A passion for agriculture is what brought 50 young farmers to the Washington, D.C., area this week, as part of a national networking forum for the next generation of producers.
“We want to let young producers know that their voice is important and they shouldn’t be hesitant or bashful about communicating with policymakers,” said Gordon Stone, executive vice president of the National Young Farmer Educational Association, or NYFEA, which sponsored Agriculture’s Promise: The Washington Forum.
Undersecretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services Michael Scuse joined several speakers on day two of the three-day event — held Monday, Feb. 4 at National Harbor — to provide an overview of the Farm Service Agency, Risk Management and Foreign Agricultural Service and encourage discussion about USDA’s programs and policies. Scuse mentioned a new microloan program designed to help small and family operations, beginning and socially disadvantaged farmers secure loans under $35,000. Microloans will help producers through their start-up years by providing needed resources and helping to increase equity so that farmers may eventually graduate to commercial credit and expand their operations. Scuse also spoke about the importance of communicating effectively with rural America. Read more »
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is asking the public for comment as it continues to review existing program rules to determine whether any should be modified, streamlined, clarified, or repealed. The Department is particularly interested in hearing from the public concerning areas where USDA can simplify and reduce the reporting burden for entry and access to USDA programs, while reducing its administrative and operating costs by sharing data across participating agencies.
In response to Executive Order 13610 (Identifying and Reducing Regulatory Burdens), USDA has incorporated various initiatives into its review to reduce burden on the public, including the Natural Resources Conservation Service’s (NRCS), Conservation Delivery Streamlining Initiative, which has the potential to reduce administrative time for clients participating in NRCS’ conservation programs, and FSA’s streamlined version of a current form for use by repeat customers whose information has not changed. Read more »
This post is part of the Science Tuesday feature series on the USDA blog. Check back each week as we showcase stories and news from USDA’s rich science and research profile.
Organic agriculture is proving itself to be a veritable cornucopia, according to the results of the first-ever report on certified USDA organic production, which we released earlier this month. While the number of organic farms is a fraction of its conventional counterpart, an organically produced version of virtually every crop or animal product is now available in the United States.
This was the first time the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) conducted this survey, which means that we cannot see trends yet, but we can already easily see some of the impacts of organic production in the United States. From four farms in Alabama, Alaska or Delaware to 1,898 farms in California, every state in the nation is now home to USDA-certified organic producers. And while these farmers make up less than a half of one percent of all U.S. farmers, they already sell more than $3.5 billion worth of agricultural products. Read more »
Indiana State Office staff members of Natural Resources Conservation Service, Farm Service Agency, Rural Development, and the Risk Management Agency gathered in Indianapolis earlier this week to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Department of Agriculture.
Following a luncheon, “Women in Agriculture and Natural Resources,” Indiana Lt. Governor Becky Skillman congratulated USDA attendees for their ongoing efforts and dedication to Indiana’s rural communities. Additionally, Skillman presented a Proclamation from Governor Mitch Daniels which declared May 15, 2012, as “United States Department of Agriculture Day” in the State of Indiana. Read more »
Pacific Northwest diversified crop and livestock producers now have a valuable online tool to help them better evaluate whole-farm insurance protection. AGR-Lite is a federally subsidized, whole-farm revenue protection package and is available through private crop insurance agents in 38 states. The tool will allow farmers to explore their eligibility to estimate premium costs specific to their farms, consider various future loss scenarios and print reports to assist in their insurance options. USDA’s Risk Management Agency (RMA) funded a partnership between the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) and Montana Tech of the University of Montana to develop AGR-Lite.
The tool uses a producer’s 5-year historical IRS farm income information and an annual farm report as a base to provide a level of guaranteed revenue for the insurance period. It also provides insurance coverage for multiple agriculture commodities in one insurance product and provides maximum liability coverage of $1 million. Read more »
A stop during my recent visit to Ohio was the historic North Market located in downtown Columbus.
The North Market successfully addresses the needs of small and local businesses for retail space, and provides local, healthy and sustainably grown and processed food for consumers. Over one million customers annually have the opportunity to sample and purchase a tremendous array of local products including fruits and vegetables, meats, baked goods, ethnic foods, seafood, wines, ice cream and many other products. Read more »