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  1. USDA Expands Grasslands Conservation Program to Small-Scale Livestock Producers

    Fri Jan 13, 2017 at 01:00 PM

    WASHINGTON, Jan.13, 2017 – U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) Administrator Val Dolcini today announced that USDA will accept over 300,000 acres in 43 states that were offered by producers during the recent ranking period for the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) Grasslands enrollment with emphasis placed on small-scale livestock operations. Through the voluntary CRP Grasslands program, grasslands threatened by development or conversion to row crops are maintained as livestock grazing areas, while providing important conservation benefits. Approximately 200,000 of the accepted acres were offered by small-scale livestock operations.

  2. USDA’s Farm Service Agency Expands Bridges to Opportunity Nationwide

    Wed Jan 11, 2017 at 01:00 PM

    WASHINGTON, Jan. 11, 2017 — The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) today announced the expansion of a unique service for farmers and ranchers. FSA’s Bridges to Opportunity program provides a one-stop-shop that connects producers with resources, programs and educational services offered across the department, as well as from other USDA partner organizations. Bridges to Opportunity, which currently provides enhanced customer support to more than 150,000 customers in 20 states, will expand to serve customers across the country before the end of the month using fiscal year 2016 funds.

  3. USDA Announces Additional Financial Incentives for Conservation Reserve Program Participants to Improve Forest Health and Enhance Wildlife Habitat

    Fri Dec 9, 2016 at 01:00 PM

    JACKSON, Miss., Dec. 9, 2016 – In an effort to improve wildlife habitat and the health of private forest lands, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) today announced additional incentives available for Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) participants to actively manage forest lands enrolled in the program.

  4. USDA Designates Pike County in Pennsylvania as a Primary Natural Disaster Area with Assistance to Producers in Surrounding States

    Thu Dec 1, 2016 at 02:11 PM

    WASHINGTON, Nov. 29, 2016 — The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has designated Pike County in Pennsylvania as a primary natural disaster area due to losses caused by a recent drought.

    “Our hearts go out to those Pennsylvania farmers and ranchers affected by recent natural disasters,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “President Obama and I are committed to ensuring that agriculture remains a bright spot in our nation’s economy by sustaining the successes of America’s farmers, ranchers, and rural communities through these difficult times. We’re also telling Pennsylvania producers that USDA stands with you and your communities when severe weather and natural disasters threaten to disrupt your livelihood.”

  5. USDA Partners with Farmers and Ranchers to Protect More Than 500,000 Acres of Working Grasslands

    Wed Nov 30, 2016 at 01:00 PM

    WASHINGTON, Nov. 30, 2016 – Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services Deputy Under Secretary Alexis Taylor today announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will accept more than 504,000 acres that were offered by producers during the recent ranking period for the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) Grasslands enrollment. Through the voluntary CRP Grasslands program, grasslands threatened by development or conversion to row crops are maintained as livestock grazing areas, while providing important conservation benefits.

    USDA will accept more than 2,100 offers totaling more than 504,000 acres across 34 states. Over 70 percent of the acres are from beginning farmers, veterans and underserved producers. About two-thirds of the acres are in counties with the highest threat for conversion. Additionally, nearly 60 percent of the acres are in wildlife priority areas and nearly three-fourths of the acres will have a wildlife-focused conservation plan as part of the operation. 

  6. Farm Service Agency Extends Voting Deadline for County Committee Elections

    Tue Nov 29, 2016 at 01:00 PM

    Pennsylvania Producers Now Have Until Dec. 13 to Submit Ballots

    (Harrisburg, PA) Nov. 29, 2016 — The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Pennsylvania Farm Service Agency (FSA) Executive Director, SED Bill Wehry, today announced that the deadline to submit ballots for the 2016 County Committee Elections has been extended to ensure farmers and ranchers have sufficient time to vote. Eligible voters now have until Dec. 13, 2016 to return ballots to their local FSA offices. Producers who have not received their ballot should pick one up at their local FSA office.

    “We’re extending the voting deadline to Dec. 13 to give farmers and ranchers a few additional days to get their ballots in,” said SED Wehry. “I urge all eligible producers, especially minorities and women, to get involved and make a real difference in their communities by voting in this year’s elections. This is your opportunity to have a say in how federal programs are delivered in your county.”

    FSA has modified the ballot, making it easily identifiable and less likely to be overlooked. Ballots returned by mail must be postmarked no later than Dec. 13, 2016. Newly elected committee members will take office Jan. 1, 2017.

    Nearly 7,700 FSA County Committee members serve FSA offices nationwide. Each committee has three to 11 elected members who serve three-year terms of office. One-third of County Committee seats are up for election each year. County Committee members apply their knowledge and judgment to help FSA make important decisions on its commodity support, conservation, indemnity, disaster and emergency programs.

    Producers must participate or cooperate in an FSA program to be eligible to vote in the County Committee election. Approximately 1.5 million producers are currently eligible to vote. Farmers and ranchers who supervise and conduct the farming operations of an entire farm, but are not of legal voting age, also may be eligible to vote.

