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GREENSVILLE/EMPORIA DEPARTMENT OF SOCIAL SERVICES

LOCAL BOARD MEETING

The Greensville/Emporia Department of Social Services Administrative Board will hold its regular meeting Thursday, July 18, 2019, at 3:30 p.m. The meeting will be held at the Greensville/Emporia Department of Social Services located at 1748 East Atlantic Street.

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Farm Service Agency County Committee Nominations Open June 14

#LeadYourFSA and be the Voice of Farmers in Your Community

WASHINGTON, June 3, 2019– USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) will begin accepting nominations for county committee members on Friday, June 14, 2019. Agricultural producers who participate or cooperate in an FSA program may be nominated for candidacy for the county committee. Individuals may nominate themselves or others as a candidate.

“I encourage America’s farmers, ranchers, and forest stewards to nominate candidates to lead, serve, and represent their community on their county committee,” FSA Administrator Richard Fordyce said. “There’s an increasing need for diverse representation including underserved producers, which includes beginning, women and minority farmers and ranchers.”

Committees make important decisions about how federal farm programs are administered locally. Their input is vital on how FSA carries out disaster programs, as well as conservation, commodity and price support programs, county office employment and other agricultural issues.

Nationwide, more than 7,700 dedicated members of the agricultural community serving on FSA county committees. The committees are made of three to 11 members and typically meet once a month. Members serve three-year terms. Producers serving on our FSA county committees play a critical role in the day-to-day operations of the agency.

Producers should visit their local FSA office today to find out how to get involved in their county’s election. Check with your local USDA service center to see if your local administrative area is up for election this year. Organizations, including those representing beginning, women and minority producers, also may nominate candidates.

To be considered, a producer must sign an FSA-669A nomination form. The form and other information about FSA county committee elections are available at fsa.usda.gov/elections. All nomination forms for the 2019 election must be postmarked or received in the local FSA office by Aug. 1, 2019.

Election ballots will be mailed to eligible voters beginning Nov. 4, 2019. Read more to learn about important election dates.

USDA Reminds Producers of Approaching Marketing Assistance Loan Deadlines

May 31 Deadline for Feed Grains, Upland Cotton, Soybeans and Minor Oilseeds

WASHINGTON, May 24, 2019– U.S. Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency (FSA) Administrator Richard Fordyce reminds producers of the May 31, 2019, deadline to apply for crop year 2018 marketing assistance loansfor feed grains, upland cotton, soybeans and minor oilseeds.

“These commodity loans provide short-term financing, allowing producers to meet interim cash flow needs and market their crops following a timeline that is the most advantageous,” Fordyce said.

These marketing assistance loans are considered nonrecourse, meaning they can either be redeemed by repaying the loan or delivering the pledged collateral – i.e., the crop – at loan maturity to the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) as full payment. In circumstances where the county commodity price falls below the county loan rate, producers may repay loans at less than loan rate (principal) plus accrued interest and other charges, therefore, receiving a market loan gain. Alternatively, producers who are eligible for marketing loans are also eligible for Loan Deficiency Payments (LDPs) should the county price fall below the county loan rate.

Producers must have title, possession and control of the commodity and be responsible for loss of or damage to the commodity to be eligible for commodity loans and LDPs. All application forms must be completed at the local FSA office prior to loss of beneficial interest. Other eligibility requirements may apply.

Producers can check their daily LDP rates online at fsa.usda.gov.

“Although many producers may have already marketed their 2018 crops, it’s not too soon to begin thinking about harvest and marketing decisions for your next crop,” Fordyce said.

To apply for a loan, contact your local FSA office. To find your local office visit farmers.gov. Additional information is available at fsa.usda.gov/pricesupport.

USDA Reopens Continuous CRP Signup

Extensions also available to Many Expiring Contracts

WASHINGTON, May 15, 2019 – USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) will accept applications beginning June 3, 2019, for certain practices under the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) continuous signup and will offer extensions for expiring CRP contracts. The 2018 Farm Bill reauthorized CRP, one of the country’s largest conservation programs.

“USDA offers a variety of conservation programs to farmers and ranchers, and the Conservation Reserve Program is an important tool for private lands management,” said FSA Administrator Richard Fordyce. “CRP allows agricultural producers to set aside land to reduce soil erosion, improve water quality, provide habitat for wildlife and boost soil health.”

FSA stopped accepting applications last fall for the CRP continuous signup when 2014 Farm Bill authority expired. Since passage of the 2018 Farm Bill last December, Fordyce said FSA has carefully analyzed the language and determined that a limited signup prioritizing water-quality practices furthers conservation goals and makes sense for producers as FSA works to fully implement the program.

Continuous CRP Signup

This year’s signup will include such practices as grassed waterways, filter strips, riparian buffers, wetland restoration and others. View a full list of practices approved for this program.

Continuous signup enrollment contracts are 10 to 15 years in duration. Soil rental rates will be set at 90 percent of the existing rates. Incentive payments will not be offered for these contracts.

Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program Signup

FSA will also reopen signup for existing Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) agreements. Fact sheets on current CREP agreements are available on this webpage.

Other CRP Signup Options

Fordyce said FSA plans to open a CRP general signup in December 2019 and a CRP Grasslands signup later.

CRP Contract Extensions

A one-year extension will be offered to existing CRP participants who have expiring CRP contracts of 14 years or less. Producers eligible for an extension will receive a letter describing their options.

Alternatively, producers with expiring contracts may have the option to enroll in the Transition Incentives Program, which provides two additional annual rental payments on the condition the land is sold or rented to a beginning farmer or rancher or a member of a socially disadvantaged group.

More Information

On December 20, 2018, President Trump signed into law the 2018 Farm Bill, which provides support, certainty and stability to our nation’s farmers, ranchers and land stewards by enhancing farm support programs, improving crop insurance, maintaining disaster programs and promoting and supporting voluntary conservation. FSA is committed to implementing these changes as quickly and effectively as possible, and today’s updates are part of meeting that goal.

Producers interested in applying for CRP continuous practices, including those under existing CREP agreements, or who need an extension, should contact their USDA service center beginning June 3. To locate your local FSA office, visit www.farmers.gov. More information on CRP can be found at www.fsa.usda.gov/crp.

Soybean Growers Have Opportunity to Request a Referendum for Soybean Promotion, Research, and Information Program

The Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) announces that soybean producers may request a referendum to determine whether producers want the Secretary to conduct a referendum on the Soybean Promotion and Research Order (Order), as authorized under the Soybean Promotion, Research, and Consumer Information Act (Act). Participation in the request for referendum is voluntary.  Producers should participate only if they wish to request a referendum on the program.

If at least 10 percent, not to exceed ⅕ of producers from any 1 State, of the 515,008 eligible producers determined by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) participate in the request for referendum, a referendum will be held within 1 year from that determination. If results of the request for referendum indicate that a referendum is not supported, a referendum will not be conducted. The results of the request for referendum will be published in a notice in the Federal Register.

