The nomination period for the 2012 county committee elections opens today, June 15. This time allows farmers and ranchers to select themselves or others as candidates to sit on the local county committee and help make important agricultural decisions. Members of the committee deliver FSA farm programs at the local level and make decisions needed to administer the programs in their counties. The nomination period runs through Aug. 1. An interim rule that would allow Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to appoint members from socially disadvantaged groups onto county committees that lack fair representation was published this week in the Federal Register and is open for public comment. Learn more about the county committee elections, download an online application in English or Spanish, or read more about the interim rule to appoint minorities to county committees.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced today that it will create two new Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP) project areas in New York and North Carolina and expand an already established BCAP project area in Arkansas. “Increasing the production of renewable, home-grown fuels is vital to reducing our country's reliance on foreign oil, while creating good-paying jobs and diversifying the agriculture economy,” said Vilsack. Administered by the Farm Service Agency, BCAP helps farmers and forest land owners with start-up costs of planting new energy crops that will reduce U.S. reliance on foreign oil. Read more.
Demand for American food and agricultural products abroad has led to the three best consecutive years for U.S. farm exports in the nation’s history, according to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “In 2010, President Obama comitted to doubling U.S. exports in five years and just two years later, we are on pace to meet that goal,” said Vilsack. Speaking to business leaders in Iowa, one of the nation's most productive agricultural economies, Vilsack pointed to the state's low unemployment rate of 5.1 percent as proof of agriculture's success story. Last year, Iowa exported a record $7 billion in agricultural products, which supported nearly 60,000 jobs on and off the farm. Learn more.
There will not be an increase in the raw sugar tariff-rate quota (TRQ) or the domestic sugarcane or sugar beet processor marketing allotments, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. A June review of the U.S. sugar market indicates a substantial increase in fiscal year (FY) 2012 supply due to higher Mexican imports and larger beet sugar production than expected. Additional adjustments to import TRQs and domestic marketing allotments are possible later in FY 2012 if needed to ensure an adequate sugar supply for the domestic market. Learn more.
Young people are sacrificing paid jobs and internships to leave urban settings and volunteer with one of 1,500 organic farms that are part of Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF). The go-organic and farm-to-table movement has sparked a large interest among college students and 20-somethings, who found it a cheap way to travel while receiving room and board. The WWOOFing movement began in England in the 1970 as a way for city folk to enjoy the countryside and offer weekend help to farmers. Eventually, its popularity grew and the organization moved into different countries. Read more (Mail Tribune).
Today, American agriculture is thriving. Farm income is strong, and we are in the three best years for agricultural exports in history.
The prosperity of our agriculture sector is driving the economy forward, creating jobs, and ensuring that Americans have the most affordable food supply of any developed nation. At USDA, we’re committed to supporting the farmers and ranchers who are creating this success.
One issue that is always critical for farmers and ranchers is access to credit – in particular for those who are just starting out or who have smaller farming operations. Read more (USDA blog).
A little more than one week remains before the nomination period opens for the 2012 county committee elections. The nomination period — which opens Friday, June 15 and runs through Aug. 1 — allows farmers and ranchers to select themselves or others as candidates to sit on the local county committee and help make important agricultural decisions. Members of the committee deliver FSA farm programs at the local level and make decisions needed to administer the programs in their counties. An interim rule that would allow Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to appoint members from socially disadvantaged groups onto county committees that lack fair representation was published this week in the Federal Register and is open for public comment. Learn more about the county committee elections, download an online application in English or Spanish, or read more about the interim rule to appoint minorities to county committees.
Comments are being sought on a proposal to improve the Farm Service Agency operating loan program to better meet the needs of small farmers. The new microloan program would simplify and streamline the application process and cut the paperwork in half for producers who need a loan for less than $35,000. FSA expects the new microloan program to help meet the credit needs of small farm operations. Comments received by July 24 will be considered. Read more about microloans or submit a comment.
The USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) is contacting farmers and ranchers across the country to gather information for three simultaneous surveys that focus on agricultural acreage, crops produced and stored, and hog inventory. Trained NASS enumerators will personally interview some producers, while others have had questionnaires mailed. The questionnaire can be completed online or mailed back. Learn more about the surveys.
Edward Avegalio transformed his farm into a hydroponic haven that expanded his acreage and made the land accessible to his needs.
by Josephine Lealasola, agricultural specialist, American Samoa FSA
Edward Avegalio fought for his country in Operation Desert Shield in the early 1990s. Today, he serves his country by providing locally grown, fresh produce to area schools, local restaurants and stores through the first hydroponic farm in American Samoa that was redesigned to allow him to actively work the land.
“I am a strong advocate of food security,” said Avegalio. “I believe in investing in agricultural practices that work, and I believe that as members of the global community we can all make small efforts to invest in ourselves by growing small gardens to help increase awareness and build back some of our self sufficiency.”
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