Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack hopes to appoint voting members from socially disadvantaged groups to serve on Farm Service Agency county committees in jurisdictions that lack fair representation. An interim rule on the subject is published in the Federal Register and open 60 days for public comment. “Appointing new voting members to committees that lack representation will help ensure that county committees continue to play a vital and relevant role in delivering important federal farm programs to citizens of rural communities across our nation,” said Vilsack. County committees serve as a direct link between the farm community and USDA and help deliver FSA farm programs at the local level. Read more or review the Federal Register notice.
Don Henry, county executive director in Delaware County, Ohio, gives out stickers to kids of the Karamajong tribe during a visit to Africa.
by Don Henry, county executive director, Delaware County, Ohio
Early last summer I was surfing the Web and came across an article about orphans that caught my eye. The article was written by a former orphan who had a heart for the 147 million orphans worldwide and had started a ministry to increase awareness of this tragic reality. They offered the opportunity to go and visit orphans with the scriptural theme of James 1:27 which admonishes us to go and visit orphans and widows. I thought to myself, I could do that, in fact, I should do that. So I filled out the application online at Visiting Orphans (www.visitingorphans.org) and hit the send button.
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USDA Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan kicked off the start of the USDA Farmers Market
USDA Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan rang the copper cow bell this morning at the USDA headquarters in Washington, D.C., signaling the start of the department’s annual farmers market. “From 2010 to 2011 there has been a 17 percent growth in farmers markets. That is in part due to the work of USDA,” said Merrigan during a speech at the opening ceremony.” Redskins safety Reed Doughty joined
the festivities and signed autographs and tossed the football to promote the Fuel Up Play 60 initiative that encourages kids to eat healthy and exercise at least 60 minutes a day. Others included the group Hip Hop Public Health, who performed at the event, and several vendors from areas in and around the District.
The USDA Commodity Credit Corporation, which helps stabilize, support and protect farm income and prices, released interest rates for June 2012. The borrowing rate-based charge is 0.125, which is unchanged from May 2012, while the 1996 and subsequent crop year commodity and marketing assistance loans dispersed during June is 1.125, unchanged from last month. Interest rates for Farm Storage Facility Loans and discount rates for the Tobacco Transition Payment Program also are available. Read more.
USDA has finalized changes to the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP), that will help reduce harmful sediments and fertilizers coming from farmland and entering into Pennsylvania rivers and streams. The improvement also will enhance waters downstream in Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia. The changes will add 20,000 acres to CREP and make all Pennsylvania CREP practices eligible for sign-up in Chesapeake Bay watershed counties. “These changes will provide greater flexibility for more Pennsylvania farmers and other land owners to establish conservation cover and increase land stewardship within the Chesapeake Bay watershed,” said Under Secretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services Michael Scuse. Learn more.
The USDA Climate Change Program Office will host a seminar on “Climate Change Science: What USDA Needs to Know” on Thursday, June 7 from 2-4 p.m. in the USDA South Building Jefferson Auditorium in Washington, D.C. Scientists from within and outside of USDA will discuss the Earth’s warming trend and determine how increasing temperatures and changes in precipitation patterns will affect farmers and ranchers. Experts in the field will provide evidence that the warming trend will create more prevalent weed and insect pests along with plant and animal diseases. Other topics include Climate 101: The Basics, The Sources of Change and Modeling and Projections. For more information email Jan Lewandrowski.
USDA Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan and Smokey Bear were on tap to celebrate USDA's 150th anniversary in California.
“The People’s Department” has been fortunate to have so many good people in top positions over the years. As we continue to celebrate our 150th anniversary, we remember and honor some of the key people who have contributed to the tremendous work that USDA has accomplished. On May 16, Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan visited Davis, Calif. to help USDA honor Yolo County farmer Richard Rominger, a former deputy secretary of USDA during the Clinton administration and the first Californian to attain that position.
USDA employees and leadership from at least eight different agencies gathered at the Lyng Building in Davis for the 150th anniversary celebration and joined the deputy secretary at the dedication of the first-floor conference room, now named the “Richard Rominger Conference Room.” An exhibit of historic photos of early California agriculture and a display of period farm equipment provided a historical setting. The University of California - Davis Agricultural Engineering Department also set up a working replica of the 1830s era McCormick reaper, the first mechanical grain harvester manufactured in the U.S.
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Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear signed a proclamation celebrating the 150 year anniversary of USDA. Pictured (l to r): James Wilson, general field representative, Rural Utilities Service; Tom Fern, state director, Rural Development; Leland Brown, director, National Agricultural Statistics Service; Frank R. Beum, forest supervisor; Daniel Boone, National Forest; Karen Woodrich, state conservationist, Natural Resources Conservation Service; John W. McCauley, state executive director, Farm Service Agency and; Roger Thomas, executive director, Governor’s Office of Agricultural Policy.
Governor Steve Beshear was joined by federal and state officials in the governor’s office for the ceremonial signing of a proclamation celebrating the 150th anniversary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
“Agriculture plays an important role in Kentucky’s economy and rural communities and the USDA is a key partner to its sustainability into the future,” said Beshear. “I am pleased to be a part of celebrating 150 years of the ‘People’s Department’ and look forward to a continued partnership.”
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Producers who want to enroll in the 2012 Direct and Counter-Cyclical Payment (DCP) program have only two days left to apply. DCP provides payments to eligible producers on farms enrolled for the 2008-2012 crop years. Both direct payments and counter-cyclical payments are calculated using base acres and payment yields established for the farm. Those interested must apply at their local FSA county office by Friday, June 1. Learn more.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced that it is proceeding with Farm Service Agency county office consolidations as part of the department’s Blueprint for Stronger Service. The Blueprint will help modernize and accelerate service delivery while improving the customer experience through the use of innovative technologies and business solutions. Included in the plan is the closure and consolidation of 259 domestic offices including FSA county offices, additional facilities, labs and seven foreign offices. FSA will consolidate a total of 125 of the 131 office originally proposed. Review the list of consolidated offices or learn more.