Family Transportation Company in Idaho Expands to Biomass Products


The Buell family has been in the transporting business since 1959, hauling logs, equipment, wood chips, sawdust, rock, gravel and biomass. From left to right: Front: Jack , Eleanor and Frank Back: Kevin and Mickey

One of the largest employers in Benewah County, Idaho, happens to be involved in the agriculture industry. Jack Buell Co, Inc. is a family owned business that started in 1959 in St. Maries, Idaho. The family operation transports forest products from the woods to manufacturing facilities throughout three states.

Jack Buell started the company with one log truck and a small shop. Today, the company has grown to more than 200 trucks and covers an average of 400 miles a day hauling to locations in Idaho, Washington and Montana. The business consists of approximately 200 employees, which includes three generations of Buell family members.

Mickey Buell and his brothers Kevin and Frank both work for the company. Mickey oversees the company’s chippers and grinders and also handles biomass. Kevin is in charge of log trucks and transfers and Frank is responsible for the chip and lumber trucks. Some of the Buell children also work for the family business. At the heart of the company is Jack and his wife Eleanor. Continue reading

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Boots on the Ground for Ag

USDA Offers “TIP” to Retiring Farmers; Pathways for Veterans


by Scott Whittington, FSA Public Affairs Specialist

As military veterans approach their end of active service, they may wonder what their next steps will be. There are multiple options in addition to growing their hair out, going back to to school, or getting a civilian job.

Thanks to the Farm Service Agency (FSA) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), there is one option many military men and women should consider – operating their own farm. That’s what a couple of veterans discovered when plowing through opportunities and looking for a route to success. Continue reading

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Celebrating 30 Years of Conservation Partnerships in Missouri


Missouri FSA, conservation partners and landowners celebrated the 30th anniversary of the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) by touring local conservation practices.

By Dana Rogge, Public Affairs and Outreach Specialist, Missouri Farm Service Agency

Just one county east of St. Louis lies Franklin County, Missouri, filled with rolling hills, diverse agriculture and some of Missouri’s finest Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) practices in the state. Approximately 70 landowners and agriculture partners and leaders gathered on June 28 to celebrate the nation’s largest voluntary conservation program and witness the impact the program has at the local and state level. Continue reading

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Fourth Generation Cattle Rancher Keeps Legacy Moving


Nevada rancher, Ron Cerri, takes care of his cattle and land with the consumer and his family in mind.

By  Scott Whittington, Public Affairs Specialist

We’ve all seen those family business signs that say “Serving our community since 19-something,” but one rancher’s family has most of those beat.

Ron Cerri, a fourth-generation rancher, has followed his family’s legacy that started in the 1800s and he is keeping tradition alive, raising beef cattle in Nevada. His son, daughter and their families live and work on the property. Even his granddaughter, a sixth-generation family member, joined 4-H and is showing an interest in ranching. Continue reading

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Rhode Island Oyster Farmer Grows with Local Market


With a six acre lease on Ninigret Pond in Rhode Island, Jules Opton-Himmel produces up to 500,000 oysters each year that are sold to local markets in New York and Rhode Island.

By Cassie Bable, Public Affairs Specialist, FSA Office of External Affairs

Beginning farmer Jules Opton-Himmel left his New York desk job to start his oyster operation, Walrus and Carpenter Oysters. The business venture started seven years ago and today, Opton-Himmel’s oysters have secured a spot on local restaurant menus across Rhode Island.

Opton-Himmel started with a 1,000 square-foot lease permit on Ninigret Pond, a coastal lagoon, in southern Rhode Island. As the business grew, he worked to expand his operation such that his lease permit now includes six acres which produce from 300,000 to 500,000 oysters each year. Continue reading

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County Committee Election Nominations in Full Swing

Important Process Runs Through August 1

County Committees make up a unique system envied broadly for its grassroots connection to governing policy. Each year, about one-third of the committee members are elected in a rotation of leadership. It gives the committees — more than 2,000 throughout the nation and U.S. territories — fresh perspectives on local agricultural issues.

FSA Administrator Val Dolcini comments on the importance of the committees and encourages eligible farmers and ranchers to nominate others or themselves so the committee framework can remain viable.

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Drought Can’t Stop 50 Years of Farming Experience

ECP success Damale pictures

Patricia Damele has seen many challenges in her 50 years of farming but won’t let drought stop her operation.

By: Kaylyn Franks, District Director, Idaho Farm Service Agency

Charles and Patricia Damele have jumped their share of hurdles when it comes to farming.

With nearly 300 cattle and 560 acres of hay and pasture in Northern Idaho, they have battled low cattle prices, high hay costs and have fought off plenty of insects and rodents in their 50 years of farming. Continue reading

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From High School to High Tunnels


Main Street Farms owner Allan Gandelman discusses the upcoming growing season with his FSA Farm Loan Officer, Roger Thomas, while Swiss chard transplants are planted by the farm crew.

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

In the days when high school social studies teacher Allan Gandelman taught kids about the history of the world, he began to notice the food his students were eating before class. He didn’t consider soda and chips a healthy breakfast. He also noticed that many of his students were from limited resource families, which made access to nutritious food outside of school difficult. Continue reading

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Kansas Military Family Starts Rewarding Career in Agriculture



Chad and Melissa Wise started their livestock operation in 2012 and their herd has grown to 55 head today.

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

Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, Delta and Echo are just five of 55 beef cows living on Chad and Melissa Wise’s cattle farm in Fort Scott, Kansas.

Aside from the farm, Chad is a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army and an assistant professor at the Army Command and General Staff College in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. Melissa is a certified public accountant (CPA) and runs her own accounting business. After getting married in 2000, Chad and Melissa lived in eight states and over the last 15 years, Chad has been deployed to Korea, Egypt, Kuwait, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. In 2012, when Chad was notified that he would be serving back-to-back deployments, the couple decided to put down roots in Fort Scott, Melissa’s hometown. The same year, Melissa opened her CPA office and they started their beef cattle operation. Continue reading

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Adams County FSA Educates Children about Conservation and Bats in Indiana



Adams County FSA employees transformed into bats for an educational conservation presentation to sixth grade students in Adams County schools.

Bats – The Real Dark Knights

By: Abigail Armentrout, Indiana Farm Service Agency, County Operations Trainee

Splash! It is a common sound this time of year as the weather gets warmer and kids start playing in the water.  However, for Sandy Voglewede and the Adams County FSA, Indiana Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD), SPLASH stands for Soil, PeopLe, Air, animalS and H2O.

The SPLASH event is one of the highlights of the school year in Adams County, Indiana. This year marked the 21st annual event held by the SWCD for sixth grade students in Adams County schools. The event included presentations from the SWCD, Farm Service Agency (FSA), the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), Indiana State Department of Agriculture, Adams County Forestry, Purdue Extension and conservation officers from the Department of Natural Resources.  Continue reading

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