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Farm Bill: A Look One Year In - A Maryland farmer works with a USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) district conservationist discussing conservation options for his farm that include improving water quality in the Chesapeake watershed.


One year ago, President Obama signed the 2014 Farm Bill into law. Despite its name, the Farm Bill is also a jobs bill, a research bill, a conservation and stewardship bill, a food bill, a trade bill, and so much more. USDA employees and our partners worked hard to implement the Farm Bill in record time - it is because of you that this has been called

~Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack


Implemrnting the Farm Bill


President Obama signed the Agricultural Act of 2014 on February 7, 2014. Since then, we've been tracking the rollout closely for you to follow on usda.gov/farmbill and on our updated Farm Bill Implementation page.


President Barack Obama signs the Agricultural Act of 2014 at Michigan State University in East Lansing, MI on February 7, 2014


Farmbill Faces

Each week in February, USDA will highlight a new story in our Five Faces of the Farm Bill series. Everywhere you look around the United States, you can find someone who has benefited from the Farm Bill in a positive, meaningful way. These are their stories.


The Common Market team, led by founders Haile Johnston (far left in red shirt) and Tatiana Garcia-Granados (far right in orange sweater), brings food into Philly communities by connecting Mid-Atlantic farmers with wholesale customers. Photo courtesy Common Market.


Uncommon Solution Brings Fresh Foods to Philadelphia Schools and Hospitals

      Our fifth story in the Faces of the Farm Bill series looks at the infrastructure and people supporting healthy, local food production. It all began with one truck and the goal to bring fresh, healthy foods into Philadelphia's most vulnerable communities. For Haile Johnston and his wife, Tatiana Garcia-Granados, founding Common Market in 2008 was a logical solution to address the critical food access challenge in the city. In its first year, Common Market distributed local food from a dozen regional producers to 22 city customers. With support from the 2014 Farm Bill, they were able to expand their operation in the Delaware Valley. The Farm Bill's support for food hubs--the centralized system to support production, aggregation, distribution, and marketing services for local and regional producers--is what made it possible. Now, Common Market is redefining food hubs by creating more opportunities for rural producers while supplying fresh, healthy foods to schools and hospitals in Philadelphia.


Pete Berscheit uses rotational grazing on his Minnesote farm to improve production while helping the environment.


For Soldier Turned Rancher, Conservation is Key

      Pete Berscheit has wanted to farm since he was five. But with three brothers interested in farming, he didn’t think the fourth-generation family farm in Todd County, Minn. would be large enough to support everyone. So instead of farming, Berscheit joined the U.S. Army at age 17, where he served for 20 years. Toward the end of his Army career, repeated deployments were starting to take a toll on his young family, and in 2008, he and his wife Rosemary decided to return to their roots, to farm and raise a family. When a neighbor suggested Pete try rotational grazing for his herd, he came to USDA to help make it happen.


Nancy and Hung Pham stand in front of one of their many fruit trees.


They Fled Vietnam to Build New Life in Mississippi

      Hung and Nancy Pham fled former South Vietnam as teenagers in a shrimp boat during the fall of Saigon in 1975. Today, with help from USDA's Environmental Quality Incentives Program established in the 2014 Farm Bill, they have turned an out-of-date poultry farm near Hazlehurst, Mississippi into a modern, environmentally-friendly operation that supports themselves and their three children. As refugees, Hung and Nancy were rescued by the U.S. Navy and brought to America, where they later married. In 2006, they moved their family from Texas to Mississippi after purchasing an out-of-date poultry farm that Hung recalls looked more like a junk yard. With Hung being the handyman and Nancy keeping a close eye on their finances, the Phams' farm can now raise 200,000 chickens five times a year. "We spent most of our lives in the city after coming to America, but we have loved returning to a healthier, country lifestyle and taking care of the land," Nancy said.


