FFA American Star Farmer Finds Success with Farm Loans

Daniel Jossund is a beginning farmer from Perley, Minnesota, and the 2023 American FFA Star Farmer. Photo courtesy of Daniel Jossund

By Ellyn Oelfke, FSA, Minnesota 

Meet Daniel Jossund of Perley, Minnesota, where he raises corn, wheat, soybeans, sugar beets, and barley with his family. When he isn’t working the land, he’s busy studying economics at North Dakota State University with plans to farm full time after he graduates in 2025.

Daniel received an honor of a lifetime at the 2023 National FFA Convention in Indianapolis – the American FFA Star Farmer award. According to FFA, this award goes to the FFA member that demonstrates the top production agriculture supervised agricultural experience in the nation. The member must demonstrate outstanding achievement, active FFA participation and an exemplary scholastic record. Continue reading

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Be the Link: Connections to People and the Land

Adam Hill, director of urban agriculture and community garden programs at the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, is a member of the FSA urban county committee in Philadelphia. Photo courtesy of Adam Hill.

By Melissa Webreck, Farm Service Agency

It’s time once again for the USDA Farm Service Agency’s annual county committee elections. We’re introducing you to current committee members across the nation throughout the nomination period, which runs now through Aug. 1, 2024. This week, meet Adam Hill, chairperson of the FSA urban county committee in Philadelphia.

Connected to the Land

Adam developed his love for agriculture while studying indigenous farming techniques in Guatemala and southern Mexico. When he returned to the U.S., he wanted to grow and help promote sustainable farming practices and stay connected to the land. Continue reading

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Be the Link: Serving and Learning

Linda Hanson, member of the FSA county committee in Plymouth County, Massachusetts, enjoys meeting other producers and learning how they benefit from FSA programs. Photo by Francine Kealey.

By Francine Kealey, Farm Service Agency  

It’s time once again for the USDA Farm Service Agency’s annual county committee elections. We’re introducing you to current committee members across the nation throughout the nomination period, which runs now through Aug. 1, 2024. This week, meet Linda Hanson of Plymouth County, Massachusetts. 

Farm and Family 

Hanson Farm has been in operation since the mid-1930s. Linda’s husband Bob is the third generation to live in the original farmhouse where he and Linda work and raised their family. 

Linda and Bob met after Bob graduated from college and that’s when he decided to start a dairy as part of their operation alongside his brother, David. Linda now manages the dairy parlor. Hanson Farm also grows and sells vegetables, eggs, firewood, hay and straw.   Continue reading

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Planting Urban Roots in South Carolina

Robbie McClam stands on the left of a table and Eric McClam stands on the right.

Urban farmers Robbie (left) and Eric McClam (right) are the owners of City Roots Organic Farm in Columbia, South Carolina. Photo courtesy of City Roots Organic Farm.

By Sabrenna Bryant, FSA, South Carolina 

Meet Eric and Robbie McClam of City Roots Organic Farm, an urban farm located in downtown Columbia, South Carolina. This eight-acre operation grows USDA certified organic microgreens year-round, and their produce is sold to restaurants, grocery retailers and food distributors throughout the east, from New York to Florida.  

Growing with USDA Programs  

Since 2009, City Roots has worked with both USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) and Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to install facilities and conservation practices on their farm.  

“Once we learned about USDA programs, mainly by word of mouth and through other agriculture organizations, we immediately started applying for as many programs as we were eligible for,” Eric said. “I can say with certainty that we would not be successful without utilizing these programs.”  Continue reading

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Be the Link: The Value of Conversation

Lee Nunn stands next to a green tractor.

Lee Nunn, member of the FSA county committee in Morgan County, Georgia, values the conversations with fellow farmers and assisting FSA staff with local issues. Photo by Ansley Hatcher, FSA.

By Jay Ivey, Farm Service Agency 

It’s time once again for the USDA Farm Service Agency’s annual county committee elections. We’re introducing you to current committee members across the nation throughout the nomination period, which runs now through Aug. 1, 2024. This week, meet Samuel “Lee” Nunn of Morgan County, Georgia. 

Starting from Scratch 

Lee Nunn has been involved in agriculture for his entire life. Growing up on his family’s dairy farm he helped on the dairy farm as his grandfather neared retirement. Despite his passion for the agriculture industry, Lee took a break from farming to start his construction company until an opportunity to farm again came about in 2005.  Continue reading

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Be the Link: Carrying on Traditions and Overcoming Challenges

Book St. Goddard and wife Verna Billedeaux stand by a sign saying "Book & Verna Ranch"

Book St. Goddard and his wife Verna Billedeaux, along with nephew, Jon St. Goddard, raise beef cattle on their ranch on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation. USDA photo.

