In Michigan, From Small Farm to Urban Table


Jim Koan of Almar Orchard in Flushing has FSA Administrator Val Dolcini pick (and sample) their Pinata variety apple.

By Savannah Halleaux, Public Affairs Specialist, Michigan Farm Service Agency

“Michigan is a real microcosm for what I see when I travel around the nation,” USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) Administrator Val Dolcini said about the Mitten State, which boasts the second most diverse agriculture economy in the United States. Continue reading

Posted in On the Road with Administrator Dolcini | Leave a comment

USDA Under Secretary Introduces E-15 Biofuel Pumps to Nebraska Motorists

Under Secretary Michael Scuse praises Nebraska business leaders for introducing E-15 biofuel pumps

Under Secretary Michael Scuse praises Nebraska business leaders for introducing E-15 biofuel pumps

(OMAHA, Neb.) – USDA Under Secretary Michael Scuse and Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts recently visited one of the first fuel pump investments made possible through the Biofuel Infrastructure Partnership (BIP). Thanks to the investment, Nebraska motorists can now fill their tanks with E15, a cleaner burning fuel blend of 15 percent American Ethanol.

“The Biofuel Infrastructure Partnership is increasing access to lower cost, renewable, American-made fuels that will help reduce our country’s environmental impact and support our rural economy,” said Scuse. “The new availability of E15 gives consumers in Nebraska a cleaner option to fuel their vehicle at an affordable price.”

Last year, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that USDA would partner with 21 states through BIP to nearly double the number of fueling pumps nationwide that supply renewable fuels to American motorists. With matching commitments by state and private entities, BIP is investing a total of $210 million to strengthen the rural economy. Nebraska received nearly $2.3 million in federal funds for BIP.

In Nebraska, the Nebraska Corn Board, Nebraska Environmental Trust, individual ethanol plants and the “Prime the Pump” nonprofit organization all contributed matching funds to support the effort. Through Nebraska’s grant, 80 fuel pumps are proposed for installation across the state, with emphasis in high traffic areas, such as Lincoln, Omaha and along the Interstate 80 corridor. Kum-and-Go convenience store locations in and around the Omaha area are the first Nebraska sites to open E15 pumps as part of the program.

A typical gas pump delivers fuel with 10 percent ethanol, which limits the amount of renewable energy that consumers can purchase. BIP aims to increase the number of pumps, storage and related infrastructure that offer higher blends of ethanol, such as E15, E85, and even intermediate combination blends.

BIP is administered by the USDA Farm Service Agency. USDA continues to aggressively pursue investments in renewable energy to create jobs in rural communities, drive economic growth, and help reduce the nation’s dependence on foreign oil. To learn more about USDA investments in energy, visit

Posted in Atop the Fence Post | Leave a comment

Beginning Farmer Evolves into Successful Vegetable Grower



Beginning farmer, Ivan Tellez, worked with FSA staff to overcome a language barrier and secure a direct operating loan and farm ownership loan to expand his fruit and vegetable operation. (Photo credit – Kaylyn Franks)

Young Producer Overcomes Limited English Proficiency

By Kaylyn Franks, Idaho Farm Service Agency

When some farmers talk about challenges experienced during their journey to success, they mention financial hardship or weather disasters. Once in a while, a farmer has a challenge that includes starting with a single acre of cropland and building it into a successful farm.

Ivan Tellez began working on a ranch in early 2000. After five years and as a Spanish speaker with only limited English, he moved to Nampa, Idaho, and began farming with his father. Tellez also worked for a local, fresh produce farmer with 25 years of experience. Continue reading

Posted in Atop the Fence Post, Features, Regional Posts | 2 Comments

With Farm Service Agency Help, Alaska Producers are Working to Meet the Demand for Local Food


FSA Administrator Val Dolcini recently traveled to Alaska where he met Ron and Marjorie Illingworth, peony growers in North Pole. Ron used a Farm Storage Facility Loan (FSFL) to purchase and install a walk-in cooler for their fresh flower operation.

Submitted by Val Dolcini, Administrator, USDA Farm Service Agency

As anyone who has visited the 49th State knows, Alaska is huge. It’s bigger than the next three largest states, Texas, California and Montana….combined! A land of extremes, Alaska’s rural communities face unique challenges: massive stretches of land that are permanently frozen (permafrost), long, dark winters, summer days where the sun never sets, 6,640 miles of coastline, majestic mountains, glaciers and rivers.  Producers are challenged by vast distances and limited transportation networks, while also threatened by coastal erosion and the effects of climate change. In this environment, a small but increasing number of producers are working to make big changes in the way local food and plant materials are grown and supplied within the state.  Continue reading

Posted in On the Road with Administrator Dolcini | 1 Comment

FSA Administrator Cooks and Connects to FSA Programs


Farm Service Agency (FSA) Administrator Val Dolcini (right) joined chef Jonathan Bardzik (left) for a lunch-hour cooking demonstration in the USDA South Building cafeteria featuring four recipes made with farm-fresh food.