To Request Referendum:

Soybean producers may request a referendum during the 4-week period beginning May 6, 2019 and ending May 31, 2019.

To be eligible to participate in the request for referendum, producers must certify that they or the producer entity they are authorized to represent paid an assessment at any time between January 1, 2017, and December 31, 2018.

Form LS-51-1, Soybean Promotion and Research Order Request for Referendum, can be obtained from May 6, 2019, to May 31, 2019, by mail, FAX, or in person from Farm Service Agency (FSA) County Offices, or can be downloaded from https://www.ams.usda.gov/rules-regulations/research- promotion/soybean. Completed forms and supporting documentation must be returned to the appropriate FSA County Office:

By FAX or in person no later than COB on May 31, 2019.

By mail postmarked by midnight on May 31, 2019 and must be received in the FSA County Office by COB on June 6, 2019.

Contact

Kenneth R. Payne, Director
Research and Promotion Division
Livestock and Poultry Program
AMS, USDA
Room 2610-S, STOP 0251
1400 Independence Avenue SW.
Washington, DC 20250-0251
Telephone:  (202) 720-1118
FAX:  (202) 720-1125
E-mail: kenneth.payne@usda.gov

 

Rick Pinkston, Field Operations Staff
FSA, USDA

 

Telephone:  (202) 720-1857

 

FAX:  (202) 720-1096

 

E-mail:  rick.pinkston@wdc.usda.gov

 

USDA Extends Deadline to May 17 for Producers to Certify 2018 Crop Production for Market Facilitation Program Payments

WASHINGTON, April 29, 2019 – USDA extended the deadline to May 17 from May 1 for agricultural producers to certify 2018 crop production for payments through the Market Facilitation Program (MFP), which helps producers who have been significantly affected by foreign tariffs, resulting in the loss of traditional exports. USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) extended the deadline because heavy rainfall and snowfall have delayed harvests in many parts of the country, preventing producers from certifying production.

Payments will be issued only if eligible producers certify before the updated May 17 deadline.

The MFP provides payments to producers of corn, cotton, sorghum, soybeans, wheat, dairy, hogs, fresh sweet cherries and shelled almonds. FSA will issue payments based on the producer’s certified total production of the MFP commodity multiplied by the MFP rate for that specific commodity.

“Trade issues, coupled with low commodity prices and recovery from natural disasters, have definitely impacted the bottom line for many agricultural producers,” said FSA Administrator Richard Fordyce. “The MFP payments provide short-term relief from retaliatory tariffs to supplement the traditional farm safety net, helping agricultural producers through these difficult times. Weather conditions this fall, winter and early spring have blocked many producers from completing harvest of their crops, and we want to make sure producers who want to finalize their MFP application have an opportunity.”

Producers can certify production by contacting their local FSA office or through farmers.gov.

About the Market Facilitation Program

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue launched the trade mitigation program to assist farmers suffering from damage because of unjustified trade retaliation by foreign nations. FSA implemented MFP in September 2018 as a relief strategy to protect agricultural producers while the Administration works on free, fair and reciprocal trade deals to open more markets to help American farmers compete globally. To date, more than $8.3 billion has been paid to nearly 600,000 applicants.

The MFP is established under the statutory authority of the Commodity Credit Corporation Charter Act and is administered by FSA.

Higher Limits Now Available on USDA Farm Loans

2018 Farm Bill Increases Limits and Makes Other Changes to Farm Loans

WASHINGTON, April 12, 2019 – Higher limits are now available for borrowers interested in USDA’s farm loans, which help agricultural producers purchase farms or cover operating expenses. The 2018 Farm Bill increased the amount that producers can borrow through direct and guaranteed loans available through USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) and made changes to other loans, such as microloans and emergency loans.

“As natural disasters, trade disruptions, and persistent pressure on commodity prices continue to impact agricultural operations, farm loans become increasingly important to farmers and ranchers,” FSA Administrator Richard Fordyce said. “The 2018 Farm Bill provides increased loan limits and more flexibility to farm loans, which gives producers more access to credit when they need it most.”

Key changes include:

  • The Direct Operating Loan limit increased from $300,000 to $400,000, and the Guaranteed Operating Loan limit increased from $ 1.429 million to $1.75 million. Operating loans help producers pay for normal operating expenses, including machinery and equipment, seed, livestock feed, and more.
  • The Direct Farm Ownership Loan limit increased from $300,000 to $600,000, and the Guaranteed Farm Ownership Loan limit increased from $1.429 million to $1.75 million. Farm ownership loans help producers become owner-operators of family farms as well as improve and expand current operations.
  • Producers can now receive both a $50,000 Farm Ownership Microloan and a $50,000 Operating Microloan. Previously, microloans were limited to a combined $50,000. Microloans provide flexible access to credit for small, beginning, niche, and non-traditional farm operations.
  • Producers who previously received debt forgiveness as part of an approved FSA restructuring plan are now eligible to apply for emergency loans. Previously, these producers were ineligible.
  • Beginning and socially disadvantaged producers can now receive up to a 95 percent guarantee against the loss of principal and interest on a loan, up from 90 percent.

About Farm Loans

Direct farm loans, which include microloans and emergency loans, are financed and serviced by FSA, while guaranteed farm loans are financed and serviced by commercial lenders. For guaranteed loans, FSA provides a guarantee against possible financial loss of principal and interest.

For more information on FSA farm loans, visit www.fsa.usda.gov or contact your local USDA service center.

USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender.

USDA Announces Buy-Up Coverage Availability and New Service Fees for Noninsured Crop Coverage Policies

Changes apply Beginning April 8, 2019

WASHINGTON, April 8, 2019 – USDA’sFarm Service Agency (FSA) today announced that higher levels of coverage will be offered through the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP), a popular safety et program, beginning April 8, 2019. The 2018 Farm Bill also increased service fees and made other changes to the program, including service fee waivers for qualified military veterans interested in obtaining NAP coverage.  

"When other insurance coverage is not an option, NAP is a valuable risk mitigation tool for farmers and ranchers,” said FSA Administrator Richard Fordyce. “In agriculture, losses from natural disasters are a matter of when, not if, and having a NAP policy provides a little peace of mind.” 

NAP provides financial assistance to producers of commercial crops for which insurance coverage is not available in order to protect against natural disasters that result in lower yields or crop losses, or prevent crop planting.    

NAP Buy-Up Coverage Option

The 2018 Farm Bill reinstates higher levels of coverage, from 50 to 65 percent of expected production in 5 percent increments, at 100 percent of the average market price. Producers of organics and crops marketed directly to consumers also may exercise the “buy-up” option to obtain NAP coverage of 100 percent of the average market price at the coverage levels of between 50 and 65 percent of expected production. NAP basic coverage is available at 55 percent of the average market price for crop losses that exceed 50 percent of expected production.    

