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The historical drought that scorched the entire state of Texas this year and cause more than $5 billion in damages to the agriculture industry could last another nine year, according to a climatologist. John Nielson-Gammon said the drought could last for multiple years much like the one that occurred in the 1950s. About 95 percent of the state is labeled as “severe” or “exceptional” drought, according to the USDA Drought Monitor. This has been the driest 12-month period the state has ever seen. Read more (Reuters).
Deirdre Ledbetter describes herself as a go-getter. And according to the Office of the Executive Secretariat, she is right.
OEA awarded Ledbetter the Golden Envelope Award, a quarterly honor that recognizes one member of the correspondence office that demonstrates excellence by meeting the Secretary’s goal of responding to inquiries within 15 days of receipt.
“I’ve always been motivated and competitive,” said Ledbetter, a correspondence analyst with the FSA Office of External Affairs. When OES developed the award, she set her sights on it.
“I said ‘I gotta win that award. Let’s do this.’”
Continue reading "Employee Wins Golden Award for ‘Policing’ Correspondence" »
The USDA Farm Service Agency has reduced the number of civil rights complaints in fiscal year 2010 to the lowest level in the agency's history, while increasing the number of loans and dollar amount obligated to programs dedicated to minority and women farmers for fiscal year 2011. “The loan numbers reflect the significant progress we have made in the effort to equally serve all eligible applicants for FSA program support," said FSA Administrator Bruce Nelson. Learn more.
The Ho family farm is a model operation in Hawaii. From l to r: Le Xieng, Shin, Wei Chong and Neil.
Portions of this article were written by Michael Tsai and reprinted with permission of the Honolulu Star-Advertiser
Twenty-nine year old Shin Ho, a second-generation farmer and operations manager of Ho Farms in Kahuku, Hawaii, was one of over 70 agricultural producers who attended the four-hour Immigrant Farmer Workshop recently held at the Hawaii Agricultural Research Center in Kunia.
Ho’s parents, who immigrated from Laos, started farming in Hawaii 19 years ago. Today, with Shin and her brother Neil at the helm, the farm is considered a model operation turning steady profit with its crops of tomatoes, cucumbers, beans and other vegetables.
Continue reading "Immigrant Farmers Reap Harvest of Opportunities" »
A bill introduced in the House and Senate last Friday would trim the federal workforce by 10 percent through attrition. Introduced by Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson and South Carolina Senator Mick Mulvaney, the bill is expected to save $139 billion and cut 10 percent of federal employees by 2015. According to Sen. Mulvaney, the federal government has grown by nearly 15 percent while the private sector has shrunk by 6 percent. Read more (Federal Daily).
Thomas E. Smiarowski (right), pictured with FSA State Executive Director Richard Burke, received the Professional Employee of the Year Administrative Award last week during the Western Massachusetts Federal Executive Association Award Ceremony.
Thomas E. Smiarowski, executive officer of the Massachusetts Farm Service Agency in Amherst has been awarded the Professional Employee of the Year Administrative Award during the Western Massachusetts Federal Executive Association Award Ceremony held on Sept. 14. The award recognizes individuals employed in professional occupations with an administrative component. Smiarowski has been with the Farm Service Agency since 1978 and has served as executive officer since June 2005.
Farm Service Agency employees from around the country were honored for their outstanding service last Friday during the 2011 Administrator’s Awards for Service to Agriculture. Several group and individual awards were given in six different categories that include civil rights leadership, excellence in leadership and management, award for support service, outstanding team accomplishment, excellence in achieving goals and objectives, and heroism and emergency response.
“I’m impressed with the commitment that FSA employees have to farmers,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, who served as the keynote speaker during the ceremony. Vilsack said that the agency is underappreciated because people don’t realize the work that is done affects the farmers and ranchers that supply food, fiber and fuel to the American people. “No matter the challenges or factors that are out of your control, you still remain true to the FSA mission of helping farmers,” said Vilsack.
Continue reading "FSA Employees Recognized for Going Above and Beyond" »
FSA Administrator Bruce Nelson held a breakfast reception this morning in his office to personally thank awardees of the 2011 Administrator’s Award for Service to Agriculture. The awards program, which will be held today at 2 p.m. EDT. at the USDA headquarters in Washington, D.C., recognizes FSA employees who have excelled beyond expectation and set new benchmarks of service excellence. Individual and group awards will be presented as well as field awards and volunteer service recognition.
A worker in the Abilene, Kan., county office has been recognized as the top FSA employee of the year. Ellen Alvarez, a 47-year public servant was honored by the National Association of FSA County Office Employees during a convention last month. Alvarez was selected out of 8,000 county office employees around the country. “It made me feel humbled, honored and thankful,” said Alvarez. “There are times I cannot believe it but I have the award to prove it.” Read more (Abilene Reflector-Chronicle).
The president’s recently proposed plan to cut the deficit would increase contribution amounts made by employees toward their retirement and eliminate Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) annuity supplement for new employees. The plan also would create a commission to help modernize the federal personnel system. Labor unions squawked at the plan saying federal employees have sacrificed enough. Read more (Federal Daily).