Val Dolcini Named Administrator of the Farm Service Agency

Val Dolcini

Val Dolcini

Val Dolcini has been selected to serve as the new Farm Service Agency Administrator. Dolcini currently serves as the California FSA state executive director. He was appointed to that position by President Obama in 2009, and served in the same position under President Clinton. In 2011, he served as the acting FSA Administrator in Washington, DC. Prior to his appointment, he worked for a Fortune 500 technology consulting firm and served on the staff of the California Governor, California Lt. Governor, and two California members of the U.S. House of Representatives. A fifth-generation Californian and Yolo County native, Dolcini received a B.A. in History fromSan Francisco State University and a J.D. from Golden Gate University School of Law. He also attended the University of Uppsala in Sweden. He currently serves on the San Francisco State University Foundation Board of Directors.

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Farmers Can Sign Up for New Dairy Protection Program Sept. 2; New Web Tool Helps Determine Coverage

Farmers can enroll in the new dairy Margin Protection Program beginning Tuesday, Sept. 2. The voluntary program provides financial assistance to participating farmers when the difference between the price of milk and feed costs falls below the coverage level selected by the farmer. To help dairy farmers determine the level of coverage needed under the Margin Protection Program, USDA launched a new Web tool that allows farmers to quickly and easily combine unique operation data and other key variables to calculate their coverage needs based on price projections. Learn more or use the new Web tool.

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Obama Administration Praised for Implementation of Farm Bill

The 2014 Farm Bill has been implemented better than any of the past seven, according to Mary Kay Thatcher, director of public policy at the American Farm Bureau. Based on The Hagstrom Report, Thatcher praised the Obama Administration for listening to farm groups and farm leaders and implementing their suggestions. Read more (The Hagstrom Report).

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USDA Continues Commitment to Hurricane Sandy Victims

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced its continued support to victims of Hurricane Sandy by providing up to $99 million in conservation funding to assist victims in Connecticut, New Jersey and New York. The funds will be used to enroll 671 acres of hurricane-damaged property into permanent floodplain easements, which will help make communities more resilient to future flooding and storm surges. “More homeowners and communities that are still struggling from Hurricane Sandy will now find relief,” said Vilsack. “Restoring and protecting floodplain areas will also reduce the potential for future flooding impacts and improve wildlife habitat and long-term environmental stability.” Funding is provided by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service’s Emergency Watershed Protection Program. Learn more.

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Farmers Given an Early Termination Option for CRP Contracts

Producers with acres under contract through the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) who want to terminate their contract can do so before Jan. 30, 2015. The 2014 Farm Bill allows producers to apply for early contract termination if the contract has been in effect for at least five years and meets other eligibility criteria. Once a CRP contract termination request is approved, the decision cannot be reversed and the contract cannot be reinstated. For more information or to determine eligibility contact a local FSA office. Learn more about eligibility or find a local FSA office.

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USDA Invests $25 Million for Agricultural Entrepreneurs to Turn Commodities into Value-Added Products

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is investing $25 million to help 247 businesses nationwide expand their operations and bring new products to market. The funding is provided through USDA’s Rural Development’s Value-Added Producer Grant program that helps agricultural producers grow their businesses by turning raw commodities into value-added products, expanding marketing opportunities and developing new uses for existing products. Since 2009, USDA has awarded 863 Value-Added Producer Grants totaling $108 million. Twenty percent of the grants and 16 percent of total funding has been awarded to beginning farmers and ranchers. The 2014 Farm Bill increases mandatory funding for the program from $15 million to $63 million over five years (while also reauthorizing an additional $40 million in discretionary funding). Learn more.

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FSA Administrator Juan Garcia Set to Retire

FSA Administrator Juan M. Garcia

FSA Administrator Juan M. Garcia

FSA Administrator Juan Garcia is retiring after 38 years of service with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. “I complete this book that I have thoroughly enjoyed, a very good book of my many chapters here at USDA, a book that comes to a close with my decision to retire,” said Garcia in a message to FSA employees. “It is with the highest honor that I hand over this baton, skillfully passed to me by my predecessors, to a new successor, so that our relay race of teamwork continues towards that next sunrise.” Garcia will remain in his position until a successor is chosen. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack commented on Garcia’s retirement saying “Juan’s hard work and sound leadership have helped to create new opportunities and achieve record results for America’s farmers and ranchers.” Since taking office in 2012, Garcia led the way for disaster assistance programs to be pushed out in record time, providing more than $1 billion in relief to farmers and ranchers devastated by natural disasters. His signature microloan program, which debuted in 2013, has provided more than $150 million in credit to small farmers and ranchers. As Garcia starts his new chapter, the work at FSA continues to move forward. “Farming and ranching never stands still, and neither does FSA,” said Garcia.

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Enrollment Now Open for Cotton Transition Assistance Program

Enrollment opened last week for the Cotton Transition Assistance Program (CTAP). The program provides interim payments to cotton producers during the 2014 crop year until the Stacked Income Protection Plan, a new insurance product, becomes available. Details on the plan will be released by mid-August. “To help us provide the best service possible, cotton producers are encouraged to schedule an appointment with their local Farm Service Agency office early in this enrollment period,” said Garcia. Listen to more.

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Agricultural Producers Still Have Time to Apply for Direct Farm Ownership Loans

Farmers and ranchers still have time to apply for 2014 low interest loans available through FSA’s direct farm ownership program. Eligible producers can borrow up to $300,000 in direct farm ownership loans to buy or enlarge a farm, construct new farm buildings or improve structures, pay closing costs, or promote soil and water conservation and protection. The interest rate on select loans can be as low as 1.5 percent with up to 40 years to repay. Those interested should contact their local FSA county office. Find your local FSA county office.

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Funding Available for Research to Benefit Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers

USDA announced this week the availability of $400,000 in funding to establish the Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers Policy Research Center. The center will specialize in policy research impacting socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers. Qualifying universities across the country are asked to apply to be the Research Center’s home. “This Center will serve as another tool for socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers to get the resources they need. It will also assist us in our efforts to help beginning farmers from all walks of life get their start in agriculture.” Applications must be received by Sept. 11, 2014, by 5 p.m. EST. Learn more or apply for the grant.

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