October AZ USDA Newsletter

AZ USDA Newsletter 2013

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)

USDA Releases New State-by-State "Made in Rural America" Report

New Data Demonstrates Obama Administration's Record Breaking Investments in Rural America

WASHINGTON, Oct. 22, 2014 – As part of the US Department of Agriculture's (USDA) commitment to strengthening rural economies, Secretary Tom Vilsack announced a new state-by-state "Made in Rural America" report illustrating the impact of USDA investments in rural communities. Each state factsheet highlights specific USDA investments in rural businesses, manufacturing, energy, water and other infrastructure development. They also outline how USDA is helping rural communities attract businesses and families by investing in housing and broadband.

"This report shows what investment in rural America means in real terms for families and businesses across the country," said Vilsack. "Throughout the Obama Administration, USDA has created employment opportunities in rural America through investments in manufacturing, energy and small businesses. At the same time, we are bringing reliable services like water, housing and broadband to make these same communities attract and retain a talented workforce. This report proves that the entrepreneurial spirit is strong in rural America."

These fact sheets reflect Secretary Vilsack's efforts to strengthen the "four pillars" of a new economy in rural America: developing a robust bio-based economy; promoting exports and production agriculture fueled by increased productivity and research; encouraging conservation including land management, stewardship and outdoor recreational opportunities; and building a strong local and regional food system to harness entrepreneurial innovation and help small and medium-sized family farms succeed in rural America.

The report's state by state fact sheets are available at www.usda.gov/opportunities.

Click here to see Arizona's report.

Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS)

The USDA’s Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) 102

for USDA Strike Force Counties - - An Interactive Discussion

Thursday, November 13, 2014

11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Arizona time

We want to start marketing this webinar to the StrikeForce counties as this is not a webinar that is open to all.  The webinar will speak directly to the needs of small farmers who may have difficulty developing a food safety program and preparing for the third party audit.  Document preparation and audit preparation are areas critical to supporting these growers ability to sell on the commercial market.  Our March webinar [GAP’s 101] was very successful and reached many growers.  County agents hosted group listening sessions to help support those who are not able to listen through personal computers.  

Our goal will be to get more group sessions organized, provide as much advanced notice as possible to those interested parties, and for those who were unable to attend the GAP’s 101 webinar, to listen to that presentation prior to November 13.  In addition, we would like to work with the county agents and all those who have contact with growers in the StrikeForce communities to play the recorded webinars at group meetings.  These recording will help growers prepare their individual food safety programs and provide a message that USDA is available to them for support.

For more information, contact:

Christopher Purdy

Business Development

Tel. (202) 720-3209



Farm Service Agency (FSA)

2015 Upland Cotton Marketing Assistance Loan Rate Announced

WASHINGTON, Oct. 1, 2014 – Commodity Credit Corporation Executive Vice President Val Dolcini today announced the marketing assistance loan rate for 2015-crop base quality upland cotton.

“Marketing assistance loans provide interim financing to producers at or after harvest to help them meet cash flow needs without having to sell their commodities when market prices are typically at harvest-time lows,” said Dolcini, who is also the administrator of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Farm Service Agency. “I encourage producers in need of assistance to contact their local USDA Farm Service Agency office today for additional information on eligibility requirements.”

Base quality upland cotton has the following characteristics: color grade 41, leaf grade 4, staple length 1-1/16 inches, micronaire 3.5 to 3.6 and 4.3 to 4.9, strength 26.0 to 28.9 grams per tex and length uniformity of 80.0 to 81.9 percent.

The 2014 Farm Bill sets the base quality marketing assistance loan rate for upland cotton at the simple average of the adjusted prevailing world price for the two immediately preceding marketing years, as determined by the Secretary of Agriculture and announced Oct. 1, before the next domestic plantings. The marketing assistance loan rate cannot be less than 45 cents per pound or greater than 52 cents per pound.

Read more here


USDA Expands Access to Credit to Help More Beginning and Family Farmers

Changes Increase Eligibility and Financing Options for Hard Working Families

WASHINGTON, Oct. 7, 2014 – Agriculture Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden today announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will improve farm loans by expanding eligibility and increasing lending limits to help more beginning and family farmers. As part of this effort, USDA is raising the borrowing limit for the microloan program from $35,000 to $50,000; simplify the lending processes; updating required “farming experience” to include other valuable experiences; and expanding eligible business entities to reflect changes in the way family farms are owned and operated. The changes become effective Nov. 7.

