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Higher Limits Now Available on USDA Farm Loans


Posted on Tuesday April 30, 2019, 11:33 am

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,...

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Olive's future may be the pits

by Don Curlee Ag at Large

Posted on Tuesday April 30, 2019, 11:28 am

For those who believe that farmers should just face the music and accept bad circumstances when they come along, the state of California’s renowned table olive industry may prove their point. Canned olives may become victims of their own unique characteristics and requirements.

Make no mistake, olives black or green, seeded or not, are categorized by the industry as table olives. They are produced on relatively large trees spaced comfortably apart, picked by hand, soaked in salty baths and sealed in consumer-handy cans, some with seeds, some without. The bulk of America’s crop is produced in California. Consumers find them irresistible, especially as complements to holiday dinners.

Harvesting the large trees has become a major challenge. Several efforts have been made to do the job mechanically, but the natural characteristics of the trees has resisted...

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USDA introduces food waste reduction contest for students


Posted on Tuesday April 30, 2019, 11:20 am

Food waste is a problem everyone can tackle, including our nation’s youth. As part of Winning on Reducing Food Waste Month, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), is launching Ace the Waste! A student competition for food waste reduction ideas. This first-ever competition calls on students to come up with creative solutions to reduce food loss and waste in the United States.

The problem of food waste affects everyone. More than one third of food in the U.S. is lost or wasted. This amounts to 133 billion pounds, or $161 billion worth of food each year. Food is the single largest type of waste in landfills. Students age 11 to 18 are encouraged to submit proposals on reducing food loss and waste anywhere along the supply chain, from the farm to the dinner table and beyond. Topic ideas for the proposal include:

Preventing food waste – such as ideas to prolon...

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USDA Announces Sign-Up Period for Updated Conservation Stewardship Program


Posted on Tuesday April 30, 2019, 11:18 am

The next deadline for Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) applications to be considered for funding this year is May 10, 2019. USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) plans to invest up to $700 million for new enrollments and contract extensions in fiscal year 2019. The 2018 Farm Bill made several changes to this critical conservation program, which helps agricultural producers take the conservation activities on their farm or ranch to the next level.

“CSP continues to be a very effective tool for private landowners working to achieve their conservation and management goals,” NRCS Chief Matthew Lohr said. “It is the largest conservation program in the United States with more than 70 million acres of productive agricultural and forest land enrolled.”

While applications are accepted throughout the year, interested producers should submit ...

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USDA Launches New Features to Help with H-2A Applications, Managing Loans


Posted on Tuesday April 30, 2019, 11:07 am

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) launched two new features on to help customers manage their farm loans and navigate the application process for H-2A visas.

“Customer service is our top priority at USDA and these new features will help our customers as they manage their farm loans and navigate the H-2A temporary agricultural visa program,” said Secretary Perdue. “In my travels across the country, I have consistently heard people express a desire for greater use of technology in the way we deliver programs at USDA. As we adopt new technology, we are introducing simple yet innovative approaches to support our farmers, ranchers, producers, and foresters as they support the nation every day. It’s my goal to make USDA the most effective, most efficient, most customer-focused department in the entire fe...

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