Producers have a one-time opportunity until May 24, 2019, to obtain buy-up coverage for 2019 or 2020 eligible crops for which the NAP application closing date has passed.    

Buy-up coverage is not available for crops intended for grazing. 

NAP Service Fees

For all coverage levels, the new NAP service fee is the lesser of $325 per crop or $825 per producer per county, not to exceed a total of $1,950 for a producer with farming interests in multiple counties.  These amounts reflect a $75 service fee increase for crop, county or multi-county coverage.  The fee increases apply to obtaining NAP coverage on crops on or after April 8, 2019. 

NAP Enhancements for Qualified Military Veterans

The 2018 Farm Bill NAP amendments specify that qualified veteran farmers or ranchers are now eligible for a service fee waiver and premium reduction, if the NAP applicant meets certain eligibility criteria.  

Beginning, limited resource and targeted underserved farmers or ranchers remain eligible for a waiver of NAP service fees and premium reduction when they file form CCC-860, “Socially Disadvantaged, Limited Resource and Beginning Farmer or Rancher Certification.” 

For NAP application, eligibility and related program information, visit www.fsa.usda.gov/napor contact your local USDA Service Center.  To locate your local FSA office, visit www.farmers.gov.  

USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender.

USDA to Host 2018 Farm Bill Implementation Listening Session

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Under Secretary for Farm Production and Conservation Bill Northey announced that USDA is hosting a listening session for initial input on the 2018 Farm Bill. USDA is seeking public input on the changes to existing programs implemented by the Farm Service Agency, Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Risk Management Agency. Each agency will take into account stakeholder input when making discretionary decisions on program implementation.

“The 2018 Farm Bill is intended to provide support, certainty and stability to our Nation’s farmers, ranchers and land stewards by enhancing farm support programs, improving crop insurance, maintaining disaster programs, and promoting and supporting voluntary conservation,” said Under Secretary Northey. “We are seeking input from stakeholders on how USDA can streamline and improve program delivery while also enhancing customer service.”

The listening session will be held Feb. 26, 2019 at 9:00 a.m. in the Jefferson Auditorium in the South Building located at 14th Street and Independence Ave. S.W. in Washington, D.C.

The listening session is open to the public. Participants must register at farmers.gov/farmbillby February 22, 2019, to attend the listening session and are encouraged to provide written comments prior to the listening session. For those orally presenting comments at the listening session, written comments are encouraged to be submitted to regulations.govby February 22, 2019.  Additional written comments will be accepted through March 1, 2019.Comments received will be publicly available on www.regulations.gov.

“Truly this is a Farm Bill that improves farm safety net programs, protects federal crop insurance, and preserves strong rural development and research initiatives. At USDA we are eager to hear from our stakeholders on policy recommendations, so we can start working on implementing these important Farm Bill provisions,” said Northey

For more information on the listening session visit  farmers.gov/farmbill.

USDA Reminds Producers of Feb. 14 Deadline for Market Facilitation Program

WASHINGTON, Feb. 12, 2019– Agricultural producers have until Feb. 14, 2019, to sign up for USDA’s Market Facilitation Program(MFP), launched last year to help producers suffering from damages due to unjustified trade retaliation. Producers can apply without proof of yield but must certify 2018 production by May 1, 2019. Since its launch in September 2018, more than 864,000 producers have applied, supporting those hit hard with nearly $8 billion in estimated payments. 

Producers of corn, cotton, dairy, hogs, shelled almonds, sorghum, soybeans, fresh sweet cherries and wheat should apply at their local Farm Service Agency(FSA) office.

“Farmers are very resilient, and these payments are helping agricultural producers meet some of the costs of disrupted markets in 2018,” said USDA Under Secretary for Farm Production and Conservation Bill Northey. “We view it as a short-term solution to help America’s farmers, and we encourage impacted producers to apply for this program by the February 14 deadline.”

USDA previously announced the second and final round of trade mitigation payments. Producers need only sign-up once for the MFP to be eligible for the first and second payments. 

How to Apply

MFP applications are available online at www.farmers.gov/MFP. Applications can be completed at a local FSA office or submitted electronically either by scanning, emailing or faxing. To locate or contact your local FSA office, visit www.farmers.gov.

Applications can also be completed via the farmers.gov dashboard by producers who have Level 2 eAuthentication accounts. Sign into the dashboard here: https://www.farmers.gov/sign-in. Producers who do not have an account can register for an account at www.eauth.usda.gov.

USDA Announces Details of Assistance for Farmers Impacted by Unjustified Retaliation

(Washington, D.C., August 27, 2018)– U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today announced details of actions the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will take to assist farmers in response to trade damage from unjustified retaliation by foreign nations. President Donald J. Trump directed Secretary Perdue to craft a short-term relief strategy to protect agricultural producers while the Administration works on free, fair, and reciprocal trade deals to open more markets in the long run to help American farmers compete globally. As announced last month, USDA will authorize up to $12 billion in programs, consistent with our World Trade Organization obligations.

“Early on, the President instructed me, as Secretary of Agriculture, to make sure our farmers did not bear the brunt of unfair retaliatory tariffs. After careful analysis by our team at USDA, we have formulated our strategy to mitigate the trade damages sustained by our farmers. Our farmers work hard, and are the most productive in the world, and we aim to protect them,” said Secretary Perdue.

These programs will assist agricultural producers to meet the costs of disrupted markets:

  • USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) will administer the Market Facilitation Program (MFP) to provide payments to corn, cotton, dairy, hog, sorghum, soybean, and wheat producers starting September 4, 2018. An announcement about further payments will be made in the coming months, if warranted.
  • USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) will administer a Food Purchase and Distribution Program to purchase up to $1.2 billion in commodities unfairly targeted by unjustified retaliation. USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) will distribute these commodities through nutrition assistance programs such as The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) and child nutrition programs.
  • Through the Foreign Agricultural Service’s (FAS) Agricultural Trade Promotion Program (ATP), $200 million will be made available to develop foreign markets for U.S. agricultural products. The program will help U.S. agricultural exporters identify and access new markets and help mitigate the adverse effects of other countries’ restrictions.

“President Trump has been standing up to China and other nations, sending the clear message that the United States will no longer tolerate their unfair trade practices, which include non-tariff trade barriers and the theft of intellectual property. In short, the President has taken action to benefit all sectors of the American economy – including agriculture – in the long run,” said Secretary Perdue. “It’s important to note all of this could go away tomorrow, if China and the other nations simply correct their behavior. But in the meantime, the programs we are announcing today buys time for the President to strike long-lasting trade deals to benefit our entire economy.”

To watch a video message from Secretary Perdue regarding today’s announcement, you may view Secretary Perdue‘s Overview of Trade Mitigation Package.

Background on Market Facilitation Program:

MFP is established under the statutory authority of the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) and administered by FSA. For each commodity covered, the payment rate will be dependent upon the severity of the trade disruption and the period of adjustment to new trade patterns, based on each producer’s actual production.

