership structure of their cooperatives, and they share many of the same concerns that face American farmers, such as climate change and pests, in addition to their own unique challenges with irrigation and equipment. I look forward to seeing more Americans have the opportunity for conversations and exchanging of ideas with their Cuban counterparts like I have had over the past few days. Throughout history, agriculture has served as a bridge to foster cooperation, and I have no doubt that agriculture will continue to play that powerful role as we expand our relationship with the Cuban people in the coming years.” – Secretary Vilsack

Last week, I was part of the first USDA team to visit Cuba since U.S. Government offices were closed there in 1961, and I was the third U.S. Cabinet official to visit the island since President Obama announced his intent to resume relations with Cuba late last year. Food and agricultural goods are the dominant U.S. exports to Cuba, and it is my firm belief—and one that appears to be shared by the Cuban people and government officials—that agriculture can serve as a bridge to foster cooperation, understanding and the exchange of ideas. Read more »

Veteran Turns Backyard Hobby into Successful Agribusiness

Ed and Sheila Spence in front of their sign

Ed Spence retired from the U.S. Marine Corps and moved back home to North Carolina with his wife Sheila to farm. The FSA microloan helped Spence purchase a plastic mulcher and seed and fertilizer for two years.

Growing up on a farm in Kipling, North Carolina, Edward Spence thought the one thing he was not going to do as an adult was farm.

“It was hard work from sunup to sundown and there was no reward for it because we didn’t own the land,” said Spence, whose parents were sharecroppers. “We had a place to live and a small plot to grow the food we ate, but there was no financial reward, nothing tangible.”

That all changed when “life happened,” said Spence. After losing two brothers in the Vietnam War, Spence volunteered — when others were drafted — to serve in the U.S. Marine Corps and fight for his country. Read more »

Crop Insurance Keeps the Rural Economy Strong and Sustainable

USDA New Farmers website screenshot

Beginning farmers may explore new web resources to help them get started. USDA photo.

Agriculture is an inherently risky business. Some risks are everyday business risks; some risks are brought on by natural disasters. Producers need to regularly manage for financial, marketing, production, human resource and legal risks.

Helping farmers and ranchers overcome such unexpected events, not only benefits individual producers, but also rural communities that depend on agriculture. Over time, resilient rural producers help form robust rural economies, which build a strong economic foundation and provide improved access to credit for the next generation of beginning farmers and ranchers. Read more »

A Commitment We Must Keep

Leon Kauzlarich (left) and his son, David, with their dog in front of their handicapped-accessible ramp

Leon Kauzlarich (left) and his son, David, are both U.S. Army veterans with critical home repairs in place, including a handicap-accessible ramp.

When Ivory Smith of Poplarville, Mississippi separated from the Army after ten years of service – including tours in Iraq and Afghanistan – he attended a USDA-sponsored workshop held through our partner, the National Center for Appropriate Technology. At this ‘Armed to Farm’ workshop for returning Veterans, he learned about small-scale sustainable agricultural practices, and from there developed his microgreens company, SmithPonics, that now supplies fresh salad microgreens to restaurants in his area.

Many of our Veterans, old and young alike, are dealing with the physical and mental scars of combat. USDA Rural Development has been able to provide real support to those Veterans who need care when they return from service – Veterans like Leon Kauzlarich from rural Appanoose County, Iowa. Leon got help to repair his home, and make it accessible to help with his mobility issues. Read more »

USDA Programs Help Ease Transition to Farming, One Vet at a Time

A corn field

Kyle Cox redeployed his energies to grow corn and other crops on the family farm after 12 years in the Army. Cox, a graduate of Farm Beginnings, is one of many veteran training programs supported by USDA’s Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program.

Located three miles east of Vale, South Dakota, on Cox Farms, Cox Sweet Corn is produced by veteran Kyle Cox, who left the Army after 12 years to return to the family farm.

In 2013, Cox separated from the Army to begin his family’s future in agriculture. With 700 acres, the farm produces alfalfa, corn, and more than 2,000 head of cattle.  To help make the most of his agricultural opportunities, Cox took advantage of veteran-focused training funded by U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA).  The training is part of USDA-wide effort to support veteran farmers. Read more »