FSA Loans Provide Boost to Young Farmers

Young people in their 20s and 30s are farming and the USDA Farm Service Agency is getting them started. Andy Birch, 27, put his dreams of owning a dairy farm on hold due to low wholesale milk prices throughout the 2000s. As those prices reached record levels, Birch and his wife, Sarah, were motivated to jump in. Birch leaded his parent’s farm and with a loan from the Farm Service Agency, the couple was able to buy 35 cows and repair the barn and milking system. Read more (USAToday).

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Farming In The Heartland

Val Combine

FSA Administrator Val Dolcini (left) helps Ken Gardner and Don Garver, with the harvest in Shelby County, Indiana.

By Val Dolcini, FSA Administrator

I have experienced a lot of agricultural seasons in my lifetime, most recently witnessing another great season last week — a harvest in the heartland.

For my first visit outside of the Nation’s capital as the Administrator, I traveled to the Great State of Indiana, joining my friend and colleague, Julia Wickard, who is both the Indiana FSA state executive director and an agricultural producer. We journeyed to Kelsay’s Dairy, just south of Indianapolis. As Joe Kelsay shared with me the operations of his sixth-generation family farm, his wife, Amy, hosted 400 preschoolers on the agritourism operation, sharing the story of agriculture with these young minds. Members of the agricultural media joined us and stayed throughout the day. Continue reading

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USDA Expands Access to Credit to Help More Beginning and Family Farmers

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is increasing lending limits to help more beginning and family farmers. Beginning next month, the borrowing limit for the microloan program will increase from $35,000 to $50,000. The lending process also has been simplified allowing the required “farming experience” to include other valuable experiences. The microloan changes will allow beginning, small and mid-sized farmers to access an additional $15,000 in loans using a simplified application process with up to seven years to repay. “USDA is continuing its commitment to new and existing family farmers and ranchers by expanding access to credit,” said Agriculture Deputy Secretary Krysta 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.” Learn more.

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Changing of the Guard at FSA

FSA Administrator Juan M. Garcia retired in September. The headquarters’ staff thanked him at a gathering. Garcia began working at USDA 38 years ago, spending most of his career with FSA, serving as the Texas state executive director and the deputy administrator of Farm Programs. The last two years he served as administrator.  His contributions were recognized by colleagues in Washington, D.C., but also by visiting field staff and State Executive Directors who gave Garcia a standing ovation when he spoke at a training session for the Dairy Margin Protection Program.

New FSA Administrator Val Dolcini arrived Sept. 12. He drove across a dozen states from Davis, Calif., stopping at several county offices to get acquainted with employees and to see his agency in action where it touches the customer.

Dolcini stepped on stage and quickly became re-acquainted with D.C. staff at a Meet-the-Administrator event in the South Building’s Lincoln Auditorium. He was praised during introductory remarks from Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden and Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services Under Secretary Michael Scuse. Then Administrator Dolcini spoke about his trek across the country, his family, his previous time in Washington, D.C. , and his eagerness to help implement the 2014 Farm Bill. Watch a video recording of the event on YouTube.   http://youtu.be/rb8b3C_wpao.

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Children Get Hands-On Experience During North Dakota Ag Expo

North Dakota Ag Expo

The North Dakota Farm Service Agency hosted an Ag Expo/Field Day for several school children to expose them to the different types of farm animals involved in farming and ranching. It also helped them get a close-up look and hands-on interaction with different animals.

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FSA Says Online Tools Offer Help to Farmers

USDA is working to educate farmers about the new safety net programs available as part of the 2014 Farm Bill. Recently appointed USDA Farm Service Agency Administrator Val Dolcini made a stop this week in Indiana to visit one on one with farmers. He says the first thing farmers will need to do is update their yields — which hasn’t happened since 2002 and from there, he says, they may want to update their base acres. And, Dolcini adds USDA has set deadlines to give farmers plenty of time to make these important changes.  “It’s a process that will go through the end of February of 2015,” he says. “During that period of time there are some great web-based tools that I encourage farmers all over the country to utilize and familiarize themselves with — so they can decide which the best program option for them is.” Read More (Brownfield Ag News).

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USDA Farm Service Agency Announces Key Dates for New 2014 Farm Bill Safety Net Programs

The Farm Service Agency has outlined four phases of the new Agricultural Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC) programs designed to help farmers manage risk. The first phase began last month when farmers received written notices advising them of their current base acres, program yields and 2008-2012 planting history. Farmers should check the information to make sure it is correct. The second phase began this week. Farm owners can now update their crop yields and decide whether to retain the farm’s 2013 base acres or to reallocate. The third phase is the program election period planned for this winter. Producers will be able to make a one-time election for 2014-2018 crop years between the ARC or PLC programs. The final phase allows producers to complete their annual enrollment. Read more for dates and detailed information or review information about ARC-PLC.

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Only a Few Days Remain to Enroll in Cotton Transition Assistance Program

Producers interested in enrolling in the Cotton Transition Assistance Program (CTAP) have until Oct. 7 to do so. The program provides interim payments to cotton producers during the 2014 crop year until the Stacked Income Protection Plan — a new insurance product — is available. Details on the plan were released in August. Learn more or review the Stacked Income Protection Plan.

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USDA Implements New Farm Bill Provisions for Peanut Producers

A new peanut revenue policy will soon be available for eligible peanut producers. The policy is one of several new risk management options authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill and will help extend revenue insurance coverage to help peanut producers manage risk. The new insurance policy will be offered through the federal crop insurance program and replaces current peanut crop provisions. Read more.

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Nominations Sought for Advisory Committee on Agriculture Statistics

USDA is seeking nominations to the Advisory Committee on Agriculture Statistics. The 20-member committee appointed by the Secretary of Agriculture advises the Secretary on the scope, timing and content of periodic agricultural censuses, surveys of agriculture and other related industries. The committee also makes recommendations on the content of agriculture reports and represents the views and data needs of suppliers and users of agricultural statistics. Nomination forms must be submitted by Oct. 24. Learn more or download a nomination form.

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