Eric and Allison are third generation farmers who used an FSA Operating Loan to take the business to the next level.
When Eric Johnson finished high school, he didn’t see cows in his future.
“I wanted a new adventure and I wanted to try something different after being on the farm my whole life,” said Eric. “I tried carpentry and later worked at a nursery as a landscaper laying paver patios and building rock walls.”
Landscaping didn’t employ year-round so he began work at a large dairy. This is also how he met his wife Alison. “I enjoyed my work on the dairy farm and that’s when I realized I missed working on the farm where I grew up,” said Eric. Read more »
U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Bioenergy Memorandum of Understanding is signed by wood energy partners (left - right) Biomass Thermal Energy Council, Executive Director Joseph Seymour; Alliance for Green Heat, President John Ackerly; USDA Deputy Agriculture Secretary Krysta Harden; Pellet Fuels Institute Executive, Director Jennifer Hedrick; Biomass Power Association, President and CEO Bob Cleaves, at the USDA Headquarters in Washington, D.C. on September 11, 2013. USDA Photo by Lance Cheung.
Earlier this week, USDA, U.S. Forest Service and partners took a major step to improve forest management, create rural jobs, prevent wildfires, and expand promising renewable energy opportunities.
Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden joined leaders from the Alliance for Green Heat, the Biomass Power Association, the Biomass Thermal Energy Council, and the Pellet Fuels Institute here in Washington for the announcement of a new partnership agreement. Acting as master of ceremonies for the signing event was Acting USDA Rural Development Under Secretary Doug O’Brien. Through the Rural Energy for America program and other programs, Rural Development has been a leader in promoting deployment of wood-to-energy projects. Read more »
Adam McCurry, Agricultural Technician for North Carolina Cooperative Extension in Yancey County conducts a lesson about local apple varieties before taking students outside to plant an apple tree at Bald Creek Elementary School in Burnsville, North Carolina. (Photo courtesy of Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project, Asheville, North Carolina)
Kids are headed back to school and so are county Extension agents.
As schools continue to teach kids where their food comes from and bring local and regional products into the school cafeteria, one group they may want to partner with on their farm to school activities is their local or regional Cooperative Extension office. Cooperative Extension Systems are administered by each state’s Land-Grant University System. Programs are available in all 50 states and Washington, D.C. and most states have local or regional Extension offices that are staffed by one or more experts, often referred to as Extension agents or Extension educators.
Nationally, more and more Cooperative Extension Systems are devoting key resources to supporting farm to school activities. Of the 68 fiscal year 2013 USDA Farm to School Grants distributed, 25 percent included partners from Cooperative Extension. State Extension Systems such as Ohio, Minnesota, and Illinois have already dedicated resources and personnel to leading their states farm to school programs. And at the upcoming national Extension conference, farm to school and local foods are sure to be a major themes discussed. Read more »
In agriculture, we talk a lot about sustainability. As a method of growing crops, caring for ecosystems like forests or wetlands, or even the economic sustainability of businesses—we look at this word from all angles. But there’s another component to consider: cultural sustainability.
As a nation of immigrants, we have many rich and complex influences woven into the history of our country. Foods we eat, holidays we celebrate, how we create goods or perform services—these are all things that are shaped by the cultural identities of our families and the communities around us.
For many communities, farmers markets are playing a pivotal role in maintaining and enabling these cultural ties. Read more »
While many manufacturing companies provide well-paying jobs and play a vital role in creating vibrant, healthy rural communities, sometimes rural communities may struggle to attract these companies. To help bridge this gap, the Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership (IMCP) was created. This Administration-wide effort brings together federal departments and agencies to provide coordinated assistance to communities to become more attractive for manufacturers.
Recently, USDA hosted two IMCP events in Minnesota and California with diverse audiences of about 120 stakeholders representing manufacturing businesses, lenders, economic development organizations, universities and community colleges, small businesses development centers, and local leaders among others. At both meetings, USDA Rural Business-Cooperative Service Administrator Lillian Salerno led panels of federal partners that discussed the initiative and sought input on the needs of local manufacturers. Read more »
Earlier today, Secretary Vilsack announced the results of the Healthy Incentives Pilot (HIP) , a pilot project designed to test the impact of incentivizing fruit and vegetable purchases among SNAP recipients. The pilot showed that an ongoing investment of less than 15 cents per person per day may result in a 25 percent increase in fruit and vegetable consumption among adults. Adults receiving the HIP incentive consumed, on average, an ounce more fruits and vegetables per day than non-participants.
These are promising and exciting results. But we know that there is no silver bullet that can solve the problems of poor diet and obesity among American children and families. Despite increased public awareness of the vital role of nutritious food choices and proper physical activity on our health, the habits of most Americans—SNAP recipients and non-recipients alike—fall short of the recommendations of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. And although research shows that healthy foods aren’t necessarily more expensive than less healthy options, many low income people face additional time and resource challenges when it comes to putting healthy food on the table that can make less healthy options seem more appealing. Read more »