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Fostering Sustainability and Innovation in Agriculture

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Press Release

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 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

Cityblooms’ Automated Hydroponic Micro-farm Grows Nutritious Produce on Plantronics Company Campus

September 30, 2014 |

CITYBLOOMS conference seedstockSANTA CRUZ, Calif., Sept. 30, 2014 /PRNewswire/ — Plantronics Inc. (NYSE: PLT) is pioneering the use of on-site food production to boost employee nutrition as part of the company’s global commitment to sustainability.  Through a joint project with Santa Cruz-based Cityblooms, a prototype computer-automated farm has been installed at the Plantronics headquarters and is being powered by the company’s existing solar energy system.

The hydroponic micro-farm produces bi-weekly harvests of premium leafy greens and vegetables for the on-site cafe operated by Bon Appetit Management Company, a national leader in socially and environmentally responsible food service. “By locating these micro-farms close to the point of consumption, we measure farm-to-fork distances in yards, rather than miles,” said Nick Halmos, Cityblooms founder. “We eliminate the financial and environmental costs associated with food waste and food transportation.” 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

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