FSA Administrator Tours Regional Food Systems, Attends FSA Employee Conference

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Administrator Dolcini learned about regional food systems firsthand from Sonia Kendrick, retired Army National Guard Veteran, who founded Feed Iowa First.

By Lauren Moore, Public Affairs Specialist, Office of External Affairs

Following USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) Administrator Val Dolcini’s visit to Nebraska, he headed straight to Iowa for a meet and greet with FSA employees at the Iowa State FSA Office in Des Moines.

Also on the agenda was attending the National Association of FSA County Office Employees (NASCOE) Convention in Cedar Rapids. NASCOE membership is comprised of FSA employees who work together to ensure FSA operates successfully and employee interests are protected while meeting agency objectives.   Continue reading

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The McCalls Keep Ag ‘All in the Family’

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Bruce and Jennifer McCall take pride in raising their sons on the farm and have used FSA programs and loans to expand their operation and recover from natural disasters such as drought.

By Scott Whittington, Public Affairs Specialist

A lot of American families “make it work” through hard times. One family in Arkansas has seen ups and downs on their family farm with droughts, floods and other property damages. Other families may quit, but this one seems to be ready for the long haul.

Bruce and Jennifer McCall bought their cow farm called “Bar M” in 1994 from Bruce’s mother after his father passed away. Raising cows was something Bruce was used to doing, growing up on that land. Now they’re raising their kids there stressing the importance of farming and accountability. Continue reading

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400 Participate in Community-Supported Agriculture

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Kacie Luckett had to quit her job as a home health care provider to work full-time on her farm and manage her 400-member CSA operation.

By Tanya Brown, Outreach Marketing Editor

For a few years, Kacie Luckett, who had only two acres of growing space, was told there was no way she could compete against large farms at a farmers market.

They were right. Continue reading

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Patience and Passion: Oregon Hazelnut Farmer Revives Family’s Farming History

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Jim Gerig checks the hazelnut trees on his farm in Salem, Oregon. An FSA microloan helped him plant 10 acres of trees that will be producing soon, following a five-year wait for the trees to mature.

By Michael Booth, Public Affairs Specialist

Jim Gerig grew up in a western Oregon farm family, but in the 1980s his father had to lease out the family land due to dwindling profit margins. Since then, he has kept a hand in the industry, working for farm supply and equipment companies. But the pull of farming kept calling to him.

“I just had a passion for it,” Gerig said. “I’ve worked in agriculture all my life, but had a passion to do it on my own.” Continue reading

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Nebraska Celebrates 30 Years of CRP

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FSA Administrator Val Dolcini (left) and Eric Zach (center) with Nebraska Game and Parks Commission listen as Brian Teeter (right) with Pheasants Forever highlights the practices in place on CRP ground in east central Nebraska.

By Bobbie KrizWickham, Public Affairs and Outreach Coordinator, Nebraska FSA

USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) Administrator Val Dolcini recently joined conservation partners in Lincoln, Nebraska, to mark the 30th anniversary of the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP). This milestone was celebrated with field tours and a reception that included a mix of federal and state government leaders as well as farmers, conservationists and wildlife officials.

Administrator Dolcini kicked off his Nebraska visit at the National Bobwhite Conservation Initiative annual meeting. This group is made up of 25 states dedicated to a unified strategy for bobwhite quail restoration. He told the group “it’s the partnerships that make it work so well,” as he discussed the importance of CRP to soil conservation, wildlife habitat and water quality improvement across the nation.  The theme carried throughout the rest of the day’s activities. Continue reading

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FSA Administrator Tours Urban Agricultural Operations in New York

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Left:  Red Hook Community Farm Director, Saara Nafici leads Administrator Dolcini on a tour with volunteers from Green City Force. Right:  Dolcini visits with Ben Flanner, president of Brooklyn Grange, the largest rooftop garden in New York City.

By Lauren Moore, Public Affairs Specialist, FSA Office of External Affairs

Agriculture is most commonly thought to exist only in rural communities, far from metropolitan areas, but over the past seven years, agricultural operations increasingly are found on many rooftops, backyards and balconies throughout urban America, including some of the world’s largest cities.

USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) Administrator Val Dolcini recently visited a few of these operations in New York, New York. Continue reading

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Young Entrepreneur Continues Father’s Almond Legacy

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After watching the almond industry grow throughout his childhood, Andre Alves decided to start his own almond orchard in California.

By Scott Whittington, Public Affairs Specialist

At 26 years old, Andre Alves owns his own successful almond orchard in a beautiful California countryside and strives to grow the best product for his customers.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) started an initiative called Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food (KYF2) to introduce consumers to the people who produce the food that fill America’s supermarkets. USDA launched the initiative in 2009 to build stronger relationships between consumers and agricultural producers, and further, to encourage expansion of direct sales at local and regional markets.

