On a recent trip to Wisconsin, USDA Rural Development Under Secretary Dallas Tonsager had an opportunity to revisit a specialty cheese plant in Montfort, Wis. that he had helped to establish about ten years ago.
In 2002, the Wisconsin Farmers Union hired a cheesemaker and took steps to begin the start-up of a specialty cheese plant in Montfort, Wis. to add value to milk produced by Wisconsin dairy farmers and to create the WI Farmers Union Specialty Cheese Company. To ensure success of the endeavor, the Wisconsin Farmers Union sought assistance from Golden Plains Ventures, an organization founded by Under Secretary Tonsager. Read more »
Ben Deumling (left) explains Zena Forest Products’ land management, harvest, and milling operations to USDA’s Lillian Salerno (center) and Martin Zone.
USDA and the Obama Administration are committed to creating jobs in rural America, so when a job creation effort also protects family forest lands, preserves important natural habitats, and produces beautiful, sustainable white oak wood products, there is reason to celebrate. I was thrilled to have the opportunity to appreciate such a success during a recent visit with Ben Deumling and his mother Sarah of the family owned Zena Forest Products in Oregon’s Willamette Valley. Read more »
“Show me the money.” You have heard that phrase, right? Made famous by the 1996 film Jerry Maguire, we have all probably heard it said a thousand times, and yet, the phrase remains just as valid today.
Owners of rural businesses are asking the same question because finding capital is a major challenge for those who wish to grow and expand, and Lillian Salerno, USDA’s top business development official, met with various business leaders and owners in the Pacific Northwest to offer assistance on job creation and economic growth efforts. Read more »
Jim VanDerPol get his pigs ready for market on his Pastures A Plenty farm in Kerkhoven, Minn.
“We think that fresh air and sunshine are the best health guarantee.” That’s the quote you’ll see after opening a brochure from Pastures A Plenty Farm. Spend an hour with the VanDerPol family and you quickly understand that those words are much more than just a marketing slogan. It’s the family’s philosophy.
Pastures A Plenty’s pork products can be found in many co-ops, retail outlets, restaurants and local stores throughout Minnesota. The VanDerPols feed their hogs on grass and straw and use a wholistic veterinary approach featuring probiotics and spices instead of drugs. Read more »
Susan Curington of North Woods Figured Wood (left) shows State Director Vicki Walker (right) how the family business “upcycles” burls, stumps and small, odd-shaped, or difficult-to-use wood pieces to be sold at premium prices to carvers and other hobbyists. USDA photo.
At a recent expo held by the Oregon Woodland Cooperative (OWC), I had the opportunity to meet with a number of family forest landowners who are cultivating additional commercial ventures thanks, in part, to USDA’s Value Added Producer Grant (VAPG) program.
At the event, OWC President Neil Schroeder introduced me to cooperative members who have sprouted new businesses and created local jobs as a result. The terrific part of all this is that USDA’s VAPG program provided funds needed to conduct the in-field assessments, feasibility studies, business planning, and marketing activities needed to identify, process and sell new, non-lumber products harvested from Oregon’s family forests. Read more »
Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan meets with members of the at Fifth Generation Farms fresh market in Lake City, Florida on Friday, Jan. 27, 2012. USDA Photo by Ellen Boukari.
Last week, Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan visited Fifth Generation Farms fresh market in Lake City, Fla., a farm family owned market selling local meats and produce. When Fifth Generation Farms market opened in August 2011, it was the realization of a dream not only for Delvey and Cindy Dicks, but for their entire family as well. For five generations, the Dicks family has been involved in farming and ranching in the North Central Florida area. The Dicks knew that if the family farm was to remain productive for future generations, they would have to offset rising production input costs and the loss of summer tobacco crops. Read more »