Farm Service Agency and Natural Resources Conservation Service Officials Ask for Your Help in Controlling Palmer amaranth

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Research Service (ARS) plant physiologist Franck Dayan observes wild-type and herbicide-resistant biotypes of Palmer Amaranth (pigweed) as Mississippi State University graduate student, Daniela Ribeiro collects samples for DNA analysis at the ARS Natural Products Utilization Research Unit in Oxford, Miss. USDA photo by Stephen Ausmus.

By Chris Beyerhelm, Acting Administrator, Farm Service Agency and Leonard Jordan, Acting Chief, Natural Resources Conservation Service

USDA has learned that Palmer amaranth (Amaranthus palmeri), an invasive weed, may have infested some newly-seeded (2016) conservation plantings across the upper Midwest. Palmer amaranth is highly competitive, and in fact, is the most competitive of the pigweed species. It grows rapidly and one plant can produce a quarter-million seeds.

We are concerned that this weed may cause conservation planting stand failure and spread from conservation plantings into crop fields. It can greatly inhibit crop growth. Yield losses have been reported at up to 91 percent for corn and 79 percent for soybeans. It can also be toxic to livestock because there is nitrate in the leaves. Continue reading

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USDA Microloans Fund Nine New Farmers in New York City

Administrator Val Dolcini visited new urban farms at the Square Roots campus in Brooklyn. He is pictured in front of one of the container farms with several of the borrowers and FSA staff (l-r): Jonathan Bernard, new farmer; Josh Aliber, new farmer; Carol Ronne, FSA Farm Loan Manager; Tobias Peggs, Square Roots CEO; Nabeela Lakhani, new farmer; Jim Barber, FSA NY State Director; and Val Dolcini, FSA Administrator.

FSA Administrator Val Dolcini Makes Urban Farm Visits

By Lynnette Wright, Public Affairs Specialist, New York Farm Service Agency

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) Administrator Val Dolcini and New York State Executive Director, James Barber, traveled to Brooklyn recently to tour urban agriculture operations funded by USDA microloans. While in New York City Dolcini and Barber met with the producers, legislative representatives and partner organizations. Continue reading

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Message from the Administrator

FSA Issues Fiscal Year 2016 Impacts Report

The New Year affords us the opportunity to take stock of last year’s achievements, reflect on accomplishments, changes in our lives, and plan for the opportunities ahead. It’s also a good time to review our work at FSA over the past 12 months. In that spirit, we have published FSA’s new IMPACTS: Selected Accomplishments 2016 that highlights many of the great things we’ve done for America’s farmers and ranchers.

The Impacts Report is a summary review of the various programs and initiatives administered by the agency, including simple charts that show how agency funds were spent when serving production agriculture. Continue reading

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CRP Change Could Help New Farmers

Joe Dunn (left) talks to USDA Deputy Under Secretary Lanon Baccam and his son-in-law, Aaron White. Baccam visited the Dunn farm in central Iowa to announce changes to the CRP.

By Gene Lucht, Missouri Farmer Today

Link to article in Missouri Farmer Today:

CARLISLE, Iowa — Beginning farmers will see increased opportunities to buy or rent farmland through a change in Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) rules announced last week.

USDA officials came to the Joe Dunn farm near Carlisle, Iowa, to announce the change, saying that, as of Jan. 9, some landowners with property in existing CRP contracts would be able to terminate those contracts early without a penalty as long as they are transferring the property to a new or beginning farmer.

Continue reading

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FSA Loan Helps a New Generation of Dairy Farmers Say ‘Cheese’ in Southern Illinois

The Marcoots educate consumers about the dairy industry and the importance of agriculture. Not only do they provide tours of their milking parlor, calf barn and creamery, but also host demonstrations and other educational events at the farm.

By Lauren Moore, FSA Public Affairs Specialist

Generations of the Marcoot family have raised and milked Jersey dairy cows in southern Illinois since the mid-1800s. John Marcoot took over the operations at Marcoot Jersey Farm in 1979, starting the sixth generation of dairy farming for the family.

In 2009, John and his wife, Linda, told their four daughters that they wished to retire from the farm. They gave their daughters the option to either take over the dairy or pursue careers off the farm. Continue reading

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Farm Service Agency Deputy Administrator Launches Farm Bill Effort to Improve Forest Health, Enhance Wildlife Habitat

Brad Pfaff, FSA Deputy Administrator for Farm Programs explains to a TV crew the importance of forest health to wildlife conservation.

Submitted by Brad Pfaff, FSA Deputy Administrator for Farm Programs

The rural area around Jackson, Mississippi offers spectacular scenery.  Heavily wooded, it is a sportsman’s paradise, but like all beautiful places on Earth, some stewardship may be required at times.

Recently, I traveled there to help launch a new forest health conservation effort.  Continue reading

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USDA Support Gives Badger State Motorists more Clean Fuel Options

State, Federal and Business Officials hail the introduction of new fuel choices in the Wisconsin market.