Interested producers can apply after harvest is 100 percent complete and they can report their total 2018 production. Beginning September 4th of this year, MFP applications will be available online at www.farmers.gov/mfp. Producers will also be able to submit their MFP applications in person, by email, fax, or by mail.

Eligible applicants must have an ownership interest in the commodity, be actively engaged in farming, and have an average adjusted gross income (AGI) for tax years 2014, 2015, and 2016 of less than $900,000. Applicants must also comply with the provisions of the “Highly Erodible Land and Wetland Conservation” regulations. On September 4, 2018, the first MFP payment periods will begin. The second payment period, if warranted, will be determined by the USDA.

Market Facilitation Program

Commodity

Initial Payment Rate

Est. Initial Payment**

(in $1,000s)

Cotton

$0.06 / lb.

$276,900

Corn

$0.01 / bu.

$96,000

Dairy (milk)

$0.12 / cwt.

$127,400

Pork (hogs)

$8.00 / head

$290,300

Soybeans

$1.65 / bu.

$3,629,700

Sorghum

$0.86 / bu.

$156,800

Wheat

$0.14 / bu.

$119,200

Total

 

$4,696,300

** Initial payment rate on 50% of production

The initial MFP payment will be calculated by multiplying 50 percent of the producer’s total 2018 actual production by the applicable MFP rate. If CCC announces a second MFP payment period, the remaining 50 percent of the producer’s total 2018 actual production will be subject to the second MFP payment rate.

MFP payments are capped per person or legal entity at a combined $125,000 for dairy production or hogs. Payment for dairy production is based off the historical production reported for the Margin Protection Program for Dairy (MPP-Dairy). For existing dairy operations, the production history is established using the highest annual milk production marketed during the full calendar years of 2011, 2012, and 2013. Dairy operations are also required to have been in operation on June 1, 2018 to be eligible for payments. Payment for hog operations will be based off the total number of head of live hogs owned on August 1, 2018.

MFP payments are also capped per person or legal entity at a combined $125,000 for corn, cotton, sorghum, soybeans and wheat.

For more information on the MFP, visit www.farmers.gov/mfpor contact your local FSA office, which can be found at www.farmers.gov.

Background on Food Purchase and Distribution Program:

The amounts of commodities to be purchased are based on an economic analysis of the damage caused by unjustified tariffs imposed on the crops listed below. Their damages will be adjusted based on several factors and spread over several months in response to orders placed by states participating in the FNS nutrition assistance programs.

Food Purchases

Commodity

Target Amount (in $1,000s)

Apples

$93,400

Apricots

$200

Beef

$14,800

Blueberries

$1,700

Cranberries

$32,800

Dairy

$84,900

Figs

$15

Grapefruit

$700

Grapes

$48,200

Hazelnuts

$2,100

Kidney Beans

$14,200

Lemons/Limes

$3,400

Lentils

$1,800

Macadamia

$7,700

Navy Beans

$18,000

Oranges (Fresh)

$55,600

Orange Juice

$24,000

Peanut Butter

$12,300

Pears

$1,400

Peas

$11,800

Pecans

$16,000

Pistachios

$85,200

Plums/Prunes

$18,700

Pork

$558,800

Potatoes

$44,500

Rice

$48,100

Strawberries

$1,500

Sweet Corn

$2,400

Walnuts

$34,600

Total

$1,238,800

Program details yet to be determined

Commodity

Target Amount (in $1,000s)

Almonds

$63,300

Sweet Cherries

$111,500

Total

$174,800

Products purchased will be distributed by FNS to participating states, for use in TEFAP and other USDA nutrition assistance programs.

Purchasing:

AMS will buy affected products in four phases. The materials purchased can be adjusted between phases to accommodate changes due to: growing conditions; product availability; market conditions; trade negotiation status; and program capacity.

AMS will purchase known commodities first. By purchasing in phases, procurements for commodities that have been sourced in the past can be purchased more quickly and included in the first phase.

Vendor Outreach:

To expand the AMS vendor pool and the ability to purchase new and existing products, AMS will ramp up its vendor outreach and registration efforts. AMS has also developed flyers on how the process works and how to become a vendor for distribution to industry groups and interested parties. Additionally, AMS will continue to host a series of free webinars describing the steps required to become a vendor. Stakeholders will have the opportunity to submit questions to be answered during the webinar. Recorded webinars are available to review by potential vendors, and staff will host periodic Question and Answer teleconferences to better explain the process.

Product Specifications:

AMS maintains purchase specifications for a variety of commodities, which ensure recipients receive the high-quality product they expect. AMS in collaboration with FNS regularly develops and revises specifications for new and enhanced products based on program requirements and requests and will be prioritizing the development of those products impacted by unjustified retaliation. AMS will also work with industry groups to identify varieties and grades sold to China and other offshore markets such as premium apples, oranges, pears and other products. AMS will develop or revise specifications to facilitate the purchase of these premium varieties in forms that meet the needs of FNS nutrition assistance programs.

Outlets:

AMS purchases commodities for use in FNS programs such as the National School Lunch Program, TEFAP and other nutrition assistance programs. AMS is working closely with FNS to distribute products to State Agencies that participate in USDA nutrition assistance programs as well as exploring other outlets for distribution of products, as needed.

To the extent possible, FNS will identify items for distribution that are appropriate for each potential outlet. The products discussed in this plan will be distributed to States for use in the network of food banks and food pantries that participate in TEFAP, elderly feeding programs such the Commodity Supplemental Foods Program, and tribes that operate the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations.

These outlets are in addition to child nutrition programs such as the National School Lunch Program, which may also benefit from these purchases.

Distribution:

AMS has coordinated with the Office of the Chief Economist, FNS, Industry, and other agency partners to determine necessary logistics for the purchase and distribution of each commodity including trucking, inspection and audit requirements, and agency staffing.

Background on Agricultural Trade Promotion Program:

The FAS will administer the ATP under authorities of the CCC. The ATP will provide cost-share assistance to eligible U.S. organizations for activities such as consumer advertising, public relations, point-of-sale demonstrations, participation in trade fairs and exhibits, market research, and technical assistance. Applications for the ATP will be accepted until November 2, 2018 or until funding is exhausted. Funding should be allocated to eligible participants in early 2019. The ATP is meant to help all sectors of U.S. agriculture, including fish and forest product producers, mainly through partnerships with non-profit national and regional organizations.

Agricultural Trade Promotion Program

 

Est. Amount (in $1,000s)

Ag Products Total

$200,000

Secretary Perdue Names FSA Administrator

(Washington, D.C., May 11, 2018) – U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced today the appointment of Richard Fordyce to serve as Administrator of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA). In his role, Fordyce will provide leadership for FSA and its mission to support agricultural production across America through a network of over 2,100 county and 50 state offices.