    For more information, visit the FSA website at www.fsa.usda.gov/elections. You may also contact your local USDA service center or FSA office. Visit http://offices.usda.gov to find an FSA office near you.

    USDA works to strengthen and support American agriculture, an industry that supports one in 11 American jobs, provides American consumers with more than 80 percent of the food we consume, ensures that Americans spend less of their paychecks at the grocery store than most people in other countries and supports markets for homegrown renewable energy and materials. Since 2009, USDA has provided $5.6 billion in disaster relief to farmers and ranchers; expanded risk management tools with products like Whole Farm Revenue Protection; and helped farm businesses grow with $36 billion in farm credit. The Department has engaged its resources to support a strong next generation of farmers and ranchers by improving access to land and capital; building new markets and market opportunities; and extending new conservation opportunities. USDA has developed new markets for rural-made products, including more than 2,700 bio-based products through USDA's Bio-Preferred program; and invested $64 billion in infrastructure and community facilities to help improve the quality of life in rural America. For more information, visit www.usda.gov/results.

  7. USDA Resumes Incentives to Grow the Bioeconomy and Improve Forest Health

    Thu Nov 10, 2016 at 01:00 PM

     WASHINGTON, Nov. 10, 2016 – U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) Administrator Val Dolcini today announced that $1.5 million will be available in fiscal year 2017 for farmers and foresters who harvest and deliver biomass for renewable energy. The funds are from the Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP), which was reauthorized by the 2014 Farm Bill.
     
    “USDA investments in expanding biofuel feedstocks lay the foundation for more bioproducts made in rural America, supporting rural economic development, reducing carbon pollution and helping decrease our dependence on foreign energy,” said Dolcini.

    In fiscal year 2017, there is $3 million total available for BCAP, half of which is for harvesting and delivering forest or agricultural residues to a USDA-approved energy facility. BCAP also provides financial assistance to farmers and ranchers who establish and maintain new crops of biomass for energy or biobased products; additional information on the resumption of those funds will be announced at a later date.

    Facilities seeking to be qualified by USDA to accept BCAP-funded biomass can begin enrollment Nov. 14 through Dec. 5, 2016. Also, between Jan. 9, 2017, through March 15, 2017, USDA will accept applications from foresters and farmers seeking incentives to remove biomass residues from fields or national forests for delivery to energy generation facilities. The retrieval payments are provided at match of $1 for $1, up to $20 per dry ton. Eligible crops include corn residue, orchard waste or diseased or insect-infested wood materials.

    To learn more about BCAP or to enroll in updates, visit www.fsa.usda.gov/bcap or contact your local FSA county office. To find your local county office, visit http://offices.usda.gov.
     
    Investments in renewable energy and the biobased economy are a leading part of USDA's commitment to mitigating climate change and promoting a clean-energy economy. This month, the Department is examining what a changing climate means to agriculture and how USDA is working to reduce greenhouse gases. For more information, visit Chapter 5 of https://medium.com/usda-results

    USDA works to strengthen and support American agriculture, an industry that supports one in 11 American jobs, provides American consumers with more than 80 percent of the food we consume, ensures that Americans spend less of their paychecks at the grocery store than most people in other countries and supports markets for homegrown renewable energy and materials. Since 2009, USDA has provided $5.6 billion in disaster relief to farmers and ranchers; expanded risk management tools with products like Whole Farm Revenue Protection; and helped farm businesses grow with $36 billion in farm credit. The Department has engaged its resources to support a strong next generation of farmers and ranchers by improving access to land and capital; building new markets and market opportunities; and extending new conservation opportunities. USDA has developed new markets for rural-made products, including more than 2,700 biobased products through USDA's BioPreferred program; and invested $64 billion in infrastructure and community facilities to help improve the quality of life in rural America. For more information, visit www.usda.gov/results.
     

  8. USDA Expands Working-Lands Conservation Opportunities through CRP

    Mon Nov 7, 2016 at 10:58 AM

    HARRISBURG, Pa., Nov. 4, 2016 – Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services Deputy Under Secretary Alexis Taylor today announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will offer a new Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) Grasslands practice specifically tailored for small-scale livestock grazing operations. Small livestock operations with 100 or fewer head of grazing dairy cows (or the equivalent) can submit applications to enroll up to 200 acres of grasslands per farm. USDA’s goal is to enroll up to 200,000 acres.

    “For 30 years, lands in the Conservation Reserve Program have contributed to soil and water protection and wildlife and pollinator habitat, while playing a significant role in mitigating climate change,” said Taylor. “CRP Grasslands recognizes the conservation value of well-managed, working grazing lands and pasturelands. This new opportunity for small livestock operations, like the dairy farms or small beef farms common in Pennsylvania, will help ensure that livestock operations of varying scales and across the country have an opportunity to achieve environmental and economic benefits.  Small livestock operations are encouraged to contact their local Farm Service Agency office to learn more about this program.”