By Elise Gaboury, Farm Service Agency 

 It’s time once again for the USDA Farm Service Agency’s annual county committee elections. We’re introducing you to current committee members across the nation throughout the nomination period, which runs now through Aug. 1, 2024. This week, meet Book St. Goddard, member of the Blackfeet Nation in Montana. 

Passing Down Traditions 

Book St. Goddard is a third-generation rancher raising beef cattle, barley and alfalfa hay on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation in northwestern Montana. Book operates the ranch with his wife Verna Billedeaux and nephew, Jon St. Goddard.  

While serving as an educator for Browning Public Schools for 25 years, Book maintained the ranching operation he was born into. His great grandfather started the operation and his father proudly carried on the tradition.  Continue reading

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Growing to New Heights with Conservation and Pollinators

Rhonda Larson stands in front of her high tunnel with a bouquet of cut flowers

Rhonda Larson is a cut flower producer in South Dakota. Photo by Andrew Thomason, NRCS.

By Andrew Thomason, NRCS, Iowa

Meet Rhonda Larson of Hayti, South Dakota. During the school year Rhonda serves special needs students as a teaching aide in Hamlin County. When she’s not focused on her day job, her passion is flowers, a tradition that was passed down from her mother and grandmother. With help from her conservation efforts and pollinators, that passion has sprouted into a blooming cut flower business.  

Growing the Business  

Rhonda started growing flowers in her basement and a makeshift shed on her family’s farmstead. She began selling her flowers at farmers markets, and as her business flourished, Rhonda wanted to expand her operation by using a portion of a former soybean field to increase her yields. Because her husband is a farmer, she was already familiar with USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and reached out to see if NRCS could help her reach her goals.  Continue reading

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Be the Link: Rooted in Resiliency

Kristine Bach

Kristine Bach, member of the FSA county committee in Sibley County, Minnesota, values community service helping other producers be sustainable and succeed in farming. Photo by Ellyn Oelfke.

By Ellyn Oelfke, Farm Service Agency 

It’s time once again for the USDA Farm Service Agency’s annual county committee elections. As FSA Administrator Zach Ducheneaux says, being a part of your local county committee is “your chance to ensure that other producers who share your interests, your production practices, and your perspective, are represented.” 

We want to introduce you to some committee members across the nation throughout the nomination period, which runs now through Aug. 1, 2024. This week, meet Kristine Bach of Sibley County, Minnesota.  Continue reading

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The Ice Cream Rises to the Top at Fox Meadows Farms

Bob Fox, Zach Ducheneaux, Chad Fox and Corey Fox standing in a field with a red barn in the background.

Fox Meadows Farms is a generational family farm in Pennsylvania. Pictured above (from left to right), is Bob Fox, FSA Administrator Zach Ducheneaux, Chad Fox and Corey Fox. Photo by Kimberly Merlau, FSA.

By Kimberly Merlau, FSA, Pennsylvania  

The Fox family of Fox Meadows Farms in Ephrata, Pennsylvania, is owned and operated by brothers Chad and Corey Fox, their wives, Krista and Andrea, and their parents, Bob and Ruthie. This generational farm demonstrates the importance of family farms, diversifying farming operations, and recognizing opportunities in urban and suburban communities.  

“We are grateful to be close to Lancaster City and other population centers like Leola,” Chad said. “Being close to the consumer gives us access to an available workforce and consumer base, affording us the opportunity to serve more people.”   Continue reading

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Urban Youth Loan Borrower Grows Lettuce and a Passion for Hydroponics

Trinity Waguespack holds a container full of leafy greens.

Trinity Waguespack, an 11-year-old urban farmer in Louisiana. Photo courtesy of the Waguespack family.

By Shantelle Turner, Management and Program Analyst, USDA Farm Service Agency

Trinity Waguespack is an 11-year-old urban farmer in Lafayette, Louisiana. When she’s not tackling her schoolwork, Trinity is busy growing lettuce in her three hydroponic garden towers. Through precision agriculture and artificial intelligence technology, the towers notify her when the lettuce needs water, even when she’s at swim practice.

“I like hydroponics because it lets me stay away from the outdoor bugs and hot weather,” said Trinity. “It’s also cool to grow things in water.” Continue reading

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