“As a fourth-generation farmer, Richard brings firsthand knowledge and experience to this role,” Secretary Sonny Perdue said. “I am confident that he will continue to help USDA become the most efficient, effective customer focused agency in the federal government as he leads this customer focused mission area.”

Richard Fordyce most recently served as State Executive Director for FSA in Missouri. Prior to his appointment by the Trump Administration, Fordyce served as the director of the Missouri Department of Agriculture from 2013 to 2017. In 2015, Fordyce was awarded the Missouri Farm Bureau Distinguished Service Award and the Agricultural Leaders of Tomorrow Alumnus of the Year. He and his wife, Renee, have two children and grow soybeans, corn and beef cattle on the family farm.

USDA Rural Development Innovation Center Launches Interactive Webpage to Share Best Practices for Rural Economic Development

RICHMOND, April 25, 2018 – Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Anne Hazlett today unveiled a new interactive webpage to identify best practices for building rural prosperity.

“Rural communities need forward-thinking strategies to build strong, resilient futures,” Hazlett said. “USDA’s Rural Development Innovation Center is focused on identifying unique opportunities, pioneering new, creative solutions to tough challenges, and making Rural Development’s programs easier to understand, use and access.”

The webpage highlights effective strategies that have been used to create jobs, build infrastructure, strengthen partnerships and promote economic development in rural America.

An interactive feature allows webpage visitors to submit comments on ways USDA can improve Rural Development program delivery. Innovation Center staff will review these recommendations and direct customers to resources, services and expertise that will help their communities create transformative solutions to complex rural challenges.

The webpage also highlights USDA resources that can be used for investments in infrastructure and innovation. These resources include USDA’s Distance Learning & Telemedicine Grant ProgramCommunity Connect Grant Program, and Community Facilities Programs.

Secretary Perdue established the Rural Development Innovation Center to streamline, modernize and strengthen the delivery of Rural Development programs. To do this, the Innovation Center is focused on improving customer service to rural communities and increasing rural prosperity through strategic partnerships and capacity-building, data analytics and evaluation, and regulatory reform.

In April 2017, President Donald J. Trump established the Interagency Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity to identify legislative, regulatory and policy changes that could promote agriculture and prosperity in rural communities. In January 2018, Secretary Perdue presented the Task Force’s findings to President Trump, which included 31 recommendations to align the federal government with state, local and tribal governments to take advantage of opportunities that exist in rural America.

To view the report in its entirety, please view the Report to the President of the United States from the Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity (PDF, 5.4 MB). In addition, to view the categories of the recommendations, please view the Rural Prosperity infographic (PDF, 190 KB).

USDA Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities and create jobs in rural areas. This assistance supports infrastructure improvements; business development; housing; community services such as schools, public safety and health care; and high-speed internet access in rural areas. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov.

USDA Helps Cotton Producers Maintain, Expand Domestic Market

(MEMPHIS, TN, March 3, 2018) – U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today announced at the 66th Annual Mid-South Farm and Gin Show the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is taking action to assist cotton producers through a Cotton Ginning Cost Share (CGCS) program in order to expand and maintain the domestic marketing of cotton.

“America’s cotton producers have now faced four years of financial stress, just like the rest of our major commodities, but with a weaker safety net,” Perdue said. “In particular, cotton producers confront high input and infrastructure costs, which leaves them more financially leveraged than most of their colleagues. That economic burden has been felt by the entire cotton market, including the gins, cooperatives, marketers, cottonseed crushers, and the rural communities that depend upon their success.”

The sign-up period for the CGCS program runs from March 12, 2018, to May 11, 2018.

Under the program, which is administered by the Farm Service Agency (FSA), cotton producers may receive a cost share payment, which is based on a producer’s 2016 cotton acres reported to FSA multiplied by 20 percent of the average ginning cost for each production region.

Perdue added, “I hope this will be a needed help as the rural cotton-growing communities stretching from the Southeastern U.S. to the San Joaquin Valley of California prepare to plant. This infusion gives them one last opportunity for assistance until their Farm Bill safety net becomes effective.”

The CGCS payment rates for each region of the country are:

Region

States

Costs of Ginning per Acre

CGCS Payment Rate

Southeast................................................

Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia.............

$116.05

$23.21

Mid-South...............................................

Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Mississippi, Tennessee.......

$151.97

$30.39

Southwest...............................................

Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas

$98.26

$19.65

West.......................................................

Arizona, California, New Mexico.............................

$240.10

$48.02

CGCS payments are capped at $40,000 per producer.To qualify for the program, cotton producers mustmeet conservation compliance provisions, be actively engaged in farming and have adjusted gross incomes not exceeding $900,000. FSA will mail letters and pre-filled applications to all eligible cotton producers.

The program was established under the statutory authority of the Commodity Credit Corporation Charter Act.

To learn more about the CGCS program, visit www.fsa.usda.gov/cgcsor contact a local FSA county office. To find your local FSA county office, visit the USDA’s new website: https://www.farmers.gov/.

Virginia Producers Have Until Aug. 1, to Submit FSA County Committee Nominations

Richmond, VA, July 17, 2017 — The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) Acting Executive Director for Virginia, James M. Dunn today reminded farmers and ranchers that they have until Aug. 1, 2017, to nominate eligible candidates to serve on local FSA county committees.

County committees are made up of farmers and ranchers elected by other producers in their communities to guide the delivery of farm programs at the local level. Committee members play a critical role in the day-to-day operations of FSA. Committees consist of three to 11 members and meet once a month or as needed to make important decisions on disaster and conservation programs, emergency programs, commodity price support loan programs, county office employment and other agricultural issues. Members serve three-year terms. Nationwide there are over 7,700 farmer and ranchers serving on FSA county committees.

"The Aug. 1 deadline is quickly approaching,” said Dunn. "If you know of a great candidate or want to nominate yourself to serve on your local county committee, go to your county FSA office right now and submit the nomination form. I especially encourage the nomination of beginning farmers and ranchers, as well as women and minorities. This is your opportunity to have a say in how federal programs are delivered in your county.”

To be eligible to serve on an FSA county committee, a person must participate or cooperate in an agency administered program, and reside in the local administrative area where the election is being held. A complete list of eligibility requirements, more information and nomination forms are available at http://www.fsa.usda.gov/elections.

All nominees must sign the nomination form FSA-669A. All nomination forms for the 2017 election must be postmarked or received in the local FSA county office by Aug. 1, 2017. Ballots will be mailed to eligible voters by Nov. 6 and are due back to the local USDA Service Centers on Dec. 4. The newly elected county committee members will take office Jan. 1, 2018.

USDA Farm Service Agency County Committee Nomination Period Begins June 15

WASHINGTON, May 25, 2017 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced today that the nomination period for local Farm Service Agency (FSA) county committees begins on Thursday, June 15, 2017.