    Taylor also announced that the current CRP Grassland ranking period will end on Nov. 10, 2016. To date, the USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) has received nearly 5,000 offers covering over 1 million acres for this CRP working-lands conservation program. These offers are predominantly larger acreage ranchland in Western states.
     
    The new practice for small-scale livestock grazers aims, in part, to encourage greater diversity geographically and in types of livestock operation. This opportunity will close on Dec. 16, 2016. Offers selected this fiscal year will be enrolled into CRP Grasslands beginning Oct. 1, 2017.
     
    Participants in CRP Grasslands establish or maintain long-term, resource-conserving grasses and other plant species to control soil erosion, improve water quality and develop wildlife habitat on marginally productive agricultural lands. CRP Grasslands participants can use the land for livestock production (e.g. grazing or producing hay), while following their conservation and grazing plans in order to maintain the cover. A goal of CRP Grasslands is to minimize conversion of grasslands either to row crops or to non-agricultural uses. Participants can receive annual payments of up to 75 percent of the grazing value of the land and up to 50 percent to fund cover or practices like cross-fencing to support rotational grazing or improving pasture cover to benefit pollinators or other wildlife. 
     
    USDA will select offers for enrollment based on six ranking factors: (1) current and future use, (2) new farmer/rancher or underserved producer involvement, (3) maximum grassland preservation, (4) vegetative cover, (5) environmental factors and (6) pollinator habitat. Offers for the second ranking period also will be considered from producers who submitted offers for the first ranking period but were not accepted, as well as from new offers submitted through Dec. 16.
     
    “Adding a working-lands conservation program to the toolbox is an exciting opportunity for the future of CRP,” said Taylor. “There also are ways that CRP Grasslands could be combined with other traditional CRP conservation practices, such as riparian buffers on the same farm, to create a package that can help keep small livestock operations in production. An example of such a package would be to dedicate the most sensitive land to conservation, while still maintaining the bulk of the area as working grasslands for livestock. USDA would provide cost-share assistance to help farmers install fencing and provide alternative water sources to livestock, as well as annual CRP payments to help the farm's bottom-line.”

    In May, FSA accepted 101,000 acres in the grasslands program, with more than 70 percent of the acres having diverse native grasslands under threat of conversion, and more than 97 percent of the acres having a new, veteran or underserved farmer or rancher as a primary producer.
     
    Small livestock operations or other farming and ranching operations interested in participating in CRP Grasslands should contact their local FSA office. To find your local FSA office, visit http://offices.usda.gov. To learn more about FSA’s conservation programs, visit www.fsa.usda.gov/conservation.
     
    USDA works to strengthen and support American agriculture, an industry that supports one in 11 American jobs, provides American consumers with more than 80 percent of the food we consume, ensures that Americans spend less of their paychecks at the grocery store than most people in other countries, and supports markets for homegrown renewable energy and materials. Since 2009, USDA has provided $5.6 billion in disaster relief to farmers and ranchers; expanded risk management tools with products like Whole Farm Revenue Protection; and helped farm businesses grow with $36 billion in farm credit. The Department has engaged its resources to support a strong next generation of farmers and ranchers by improving access to land and capital; building new markets and market opportunities; and extending new conservation opportunities. USDA has developed new markets for rural-made products, including more than 2,700 biobased products through USDA's BioPreferred program; and invested $64 billion in infrastructure and community facilities to help improve the quality of life in rural America. For more information, visit www.usda.gov/results.

  9. FSA County Committee Elections to Begin; Producers to Receive Ballots Week of Nov. 7

    Thu Nov 3, 2016 at 02:02 PM

    WASHINGTON, Nov. 3, 2016 – Farm Service Agency (FSA) Administrator Val Dolcini today announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will begin mailing ballots to eligible farmers and ranchers across the country for the 2016 FSA County Committee elections on Monday, Nov. 7, 2016. Producers must return ballots to their local FSA offices by Dec. 5, 2016, to ensure that their vote is counted.

    “Producers elected to FSA county committees play a vital role in local agricultural decisions,” said Dolcini. “Their contributions are essential to the daily operation of nearly 2,200 offices across the country. It is a valued partnership that helps us better understand the needs of the farmers and ranchers we serve.”

    Nearly 7,700 FSA County Committee members serve FSA offices nationwide. Each committee has three to 11 elected members who serve three-year terms of office. One-third of county committee seats are up for election each year. County committee members apply their knowledge and judgment to help FSA make important decisions on its commodity support programs, conservation programs, indemnity and disaster programs, and emergency programs and eligibility.

    Producers must participate or cooperate in an FSA program to be eligible to vote in the county committee election. Approximately 1.5 million producers are currently eligible to vote. Farmers and ranchers who supervise and conduct the farming operations of an entire farm, but are not of legal voting age, also may be eligible to vote.

    Farmers and ranchers will begin receiving their ballots the week of Nov. 7. Ballots include the names of candidates running for the local committee election. FSA has modified the ballot, making it easily identifiable and less likely to be overlooked. Voters who do not receive ballots in the coming week can pick one up at their local FSA offices. Ballots returned by mail must be postmarked no later than Dec. 5, 2016. Newly elected committee members will take office Jan. 1, 2017.

