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Posts By USDA

USDA Expands Access to Credit to Help More Beginning and Family Farmers

October 7, 2014 |

post_usdalogoWASHINGTON, Oct. 7, 2014 – Agriculture Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden today announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will improve farm loans by expanding eligibility and increasing lending limits to help more beginning and family farmers. As part of this effort, USDA is raising the borrowing limit for the microloan program from $35,000 to $50,000; simplify the lending processes; updating required “farming experience” to include other valuable experiences; and expanding eligible business entities to reflect changes in the way family farms are owned and operated. The changes become effective Nov. 7.

“USDA is continuing its commitment to new and existing family farmers and ranchers by expanding access to credit,” said Harden. “These new flexibilities, created by the 2014 Farm Bill, will help more people who are considering farming and ranching, or who want to strengthen their existing family operation.” Read More

Farm to School Programs Create New Opportunities for Farmers

October 2, 2014 |

post_usdalogoA weekly message from Agriculture Secretary Vilsack:

This October, just like every other month during the school year, school menus will feature an array of products from local and regional farmers, ranchers, and fishermen. Kids of all ages will dig up lessons in school gardens, visit farms, harvest pumpkins, and don hair nets for tours of processing facilities. Science teachers – and English, math, and social studies instructors, too – will use food and agriculture as a tool in their classrooms, so that lessons about the importance of healthy eating permeate the school learning environment.

An investment in the health of America’s students through Farm to School is also an investment in the farmers and ranchers who grow the food and an investment in the health of local economies. In school year 2011-2012, schools purchased $386 million in local food from farmers, ranchers, fishermen, and food processors and manufacturers. And an impressive 56 percent of school districts report that they will buy even more local foods in future school years. Farm to school programs exist in every state in the country. Read More

USDA Awards Over $52 Million in Grants to Grow Organic and Local Food Economies

September 29, 2014 |

post_usdalogoNews Release – DOSWELL, Va., Sept. 29, 2014 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced the award of over $52 million in support of the growing organic industry and local and regional food systems through five U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) grant programs. The Secretary made the announcement during an event with Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe and First Lady Dorothy McAuliffe and local farmers at the Virginia State Fair.

“Local and regional food systems are one of the pillars of our efforts to revitalize rural economies,” said Secretary Vilsack. “Consumers are increasingly demanding more local and organic options. Investing in local and regional food systems supports the livelihoods of farmers and ranchers, especially smaller operations, while strengthening economies in communities across the country. Today’s announcements also improve access to fresh, healthy food for millions of Americans.” Read More

New Data Reflects the Continued Demand for Farmers Markets

August 4, 2014 |

post_usdalogoNews Release - WASHINGTON, Aug. 4, 2014 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) Administrator Anne Alonzo announced over the weekend that USDA’s National Farmers Market Directory now lists 8,268 markets, an increase of 76 percent since 2008. The data reflects continued demand and growth of farmers markets in every region of the country. Alonzo also announced that AMS is developing three new local food directories that will expand USDA’s support for local and regional foods by providing easy access to the most current information about the local food market. Read More

White House Rural Council Announces Support to Help Communities Boost Local Food Economies

June 9, 2014 |

post_usdalogoWashington, D.C., June 9, 2014 — Today, on behalf of the White House Rural Council, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack announced Local Food, Local Places, a federal initiative that will provide direct technical support to rural communities to help them build strong local food systems as part of their community’s economic action plans. Under this effort, a team of agricultural, transportation, environmental, and regional economic experts will work directly with local communities to develop comprehensive strategies that use local food systems to meet a variety of needs.

The announcement, made during the White House Rural Council’s first live-streamed meeting, included Vilsack, U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, Environmental Protection Agency Deputy Administrator Bob Perciasepe, Appalachian Regional Commission Federal Co-Chairman Earl Gohl; and Delta Regional Authority Federal Co-Chairman Chris Masingill. Read More

USDA Announces Historic $78 Million Investment to Support Local Food Enterprises

May 8, 2014 |

post_usdalogoNews Release – WASHINGTON, May 8, 2014 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that USDA is making a historic $78 million investment in local and regional food systems, including food hubs, farmers markets, aggregation and processing facilities, distribution services, and other local food business enterprises.

“The 2014 Farm Bill has given USDA new tools, resources and authority to support the rural economy,” Vilsack said. “Consumer demand for locally-produced food is strong and growing, and farmers and ranchers are positioning their businesses to meet that demand. As this sector continues to mature, we see aggregation, processing, and distribution enterprises across the local food supply chain growing rapidly. These historic USDA investments in support of local food give farmers and ranchers more market opportunities, provide consumers with more choices, and create jobs in both rural and urban communities.” Read More

US Secretary of Ag Outlines Vision for Agricultural Solutions to Environmental Challenges

June 5, 2013 |

Regional Climate Hubs, New Research Tools, Uniform Policy Guidelines Will Help Producers Mitigate Threats, Adapt for the Future

USDA National Program for Genetic Improvement of Feed Efficiency in Beef CattleWASHINGTON, June 5, 2013-Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today said that the Federal government must increase collaboration with producers, researchers and industry to develop the next generation of solutions that will help agriculture mitigate and adapt to modern climate challenges.

“Our farmers, ranchers and forest landowners are the most innovative on earth, and they’re up to the task of meeting environmental challenges that lay ahead,” Vilsack said. “We know what we’re seeing on the ground – more intense weather events, and a greater number of them. USDA will be there to support the efforts of our farmers and ranchers to adapt to these new challenges, just as we have been for decades.” Read More

USDA Releases Report on the Growing Importance of Food Hubs in Rural America

February 26, 2013 |

USDA National Program for Genetic Improvement of Feed Efficiency in Beef CattleNews Release – NEW ORLEANS, La., February 26, 2013 – Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan today announced the release of a report which provides a comprehensive look at the economic role, challenges and opportunities for food hubs in the nation’s growing local food movement. The announcement was made during a visit to Hollygrove Market and Farm, a produce market, local distributor and farm in downtown New Orleans. In operation since 2009, Hollygrove Farm and Market sources from twenty local growers across southern Louisiana and Mississippi. Hollygrove’s mission includes increasing access to fresh produce for underserved New Orleans neighborhoods. The organization first began operations as part of the city’s post-Hurricane Katrina rebuilding efforts. Read More