Spring is now upon us and many local farmers markets are opening with displays of brilliant and vibrant colors. Farmers across the country are making local foods available to their communities. USDA photo courtesy of Peter Wood, AMS.
Spring is upon us and many local farmers markets are opening with displays of brilliant and vibrant colors. The fresh air has more people talking about and buying local foods. In fact, data from the USDA Economic Research Service suggests that farmers across the country sold an estimated $6.1 billion in locally marketed foods in 2012. My agency, the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), plays a role in increasing these numbers by creating marketing opportunities for American farmers and local food businesses through the combination of applied research, technical services, and grant support.
As the demand for local food increases, food hubs are one way farmers can deliver more fresh food to retailers, schools, hospitals and restaurants. That’s why expanding local food efforts have focused on creating more food hubs. A food hub is an enterprise that helps farmers collect and gather local and regional agricultural products for distribution and marketing to wholesale, retail, and institutional customers. Read more »
Farmers throughout the country are growing a new hope in healthy soil, which is cause for celebration on Earth Day 2015. Illustration by Catherine Ulitsky, NRCS.
I am a soil health geek.
I didn’t seek to become a geek. But the more I learned about our living and life-giving soil, the more I became convinced this miracle under our feet holds the promise of our future.
We are all connected to the soil. Without it, life as we know it would not exist. However, for years it was believed that the best hope for our precious soil was to slow its rate of erosion—to retard its inevitable decline. Read more »
Just-picked green zucchini squash waits to be loaded onto a processing trailer at Kirby Farms in Mechanicsville, VA. Kirby Farms is a third-generation family farm that covers 500 acres and generates produce and grains on a year-around operation. USDA photo by Lance Cheung.
Crop insurance has long been an important part of the farm safety net, providing a reliable and cost-effective risk management tool that ensures farmers can continue to farm even after tough years. Just as important is the planning and good stewardship of the land that farmers perform to ensure a sustainable food supply.
USDA has a long standing mission of helping people help the land. USDA provides assistance to producers with farm-level natural resource assessments and conservation planning as well as financial and technical assistance through a variety of voluntary conservation programs. USDA also provides the technical services necessary to implement conservation compliance provisions. Read more »
To be eligible to receive many USDA benefits, including loans, disaster assistance, federal crop insurance premium subsidies and conservation assistance, producers must comply with requirements for highly erodible lands and wetlands. The purpose of the conservation compliance provisions is to reduce soil loss on erosion-prone lands and protect wetlands. Use these steps to ensure you’re compliant.
Farmers seeking federal crop insurance premium subsidies for the 2016 reinsurance year must comply by June 1 by filing form AD-1026. Read more »
This blog was cross-posted on the Chicago Council’s Global Food for Thought blog.
Farmers, ranchers and foresters have long understood the need to care for our land and water. We depend on them for food, clothing and shelter – and they depend on our natural resources for their livelihoods.
The conversation about global food security rightly focuses on the most pressing issues of access, nutritional value, food safety, and productivity. Conservation and resource use are intrinsically tied to each of these challenges, but are not always a focal point. Read more »
Matthew Roberts received the National Earth Team Individual Award for volunteering more than 1,000 hours at the NRCS Wytheville Service Center. NRCS photo.
We’ve all heard the old adage, “It’s not what you know but who you know.” For Matthew Roberts, the “who” was only a first step on a path that has led him to contribute more than 1,000 hours of volunteer service to the Wytheville, Virginia Service Center and his community.
Matt’s career coach thought the Earth Team program would be a great fit for the Wytheville Community College student and referred him to the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). Little did anyone know how good a fit that would turn out to be. Read more »