Julie Carr's whole life is wrapped up in her ranch


Her Whole Life Was That Ranch

      Julie Carr's whole life is wrapped up in her ranch. She and her husband Robert moved from Texas to Oklahoma to raise cattle years ago, but when Robert developed lung cancer, Julie needed to give up one career to focus full-time on the ranch and Robert. But then came the drought-one of the worst in Oklahoma's history-and it just wouldn't let up. Julie and Robert sold 60 percent of their herd and some of their land to make ends meet-and they prayed for rain. Without a Farm Bill, many ranchers like Julie and Robert could not apply for USDA's Livestock Forage Disaster Program-a critical safety net for thousands of farmers. But in February 2014, that all changed with passage of the 2014 Farm Bill. By chance, Julie had visited her local USDA office to discuss other business, and then they told her about the new assistance. "I went in to sign the papers and I was told the funds would be deposited into my account. I started to cry," said Julie. "That was everything. It enabled us to keep going and rebuild."


Megan Estrada and her three children are excited to spend time on their new home's porch


New Farm Bill Allows Kansas Family to Purchase Home

      Megan Estrada and her three children are excited to spend time on their new home's porch - a home they just moved into this summer. Prior to purchasing their own home, Estrada and her children had spent the last nine years in an apartment in Dodge City, Kansas. Estrada tried to buy a home four years ago, but with no solid credit history was unable to secure a loan through conventional home financing. For the next four years Estrada built up her credit, then in May of this year she heard that, with the passage of the Farm Bill, Dodge City would become eligible for USDA Housing Programs. In June, Estrada was the first Dodge City resident to purchase a home by utilizing USDA's Guaranteed Rural Housing Program. Landmark National Bank provided the loan on Estrada's three-bedroom home, which is guaranteed by USDA Rural Development.


Stories from the USDA Blog

The President Signs the Farm Bill: "A Jobs Bill, an Innovation Bill, a Research Bill, and a Conservation Bill"

      A bill whose reach extends far beyond our farms - it includes smart reforms to reduce our deficit, and the investments it makes in our rural communities will help strengthen our economy across the board.

New Approach to Conservation Creates New Partnerships, New Jobs

      When USDA unveiled the new Regional Conservation Partnership Program last year, Secretary Vilsack said that this effort would pioneer a new era of conservation. As of today, the program is doing just that - leveraging an unprecedented three-quarters-of-a-billion dollar investment in projects to preserve clean land and water and create new jobs across the country.

Farming is a Business

      The new Farm Bill has created many new tools and resources for beginning farmers and ranchers - and questions about which programs are right for their operations. That is what Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden took to Google+ in September to talk about how the new Farm Bill can help new and beginning farmers and ranchers.

Honeybee Operation Gets Chance to Rebuild Following Disaster

      The harsh winter of 2013 brought devastating losses to many livestock producers, including beekeepers. But now that the 2014 Farm Bill is in place, this farmer plans to start rebuilding the hives with help from the USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees and Farm-Raised Fish Program (ELAP).

Creating New Opportunities for the Sheep Industry

      Authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill and administered by USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), the Sheep Production and Marketing Grant Program is designed to strengthen and enhance the production and marketing of sheep and sheep products in the United States.

California Producer Preserves Rare Breed

      Glenn and Keiko Nakagawa are resilient; a trait that has served them well in the agriculture industry and particularly the past three years of below normal rainfall during California's most severe drought in decades. According to Nakagawa, USDA Farm Service Agency's Livestock Forage Disaster Assistance Program (LFP), authorized in the 2014 Farm Bill, has enabled them to maintain their original herd of 70 cow/calf pairs and four herd sires.

New and Expanding Opportunities for the Organic Industry

      Many stakeholders were excited about the Farm Bill's expanded funding for the Organic Certification Cost-Share Programs, which help organic producers and handlers cover the cost of organic certification, making organic certification more accessible to small producers.

USDA Teams Up with Vermont Beef Producers to Provide Local Market Data

      USDA Market News, part of USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service, created a series of market reports on locally or regionally produced agricultural products, including beef. As a part of the 2014 Farm Bill, the reports provide farmers, other agricultural businesses and consumers with a one-stop-shop for market and pricing information for local and regional food outlets.