    For more information, visit the FSA website at www.fsa.usda.gov/elections. You may also contact your local USDA Service Center or FSA office. Visit http://offices.usda.govto find an FSA office near you.

    USDA works to strengthen and support American agriculture, an industry that supports one in 11 American jobs, provides American consumers with more than 80 percent of the food we consume, ensures that Americans spend less of their paychecks at the grocery store than most people in other countries, and supports markets for homegrown renewable energy and materials. Since 2009, USDA has provided $5.6 billion in disaster relief to farmers and ranchers; expanded risk management tools with products like Whole Farm Revenue Protection; and helped farm businesses grow with $36 billion in farm credit. The Department has engaged its resources to support a strong next generation of farmers and ranchers by improving access to land and capital; building new markets and market opportunities; and extending new conservation opportunities. USDA has developed new markets for rural-made products, including more than 2,700 biobased products through USDA's BioPreferred program; and invested $64 billion in infrastructure and community facilities to help improve the quality of life in rural America. For more information, visit www.usda.gov/results.

  10. USDA Invests $1.7 Billion to Protect Sensitive Agricultural Lands through Conservation Reserve Program

    Mon Oct 31, 2016 at 12:22 PM

    WASHINGTON, Oct. 28, 2016 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will issue nearly $1.7 billion in payments to more than half of a million Americans who have contracts with the government to protect sensitive agricultural lands. The investment, part of the voluntary USDA Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), will allow producers to protect almost 24 million acres of wetlands, grasslands and wildlife habitat in 2016.

     

    CRP provides financial assistance to farmers and ranchers who remove environmentally sensitive land from production to be planted with certain grasses, shrubs and trees that improve water quality, prevent soil erosion, and increase wildlife habitat. In return for enrolling in CRP, USDA, through the Farm Service Agency (FSA), provides participants with rental payments and cost-share assistance. Landowners enter into contracts that last between 10 and 15 years.

     

     

    "We have seen record demand to participate in this important program,” said Vilsack. “Despite the current enrollment limit of 24 million acres, USDA is committed to continuing our important partnerships with farmers, ranchers, state and local governments and sportsmen to maintain the environmental benefits provided by the Conservation Reserve Program.”

     

     

     

    More than 1.3 million acres were newly enrolled in CRP in fiscal year 2016 using the continuous enrollment authority, double the pace of the previous year. In fiscal year 2016, FSA also accepted 411,000 acres through its general enrollment authority, plus 101,000 acres in the new CRP-Grasslands program, which balances conservation with working lands. More than 70 percent of the acres enrolled in CRP-Grasslands are diverse native grasslands under threat of conversion, with more than 97 percent of the acres having a new, veteran or underserved farmer or rancher as a primary producer. 

     

     

     

    During its 30-year history, CRP has reduced nitrogen and phosphorous runoff by 95 and 85 percent, respectively, and restored 2.7 million acres of wetlands. It has also protected more than 170,000 stream miles with riparian buffers, enough to go around the world seven times. The program provides 15 million acres that are beneficial to pollinators, and hundreds of thousands of acres of wildlife habitat that has resurrected waterfowl and gamebird populations, like pheasants, quail and prairie chicken

     

     

     

    CRP has sequestered an annual average of 49 million tons of greenhouse gases, equal to taking nine million cars off the road, and prevented nine billion tons of soil from erosion, enough to fill 600 million dump trucks. 

     

     

     

    For more information about CRP, contact your local FSA office or online at www.fsa.usda.gov/crp. Visit www.fsa.usda.gov/crpis30 or follower Twitter at #CRPis30 for program anniversary background and success stories. To locate your local FSA office, visit http://offices.usda.gov.

     

     

     

    USDA works to strengthen and support American agriculture, an industry that supports one in 11 American jobs, provides American consumers with more than 80 percent of the food we consume, ensures that Americans spend less of their paychecks at the grocery store than most people in other countries, and supports markets for homegrown renewable energy and materials. Since 2009, USDA has provided $5.6 billion in disaster relief to farmers and ranchers; expanded risk management tools with products like Whole Farm Revenue Protection; and helped farm businesses grow with $36 billion in farm credit. The Department has engaged its resources to support a strong next generation of farmers and ranchers by improving access to land and capital; building new markets and market opportunities; and extending new conservation opportunities. USDA has developed new markets for rural-made products, including more than 2,700 biobased products through USDA's BioPreferred program; and invested $64 billion in infrastructure and community facilities to help improve the quality of life in rural America. For more information, visit www.usda.gov/results.

     

  11. USDA Announces Enrollment Period for Safety Net Coverage in 2017

    Fri Oct 28, 2016 at 01:00 PM

     

    WASHINGTON, Oct. 28, 2016 – U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) Administrator Val Dolcini today announced that producers on farms with base acres under the safety net programs established by the 2014 Farm Bill, known as the Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) or Price Loss Coverage (PLC) programs, can begin visiting FSA county offices starting Nov. 1, 2016, to sign contracts and enroll for the 2017 crop year. The enrollment period will continue until Aug. 1, 2017.