“County committees allow farmers and ranchers to make important decisions about how federal farm programs are administered locally to best serve their needs,” said Acting FSA Administrator Chris Beyerhelm. “We strongly encourage all eligible producers to visit their local FSA office today to find out how to get involved in their county’s election. There’s an increasing need for representation from underserved producers, which includes beginning, women and other minority farmers and ranchers.”

County committees are made up of farmers and ranchers elected by other producers in their communities to guide the delivery of farm programs at the local level. Committee members play a critical role in the day-to-day operations of FSA. Committees consist of three to 11 members and meet once a month or as needed to make important decisions on disaster and conservation programs, emergency programs, commodity price support loan programs, county office employment and other agricultural issues.  Members serve three-year terms. Nationwide there are over 7,700 farmer and ranchers serving on FSA county committees.

Farmers and ranchers may nominate themselves or others. Organizations, including those representing beginning, women and minority producers, may also nominate candidates to better serve their communities. To be eligible to serve on an FSA county committee, a person must participate or cooperate in an agency administered program, and reside in the local administrative area where the election is being held.

After the nomination period, candidates will encourage the eligible producers in their local administrative area to vote.  FSA will mail election ballots to eligible voters beginning Nov. 6, 2017. Ballots will be due back to the local county office either via mail or in person by Dec. 4, 2017. Newly-elected committee members and alternates will take office on Jan. 1, 2018.

To become a candidate, an eligible individual must sign an FSA-669A nomination form. The form and other information about FSA county committee elections are available at www.fsa.usda.gov/elections. All nomination forms for the 2017 election must be postmarked or received in the local FSA office by Aug. 1, 2017.  Locate your local office at https://offices.usda.govand visit to get more information.

CENSUS OF AGRICULTURE COUNTDOWN BEGINS FOR AMERICA’S FARMERS AND RANCHERS

WASHINGTON, March 16, 2017 – America’s farmers and ranchers will soon have the opportunity to strongly represent agriculture in their communities and industry by taking part in the 2017 Census of Agriculture. Conducted every five years by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), the census, to be mailed at the end of this year, is a complete count of all U.S. farms, ranches, and those who operate them.

“The Census of Agriculture remains the only source of uniform, comprehensive, and impartial agriculture data for every county in the nation,” said NASS Administrator Hubert Hamer. “As such, census results are relied upon heavily by those who serve farmers and rural communities, including federal, state and local governments, agribusinesses, trade associations, extension educators, researchers, and farmers and ranchers themselves.”

The Census of Agriculture highlights land use and ownership, operator characteristics, production practices, income and expenditures, and other topics. The 2012 Census of Agriculture revealed that over three million farmers operated more than two million farms, spanning over 914 million acres. This was a four percent decrease in the number of U.S. farms from the previous census in 2007. However, agriculture sales, income, and expenses increased between 2007 and 2012. This telling information and thousands of other agriculture statistics are a direct result of responses to the Census of Agriculture.

“Today, when data are so important, there is strength in numbers,” said Hamer. “For farmers and ranchers, participation in the 2017 Census of Agriculture is their voice, their future, and their opportunity to shape American agriculture – its policies, services and assistance programs – for years to come.”

Producers who are new to farming or did not receive a Census of Agriculture in 2012 still have time to sign up to receive the 2017 Census of Agriculture report form by visiting www.agcensus.usda.gov and clicking on the ‘Make Sure You Are Counted’ button through June. NASS defines a farm as any place from which $1,000 or more of agricultural products were produced and sold, or normally would have been sold, during the census year (2017).

For more information about the 2017 Census of Agriculture and to see how census data are used, visit www.agcensus.usda.gov or call (800) 727-9540. 

Civil Rights/Discrimination Complaint Process

As a participant or applicant for programs or activities operated or sponsored by USDA you have a right to be treated fairly. If you believe you have been discriminated against because of your race, color, national origin, gender, age, religion, disability, or marital or familial status, you may file a discrimination complaint. The complaint should be filed with the USDA Office of Civil Rights within 180 days of the date you became aware of the alleged discrimination. To file a complaint of discrimination write to USDA,

Director, Office of Civil Rights, Room 326W, Whitten Building, 14th and Independence Avenue, SW, Washington DC 20250-9410 or call 202-720-5964 (voice or TDD), USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.A complaint must be filed within 180 calendar days from the date the complainant knew, or should have known, of the alleged discrimination.

USDA’s Farm Service Agency Expands Bridges to Opportunity Nationwide

 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.

“By partnering with numerous local, state, regional and national agricultural organizations, FSA employees now can provide farmers and ranchers with comprehensiveinformation aboutresources, grants, courses, events and activities provided throughout USDA and from external partner organizations,” said FSA Administrator Val Dolcini. “Bridges to Opportunity is another example of how USDA is working to reconnect people to their government and provide enhanced services to farmers and ranchers, who, in turn, provide our nation and the world with safe, affordable and reliable food, fuel and fiber.”

FSA’s presence in over 2,100 county offices, in nearly every rural county, puts the agency in a unique position to partner with non-governmental organizations to reach thousands of agricultural producers who can benefit from the programs and services.  Bridges to Opportunity allows FSA employees to search and obtain a list of all local, state, regional and national organizations that may be able assist local producers with their specific need.  For example, FSA’s Houston County office in Texas partnered with many agricultural organizations to serve producers affected by severe drought.  When drought-stricken agricultural producers came to the county office looking for assistance, FSA employees were able to provide traditional services, such as the Livestock Forage Program and the Emergency loan program administered by FSA, as well as connect local farmers with local, regional, and national organizations that provide drought assistance and education.

Bridges to Opportunitywas developed by FSA to provide producers with a more comprehensive customer service experience by connecting them with other USDA agencies and nonfederal partners. Through Bridges to Opportunity, FSA county office employees have the tools to connect farmers, ranchers and anyone interested in agriculture with customized expertise on topics ranging including organic production, beginning farmer resources, integrated pest management, disaster assistance, conservation practices, agricultural educational courses, loans, grants and other financial assistance that can start, grow or benefit farming and ranching operations.

“Bridges to Opportunity embodies FSA's modernized approach to customer service. By providing a broader array of resources than FSA or USDA alone, FSA is bringing farmers and ranchers one step closer to achieving their version of the American Dream,” said Dolcini.

For more information about Bridges to Opportunity, please contact your local FSA county office. To locate your FSA county office, please see https://offices.usda.gov.

Over the past eight years, USDA has taken big, bold steps to forge a new era for civil rights and ensure all Americans who come to USDA for help are treated fairly, with dignity and respect. Through coordinated outreach and consistent engagement, USDA is forming new partnerships in diverse communities and regaining trust where it was once lost. Learn more about our progress during the Obama Administration to increase access to opportunity for all Americans, and to create a more equal and inclusive USDA in chapter 8 of our yearlong results project: The People’s Department: A New Era for Civil Rights at USDA.