“To say I did this all on my own [two years ago] is a real accomplishment to me,” says Alves. Continue reading

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Fresh Out of the Frey’s Pond

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Farmers, Gerard and Dana Frey, raise crawfish, rice and beef and dairy cattle in Iota, Louisiana.

By Scott Whittington, Public Affairs Specialist

Successful people have many characteristics in common, and one of the most important is never giving up. One farming family’s crop was devastated when they lost their entire crop yield, but they kept their eyes focused on success. Continue reading

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A Century of Success

The United States Warehouse Act Continues to Do Its Job

by Kent Politsch

The United States Warehouse Act, administered by USDA Farm Service Agency, is officially 100 years old today, Aug. 11.

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Terre-Haute, IN grain elevator July 1932

Grain Elevator, Terre Haute, Indiana

In 1916, the creation of rules and standards to monitor the storage of farm commodities was a bold new idea. Among its goals was to establish trust — trust between farmer and warehouse owner, trust between warehouses and prospective commodity buyers, and trust among all Americans that its government took actions to stabilize volatile commodity prices.

Woodrow Wilson was president in 1916. The 64th Congress was in its first session. Among the lawmakers was Asbury Francis Lever, Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee from the 7th District of South Carolina, who guided the legislation through Congress.

The demand for food production was emphasized by the outbreak of war in Europe. The disruption abroad and the debate within the United States helped to underscore one of the country’s most important security factors – food production.

The challenge Lever and his lawmaking colleagues faced were a lack of adequate storage facilities, a lack of proper controls and standards of such storage systems, an absence of uniformity in methods of operation and issuance of receipts, and too many variations on grading and classification of commodities. And for a farmer to have sufficient funds to pay bills and take care of family through the winter, he needed cash. His stored grain was an asset that could be used as collateral as long as the bank had certainty in the holder of his grain.

After enactment of the Warehouse Act, the very first license was issued to a cotton warehouse in San Antonio, Texas.

Cotton Warehouse in San Antonio, Texas

Cotton Warehouse in San Antonio, Texas

 

The first grain license went to Mero Mills in Nashville, Tennessee.

The Act set new standards for storing commodities of all designs, and that standardization has helped American agriculture grow steadily but aggressively.

The Fence Post asked Ned Bergman, Chief, Examination Branch, Warehouse License and Examination Division, Kansas City, if the rules have changed over time. Bergman has been at FSA for 37 of the 100 years the law has been around.

“Probably (the) most significant change was electronic warehouse receipts, which allowed for use of electronic commerce,” said Bergman. “The collection of user fees was significant as it provided a solid funding mechanism for the Act and has insulated it from (other) pressures.”

And what about the next 100 years?

Warehouse Examiner 1930s

Warehouse Examiner 1930s

“The Act was written to be resilient and flexible,” Bergman said. “More importantly, it still provides the tools desired in the conducting of interstate commerce. The six basic needs of the warehousing industry in 1916; adequate storage facilities, proper control and regulation of such storage systems, uniformity in their methods of operation and the form of receipts issued, grading and classifying standards, and a proper relationship between the storage and banking systems, are still valid today and will be far into the future.”

Farmers today can know with confidence that the grain, cotton and wool that they deliver to a licensed warehouse is kept secure in storage and can be used as collateral to finance their needs until markets are best for selling their commodities.

Celebrating the 100th Anniversary of the Warehouse Act recently took place in Washington, D.C., sponsored in part by USDA’s Farm Service Agency and the various commodity groups whose industry warehouses are licensed under the Warehouse Act. The FSA also used the timing of the anniversary to bring its team of warehouse examiners to the nation’s capital for updated training and to recognize their important role in maintaining the standards and quality of storing our nation’s agricultural commodities.

“A major objective of this year’s training was to highlight the history of the Act and the significance of its influences and accomplishments,” said Bergman.

FSA Administrator Val Dolcini addresses FSA Warehouse Examiners at USDA Headquarters

FSA Administrator Val Dolcini addresses FSA Warehouse Examiners at USDA Headquarters

According to Sandra Wood, Acting Deputy Administrator for Commodity Operations, the United States Warehouse Act functions today as it was designed 100 years ago. Updated in 2000, time has not altered the need, nor has it affected the quality of the law that has been so important to the agriculture industry.

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Texas Rancher Recovers from Drought

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Texas livestock producer, Cheryl Wright, used the USDA Farm Service Agency’s livestock disaster assistance programs to recover from drought conditions.

By Shawn McCowan, Public Affairs Specialist, Texas Farm Service Agency

Cheryl Wright is a third-generation rancher in Houston and Anderson Counties. Despite a lifetime in agriculture, she never considered turning to USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) for assistance.

Wright was introduced to agriculture at a young age growing up on her family’s 3,000-acres in Hallettsville, Texas.

“I saw my grandparents’ love for agriculture, and I always remember how much fun it was growing up on the ranch,” she said. “As a little girl, I was so excited to join my family when they headed into the fields before sunrise. On several occasions I stayed up all night to make sure I was awake when they left.” Continue reading

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