Phalla Nol, Nancy Faulkner and Jim Faulkner in front of the high tunnel.
When Jim and Nancy Faulkner bought their small farm in Boxborough, Mass. in 2009, the place was a mess. Buildings were falling down, the soil was poor and the land was covered with invasive plants. Nonetheless, they wanted to turn it into a sustainable farm.
Help came from two very different directions: a government agency and another small farmer.
“I really needed a farm plan,” said Jim Faulkner, who wanted to ensure he complied with town bylaws. “I wanted to show that I was serious and that I had a plan.” Read more »
Driscoll’s berries being sold in a store (Photograph courtesy of Driscoll’s. Copyright 2014. All rights reserved.)
Two years ago this month, the United States and the European Union (EU) implemented an organic equivalence arrangement, meaning products that are certified as organic in the U.S. can also be sold as organic in the EU, and vice versa. This arrangement broke down many of the barriers that organic producers, especially small and medium-sized farmers, were facing in exporting their goods to one of their largest markets. It has also proved to be a good example of how we can recognize each others’ systems and work together across borders to arrive at beneficial agreements.
The U.S. and EU have some of the strongest regulatory protections in the world, and the organic equivalence arrangement recognizes these standards and uses them for everyone’s benefit. Before the agreement, growers and companies wanting to trade products on both sides of the Atlantic had to obtain separate certifications to two different standards, which meant a double set of fees, inspections, and paperwork. Now, if a product is certified organic by one party, it can bear both the USDA organic seal and the EU organic logo, without going through that second certification process. This is possible because the EU and the U.S. have recognized that though our regulatory systems are different, they both produce high quality organic food and agricultural products under rigorous programs. Secretary Vilsack, while addressing the EU agricultural ministers earlier this week, had the same message of cooperation in regards to the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP). Read more »
A beautiful day is forecasted for the 19th year, the USDA Farmers Market opening. The market is a another example of USDA’s commitment to supporting local and regional food systems. We hope that you will join us on Friday, June 6, at 9:30 a.m. for our opening.
I love farmers markets. The vibrant colors, enticing smells, and vivacious people make me feel so very alive and happy. Local markets also work to bring communities together. I have been to a number of farmers markets across the U.S., but my favorite one is located right here in Washington, DC—in fact, it’s right here at USDA.
My agency, the Agricultural Marketing Service, is proud to host the USDA Farmers Market each week, building connections to the vendors, customers, and surrounding community. Tomorrow, June 6, the USDA Farmers Market opens a new season with a salute to our military, veterans and American agriculture. We will not only celebrate the bounty of the market, but will also thank our military for serving with valor, courage, and distinction. Read more »
Small and medium-sized farmers could see help in growing their operation thanks to programs that will be developed at 10 universities that were funded by USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture this week.
Farming and ranching is not a one-size-fits-all approach. Agriculture in the United States is a mixing bowl of diversity, and it’s most evident when comparing large- and small-scale farming operations. Having grown up on a small, family farm in Iowa, I saw first-hand not only how important our small farmers and ranchers are to the nation, but also the challenges they face daily.
There is much variation among small family farms and ranches. No one definition comes close to capturing the richness and diversity of these operations. For example, while many farmers and ranchers are loyal to their traditional production systems, others constantly seek new opportunities and experiment with alternative crops, production methods and innovative marketing approaches. As a result, the United States produces a striking range of food and fiber, from soybeans to sesame, from beef to buffalo. Read more »
ARS cotton technologist Paul Sawhney (left) and research leader Brian Condon examine needled-punched nonwoven products made with classical raw cotton and precleaned raw cotton, respectively.
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 the USDA’s rich science and research portfolio.
During the month of April we have taken a closer look at USDA’s Groundbreaking Research for a Revitalized Rural America, highlighting ways USDA researchers are improving the lives of Americans in ways you might never imagine.
Ag research month has been an excellent opportunity to showcase all the ways in which USDA is truly the “People’s Department.”
That’s how President Lincoln described it after USDA was established in 1862. More than 150 years later, we continue to find innovative ways to improve agricultural production and create new products to benefit the American people. Read more »
Using the USDA Certified Grass-Fed claim as its initial focus, a new USDA program will reduce costs for small producers wanting to market their cattle as USDA certified grass-fed.
Sometimes big things come in small packages. At USDA, we provide programs and services to producers of all sizes – and now we’re offering even more to small-scale and local beef producers. Many small-scale producers are contributing to the growth of the grass-fed beef industry. And, thanks to a new program tailored to meet their needs, they now have another resource in their marketing toolbox.
The USDA Grass Fed Program for Small and Very Small Producers, administered by USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), is designed as a verification tool for small and very small producers to certify that animals meet the requirements of the grass-fed marketing claim standard and will make them eligible to have their products marketed as “USDA Certified Grass Fed Beef”.
With today’s label-conscious, savvy consumers, producers are relying on verified and certified labels to help distinguish their products in the marketplace. This new initiative joins our suite of consumer-trusted verification programs for meat, poultry, and eggs. Read more »