By Lauren Moore, FSA Public Affairs Specialist

USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) Administrator Val Dolcini recently put on an apron and joined local author, storyteller and chef Jonathan Bardzik in a lunch-hour cooking demonstration in the USDA South Building cafeteria.

Bardzik, creator of more than 600 recipes using fresh produce he buys at local farmers markets, said it’s important for cities to have access to farm-fresh food found at farmers markets, urban agriculture operations and farms near city limits. Since 2011, he has done more than 150 live appearances at venues across the United States, including Eastern Market in Washington, D.C. Continue reading

Posted in Atop the Fence Post, Features, Regional Posts | Leave a comment

FSA Administrator Tours Regional Food Systems, Attends FSA Employee Conference


Administrator Dolcini learned about regional food systems firsthand from Sonia Kendrick, retired Army National Guard Veteran, who founded Feed Iowa First.

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

Following USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) Administrator Val Dolcini’s visit to Nebraska, he headed straight to Iowa for a meet and greet with FSA employees at the Iowa State FSA Office in Des Moines.

Also on the agenda was attending the National Association of FSA County Office Employees (NASCOE) Convention in Cedar Rapids. NASCOE membership is comprised of FSA employees who work together to ensure FSA operates successfully and employee interests are protected while meeting agency objectives.   Continue reading

Posted in On the Road with Administrator Dolcini | Leave a comment

The McCalls Keep Ag ‘All in the Family’


Bruce and Jennifer McCall take pride in raising their sons on the farm and have used FSA programs and loans to expand their operation and recover from natural disasters such as drought.

By Scott Whittington, Public Affairs Specialist

A lot of American families “make it work” through hard times. One family in Arkansas has seen ups and downs on their family farm with droughts, floods and other property damages. Other families may quit, but this one seems to be ready for the long haul.

Bruce and Jennifer McCall bought their cow farm called “Bar M” in 1994 from Bruce’s mother after his father passed away. Raising cows was something Bruce was used to doing, growing up on that land. Now they’re raising their kids there stressing the importance of farming and accountability. Continue reading

Posted in Atop the Fence Post, Features, Regional Posts | Leave a comment

400 Participate in Community-Supported Agriculture


Kacie Luckett had to quit her job as a home health care provider to work full-time on her farm and manage her 400-member CSA operation.

By Tanya Brown, Outreach Marketing Editor

For a few years, Kacie Luckett, who had only two acres of growing space, was told there was no way she could compete against large farms at a farmers market.

They were right. Continue reading

Posted in Atop the Fence Post, Features, Regional Posts | 1 Comment

Patience and Passion: Oregon Hazelnut Farmer Revives Family’s Farming History


Jim Gerig checks the hazelnut trees on his farm in Salem, Oregon. An FSA microloan helped him plant 10 acres of trees that will be producing soon, following a five-year wait for the trees to mature.

By Michael Booth, Public Affairs Specialist

Jim Gerig grew up in a western Oregon farm family, but in the 1980s his father had to lease out the family land due to dwindling profit margins. Since then, he has kept a hand in the industry, working for farm supply and equipment companies. But the pull of farming kept calling to him.

“I just had a passion for it,” Gerig said. “I’ve worked in agriculture all my life, but had a passion to do it on my own.” Continue reading

Posted in Know Your Farmer Know Your Food | Leave a comment

Nebraska Celebrates 30 Years of CRP

photo 2

FSA Administrator Val Dolcini (left) and Eric Zach (center) with Nebraska Game and Parks Commission listen as Brian Teeter (right) with Pheasants Forever highlights the practices in place on CRP ground in east central Nebraska.

By Bobbie KrizWickham, Public Affairs and Outreach Coordinator, Nebraska FSA

USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) Administrator Val Dolcini recently joined conservation partners in Lincoln, Nebraska, to mark the 30th anniversary of the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP). This milestone was celebrated with field tours and a reception that included a mix of federal and state government leaders as well as farmers, conservationists and wildlife officials.

Administrator Dolcini kicked off his Nebraska visit at the National Bobwhite Conservation Initiative annual meeting. This group is made up of 25 states dedicated to a unified strategy for bobwhite quail restoration. He told the group “it’s the partnerships that make it work so well,” as he discussed the importance of CRP to soil conservation, wildlife habitat and water quality improvement across the nation.  The theme carried throughout the rest of the day’s activities. Continue reading

Posted in CRP is 30, On the Road with Administrator Dolcini | Leave a comment