A beginning farmer, Janine Ndagijimana (left), leases land from Vermont farmer Gene Button (center), and works with NRCS Soil Conservationist Danny Peet (far right) to improve soil health and protect water quality through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program. Photo: Amy Overstreet
Rwanda native Janine Ndagijimana, her husband Faustine and their children moved to Burlington, Vermont in 2007 after living in a refugee camp in Tanzania for 13 years. Now a U.S. citizen, she works closely with Ben Waterman, the New American Farmer Program coordinator at the University of Vermont Extension Service (UVM) Center for Sustainable Agriculture. He manages the Land Access and Assessment Program that helps Vermont’s resettled refugee and immigrant farmers obtain access to the resources they need to pursue their goals as farmers and to link common threads between their new home in America the culture of their homelands.
Janine was one of several farmers who recently attended a meeting of the Association of Africans Living in Vermont to learn about USDA programs and services. Farmers from Burundi, Rwanda, Somalia, and the Democratic Republic of Congo learned about land acquisition, insurance programs, loans to support farming, and technical and financial assistance for implementing conservation farming practices. Read more »
(Left to right) Dr. Craig Morris, Deputy Administrator, Livestock, Poultry, and Seed Program; Angie Snyder, Associate Deputy Administrator, Livestock, Poultry, and Seed Program; Administrator Starmer; and Jamie Mitchell from Fair Oaks Farms.
At the Agricultural Marketing Service and across USDA, we often talk about the fact that the face of American agriculture is changing. The ranks of our farmers, especially young and beginning farmers, include a growing number of women, people of color, veterans or folks in their second careers. So-called “traditional” agriculture defies the term as it pursues new strategies, new products, and new markets. Across the country, agriculture is diversifying and evolving to meet changing consumer demands.
I saw the new face of agriculture last week during travels to Illinois and Indiana. My first stop was a roundtable on Women in Agriculture held at FarmedHere in Bedford Park, Illinois, about 15 miles from Chicago. Twenty or so women gathered to talk about their farming goals and to hear about how USDA could support them. This topic is close to my heart – I’m a New Hampshire native, a state with the second highest percentage of women farmers in the country. The women around the table with me represented the new face of ag, but so too did the setting – an indoor, vertical farm that produces basil and microgreens in a facility designed to reduce energy costs and shrink the carbon footprint of growing food. FarmedHere is managed by Megan Klein, an attorney by training who found her calling in urban agriculture and became part of this “new face.” Read more »
Corn in Iowa was among the crops across the nation hit hard by the 2012 drought. The rapid response by crop insurance companies to that crisis demonstrated why public-private partnerships are good for today’s agricultural economy.
Farming is in my blood, and I’m proud of that. I grew up on my family’s sheep ranch in northern Utah and managed our raspberry farm before coming to USDA. For the past three years, as Administrator for the Department’s Risk Management Agency (RMA), I’ve sat across the table and listened to producers who, like myself back in Utah, couldn’t find an insurance product for their operation.
Natural disasters and unexpected events make agriculture a risky business, so having a strong safety net is essential for today’s farmers and ranchers. Nobody knows that better than RMA. Read more »
National Agricultural Statistics Service data released today (Feb. 18) shows there are now 2.07 million farms in the United States and the average farm size is up 3 acres from the previous year, to 441 acres.
Farmland is one of the most precious resources we have in this country. After all, it’s what we rely on for our food, fuel, and fiber. Unfortunately farmland is also a finite resource, and getting access to it is one of the major challenges new and beginning farmers and ranchers face. This is also why USDA analyzes many aspects of farms and farmland distribution.
Since 2007 we have seen the American agricultural industry reshape itself. Each year, the number of farms has declined while the average farm size keeps getting larger. According to the new numbers we released earlier today the trend is continuing. There are now 2.07 million farms in the United States, down 1 percent from a year before, with the average farm size of 441 acres, up 3 acres from the previous year. Read more »
2016 Agricultural Outlook Forum panelist, farmer Randall Hildreth at his 500 acre farm in Marengo County, Alabama. Nearly 200 of those acres were in Heir Property status and are currently in the process of getting a cleared title. (Photo courtesy of Randall Hildreth)
Focus on land tenure and transition issues has grown considerably in recent years, especially its impact on new and beginning farmers. “New and beginning farmers are the future of American agriculture,” said Deputy Secretary Harden. “The average age of an American farmer is 58 and increasing, so we must help new farmers get started if America is going to continue feeding the world and maintain a strong agriculture economy.” As the age of the principal farm operator continues to increase, the focus on this issue intensifies. Land tenure, succession and estate planning, and access to land for new and beginning farmers will be among the topics discussed in a session at USDA’s 2016 Agricultural Outlook Forum this month. Read more »
Agriculture Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden with The Women in Agriculture and Public Service delegates from sub-Saharan Africa after the round table discussion held at the Movenpick Ambassador Hotel in Accra, Ghana, on Nov. 15, 2015. USDA photo.
No matter where you’re from, no matter what you look like, no matter your background, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is here for you. It has been an exciting year at USDA, filled with growth and opportunity. This year, I have traveled the country and the world to meet with farmers, ranchers and agriculture leaders who love the land and want to help the next generation succeed.
As 2015 comes to a close, I would like to share the top five things USDA has done this year to build a more diverse future for agriculture: Read more »