Solar panels atop the storage units outside E&S Mart in Altavista.
This week in Virginia, USDA Rural Development announced eight Rural Energy for America (REAP) grants totaling $107,500.
It’s always an honor to award REAP grants because they help Virginia’s rural businesses by rewarding innovation. The REAP program helps rural businesses and agricultural producers save money, make their operations more energy efficient, and protect the environment. Read more »
A group of 30 university students, announced by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, will get a head start to a career in agriculture as winners of USDA’s Agricultural Outlook Forum Student Diversity Program. Twenty university juniors and seniors were chosen based their essays on “Agriculture as a Career.” Additionally, 10 graduate students were chosen in response to “The Greatest Challenge Facing Agriculture over the Next Five Years.” Read more »
Cows graze on a farm in Upper Marlboro, MD.
“Who better to share the benefits of intensive rotational grazing than farmers who are actually doing it on their lands?” asked Beth L. McGee, Chesapeake Bay Foundation Senior Regional Water Quality Scientist.
Intensive grazing systems, a type of rotational grazing that uses higher per acre stocking rates in smaller grazing or pasture units, can provide multiple benefits for farmers and the environment. These systems can help maintain and enhance farm profitability while reducing labor and input costs. Compared to more traditional confinement operations, intensive grazing can result in improved soil health, an increase in sequestered carbon and decreased emissions of other greenhouse gases. Read more »
Under Secretary Ed Avalos (right) with AMS Associate Administrator Rex Barnes (middle) visit with producers during their visit to the Shenandoah Valley Produce Auction.
Finding new ways to market the safety and quality of your food is the key to success in the agricultural industry. This is especially true for our small and mid-sized growers who are looking to expand to various outlets. These growers are now turning to produce auctions as a way to sell their food to a wider range of customers such as retail wholesale buyers and farmers markets outside their local communities.
In a recent trip to the Shenandoah Valley Produce Auction in Dayton, Va., I saw approximately 400 growers use this auction to share their bountiful harvest. Taking place several times a year, the largest wholesale auction in Virginia is an excellent alternative market for small growers. Prospective buyers bid intensely to procure large lots of fruits, vegetables, flowers, bedding plants, trees and shrubs, fall decor (pumpkins, mums, gourds), and compost, to name a few. Read more »
The cover of the new Guide for Farmers Markets on Military Installations, which is filled with effective strategies to bring farmers markets’ community spirit and local food to service members and their families stationed at installations across the country.
As we take time this week to honor America’s veterans, we are also thinking about how we can improve the health and welfare of military communities across the country. That’s why we are so proud to release the first-ever Guide for Farmers Markets on Military Installations. By assisting military installations in establishing farmers markets, the guide will help increase access to fresh, local food for soldiers on military installations. On-base farmers markets also connect members of the military with their surrounding communities and offer family-friendly gathering places where children can learn where their food comes from.
In a truly collaborative effort, my agency, USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), created this detailed manual with the U.S. Department of Defense’s (DoD) Healthy Base Initiative (HBI), and in partnership with Wholesome Wave. It explains how commanders can establish and successfully operate farmers markets on military installations. Read more »
A U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) infographic highlighting food purchases and programs that help feed those in need. Click to view a larger version.
USDA has programs and services that bring the bounty of American agriculture to people and communities across the country. One of the most impactful ways my agency, the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), fulfills its mission is through our USDA Foods purchase programs. Our food purchases begin with American farmers, ranchers, and fishermen, and end their journey on the tables of our nation’s schools, food banks, and communities.
AMS plays a central role in this supply chain that delivers about 2 billion pounds of domestically-grown and -processed food each year. That equates to about 52,000 semi-trucks full of food every year—enough trucks to stretch the length of Florida tip to tip! Read more »