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Fostering Sustainability and Innovation in Agriculture

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Posts By USDA

USDA Awards $6.7 Million for Research to Support Healthy Agroecosystems

November 30, 2016 |

post_usdalogoNews Release – The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) recently announced 18 grants totaling more than $6.7 million for research to discover how components of the agroecosystem from soil, water and sun to plants, animals and people, interact with and affect food production. These awards are made through NIFA’s Bioenergy and Natural Resources Program, Agroecosystem priority area of the Agricultural and Food Research Initiative (AFRI).

“Population growth, along with environmental factors, including the growing threat of climate change, are putting increasing demand on the land, water and other resources that produce our food,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “These investments will help us understand how we can farm more effectively and sustainably to feed the growing global population.” Read More

USDA Announces Streamlined Guaranteed Loans for Smaller Scale Farms and Urban Producers

October 20, 2016 |

post_usdalogoPress Release – WASHINGTON, Oct. 20, 2016 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced the availability of a streamlined version of USDA guaranteed loans, which are tailored for smaller scale farms and urban producers. The program, called EZ Guarantee Loans, uses a simplified application process to help beginning, small, underserved and family farmers and ranchers apply for loans of up to $100,000 from USDA-approved lenders to purchase farmland or finance agricultural operations.

“Over the past seven years, we have been transforming our loan programs at USDA so that they can be attainable and useful to all kinds and sizes of producers,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “These EZ Guarantee Loans will help beginning and underserved farmers obtain the capital they need to get their operations off the ground, and they can also be helpful to those who have been farming for some time but need extra help to expand or modernize their operations. USDA’s Farm Service Agency has offices in nearly every county in the country, and we encourage all farmers, including those in urban areas, to stop in and inquire about this program.” Read More

USDA Announces Increased Support to Expand and Diversify the U.S. Agriculture Workforce

October 6, 2016 |

post_usdalogoPress Release – WASHINGTON, Oct. 6, 2016 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced increased federal and private-sector support to expand and diversify the U.S. agricultural workforce by increasing opportunities in education, research and outreach. The announcement is part of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and Rural Council initiative,  America the Bountiful, a collaboration with federal agencies and private-sector stakeholders to meet the growing demand for a skilled, diverse workforce in the rapidly evolving agricultural landscape.

“The face of American agriculture is changing,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “Nearly 10 percent of U.S. jobs are related to agriculture and the increasingly complex nature of production requires more training and education in science, technology, engineering and mathematics—the STEM fields—to stay competitive and meet the needs of a growing world for food, fuel and fiber. A report by USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture and Purdue University projects that over 22 thousand jobs in agriculture related fields may go unfilled every year through at least 2020. This is a great opportunity for smart, young people to start careers in a field that addresses some of the world’s most pressing challenges.” Read More

USDA Commits $56 Million for Local and Community Food Projects

September 28, 2016 |

post_usdalogoNEW YORK, Sept. 28, 2016 – At the New York Times Food for Tomorrow Conference, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced more than $56 million in grants to strengthen local and regional food systems, support farmers markets, and fund organic research. Since 2009,  USDA has invested over $1 billion in more than 40,000 local food businesses and infrastructure projectsThis is an external link or third-party site outside of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) website..

“Since this Administration launched the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food initiative in 2009 to coordinate USDA efforts to support local and regional food systems, there has been a dramatic increase in consumer demand for buying local,” said Vilsack. “Over the years, we’ve seen how these new market opportunities are helping to drive job growth in agriculture, increase entrepreneurship in rural communities, and expand food access and choice. This latest round of grants will expand the capacity of farmers and businesses to serve this growing market, help revitalize local economies around the country, and support efforts around the country to provide fresh, healthy food to all Americans.” Read More

USDA Announces $16.8 Million in Grants to Help SNAP Participants Purchase More Fruits and Vegetables

June 8, 2016 |

post_usdalogoNews Release – WASHINGTON, June 8, 2016 — The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today awarded $16.8 million in competitive grants to help Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) participants increase their purchases of fruits and vegetables. The funding comes from the Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive (FINI) program, authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill and administered by USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA).

“USDA is committed to providing low income families with the resources they need to consume more nutritious food. Last year, SNAP kept at least 4.7 million Americans — including 2.1 million children — out of poverty,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “Programs like FINI build on the success we’ve seen with the use of healthy incentives and with many of the projects being run at farmers markets, we’re also helping to strengthen local and regional food systems.” Read More

USDA Unveils New Urban Agriculture Toolkit for Urban Farmers and Entrepreneurs

April 29, 2016 |

post_usdalogoNews Release – WASHINGTON, April 29, 2016 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today unveiled the USDA Urban Agriculture Toolkit, a new resource created by USDA’s Know Your Farmer team to help entrepreneurs and community leaders successfully create jobs and increase access to healthy food through urban agriculture. From neighborhood gardens grown on repurposed lots, to innovative mobile markets and intensive hydroponic and aquaculture operations, urban food production is rapidly growing into a mature business sector in cities across the country.

“Urban agriculture helps strengthen the health and social fabric of communities while creating economic opportunities for farmers and neighborhoods,” Vilsack said. “USDA’s Urban Agriculture Toolkit compiles guidance from our Know Your Farmer team and many private partners into one comprehensive resource to help small-scale producers manage all aspects of their business. From protecting soil health to marketing to schools and grocery store chains, USDA has tools to meet the needs of this new breed of innovative urban farmer and small business owner.” Read More

USDA and Philanthropic Partners Announce New Initiative to Bolster the Supply Chain for Local Food Systems

March 31, 2016 |

post_usdalogoNews Release – U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) officials today joined 15 national and regional philanthropic partners to announce a new initiative to bolster the supply chain for local food systems around ten key U.S. cities. The project, dubbed ‘Food LINC’, will connect demand for local food in ten urban areas with supply from farmers and ranchers, strengthening each region’s local food business sector and also increasing consumer access to healthy, local food. The announcement was made at the Wallace Center’s National Food Hub Conference in Atlanta. Read More

USDA Offers New Toolkit to Assess Economic Impact of Local Foods

March 26, 2016 |

post_usdalogoCHICAGO, March 24, 2016 — Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today unveiled a new resource created by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Colorado State University that will help communities and businesses evaluate the economic benefits of investing in local food systems. The Secretary released details about “The Economics of Local Food Systems: A Toolkit to Guide Community Discussions, Assessments and Choices” in his keynote remarks at the 12th Annual Good Food Festival and Conference in Chicago. Read More