     

    “FSA issued more than $7 billion in payments in October 2016 under the ARC-County and PLC programs for the 2015 crop to assist enrolled producers who suffered a loss of price or revenue or both,” said Dolcini. “Since shares and ownership of a farm can change year-to-year, producers on the farm must enroll by signing a contract each program year. I encourage you to contact your local FSA office today to schedule an appointment to enroll.”

     

    If a farm is not enrolled during the 2017 enrollment period, the producers on that farm will not be eligible for financial assistance from the ARC or PLC programs for the 2017 crop should crop prices or farm revenues fall below the historical price or revenue benchmarks established by the program. Producers who made their elections in 2015 must still enroll during the 2017 enrollment period.

     

    The ARC and PLC programs were authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill and offer a safety net to agricultural producers when there is a substantial drop in prices or revenues for covered commodities. Covered commodities include barley, canola, large and small chickpeas, corn, crambe, flaxseed, grain sorghum, lentils, mustard seed, oats, peanuts, dry peas, rapeseed, long grain rice, medium grain rice (which includes short grain and sweet rice), safflower seed, sesame, soybeans, sunflower seed and wheat. Upland cotton is no longer a covered commodity. For more details regarding these programs, go to www.fsa.usda.gov/arc-plc.

     

    For more information, producers are encouraged to visit their local FSA office. To find a local FSA office, visit http://offices.usda.gov.

     

    USDA works to strengthen and support American agriculture, an industry that supports one in 11 American jobs, provides American consumers with more than 80 percent of the food we consume, ensures that Americans spend less of their paychecks at the grocery store than most people in other countries, and supports markets for homegrown renewable energy and materials. Since 2009, USDA has provided $5.6 billion in disaster relief to farmers and ranchers; expanded risk management tools with products like Whole Farm Revenue Protection; and helped farm businesses grow with $36 billion in farm credit. The Department has engaged its resources to support a strong next generation of farmers and ranchers by improving access to land and capital; building new markets and market opportunities; and extending new conservation opportunities. USDA has developed new markets for rural-made products, including more than 2,700 biobased products through USDA's BioPreferred program; and invested $64 billion in infrastructure and community facilities to help improve the quality of life in rural America. For more information, visit www.usda.gov/results

  12. USDA Announces Streamlined Guaranteed Loans and Additional Lender Category for Small-Scale Operators

    Thu Oct 20, 2016 at 01:00 PM

    Options Help More Beginning, Small and Urban Producers Gain Access to Credit

    WASHINGTON, Oct. 20, 2016 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced the availability of a streamlined version of USDA guaranteed loans, which are tailored for smaller scale farms and urban producers. The program, called EZ Guarantee Loans, uses a simplified application process to help beginning, small, underserved and family farmers and ranchers apply for loans of up to $100,000 from USDA-approved lenders to purchase farmland or finance agricultural operations.

    “Over the past seven years, we have been transforming our loan programs at USDA so that they can be attainable and useful to all kinds and sizes of producers,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “These EZ Guarantee Loans will help beginning and underserved farmers obtain the capital they need to get their operations off the ground, and they can also be helpful to those who have been farming for some time but need extra help to expand or modernize their operations. USDA’s Farm Service Agency has offices in nearly every county in the country, and we encourage all farmers, including those in urban areas, to stop in and inquire about this program.”

    USDA today also unveiled a new category of lenders that will join traditional lenders, such as banks and credit unions, in offering USDA EZ Guarantee Loans. Microlenders, which include Community Development Financial Institutions and Rural Rehabilitation Corporations, will be able to offer their customers up to $50,000 of EZ Guaranteed Loans, helping to reach urban areas and underserved producers. Banks, credit unions and other traditional USDA-approved leaners, can offer customers up to $100,000 to help with agricultural operation costs.

    According to the 2012 Census of Agriculture, 75 percent of all farm operations gross less than $50,000 per year. EZ Guarantee Loans offer low interest rates and terms up to seven years for financing operating expenses and 40 years for financing the purchase of farm real estate. USDA-approved lenders can issue these loans with the Farm Service Agency (FSA) guaranteeing the loan up to 95 percent.

    USDA is providing a 90-day period for the public to review and comment on program improvements. To review program details, visit www.regulations.gov, reference RIN 0560-AI34 and follow the instructions to submit comments.

    More than half of all FSA loans go to new farmers and more than a quarter to underserved borrowers. FSA also offers loans of up to $5,000 to young farmers and ranchers though the Youth Loan Program. Loans are made to eligible youth to finance agricultural projects, with almost 9,000 young people now participating. More information about the available types of FSA farm loans can be found at www.fsa.usda.gov/farmloans or by contacting your local FSA office. To find your nearest office location, visit http://offices.usda.gov.

