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Fostering Sustainability and Innovation in Agriculture

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USDA News

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 $26 Million Investment to Spur Agricultural Innovation on Rural and Urban Farms Across Country

September 8, 2016 |

post_usdalogoNews Release – WASHINGTON, Sept. 8, 2016 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced the investment of $26.6 million by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) into 45 projects that will spur innovative conservation initiatives on both rural and urban farms across the country. Public and private grantees will provide matching investments, bringing the total value of support to $59 million. The investment is made through USDA’s Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) program, which fosters innovation in conservation tools and strategies to improve things like on-farm energy and fertilizer use as well as market-based strategies to improve water quality or mitigate climate change.

The 2016 projects focus on water quality, conservation finance and assistance to historically underserved USDA customers. Approximately 25 percent of the funding announced today will go to projects that benefit historically underserved producers, military veterans, and new and beginning farmers. 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 Expands Microloans to Help Farmers Purchase Farmland and Improve Property

January 19, 2016 |

post_usdalogoWASHINGTON, Jan. 19, 2016 — Agriculture Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden today announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will begin offering farm ownership microloans, creating a new financing avenue for farmers to buy and improve property. These microloans will be especially helpful to beginning or underserved farmers, U.S. veterans looking for a career in farming, and those who have small and mid-sized farming operations.

“Many producers, especially new and underserved farmers, tell us that access to land is one of the biggest challenges they face in establishing and growing their own farming operation,” said Harden. “USDA is making it easier for new farmers to hit the ground running and get access to the land that they need to establish their farms or improve their property.” Read More

Fact Sheet: USDA Invests in New Market Opportunities in Local and Regional Food Systems

October 28, 2015 |

post_usdalogoOver the course of the Administration, USDA has created new economic opportunities in the growing market for local and regional foods for new and established farmers, ranchers and small food business entrepreneurs. Through investments at the farm level in the form of production research, credit and conservation assistance; infrastructure investments that connect farmers and consumers; and strategies to increase access to healthy foods in rural and urban communities, USDA has helped the market for local food grow to an estimated $11.7 billion in 2014. Between FY 2009 and FY 2014, USDA invested more than $800 million in more than 29,100 local and regional food businesses and infrastructure projects. Read More

USDA Deputy Secretary Harden Announces $17 Million to Support America’s Beginning Farmers and Ranchers

October 12, 2015 |

post_usdalogoWASHINGTON,  – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced more than $17 million in grants for organizations that will develop training and provide other resources for beginning farmers and ranchers across the nation. The awards are made through the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program, which is administered by USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA).

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