USDA Farm Service Agency Offers Text Alerts to Greensville County Producers

Subscribers Can Receive Important Program Reminders and Updates

 The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) Executive Director Melvin E. Hill, Jr. in Greensville County announced that farmers and ranchers in Virginia now can receive notifications from their FSA county office through text messages on their cell phone.

"In addition to the free FSA GovDelivery email news, customers now can choose to receive text message alerts from their county office," said Hill. "These text messages inform producers of important program deadlines, reporting requirements, outreach events, and updates.”

Whether producers are in the field, on a tractor or even on horseback, this service will enable FSA customers and stakeholders to receive notifications while on the go.

Producers can text VAGreensville to FSANOW (372-669) to subscribe to text message alerts from Greensville County. Standard text messaging rates apply. Contact your wireless carrier for details associated with your particular data plan. Participants may unsubscribe at any time.

To receive GovDelivery email notifications, subscribe online at www.fsa.usda.gov/subscribeor contact the Greensville County FSA office for subscription assistance.  Producers can establish subscriber preferences by choosing to receive federal farm program information by topic, by state or by county. Producers can select as many subscriber options as they want, which allows producers who farm in multiple counties or across state lines to receive updates from each county in which they operate or have an interest.

According to Hill, GovDelivery is a one-stop shop for the most up-to-date USDA program information.

Please contact your local FSA office at 434-634-2462 Ext. 2 if you have questions regarding FSA’s electronic news service or new text message option.

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.

USDA’s Farm Service Agency Expands Bridges to Opportunity Nationwide

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.

“By partnering with numerous local, state, regional and national agricultural organizations, FSA employees now can provide farmers and ranchers with comprehensiveinformation aboutresources, grants, courses, events and activities provided throughout USDA and from external partner organizations,” said FSA Administrator Val Dolcini. “Bridges to Opportunity is another example of how USDA is working to reconnect people to their government and provide enhanced services to farmers and ranchers, who, in turn, provide our nation and the world with safe, affordable and reliable food, fuel and fiber.”

FSA’s presence in over 2,100 county offices, in nearly every rural county, puts the agency in a unique position to partner with non-governmental organizations to reach thousands of agricultural producers who can benefit from the programs and services.  Bridges to Opportunity allows FSA employees to search and obtain a list of all local, state, regional and national organizations that may be able assist local producers with their specific need.  For example, FSA’s Houston County office in Texas partnered with many agricultural organizations to serve producers affected by severe drought.  When drought-stricken agricultural producers came to the county office looking for assistance, FSA employees were able to provide traditional services, such as the Livestock Forage Program and the Emergency loan program administered by FSA, as well as connect local farmers with local, regional, and national organizations that provide drought assistance and education.

Bridges to Opportunitywas developed by FSA to provide producers with a more comprehensive customer service experience by connecting them with other USDA agencies and nonfederal partners. Through Bridges to Opportunity, FSA county office employees have the tools to connect farmers, ranchers and anyone interested in agriculture with customized expertise on topics ranging including organic production, beginning farmer resources, integrated pest management, disaster assistance, conservation practices, agricultural educational courses, loans, grants and other financial assistance that can start, grow or benefit farming and ranching operations.

“Bridges to Opportunity embodies FSA's modernized approach to customer service. By providing a broader array of resources than FSA or USDA alone, FSA is bringing farmers and ranchers one step closer to achieving their version of the American Dream,” said Dolcini.

For more information about Bridges to Opportunity, please contact your local FSA county office. To locate your FSA county office, please see https://offices.usda.gov.

Over the past eight years, USDA has taken big, bold steps to forge a new era for civil rights and ensure all Americans who come to USDA for help are treated fairly, with dignity and respect. Through coordinated outreach and consistent engagement, USDA is forming new partnerships in diverse communities and regaining trust where it was once lost. Learn more about our progress during the Obama Administration to increase access to opportunity for all Americans, and to create a more equal and inclusive USDA in chapter 8 of our yearlong results project: The People’s Department: A New Era for Civil Rights at USDA.

Farm Service Agency Extends Voting Deadline for County Committee Elections

Virginia Producers Now Have Until Dec. 13 to Submit Ballots

RICHMOND, VA Nov. 29, 2016 — The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Virginia Farm Service Agency (FSA) Executive Director, Dr. Jewel Hairston Bronaugh, 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 Dr. Bronaugh. “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.

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

 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.

FSA Urges Farmers and Ranchers to Vote in County Committee Elections

USDA encourages farmers and ranchers to make their voices heard by voting in the upcoming Farm Service Agency (FSA) County Committee elections. Beginning Monday, Nov. 7, 2016, USDA will begin mailing ballots to eligible farmers and ranchers across the country. Producers must return ballots to their local FSA offices by Dec. 5, 2016, to ensure that their vote is counted.

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.

The candidates in this year’s election are:

Oscar C Gatewood and William E Tomko Jr are nominated in LAA #5, Prince George County, to serve as a committee member.

Richard Gay and Christopher Parker are nominated in LAA #3 Sussex County, to serve as a committee member.

Producers must participate or cooperate in an FSA program to be eligible to vote in the county committee election. 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 in local administrative area #3 or #5 who do not receive ballots in the coming week can pick one up at their local FSA office. 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/electionsor contact the Sussex/Prince George County FSA office at 434-246-8541.

USDA Rural Development Announces $3.9 Million for 20 Virginia Farms and Businesses

RICHMOND, Va. (Oct. 27, 2016) – The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Virginia Rural Development office today announced it has approved $3.9 million that will aid in developing new bio-based products and expanding markets for 20 Virginia farms and businesses.

The 20 grants announced today are part of USDA Rural Development’s Value-Added Producer Grant program. The VAPG program helps agricultural producers enter into value-added activities related to the processing and/or marketing of bio-based, value-added products. Generating new products, creating and expanding marketing opportunities, and increasing producer income are the goals of this program.

“We have a strong history working with local producers and small rural businesses through the VAPG program, and we continue to give the program careful attention each year because those who benefit are innovative leaders working to expand their businesses,” said Acting USDA Rural Development Virginia State Director Janice Stroud-Bickes. “We’re proud to help rural farmers, producers, business owners, families and communities maximize the return on their hard work and creativity.”

For example, Botanical Bites & Provisions in Spotsylvania will use grant money to conduct a feasibility study on creating natural cosmetics made from beeswax.

Papa Weaver’s Pork in Orange will use its funding for marketing, labor, and supplies to help expand business and customer base as it processes pork into individual cuts and sausages.

The Good Earth Peanut Company in Greensville will use its funds marketing and operational costs to increase the volume of peanut butter, butter toasted peanuts, and peanut brittle lines.

Grant applicants may receive priority if they are a beginning farmer or rancher, a socially-disadvantaged farmer or rancher, a veteran, a small or medium-sized farm or ranch structured as a family farm, a farmer or rancher cooperative, or are proposing a mid-tier value chain. Grants are awarded through a national competition.

