Only two weeks are left for farmers and ranchers to select themselves or others as candidates to sit on local FSA county committees and help make important agricultural decisions. Nominations must be submitted by Aug. 1. Members of the committee deliver FSA farm programs at the local level and make decisions needed to administer the programs in their counties. Those who would like to submit a nomination may download forms online (in English or Spanish) or visit their local FSA county office. Learn more.
With demand for organic products surging, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced $13 million in funding to famers and rancher for organic certification cost-share assistance. This will help make organic certification more accessible for small producers. “We need to make sure that small farmers who choose to grow organic products can afford to get certified,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. Certification assistance is available to all 50 states through the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service. Learn more.
By Michael Scuse, Under Secretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services
For the past few weeks we’ve shared stories of how the farmers and ranchers across the country have been helped by disaster assistance programs restored by the 2014 Farm Bill. These USDA programs are helping thousands of producers and their families recover from natural disasters.
These amazing stories of strength and courage show the resilience of the men and women who feed and clothe more than 313 million Americans and billions of people worldwide. Despite uncontrollable setbacks caused by drought, snowstorms, tornadoes and other natural disasters, American farmers, ranchers and their children persevered beyond measure. I’m honored to be part of an agency that works for and with such amazing people. Continue reading
Loveless uses smoke to calm the bees when he opens the boxes for inspection. Smoking the bees allows the beekeeper to work in the hive while the colony’s defensive response is interrupted.
By Cassie Bable, FSA Public Affairs Specialist
Larry Loveless of Gillespie, Ill., works full-time at a factory by day, but spends his evenings and free time beekeeping.
The harsh winter of 2013 brought devastating losses to many livestock producers, including beekeepers. Loveless lost more than half of his colonies due to several days of sub-zero temperatures. He started with 20 colonies and was down to only seven by the end of the winter.
“I’ve lost a few colonies here and there, but I’ve never experienced this horrific of a loss,” said Loveless, whose hives were already at a disadvantage because of last year’s drought. Continue reading
Like many ranchers suffering from the effects of drought, LaNelle Martin paid $5,000 more for high-priced hay and feed to keep her small operation running.
By Tanya Brown, FSA Writer/Editor
When enrollment opened for the USDA disaster assistance programs this April, LaNelle Martin was one of the first to sign up at the Kimball County FSA office in Nebraska.
“After two years of a severe drought our pastures are limited and haven’t grown,” said Martin. “We need the pasture to support our cattle and the cost of feed and hay is pricey.”
Nebraska, along with portions of the southern and western parts of the United States has suffered one of the longest and most devastating droughts in history. Kimball County’s worst seasons were 2012 to 2013, when the area was named a primary natural disaster area by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. This year, some snow and spring rains provided a little relief, “But as most of our producers say, we are only four to six weeks away from another disaster,” said Patricia Perry, FSA program technician in the Kimball County office. Continue reading
Producers affected by losses due to adverse weather or losses, including blizzards, wildfires and tornadoes, have until Aug. 1 to sign up for the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees and Farm-Raised Fish for the 2012-2013 program year. For 2014 program year (losses occurring on or after Oct. 1, 2013, through Sept. 30, 2014), sign-up ends Nov. 1, 2014. Those interested must contact their local FSA county office for more information and to sign up. Learn more or locate an FSA county office.
More than 106,000 disaster payments have been made to farmers and ranchers in 40 states across the county who suffered livestock and grazing losses. “Farmers and ranchers who waited two and a half years for a Farm Bill are now getting some relief,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. Dedicated full-time FSA staff, as well as temporary employees hired to expedite the application process, have processed over $1.2 billion in payments to qualifying farmers and ranchers. USDA estimated that roughly $2.5 billion would be provided in disaster relief to cover losses from October 2011 through September 2014. If those estimates prove accurate, it would mean nearly half of all disaster payments have already been provided. Learn more.
Not even a three year drought weakens Glenn Nakagawa’s resolve or determination to maintain his herd and protect the unique genetics of his American Wagyu cattle.
By Brenda Carlson, FSA Lead Regional Public Affairs Specialist
The Nakagawa Ranch (Valley Springs, Calif.), owned and operated by Glenn and Keiko Nakagawa, is a cattle operation steeped in history and tradition. The Nakagawas raise American Wagyu (Wa = Japanese and, Gyu= Cow) cattle, originating in Japan, but bred today in the U.S. for their excellent meat quality and calving ease.
Nakagawa is a third generation rancher who owns and works the same ground his grandfather, an immigrant from Hiroshima, Japan purchased two days before Pearl Harbor — an event that would force the entire Nakagawa family into internment camps until 1946 when they were able to return home to the ranch. Continue reading
An agreement between the United States and Korea has set standards for organic products that can be accepted in either country. Beginning July 1, organic products certified in the United States or Korea can be labeled as organic in either country. This will allow American organic farmers, processors, and businesses greater access to Korea’s growing market for organic products. “Korea is a growing, lucrative market for U.S. organic products, and this arrangement increases demand for American organic products,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. Without this equivalency arrangement in place, organic farmers and businesses wanting to sell organic processed products in either country would have to obtain separate certifications to meet each country’s organic standards. This typically has meant two sets of fees, inspections, and paperwork, and delays for U.S. farmers and businesses trying to export. This is Korea’s first organic equivalency arrangement with any trading partner and serves as an example of how closely the United States is working with Korea to address emerging issues and strengthen the trade relationship. Learn more.