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Producers have until Friday, June 1 to apply for assistance for the 2010 crop losses under the Supplemental Revenue Assistance Payments (SURE) program. SURE provides disaster assistance to eligible producers on farms that have incurred crop production or quality losses. Visit a local FSA county office for more information or read more about SURE

More than 120,000 Thrift Savings Plan participants had their personal information compromised last month after a cyber attack on a TSP third party service provider computer. According to a Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board press release, the names, addresses and social security numbers of 43,587 individuals were accessed and 79,614 individuals had their social security numbers and some TSP information taken. All those affected have been notified by the board and alerts have been placed on their accounts. Read the press release.

MIDAS_masthead_logoThe spring edition of the MIDAS Press newsletter is now available online and features updates on recent project accomplishments and an overview of the FSA Modernization Initiative. Articles highlight progress made by the Technical Architecture Group that is working to ensure a seamless operation of the end-to-end technical environment and the Solution Architecture Group that is addressing integration issues in the MIDAS/Financial Management Modernization Initiative business process. Other articles include information on acreage reporting and farm records and the benefits MIDAS will have on these process areas. Read the MIDAS Press.

As President Lincoln said in his last annual address to Congress, the Department of Agriculture “is precisely the people’s Department, in which they feel more directly concerned that in any other.” Many don’t realize it, but USDA plays a unique role in the daily lives of every single American, ranging from the programs available that assist rural small businesses to providing the support system that makes it possible for our farmers and ranchers to produce the most affordable and abundant food supply of any country in the world. Earlier this month, I was proud to recognize the 150th anniversary of President Lincoln signing legislation establishing the United States Department of Agriculture on May 15, 1862. Read more (Rapid City Journal).

The U.S. Department of Agriculture will accept 3.9 million acres offered under the 43rd Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) general sign-up. During the five-week sign-up period, the department received nearly 48,000 offers from landowners to become a part of the 25-year-old program designed to conserve land, improve soil, water, and air quality, and create wildlife habitats. “Lands in CRP have helped to support strong incomes for our farmers and ranchers and produce good middle-class jobs throughout the country related to outdoor recreation, hunting and fishing,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. USDA has enrolled 12 million acres in CRP since 2009 and has a total of 29.6 million acres in the entire program. Learn more

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Left picture: Robert Backus (center) was honored for assisting tornado victims. Right picture: Steve Jones (center) was recognized for saving the government thousands of dollars in fuel by minimizing the agency's fleet of vehicles.

Two FSA employees were recognized last week as unsung heroes by the Organization of Professional Employees of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (OPEDA). 

Robert Backus, county executive director in Charlestown and Scottsburg, Ind., and Steve Jones, fleet manager with the FSA Fleet Management Program in Washington D.C., were honored during the 2012 OPEDA Unsung Hero Award Program — a part of Public Service Recognition Week — for providing exceptional service to the American public.

Continue reading "FSA Employees Honored as Unsung Heroes" »

Only one week remains for producers to enroll in the 2012 Direct and Counter-Cyclical Payment (DCP) program. 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 the June 1 deadline.Learn more.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack appointed members to a newly formed council designed to help Native American farmers and ranchers better participate in USDA programs. The Council for Native American Farming and Ranching will advise the Secretary and offer suggestions on changes to Farm Service Agency regulations and provide internal guidance and propose measures that will promote participation of Native American farmers and ranchers in all USDA programs. Council members were appointed as part of the Keepseagle v. Vilsack class action suit, alleging that USDA discriminated against Native American farmers and ranchers in the way it operated its farm loan program. Learn more


Relinda Walker 2
After years of working in corporate America, Relinda Walker volunteered to be laid off to come home to Georgia and take over the family farm.

Being first can have its advantages and disadvantages. Relinda Walker knows that all too well.

Walker’s Organic Farm was one of the first organic operations in South Georgia. It took root in 2005 during a time when eating organic was for foodies and white table cloth chefs.

“No one was doing it in South Georgia,” said Walker. But when she presented the idea to the locals, “people were eager and chefs loved it,” she said.

Walker volunteered to be laid off from her job as vice president of operations at a technology company in New York in 2001 to come back home to Sylvania, Ga.  She returned to care for her ailing parents and take over the land as a third generation farmer.

Continue reading "City Girl Goes Organic in South Georgia with Help from USDA" »

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Indiana celebrated 150 years of agriculture this week as the lieutenant governor, FSA state executive director and USDA employees paid tribute to one of the state’s strongest economic engines — agriculture. According to Lieutenant Governor Becky Skillman, agriculture contributes $26 billion annually to the Indiana economy and is 17 percent of the state’s workforce. FSA State Executive Director Julia Wickard, said USDA has evolved but at the end of the day it’s about providing customer service to the farmer and getting them the tools they need to make their operations profitable. Read more (Hoosier Ag Today).


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