Funding announced today is contingent upon recipients meeting the grant terms.

Business

County

Value added activity

Amount

Vintage Virginia Apples
dba. Albemarle Ciderworks

Albemarle

To provide working capital to hire more staff, purchase packaging, and hire a marketing firm to expand cider business.

$250,000.00

Farmer's Direct, LLC

Bedford

To cover processing costs, labor and operation costs, and increased marketing.

$49,999.00

Upper Shirley Vineyards, LLC

Charles City

To increase wine production, marketing and inventory.

$250,000.00

The Good Earth Peanut Company, LLC

Greensville

To fund marketing and operational costs to increase the volume of peanut butter, butter toasted peanuts, and peanut brittle lines.

$250,000.00

Kats Ag Energy Farms, LLC
dba. CEA Farms

Loudoun

To increase marketing, labor, and supplies to expand value-added beef business.

$250,000.00

Rosemont of Virginia, LLC

Mecklenburg

To support marketing and labor expenses to increase sales of sparkling wine.

$180,000.00

Rappahannock River Oysters, LLC

Middlesex

To increase oyster production, implement consumer friendly packaging, and hire staff.

$250,000.00

Seaman's Orchards, LLC

Nelson

To increase the marketing and sales of locally produced apples.

$250,000.00

Silver Creek Orchards

Nelson

To assist with advertising and operational costs to transition into local sales.

$250,000.00

Miller Farms, Inc.

Orange

To purchase operational supplies, hire staff, and increase marketing to add value to goods through baking and canning.

$250,000.00

Papa Weaver's Pork

Orange

To provide working capital for marketing, labor, and supplies to help expand business and customer base.

$250,000.00

The Garden Patch

Orange

To purchase packaging and operating supplies, offset marketing costs, and pay for post-production labor.

$49,999.00

Stanburn Winery, LLC

Patrick

To increase marketing, labor, and supplies necessary for business growth.

$250,000.00

Cobblestone Milk Cooperative, Inc.

Pittsylvania

To determine the feasibility of owning a processing plant for specialty, aged cheeses.

$62,000.00

Manakintowne Specialty Growers, LLC

Powhatan

To purchase packaging supplies, marketing, and labor to increase sales of locally sold produce.

$250,000.00

Cana Cellars Inc.
dba. Rappahannock Cellars

Rappahannock

To assist with marketing, labor, and supplies for increased wine production.

$250,000.00

Marceline Vineyards, LLC

Rockingham

To increase production and marketing to increase wine sales.

$250,000.00

Botanical Bites & Provisions, LLC

Spotsylvania

To conduct a feasibility study to determine the viability of producing natural cosmetics made from the beeswax produced on the farm.

$22,250.00

Garner's Produce, LLC

Warsaw

To provide working capital to market produce to a wider customer base

$250,000.00

Mountain Rose Vineyards, Inc.

Wise

To assist with increased marketing, labor, and processing necessary to add sparkling wine to production line.

$49,999.00

USDA Rural Development in 2015 invested more than $1 billion in rural Virginia through 40 loan, grant and loan guarantee programs in housing, business, agriculture, energy, health care and community facilities. It has employees stationed in 14 offices across the commonwealth to better serve residents where they live and to improve the economy and quality of life in rural Virginia.

USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender.

Jackson-Feild’s Public Release for Free and Reduced Price Meals

Jackson-Feild Behavioral Health Services is eligible and participates in the National School Lunch and Breakfast programs sponsored by the U. S. Department of Agriculture. A copy of the policy governing this program is on file at the school and may be reviewed by any interested party.

 The USDA announced that up to $5 million in grant funds is available to help schools create and strengthen farm to school programs this school year. Administered by USDA’s Food & Nutrition Service these annual, competitive grants will help further USDA’s efforts to increase locally owned foods in America’s school meals.

The program receives support from the Federal government. Although all children receive the meals at no charge, the household size and income will be used to determine the number of children eligible for free or reduced price meals.  The result of this process determines the amount of support received from the Federal government.

The U.S Department of Agriculture prohibits discrimination  against its customers, employees, and applicants for employment on the bases of race ,color, national origin, age,disability,sex, gender identity,religion,reprisal, and where applicable, political beliefs, marital status, familial or parental status, sexual orientation, or all or part of an individual's income is derived from any public assistance program, or protected genetic information in employment or in any program or activity conducted or funded by the Department.  (Not all prohibited bases will apply to all programs and/or employment activities.)

If you wish to file a Civil Rights program complaint of discrimination, complete the USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form(PDF), found online at http://www.ascr.usda.gov/complaint_filing_cust.html, or at any USDA office, or call (866) 632-9992 to request the form. You may also write a letter containing all of the information requested in the form. Send your completed complaint form or letter to us by mail at U.S. Department of Agriculture, Director, Office of Adjudication, 1400 Independence Avenue, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20250-9410, by fax (202) 690-7442 or email at program.intake@usda.gov

Individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing or have speech disabilities may contact USDA  through the Federal Relay Service at (800)877-8339; or (800)845-6136 (Spanish).

USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

USDA Rural Development to Invest $24 million for Greensville Water System Improvements

Richmond, Virginia, July 12, 2016 — The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development office in Virginia today announced it will award Greensville County Water and Sewer Authority a $22 million loan and a $2 million grant to be used in updating the county’s water system.

“Our water and wastewater loan and grant programs empower counties and towns across Virginia to host business, industry and residential expansion, and Greensville is a shining example of how a project can empower a community,” said Basil Gooden, Ph.D., Virginia’s USDA Rural Development State Director. “We are establishing critical infrastructure that is needed in order for economic development to take hold. Both the infrastructure and the development that our loan/grant combination enables will benefit the entire region for many years to come.”

Improvements are necessary, in part, to accommodate Dominion Virginia Power’s new natural gas-fueled power station. Need for an updated system has also emerged from nearly 100-year-old water pipes throughout the county and also from recent drought conditions in and around the Meherrin River.

Construction will include a 500,000-gallon water storage tank, two new booster stations, approximately 50,000 linear feet of water line and raw water mains, a new raw water intake and pump station, and a 900-million-gallon reservoir that can be accessed when river levels are low.

USDA funds for the project were made available through the department’s Water and Waste Disposal Loan and Grant Program, which provides funding for clean and reliable drinking water systems, sanitary sewage disposal, sanitary solid waste disposal and storm water drainage.

The total project cost is $46.2 million. Funding beyond what USDA Rural Development is providing will come from public and private entities as well as from local connection fees.

In 2015, USDA Rural Development invested more than $35 million in Virginia through 32 water infrastructure loans and grants.

USDA Rural Development in 2015 invested more than $1 billion in rural Virginia through 40 loan, grant and loan guarantee programs in housing, business, agriculture, energy, health care and community facilities. It has employees stationed in 14 offices across the commonwealth to better serve residents where they live and to improve the economy and quality of life in rural Virginia.

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