    USDA’s EZ Guarantee Loans are an additional tool to support strong local and regional food systems, as well as organic agriculture. Across USDA, the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food Initiative coordinates the Department's policy, resources, and outreach efforts related to local and regional food systems. Over the past seven years, USDA has helped provide consumers a stronger connection to their food with more than $1 billion in investments to over 40,000 local and regional food businesses and infrastructure projects since 2009. Industry data estimates that U.S. local food sales totaled at least $12 billion in 2014, up from $5 billion in 2008.Learn more about USDA investments connecting producers with consumers and expanding rural economic opportunities online at USDA Results - New Markets, New Opportunities

    USDA works to strengthen and support American agriculture, an industry that supports one in 11 American jobs, provides American consumers with more than 80 percent of the food we consume, ensures that Americans spend less of their paychecks at the grocery store than most people in other countries, and supports markets for homegrown renewable energy and materials. Since 2009, USDA has provided $5.6 billion in disaster relief to farmers and ranchers; expanded risk management tools with products like Whole Farm Revenue Protection; and helped farm businesses grow with $36 billion in farm credit. The Department has engaged its resources to support a strong next generation of farmers and ranchers by improving access to land and capital; building new markets and market opportunities; and extending new conservation opportunities. USDA has developed new markets for rural-made products, including more than 2,700 biobased products through USDA's BioPreferred program; and invested $64 billion in infrastructure and community facilities to help improve the quality of life in rural America. For more information, visit www.usda.gov/results.

  13. USDA Designates 4 Counties in Pennsylvania as Primary Natural Disaster Areas

    Fri Oct 7, 2016 at 01:00 PM

    WASHINGTON, Oct. 7, 2016 — The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has designated Cameron, Centre, Clearfield and Elk counties in Pennsylvania as primary natural disaster areas due to losses caused by a recent drought.

    “Our hearts go out to those Pennsylvania farmers and ranchers affected by recent natural disasters,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “President Obama and I are committed to ensuring that agriculture remains a bright spot in our nation’s economy by sustaining the successes of America’s farmers, ranchers, and rural communities through these difficult times. We’re also telling Pennsylvania producers that USDA stands with you and your communities when severe weather and natural disasters threaten to disrupt your livelihood.”

  14. USDA Issues Safety-Net Payments to Farmers in Response to 2015 Market Downturn

    Tue Oct 4, 2016 at 12:00 AM

     WASHINGTON, Oct. 4, 2016 — The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that beginning today, many of the 1.7 million farms that enrolled in either the Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) or Price Loss Coverage (PLC) programs will receive safety-net payments due to market downturns during the 2015 crop year.

    “This fall, USDA will be making more than $7 billion in payments under the ARC-County and PLC programs to assist participating producers, which will account for over 10 percent of USDA’s projected 2016 net farm income. These payments will help provide reassurance to America’s farm families, who are standing strong against low commodity prices compounded by unfavorable growing conditions in many parts of the country,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “At USDA, we are standing strong behind them, tapping in to every resource that we have to help. So far in 2016, this has included creating a one-time cost share program for cotton ginning, purchasing about $800 million in excess commodities to be redirected to food banks and those in need, making $11 million in payments to America’s dairy farmers through the Dairy Margin Protection Program, and reprogramming Farm Service Agency funds to expand credit options for farmers and ranchers in need of extra capital. As always, we continue to watch market conditions and will explore opportunities for further assistance in the coming months. For producers challenged by weather, disease and falling prices, we will continue to ensure the availability of a strong safety net to keep them farming or ranching.”

  15. USDA Designates 4 Counties in New York as Primary Natural Disaster Areas with Assistance to Producers in Pennsylvania

    Fri Sep 30, 2016 at 01:00 PM

    WASHINGTON, Sep. 29, 2016 — The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has designated Broome, Jefferson, Lewis and Oswego in New York as primary natural disaster areas due to damage and losses caused by a drought that occurred during the period of April 1, 2016, and continues.

    “Our hearts go out to those New York farmers and ranchers affected by recent natural disasters,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “President Obama and I are committed to ensuring that agriculture remains a bright spot in our nation’s economy by sustaining the successes of America’s farmers, ranchers, and rural communities through these difficult times. We’re also telling New York producers that USDA stands with you and your communities when severe weather and natural disasters threaten to disrupt your livelihood.”

  16. USDA Designates Clinton County in Pennsylvania as a Primary Natural Disaster Area

    Thu Sep 22, 2016 at 01:15 PM

    WASHINGTON, Sep. 22, 2016 — The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has designated Clinton county in Pennsylvania as a primary natural disaster area due to losses caused by a recent drought.

    “Our hearts go out to those Pennsylvania farmers and ranchers affected by recent natural disasters,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “President Obama and I are committed to ensuring that agriculture remains a bright spot in our nation’s economy by sustaining the successes of America’s farmers, ranchers, and rural communities through these difficult times. We’re also telling Pennsylvania producers that USDA stands with you and your communities when severe weather and natural disasters threaten to disrupt your livelihood.”