“USDA is continuing its commitment to new and existing family farmers and ranchers by expanding access to credit,” said Harden. “These new flexibilities, created by the 2014 Farm Bill, will help more people who are considering farming and ranching, or who want to strengthen their existing family operation.”

The microloan changes announced today will allow beginning, small and mid-sized farmers to access an additional $15,000 in loans using a simplified application process with up to seven years to repay. Microloans are part of USDA’s continued commitment to small and midsized farming operations

Read more here.



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Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS)

EWP Provides Conservation from the Corps

SW Conservation Corps Members human chain

Story by Valentino Reyes and Joe Jacquez

Tourists from all over the world come to visit Oak Creek Canyon every summer to spend time away with their family, and enjoy the shops in nearby Sedona, and Slide Rock State Park. Oak Creek is often referred to as the Grand Canyon’s distant cousin because of its natural beauty, and biodiversity. It is usually hopping with people and activity. However, this summer was much quieter because of the Slide Fire. According to the Arizona State Parks, they’ve seen an 80% drop in attendance this summer compared to 2013.

The Slide Fire was Arizona’s second major fire this season and started May 20th just north of Slide Rock State Park. The fire burned approximately 21,000 acres, and cost more than 10 million dollars to battle the blaze.

Thanks to the amazing job done by the emergency response teams, there were no major injuries or structures lost in the fire.

After the fire was contained, the community’s next major concern was the flood water that would follow the upcoming monsoons. To address this, the Coconino County Flood Control District contacted the USDA’s Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) for their assistance through the Emergency Watershed Protection Program (EWP).  EWP is designed to help people and conserve natural resources by relieving imminent hazards to life and property caused by floods, fires, windstorms, and other natural occurrences.

With the County’s Flood Control District sponsoring the project, NRCS agreed to contribute approximately $250,000 to help protect the local community from the impending flood damage.  Shortly after receiving the support of the NRCS, Dustin Woodman, Manager of Engineering Coconino County Public Works, began working on the logistics of this monumental project.

Mr. Woodman contacted the Arizona Conservation Corps from Flagstaff, Arizona and the Southwest Conservation Corps from Salida, Colorado, youth development programs that provide their participants with job training through a strategy of service that improves communities and the environment.  Both programs are members of the Corps Network.  Through the Corps, Mr. Woodman was able to gather a team of young adults from across the Southwest to help install the EWP practices designed to protect the local community.  Even before the fire had completely burned out, the Corps had already begun work filling sandbags for the project. Despite their preparations, there were still many challenges ahead.

“Between the road closures, truck weight limits, and narrow paths into these remote areas; this project had a lot working against it even before the work had started,” said NRCS State Construction Engineer Virginia Jones.

One of the logistical barriers that arose was the weight limits of the low water crossings. “Even if a truck could get to these areas, the crossings couldn’t support anything more than 50 sandbags on a pallet at a time” Virginia explained.

Once the pallets of sandbags were placed near the EWP sites, the Corps began the next stage in their work; transporting the sandbags from the pallets to the worksite. Along the steep, scorched, and now unstable mountainside, the Corps members created a human chain to transport the sandbags up the steep terrain.

Over the course of 10 days, the Corps members installed 30,000 sandbags across Oak Creek Canyon which provided the community with nearly a million pounds of installed barriers to protect against monsoon flooding.

“These barriers are diverting the water away from these homes and into the water systems that are able to handle the volume and force that these monsoon storms will be delivering” said Virginia, “the amount of work done out here in this short of time is amazing and these Corps members should be proud of what they’ve accomplished.”

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Risk Management Agency (RMA)

Pasture, Rangeland and Forage (PRF) Available

The last day to purchase PRF is November 15, 2014. PRF is an area risk policy covering grazing and forage land for livestock, using a Vegetation Index.  This pilot program is based on vegetation greenness and is designed to give forage and livestock producers the ability to buy insurance protection for losses of forage produced for grazing or harvested for hay.

