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Military Experience Opens Door for Soldier to Return to the Farm

Graduating from high school in the small town of Blakely, Georgia, Tracy Robinson was required to take an armed forces aptitude test. When asked what he wanted to do with his life, Robinson said he wanted to farm. The Marine recruiter told him he would be a great field artilleryman.

“I heard the word field and thought it had something to do with farming,” said Robinson. He enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps and after finding out field artillery had nothing to do with farming he stayed and fought for his country for 24 years, serving in Desert Shield, Afghanistan and Iraq.

Loan Applications Continue at USDA Farm Service Agency

What do siblings Kenna and Peyton Krahulik, organic farmers Lily Schneider and Matt McCue, and livestock producer Brian Morgan have in common? They worked closely with USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) to obtain loans, giving them the working capital they needed to grow or maintain their operation.

FSA makes and guarantees loans to family farmers and ranchers to promote, build and sustain family farms in support of a thriving agricultural economy. It’s an important credit safety net that has sustained our nation’s hard working farm families through good and bad times.

Future of Agriculture: Creating Change from the Ground Up

The face of agriculture is changing. At USDA, we want you to know that whether you come from a farming background or not, grew up in a rural, suburban or urban area, that there are opportunities for you to get involved in agriculture. It is my highest priority as Deputy Secretary to ensure that beginning farmers and the growing ranks of agriculture - women, young people, immigrants, minorities, socially disadvantaged producers, returning veterans and retirees - have access to the programs and support they need.

That is why yesterday, I joined Congresswoman Gwen Graham at Florida A&M University to talk about the importance of diversity in agriculture. There are a host of resources available at USDA and beyond, especially now that Florida has been named a StrikeForce state. I also announced that farmers can now use our popular microloans to gain access to land. These are just some of the tools that are helping new farmers succeed.

FSA Partnership Helps New Farmer Connect to the Land

Growing up in Tanzania, East Africa, Sangiwa Eliamani became a skilled farmer producing rice, millet and cotton throughout the year, using typical hand tools. He had no concerns about seasonal timing or finding markets for his crops, until he moved to the United States and attempted to farm in Massachusetts.

“Over there [in Tanzania] it’s very different,” he said. “We don’t have this limited time to grow.  We have easier access to land and markets to sell our products.”

Agriculture Is a New Mission for a U.S. Marine Veteran

Raising clams was always a part of Michael McCarthy’s life — until Sept. 11, 2001.

McCarthy was working with the New York/New Jersey Harbor relay program, purging and harvesting clams, when terrorists crashed two airplanes into the World Trade Center. “You could look across the water and see the towers. That was my motivation. We were shut down for a couple of weeks and that’s when I decided to join the Marines. I knew I wasn’t going to do it for the rest of my life, but I felt like I did something to help a little bit.”

How Sacrifice and Sense of Duty Drive Our Veterans

I would like to take a moment to recognize the hard work and dedication of America’s veterans.  After serving our country so honorably, many of our veterans feel a sense of duty to continue to give back to the land they love and have fought so hard to protect. And we want all veterans to know about the many ways USDA can support military veterans and their families.

USDA offers incentives and other benefits for veterans interested in everything from farm loans to conservation programs to nutrition assistance to rural rental housing and home ownership opportunities. We also offer a wide variety of loans, grants, training and technical assistance to veterans who are passionate about a career in agriculture. That is why this fall, USDA and the Defense Department came together in an effort to enable every single one of the more than 200,000 service members who leave the military each year to access the training they need to start their own farms or ranch businesses.

87-Year-Old Cattle Rancher Not Stopping Anytime Soon

Marjorie Fleming has been cattle ranching since she was a teenager. Now, at age 87, she has no plans of quitting anytime soon.

“I haven’t thought about stopping,” said Fleming. “I like ranch life, I like being outside and I can get out on my four-wheeler and get around most places and do what I used to do with a horse.”

Growing up in San Andres, N.M., Fleming and her brother used horses to round up goats and cattle on the family ranch. Both parents were disabled — her father with a hip injury and her mother with polio — leaving Fleming and her brother to do the heavy lifting and chores.

Microloan Sets Stage for School Counselor to Retire to Family Ranching Operation in Southwest Georgia

As a native Georgian, it is always a treat to go back home and see what’s happening on my family farm as well as the farms of my neighbors. Today I had the pleasure of meeting Jean Oliver, a dedicated mother, daughter and cattle farmer. She recently received a microloan from the Farm Service Agency to help build her operation. Within the next 10 years, Jean plans to make the leap from working 9-to-5 as a counselor with the Cook County school system to living off of her family’s 200-year-old farm, raising and selling cattle.

Here is her story:

Arkansas Woman Graduates from Youth Loan to Become FSA's 13,000th Microloan Recipient

At age 18, Dakota Williams knows exactly what she wants to do with her life — own a farm and raise cattle.

“[Farming] is all I’ve ever known. I’m a third generation farmer, working the same land as my grandparents and I don’t want to see it end,” said Dakota. A member of the Cherokee tribe, Dakota said her ancestors lived off the land and she wants to honor them in her work. “Not many people can say they live in an area where their ancestors came from and they are still trying to make that land better.”

Under the Obama Administration, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has worked to improve housing, better educational opportunities, improve infrastructure and create employment and business opportunities for Native American families, including veterans and youth.

Mobile Farms Move into Urban Settings

In the traditional sense, farming has always involved purchasing or leasing land to plow, plant, fertilize and harvest. As world population and land prices grow however, urban boundaries continue to expand, pushing farms and ranches farther away from the center of growing cities.

At the same time, many consumers are more aware of where their food is produced, preferring to purchase food grown locally in their communities. This trend pulls agriculture back into the heart of the city, with many agriculture enthusiasts stepping up to support the demand.