  17. USDA Designates 4 Counties in Pennsylvania as Primary Natural Disaster Areas

    Tue Sep 20, 2016 at 01:29 PM

    WASHINGTON, Sep. 15, 2016 — The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has designated Erie, Lycoming, Potter and Tioga counties in Pennsylvania as primary natural disaster areas due to losses caused by a recent drought.

    “Our hearts go out to those Pennsylvania farmers and ranchers affected by recent natural disasters,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “President Obama and I are committed to ensuring that agriculture remains a bright spot in our nation’s economy by sustaining the successes of America’s farmers, ranchers, and rural communities through these difficult times. We’re also telling Pennsylvania producers that USDA stands with you and your communities when severe weather and natural disasters threaten to disrupt your livelihood.”

  18. USDA Designates 2 Counties in New York as a Primary Natural Disaster Area with Assistance to Producers in Pennsylvania

    Tue Sep 20, 2016 at 01:29 PM

    WASHINGTON, Sep. 15, 2016 — The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has designated Chautauqua and Wayne counties in New York as a primary natural disaster area due to losses caused by a recent drought. 

    “Our hearts go out to those New York farmers and ranchers affected by recent natural disasters,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “President Obama and I are committed to ensuring that agriculture remains a bright spot in our nation’s economy by sustaining the successes of America’s farmers, ranchers, and rural communities through these difficult times. We’re also telling New York producers that USDA stands with you and your communities when severe weather and natural disasters threaten to disrupt your livelihood.”

  19. USDA Designates 5 Counties in New York as Primary Natural Disaster Areas with Assistance to Producers in Pennsylvania

    Mon Sep 12, 2016 at 02:32 PM

    WASHINGTON, Sep. 9, 2016 — The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has designated Allegany, Cattaraugus, Cortland, Onondaga and Orleans counties in New York as primary natural disaster areas due to losses caused by a recent drought.

  20. USDA Announces Availability of Additional Farm Loan Funding

    Tue Sep 6, 2016 at 01:24 PM

    WASHINGTON, Sept. 2, 2016 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) Administrator Val Dolcini today announced that additional funding will be made available to assist more than 1,900 approved applicants who are awaiting farm operating loans. The funds, which were reprogrammed by FSA with the approval of Congress, will leverage up to $185 million in additional lending for direct and guaranteed farm operation loans and will allow the agency to address up to 30 percent of its projected shortfall of funds until the next federal fiscal year resumes on Oct. 1.

  21. USDA Designates 15 Counties in New York as Primary Natural Disaster Areas with Assistance to Producers in Pennsylvania

    Tue Sep 6, 2016 at 12:58 PM

    WASHINGTON, Aug. 25, 2016 — The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has designated 15 counties in New York as primary natural disaster areas due to losses caused by a recent drought.

  22. USDA to Purchase Surplus Cheese for Food Banks and Families in Need, Continue to Assist Dairy Producers

    Thu Aug 25, 2016 at 03:30 PM

    WASHINGTON, Aug. 23, 2016 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced plans to purchase approximately 11 million pounds of cheese from private inventories to assist food banks and pantries across the nation, while reducing a cheese surplus that is at its highest level in 30 years. The purchase, valued at $20 million, will be provided to families in need across the country through USDA nutrition assistance programs, while assisting the stalled marketplace for dairy producers whose revenues have dropped 35 percent over the past two years.

  23. USDA Announces Safety Net Assistance for Milk Producers Due to Tightening Dairy Margins

    Wed Aug 10, 2016 at 01:45 PM

    WASHINGTON, Aug. 4, 2016 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced approximately $11.2 million in financial assistance to American dairy producers enrolled in the 2016 Margin Protection Program for Dairy (MPP-Dairy). The payment rate for May/June 2016 will be the largest since the program began in 2014. The narrowing margin between milk prices and the cost of feed triggered the payments, as provided for by the 2014 Farm Bill.

  24. Pennsylvania Farm Service Agency Reminds Producers of Acreage Reporting Deadline

    Wed Jul 13, 2016 at 01:00 PM

    (Harrisburg, PA) – July 13, 2016 – USDA's Farm Service Agency (FSA) reminds producers that 2016 acreage reporting deadlines are quickly approaching. FSA recently announced that the Agency and participating insurance providers approved by the Risk Management Agency (RMA) now can provide the common information from their acreage reports at one office and the information will be electronically shared with the other location. However, producers must still visit both locations to validate and sign acreage reports, complete maps or provide program-specific information.

  25. Agriculture Secretary Vilsack Proclaims August 7-13 National Farmers Market Week

    Mon Jul 11, 2016 at 01:00 PM

    WASHINGTON, July 11, 2016 - Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today signed a proclamation declaring Aug. 7-13, 2016, as "National Farmers Market Week." This year marks the 17th annual National Farmers Market Week to honor and celebrate the important role that farmers markets play in local economies.

