New Jersey farmer Liang Shao Hua listens to NRCS technical advisor Frank Wu provide advice in Chinese Mandarin, Liang’s native language. His limited English proficiency restricted his exposure to USDA farm programs until Tropical Storm Sandy made it necessary for Liang to connect with the department for assistance. He is now an FSA loan recipient and appreciates the cost-share benefits of the Emergency Conservation Program funds that assisted his family’s clean-up efforts.
Disasters create pain. And recovery from disasters creates partnerships and opportunity.
That is the lesson Liang Shao Hua learned in the past year after Tropical Storm Sandy, also known as Super Storm Sandy, destroyed his New Jersey high-tunnel farming operation and left him wondering how to manage his loss.
Liang, a Chinese American with very limited English proficiency, relied first on his American-born son, Peter, a 21-year-old college student studying at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, New York. Peter obtained USDA paperwork from the Farm Service Agency (FSA) that helped his father apply for Emergency Conservation Program (ECP) funds. He, his brother, David, 19, and mother, Pei Yin, joined Liang in the clean-up efforts.
Liang Shao Hua was among 315 successful applicants for ECP, one-third from New Jersey. The applicants stretched from West Virginia to New Hampshire. That was the wide swath where Sandy and her trailing cold front left a path of destruction to Atlantic Coast and New England farms. Read more »
Rossie Fisher, co-owner of Brookview Farm in Manakin-Sabot, VA. March 8 is International Women's Day.
Today, March 8th, is International Women’s Day. What better day to recognize the incredible achievements of women in agriculture?
Women have always played a key role on the farm or ranch. Traditionally, women often kept the books and ensured the solvency of the business while men ran the day-to-day production operation. Read more »
The U.S. Mint released a quarter honoring the White Mountain National Forest that covers approximately 750,852 acres in the northeastern U.S.
The wind-whipped peaks that tower above the tree-filled valleys of the White Mountain National Forest have been a symbol of wild America since well before the first New England colonies were established. Now, the natural beauty that has drawn visitors for centuries is featured on an America the Beautiful Quarter released recently by the U.S. Mint. Read more »
Last week, Molly Lambert, State Director of the Vermont Rural Development State Office, (RD) joined me in hosting the state’s first “Intermediary Relending Program and Creative Financing Roundtable.” Meeting participants, including leaders from Vermont’s economic and community development centers, met at the Vermont Economic Development Authority office located in Montpelier, Vermont.
The purpose of the meeting was to explore ways to promote the distribution of more than $5 million in funds to Vermont’s rural small business entrepreneurs using the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Intermediary Relending Program (IRP). These enthusiastic participants, who have keen insight into the state’s industries and barriers to capital, learned that working collaboratively will benefit all Vermont communities.
During the opening part of the meeting, staff from the Vermont USDA State Office gave the state’s Intermediary Relending providers updates on the administration of IRP loans. The session then moved to a discussion of trends, observations, and economic opportunities for the small businesses in their respective areas. Read more »
An apple for the teacher? Yes, and the cafeteria too.
Classic images of eager children handing perfect apples to their teacher abound. In the idealized imagery, the apples are often shiny, red, and round. And if you are angling for a good grade, or really like your teacher, the apples are big. But in New Hampshire it was “school boy” apples, the small ones 2 – 3 inches in diameter, which launched an impressive farm to school program.
The New Hampshire Farm to School Program (NHFTS) was established in 2003 as a pilot program funded by the USDA’s Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education (SARE) program to introduce local apples and cider into New Hampshire K-12 schools.
“We really saw the small apples as an entry point for our farm to school program. Not many supermarkets or other vendors are interested in the smaller fruit, but they are the perfect size for schools,” said Elisabeth Farrell, Sustainability Program Manager of the Sustainability Institute at the University of New Hampshire. Read more »
Over 250 people gathered at the Miles Smith Farm in Loudon, New Hampshire last week to celebrate USDA’s 150th Anniversary on a hot, humid summer day.
on left - Judith Canales, Acting Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development in front row with Gregg MacPherson, Area Director and Molly Lambert, State Director – on right – congressional staff Ivey Jones-Congressman Bass, Sean Thomas-Congressman Guinta, Matt Leahy-Senator Shaheen, and Simon Thompson-Senator Ayotte with community attendees at the New Hampshire 150th USDA Anniversary Observance.
The hosts – Carole Soule and Bruce Dawson graciously opened their farm as the perfect location for this event. After driving up a narrow road, we discovered a scurry of activity as guests were welcomed and directed to a field set up with tents, farmer market vendors, informational booths and people. Read more »