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USDA Provides Greater Protection for Fruit, Vegetable and Other Specialty Crop Growers

Free Basic Coverage Plans and Premium Discounts Available for New, Underserved and Limited Income Farmers

WASHINGTON, Dec. 12, 2014 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that greater protection is now available from the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program for crops that traditionally have been ineligible for federal crop insurance. The new options, created by the 2014 Farm Bill, provide greater coverage for losses when natural disasters affect specialty crops such as vegetables, fruits, mushrooms, floriculture, ornamental nursery, aquaculture, turf grass, ginseng, honey, syrup, and energy crops.

“These new protections will help ensure that farm families growing crops for food, fiber or livestock consumption will be better able to withstand losses due to natural disasters,” said Vilsack. “For years, commodity crop farmers have had the ability to purchase insurance to keep their crops protected, and it only makes sense that fruit and vegetable, and other specialty crop growers, should be able to purchase similar levels of protection. Ensuring these farmers can adequately protect themselves from factors beyond their control is also critical for consumers who enjoy these products and for communities whose economies depend on them.”

Previously, the program offered coverage at 55 percent of the average market price for crop losses that exceed 50 percent of expected production. Producers can now choose higher levels of coverage, up to 65 percent of their expected production at 100 percent of the average market price.

The expanded protection will be especially helpful to beginning and traditionally underserved producers, as well as farmers with limited resources, who will receive fee waivers and premium reductions for expanded coverage. More crops are now eligible for the program, including expanded aquaculture production practices, and sweet and biomass sorghum. For the first time, a range of crops used to produce bioenergy will be eligible as well. 

“If America is to remain food secure and continue exporting food to the world, we need to do everything we can to help new farmers get started and succeed in agriculture,” Vilsack said. “This program will help new and socially disadvantaged farmers affordably manage risk, making farming a much more attractive business proposition.”

To help producers learn more about the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program and how it can help them, USDA, in partnership with Michigan State University and the University of Illinois, created an online resource. The Web tool, available at, allows producers to determine whether their crops are eligible for coverage. It also gives them an opportunity to explore a variety of options and levels to determine the best protection level for their operation.

If the application deadline for an eligible crop has already passed, producers will have until Jan. 14, 2015, to choose expanded coverage through the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program. To learn more, visit the Farm Service Agency (FSA) website at or contact your local FSA office.  The Farm Service Agency (FSA), which administers the program, also wants to hear from producers and other interested stakeholders who may have suggestions or recommendations on the program. Written comments will be accepted until Feb. 13, 2015 and can be submitted through

These new provisions under the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program were made possible through the 2014 Farm Bill, which builds on historic economic gains in rural America over the past five years, while achieving meaningful reform and billions of dollars in savings for the taxpayer. Since enactment, USDA has made significant progress to implement each provision of this critical legislation, including providing disaster relief to farmers and ranchers; strengthening risk management tools; expanding access to rural credit; funding critical research; establishing innovative public-private conservation partnerships; developing new markets for rural-made products; and investing in infrastructure, housing and community facilities to help improve quality of life in rural America.  For more information, visit

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A New Year, a New You: Healthy Weight Loss Resolutions

By: Sonya Bullock, PA-C

Every year as the ball drops and a new year begins, millions of Americans promise themselves they are going to lead healthy lives and

lose weight. It is a resolution that often lasts only a few weeks or possibly a couple of months, but it won’t be destined for failure if you follow a few pointers.

Exercise:Performing regular physical activity helps control your weight by using excess calories that would otherwise be stored as fat. Doing a combined number of physical activities, like the ones below, for just thirty minutes a day can greatly improve your physical condition as well as the general state of your health. Consider the health benefits of making a minor adjustment in your everyday habits when you:

  • walk the dog or enjoy conversation with a friend over a long stroll;
  • do simple yard work;
  • park your car farther away and walk further to work or the store;
  • take the stairs instead of the elevator.

After steadily increasing your daily activity, you may start to notice a moderate increase in your overall stamina. You may consider joining a gym and taking part in some planned physical, aerobic activity. A physical trainer and physician can help put together an exercise plan that is right for your body. The key is finding an activity you enjoy so you are more likely to do it several times a week.

Dieting: Instead of thinking about how you should cut back, focus on what you can add to your diet. Make sure you are getting the recommended five to nine servings of fruit and vegetables every day. Plan your meals and snacks in advance, and you will be less likely to let your stomach make poor decisions for you.

Don’t Skip Meals: Research shows that on average those who eat breakfast weigh less than those who skip out on the meal. Ironically, eating fewer than three meals a day usually leads to the intake ofmore calories throughout the day.

Avoid Liquid Calories: A recent study shows that more than 20 percent of Americans’ caloric intake comes from beverages. You may forget to consider your caloric intake from drinking when planning your diet. To avoid excess weight gain, only drink alcohol, sugary coffee drinks and regular soda in moderation, and consider substituting water, light alcoholic drinks and diet sodas to eliminate excess calories.

Re-think Your Goals: This year make your goal more specific than just trying to lose weight. For example, plan to:

  • go to the gym three days a week;
  • only eat out twice a week;
  • walk thirty minutes a day;
  • or only consume one glass of alcohol a week.

With specific guidelines to follow you’ll find your resolution easier to stick with on a daily basis. More importantly, pick a weight goal that is healthy for your body type and don’t expect to see results immediately. Instead, celebrate small milestones along the way as you work towards a healthier you. 

This information was provided by Sonya Bullock, a Certified Physician Assistant with Southern Virginia Medical Group (SVMG) located at 511 Belfield Drive in Emporia.  For more information on services offered by Ms. Bullock or to schedule an appointment, contact SVMG at 434-348-4680.

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Obituary-Bernice Shearin Moseley

Bernice Shearin Moseley, age 90, of Lawrenceville, Va. passed away January 6, 2015.  She is the daughter of the late John and Mary Shearin.  She is preceded in death by her husband, Clyde Wilson Moseley; a daughter, Erline Moseley; her brothers and sisters, Henry Mitchell, Bob Mitchell, Joe Mitchell, Ellen Powell, Barbara Roberts, Gladys Poarch, and Pete Shearin.  She is survived by her daughter, Betty Cook and husband James; her son, Dale Moseley; her grandchildren, Jamie Cook, Tayna Cook, Crystal Newton and Tammy Lucy; and her great grandchildren, Carli Cook and Amber Lucy.  Funeral services will be conducted 3:00 p.m. Sunday at Williams Funeral Home, Lawrenceville with interment at Oakwood Cemetery, Lawrenceville, Va.  The family will receive friends Sunday from 1:30 to 3:00, before the service, at the funeral home.  Memorial contributions may be made to Brunswick  Rescue Squad, P.O. Box 33, Lawrenceville, Va. 23868 or Central Vol. Rescue Squad, P.O. Box 386 Gasburg, VA  23857.  Online condolences may be made to


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