WASHINGTON, 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.”
Over 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.
USDA Deputy Secretary Harden Announces $17 Million to Support America’s Beginning Farmers and RanchersOctober 12, 2015 | USDA
WASHINGTON, – 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).
USDA Awards $34.3 Million to Support Communities’ Local Foods Infrastructure, Increase Access to Fruits and VegetablesOctober 7, 2015 | USDA
WASHINGTON – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack helped to kick off the nation’s harvest season by announcing nearly $35 million in new funding through four grant programs to support local and regional food systems, including farmers markets. Secretary Vilsack has named strengthening local food systems as one of the four pillars of USDA’s efforts to revitalize rural economies and communities. Purchases of locally-produced food have surged to nearly $12 billion under Secretary Vilsack’s leadership while the number of farmers markets has exploded to more than 8,500 from 5,274 in 2009.
USDA Expands Farm Safety Net, Offers Greater Flexibility for Beginning, Organic and Fruit and Vegetable GrowersSeptember 3, 2015 | seedstock
WASHINGTON, Aug. 27, 2015 – Agriculture Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden today announced that Whole-Farm Revenue Protection insurance will be available in every county in the nation in 2016. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is also making changes to the policy to help farmers and ranchers with diversified crops including beginning, organic, and fruit and vegetable growers, better access Whole-Farm Revenue Protection.
WASHINGTON, 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.”
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.
News 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.”