Submitted by Brad Pfaff, Farm Service Agency Deputy Administrator for Farm Programs

It was a pleasure to join officials in my home state of Wisconsin last month to expand upon the new era of more fuel choices for motorists. Accompanied by Farm Service Agency State Executive Director Patty Edelburg, I cut a ribbon at a Milwaukee Jetz convenience store, debuting the availability of new pumps that dispense higher ethanol fuel blends to serve motorists in this area. With financial assistance from the USDA Biofuel Infrastructure Partnership (BIP), service stations in Wisconsin and 20 other states are installing these pumps that provide up to 85 percent ethanol (E-85). Continue reading

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Northern Cheyenne Woman Carries on Family Ranching Tradition

By Jennifer Perez Cole, Public Affairs Specialist, USDA Farm Service Agency in Montana

Fourth-generation cattle rancher Ryhal Rowland used the FSA microloan program to expand her cow-calf operation on the Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation in southeastern Montana.

Fourth-generation cattle rancher Ryhal Rowland used the FSA microloan program to expand her cow-calf operation on the Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation in southeastern Montana.

Working cows in Muddy Creek on the Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation in Montana keeps Ryhal Rowland connected to the land and to her love of agriculture.

Rowland, 30, is a fourth generation cattle rancher and member of the Northern Cheyenne Tribe. She was born and raised on the 444,000-acre southeastern Montana reservation that is home to the Northern Cheyenne people. Her paternal grandfather gave Rowland her first two bred cows in the fall of 2015. In the spring of 2016, Rowland received a microloan through her local USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) service center to purchase a herd of Black Angus cow-calf pairs and a bull.

Her late maternal grandfather taught Rowland everything she knows about cattle production. She was the oldest granddaughter and was fortunate to work alongside her grandpa while growing up on the rural reservation. Her grandfather died two years ago.

While she’s carrying on a long family tradition in the cattle industry, Rowland brings her own style and flare to her operation. With a Bar MC brand, her cows stand out with pretty pink ear-tag identifiers. She says she appreciates the opportunity to purchase her first herd through FSA’s microloan program.

Since 2013, the microloan program, a relatively new program to FSA, has been hugely successful, providing simplified low-interest loans to agricultural producers across the United States. Microloans have helped farmers and ranchers like Rowland with operating costs, such as feed, fertilizer, tools and fencing and with capital purchases such as livestock, machinery and equipment. Earlier this year, the microloan program expanded to include farm land and building purchases, and soil and water conservation improvements.

For the past five years, Rowland has served as the Northern Cheyenne Reservation Extension Agent through the Federally Recognized Tribal Extension Program. Her efforts focus on community-based youth and agricultural education and development on the reservation, which encompasses two Montana counties neighboring the Crow Reservation on the west and the Tongue River to the east. According to tribal enrollment figures, there are more than 11,200 enrolled Northern Cheyenne tribal members, of which about 5,000 reside on the reservation.

As tribal extension agent, Rowland is instrumental in assisting USDA with ongoing outreach efforts on the Northern Cheyenne Reservation. This year, Rowland participated in and helped recruit producers to attend the USDA Tribal Outreach Forum in Bozeman, Montana, in March 2016 and provided key feedback to USDA at the agency’s StrikeForce Listening Session held on the Northern Cheyenne Reservation in October 2016.

The StrikeForce Initiative for Rural Growth and Opportunity expanded to the state of Montana in 2016. It is a multi-agency initiative that works to better connect USDA programs and services to high poverty communities.

Community education is a line of work that Rowland says she has long admired. One of her neighbors had served as tribal extension agent, and Rowland saw firsthand how important extension and 4-H and FFA advisors are to rural communities like her own. Rowland, who graduated from Colstrip High School in 2004, attended the local tribal college, Chief Dull Knife College, after high school. She attended Montana State University (MSU) in Bozeman on a full-ride scholarship from Western Energy and received a Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture Education Relations in December 2008. After graduating, she returned to her reservation, completed an internship and worked at the tribal college before she started the position as the Reservation Extension Agent in 2011. Rowland also represents the Northern Cheyenne Tribe as the tribal delegate to the Intertribal Agriculture Council Rocky Mountain Region.

Despite low cattle prices, Rowland remains optimistic. Carrying on the family ranching tradition that her grandfather worked so hard for is in her blood and her heart.

To learn more about how USDA assists new farmers, visit  For more information on the FSA microloan program, visit or contact your local FSA county office. To find your local FSA office, visit

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CRP Offers New Opportunity for Small Livestock Operations


USDA Deputy Under Secretary Alexis Taylor (center) announced the expanded CRP Grasslands program with Maggie and Clifford Hawbaker during a tour of their Newville dairy operation.

By Lauren Moore, FSA Public Affairs Specialist

During a tour of Emerald Valley Farm in Newville, Pennsylvania, USDA Deputy Under Secretary Alexis Taylor announced that the USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) has expanded the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) Grasslands program to focus on small-scale livestock operations. Continue reading

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Mapping the Ag-Nation: USDA Farm Service Agency Gets Weather-Ready

wrngroupshotGIS Specialist Recognized for Serving as Weather-Ready Ambassador

Jeffrey Bloomquist is an ambassador. He’s not stationed overseas, but does his important work from his Minnesota Farm Service Agency (FSA) state office in St. Paul.  And while he helps farmers and ranchers in many ways, he is recognized particularly for aiding them in preparation against weather risks that could affect their livelihoods. Continue reading

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