Celebrating Farmers and Communities during National Farmers Market Week

      With resources in the 2014 Farm Bill, USDA is making a historic investment to support the continued growth of farmers markets and local and regional food systems. Last week's updated 2014 National Farmers Market Directory listed 8,268 farmers markets that voluntarily reported their locations, operating hours, and other details.

USDA Rural Development Celebrates Protection of Sebasticook River with Hartland Community and Makes $29.7 Million Landmark Earth Day Announcement

      In honor of Earth Day 2014, nearly $387 million was awarded to 116 recipients in 40 states and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. The Department is providing $150 million in grants through the 2014 Farm Bill plus $237 million in loans and grants from USDA's Water and Environmental Program.


Farm Bill in the News

Feds Fertilize New-Farmer ProgramsThis is an external link or third-party site outside of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) website. (Ithica Journal)

      More military veterans and other people will get help launching careers as farmers thanks to more than $1.4 million in federal funds designated for Ithaca organizations, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and New York's senators announced Monday.

USDA Gives $6.5 Million To Fight Citrus GreeningThis is an external link or third-party site outside of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) website. (The Ledger)

      Florida citrus growers got some good news at the end of a difficult 2013-14 citrus season when the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced another $6.5 million for three Florida projects aimed at fighting public enemy No. 1, the bacterial disease citrus greening.

USDA Microloan Cap Raised To Help Beginning FarmersThis is an external link or third-party site outside of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) website. (Farm Progress)

      The borrowing limit for USDA microloans was increased on November 7 to $50,000. The previous cap was $35,000. "Microloans offer borrowers simplified lending with less paperwork," says John Whitaker, state executive director for USDA's Farm Service Agency in Iowa. "The loans are available from FSA to give qualified borrowers a first opportunity to begin farming or to help farmers quickly expand existing operations."

Armed to Farm: Meet Military Veterans Ag LiaisonThis is an external link or third-party site outside of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) website. (Brownfield Ag News)

      The United States Department of Agriculture has a new position - Military Veterans Agricultural Liaison. Karis Gutter is Deputy Under Secretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services and is taking on the additional role of MVA liaison.

Vilsack announces board of Foundation for Food and Agricultural ResearchThis is an external link or third-party site outside of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) website. (The Hagstrom Report)

      "Studies have shown that every dollar invested in agricultural research creates $20 in economic activity," said Vilsack. "Investments in innovation made over the past several decades have developed new products and new procedures that have been critical to the continued growth of American agriculture. We must continue to make strategic investments in research and technology if we are to remain leaders in the global economy."

Vilsack announces Farm Bill funding for bioenergy researchThis is an external link or third-party site outside of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) website. (Cattle Network)

      Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced up to $14.5 million in funding for two USDA bioenergy programs made available through the 2014 Farm Bill. USDA's Rural Development (RD) announced it is accepting applications from companies seeking to offset the costs associated with converting fossil fuel systems to renewable biomass fuel systems.

Kansan named as a "Face of the Farm Bill"This is an external link or third-party site outside of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) website. (KSN-TV Wicheta)

Dodge City resident Megan Estrada bought her first home last summer with help from the USDA's Guaranteed Rural Housing Program, which encourages growth in small town America. Estrada is one of five Faces of the Farm Bill, and through her story and others the USDA hopes to show people the positive impact the farm bill has had on American lives in its first year.


Secretary Visack talks with local FFA members, in El Reno, Oklahome, commemorating the anniversary of the 2014 Famr Bill




Follow and Share

Last year we asked you to use #MyFarmBill to tell us what was at stake without the Farm Bill -- and you came through in drovesThis is an external link or third-party site outside of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) website..

This year, we are looking to highlight people the new Farm Bill has directly touched.

Help celebrate the 1 year anniversary of the Farm Bill by sharing your own stories using the hashtag #MyFarmBill


This is an external link or third-party site outside of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) website.