The Vegetation Index uses the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) data from United States Geological Survey Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) satellites.  The NDVI is an alternative measure of vegetation greenness and correlates to vegetation conditions and productive capacity.  Plants under stress generally have a lower NDVI value.  

The Vegetative Index is based 4.8 x 4.8 mile grids and four 3-month intervals.  There is a distinct Vegetative Index for each grid and time interval.   Producers may select to insure up to ninety percent of the NDVI for the location and time period.

PRF is risk management tool primarily intended for use by producers whose crop production tends to follow the average precipitation or vegetation patterns for the grid.  The program is designed for producers whose crop production tends to follow average patterns and not individual crop production, you should review the historical indices, additional tools, and information provided to determine if these programs are suitable for your risk management needs. 

Contact your crop insurance agent for additional information and requirements of the program.  If you do not have an agent, you can find one online using the RMA agent locator at: http://www.rma.usda.gov/tools/agent.html,

Don’t Miss Crop Insurance Deadlines

The last day to sign-up for crop insurance for Barley and Wheat is October 31, 2014. The Sales Closing Date for Pasture, Rangeland, and Forage (PRF) and Apiculture is November 15, 2014. 

All multi-peril crop insurance, including Catastrophic Coverage (CAT) is available from private insurance agents.  CAT coverage is fixed at 50 percent of the insured’s approved yield and 55 percent of the price election.  CAT is 100-percent subsidized with no premium cost to the insured.  There is, however, an administrative fee of $300 per crop per county, regardless of the acreage. Higher levels of coverage are subsidized at lower rates, but in general, USDA pays at least 50 percent of the premium.  A list of crop insurance agents is available on the RMA web site: http://www3.rma.usda.gov/tools/agents/, or visit the local county Farm Service Agency office for an agent listing.

The table below lists the Sales Closing Dates and counties where coverage is available for federally subsidized multi-peril crop insurance.  Insurance may be available in other counties by written agreement if specific criteria are met.  Contact an agent for more details.

October Crop Insurance Dates

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Rural Development (RD)

USDA Helps Deliver the Latest in Innovative Agricultural Methods to Small, Socially Disadvantaged Agricultural Producers

Support Expands Opportunities for Producers Across the Country

WASHINGTON, October 1, 2014 - Agriculture Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden today awarded 17 grants in 12 states to help small, socially disadvantaged agricultural producers expand their operations and create jobs.

"These grants help small producers and other business owners who often lack access to the capital and technical assistance they need to grow and prosper," Harden said. "This funding is an example of the Obama Administration's dedication to the economic stability of rural communities throughout the nation. By providing assistance to small and diverse producers, USDA is expanding healthy food options in small and economically diverse markets. Additionally, many of these grants will allow even the smallest producers to take advantage of the latest innovations in ag production."

USDA is investing $3 million through the Small Socially Disadvantaged Producer Grant program. The program funds technical assistance and other services to help producers develop new markets and business opportunities.

For example, the Mississippi Association of Cooperatives is receiving a $200,000 grant to provide innovative technical assistance tools such as personal and business record-keeping, business planning and marketing assistance. The University of Texas-Pan American has been selected for a $197,317 grant to help small-scale Hispanic producers market their food to local businesses and consumers.

Click here to view a complete list of grant recipients. The funding is contingent upon the recipient meeting the terms of the grant agreement.

The Small Socially Disadvantaged Producer Grant program is one of many USDA programs that help rural businesses. Since the start of the Obama Administration, USDA has provided more than 18,000 loans and grants that have helped 74,000 rural businesses. Many of these grants have allowed producers to engage in the local food market sector and support their regional economies. In 2010, for example, USDA Rural Development awarded Minnesota's Hillside Farmers Co-Op a Small Socially Disadvantaged Producer Grant to help develop small-scale sustainable farms.

The Co-op is a partnership between Latino farmers, including recent immigrants, and established farmers in southeastern Minnesota. They are working together to produce sustainable foods and build healthier communities. The co-op pairs immigrant families with established farmers in the area who rent out their land for gardening and poultry production.

President Obama's historic investments in rural America have made our rural communities stronger. Under his leadership, these investments in housing, community facilities, businesses and infrastructure have empowered rural America to continue leading the way – strengthening America's economy, small towns and rural communities.

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