The recent Census of Agriculture shows that there is tremendous potential for growth among the smaller producers that make up the middle of American agriculture, but they need our support to get there.
That can mean a lot of different things. Some small and mid-sized farms and ranches are happy just the way they are, and simply need stability to help them keep afloat during tough times. Others want to grow and expand, but don’t know how to access support that meets their specific needs.
Recognizing these challenges, we have launched a new package of education, credit, technical assistance, and marketing tools and resources geared specifically to small and mid-sized farmers and ranchers. Read more »
This week, President Obama released USDA’s fiscal year 2015 budget proposal, which supports our ongoing work to create jobs and opportunity in rural America.
The budget builds on the new opportunities available to us through the recently-passed 2014 Farm Bill to achieve reform and results for the American taxpayer; foster opportunity for the men and women living, working and raising families in rural America; and support innovation through strategic, future-focused investments.
My team at USDA has been hard at work identifying everything that will be required—regulations, guidance and other activities—to develop a plan to implement the new Farm Bill. Read more »
National FFA officers meet with Secretary Vilsack at the Agriculture Department on January 15. USDA photo by Tom Witham.
“We are excited by the challenges you presented to us,” said FFA National Secretary Mitch Bayer at the conclusion of a half-hour meeting of National FFA officers with Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack at the USDA Whitten Building earlier this week.
In his meeting with the officers, the Secretary covered a wide range of issues, including the immediate need for a new Food, Farm and Jobs Bill. When it passes, he said, the National FFA should study provisions that will help young, beginning farmers become established. He said there will be, he hopes, an easier path to credit and also support for the USDA microloan program, which helps beginning farmers and others buy equipment, rent ground, and buy livestock or supplies at affordable interest rates. The Secretary noted that 70 percent of the world’s farmers are women, and USDA is working to provide greater opportunities to women, Native Americans, Hispanics, African Americans and others who want to farm. Read more »
Organic agriculture is a strong contributor to USDA’s goals for rural economic development, and we are committed to supporting continued growth of the organic sector by removing obstacles for organic farmers and businesses.
As an organic farmer, I know how frustrating it can be to search the internet for information that might help my operation. It might be there somewhere but finding it takes precious time, especially if I don’t know exactly what I’m looking for. Now, USDA has solved part of that problem with a centralized web resource center on USDA.gov for all the programs, services, and data we have that support organic agriculture. Not only is this web resource center a “one-stop shop” for information about organics at USDA, but there is lots in store!
Organic operations (and those considering transitioning to organic) can: Read more »
Rural America faces tremendous uncertainty today. Congress has not yet passed a Food, Farm and Jobs Bill, and the current extension of 2008 Farm Bill programs will soon expire. Additionally, thus far, no budget has been provided by Congress to continue funding the Federal government past September 30.
Amid this uncertainty, USDA remains focused on our mission and on our work to revitalize the rural economy. We have delivered record investments under President Obama’s leadership, and we will continue working to do so. In a time of reduced resources, we’ve also taken a wide range of new, collaborative approaches with other government agencies—complementing our public-private partnerships and creating better collaboration among state and local partners. Read more »
The 8th Annual Governor’s Native American Summit was held last week at Utah Valley University in Salt Lake City, Utah. Utah’s Rural Development State Director Wilson “David” Conine wanted to share with attendees the importance a community development financial institution (CDFI) can play in tribal development. He turned to his counterpart, South Dakota Rural Development State Director Elsie M. Meeks who has over 20 years of experience working for Native community economic development.
Meeks recognized CDFI as an important part of the infrastructure for delivering consistent funding for housing and small business development activities that benefit low and moderate income people. They combine multiple sources of public and private capital in order to make loans and investments available in ways tailored to the particular underserved geographies and types of businesses or borrowers. Developing capacity among these types of organizations can increase utilization of USDA programs in a region, many of which provide long-term below-market capital for permanent improvements in rural areas. Read more »