  26. Dairy Producers Can Enroll Today to Protect Milk Production Margins

    Fri Jul 1, 2016 at 01:00 PM

    (HARRISBURG, PA), July 1, 2016 — The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) in Pennsylvania today announced that dairy producers can enroll for 2017 coverage in the Margin Protection Program for Dairy (MPP-Dairy) starting July 1. The voluntary program, established by the 2014 Farm Bill, provides financial assistance to participating dairy producers when the margin – the difference between the price of milk and feed costs – falls below the coverage level selected by the producer.

  27. USDA Expands Microloans to Help Farmers Purchase Farmland and Improve Property

    Tue Jan 19, 2016 at 01:00 PM

    WASHINGTON, Jan. 19, 2016 — Agriculture Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden today announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will begin offering farm ownership microloans, creating a new financing avenue for farmers to buy and improve property. These microloans will be especially helpful to beginning or underserved farmers, U.S. veterans looking for a career in farming, and those who have small and mid-sized farming operations.

  28. USDA Announces Enrollment Period for Safety Net Coverage in 2016

    Thu Dec 3, 2015 at 01:00 PM

    WASHINGTON, Dec. 3, 2015 – U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) Administrator Val Dolcini today announced that producers who chose coverage from the safety net programs established by the 2014 Farm Bill, known as the Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) or the Price Loss Coverage (PLC) programs, can begin visiting FSA county offices starting Dec. 7, 2015, to sign contracts to enroll in coverage for 2016. The enrollment period will continue until Aug. 1, 2016.

  29. FSA County Committee Elections to Begin; Producers to Receive Ballots Week of Nov. 9

    Thu Nov 5, 2015 at 01:00 PM

    WASHINGTON, Nov. 5, 2015 – Farm Service Agency (FSA) Administrator Val Dolcini today announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will begin mailing ballots to eligible farmers and ranchers across the country for the 2015 FSA County Committee elections on Monday, Nov. 9, 2015. Producers must return ballots to their local FSA offices by Dec. 7, 2015, to ensure that their vote is counted.

  30. USDA Designates 13 Counties in New Jersey as Primary Natural Disaster Areas with Assistance to Producers in Surrounding States

    Wed Nov 4, 2015 at 01:00 PM

    WASHINGTON, Nov. 4, 2015 — The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has designated in multiple disaster designations 13 counties in New Jersey as primary natural disaster areas due to damages and losses caused by abnormally dry drought conditions and excessive heat, followed by excessive rain, flash flooding, high winds, lightning, and back to excessive heat and drought that occurred in 2015.

  31. Agriculture Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden Announces New USDA Commitments to Help Build Up Next Generation of Farmers and Ranchers

    Thu Oct 29, 2015 at 01:00 PM

    LOUISVILLE, October 29, 2015—Agriculture Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden today announced a commitment by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to prioritize $5.6 billion over the next two years within USDA programs and services that serve new and beginning farmers and ranchers. Deputy Secretary Harden also announced a new, tailored web tool designed to connect burgeoning farm entrepreneurs with programs and resources available to help them get started.

  32. USDA Announces $210 Million to be Invested in Renewable Energy Infrastructure through the Biofuel Infrastructure Partnership

    Wed Oct 28, 2015 at 01:00 PM

    KISSIMMEE, Fla., Oct. 28, 2015 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is partnering with 21 states through the Biofuel Infrastructure Partnership (BIP) to nearly double the number of fueling pumps nationwide that supply renewable fuels to American motorists. In May 2015, USDA announced the availability of $100 million in grants through the BIP, and that to apply states and private partners match the federal funding by a 1:1 ratio. USDA received applications requesting over $130 million, outpacing the $100 million that is available. With the matching commitments by state and private entities, the BIP is investing a total of $210 million to strengthen the rural economy.

  33. USDA Issues Safety-Net Payments to Farmers Facing Market Downturn

    Tue Oct 27, 2015 at 01:00 PM

    WASHINGTON, Oct. 26, 2015 — The U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced that beginning today, nearly one half of the 1.7 million farms that signed up for either the Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) or Price Loss Coverage (PLC) programs will receive safety-net payments for the 2014 crop year.

  34. USDA Extends Dairy Margin Protection Program Deadline

    Tue Sep 22, 2015 at 01:00 PM

    WASHINGTON, Sept. 22, 2015 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that the deadline to enroll for the dairy Margin Protection Program for coverage in 2016 has been extended until Nov. 20, 2015. The voluntary program, established by the 2014 Farm Bill, provides financial assistance to participating farmers when the margin – the difference between the price of milk and feed costs – falls below the coverage level selected by the farmer.

  35. Deadline to Enroll in Key Farm Bill Safety Net Programs Approaches

    Thu Sep 3, 2015 at 01:00 PM
    WASHINGTON, Sept. 3, 2015 – U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) Administrator Val Dolcini reminds farmers and ranchers that they have until Sept. 30 to enroll in several key Farm Bill safety net programs – Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC), Price Loss Coverage (PLC) and the Margin Protection Program for Dairy (MPP-Dairy).