Professor of Law and Director, LL.M. in Agricultural & Food Law
Professor of Law and Director, LL.M. in Agricultural & Food Law
Via the Organic Seed Alliance:
There shall be at the seat of government a Department of Agriculture, the general design and duties of which shall be to acquire and to diffuse among the people of the United States useful information on subjects connected with agriculture, rural development, aquaculture, and human nutrition, in the most general and comprehensive sense of those terms, and to procure, propagate, and distribute among the people new and valuable seeds and plants.
– Department of Agriculture Organic Act (May 15, 1862)
It is also the intent of Congress to assure agriculture a position in research equal to that of industry.
– Morrill Act (July 2, 1862)
This year marks the 150th anniversary of two laws that significantly transformed U.S. agriculture. The first law launched the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which President Abraham Lincoln, in his last address to Congress, called “the people’s department.” He placed the farmer’s interest above all others. The second law, the Morrill Act, established our land grant university system, intended “to teach such branches of learning as are related to agriculture.”
The new infrastructure established through these laws aimed to expand U.S. agriculture for the sake of prosperity and security – to further research, education, and innovation, and make advancements accessible to all. Continue Reading →
One hundred and fifty years ago, in the midst of a great Civil War, President Lincoln signed legislation to establish a Department of Agriculture to “acquire and to diffuse among the people of the United States useful information on subjects connected with agriculture … and to procure, propagate, and distribute among the people new and valuable seeds and plants.”
Armed with these broad mandates, the “People’s Department,” as he called it, set about to serve American farmers and a mostly rural American landscape.
At that time, half of all Americans lived on farms, compared with about 2 percent today. The U.S. population in 1862 was about 31.4 million and today, that number has increased tenfold to almost 313 million people. Continue Reading →
The National Young Farmer’s Coalition (NYFC) applauds the USDA’s announcement today that the agency will offer microloans to farmers. This new loan program will enable Farm Service Agency officers to make loans up to $35,000 with half the paperwork of existing programs and with more flexible requirements. The microlending program is designed to help beginning farmers launch new farm businesses.
“Young farmers are ready, willing and able to build new farm businesses,” says Lindsey Lusher Shute, Director of the Coalition, “now they’ll also have the investment they need make those businesses a success.” Continue Reading →
this article was originally posted on the blog of the National Young Farmers Coalition.
A new report by the USDA’s Economic Research Service, “Direct and Intermediated Marketing of Local Foods in the United States,” has some important implications for those interested in farming or marketing local foods to consumers. The USDA studied local farm production and sales during 2008, then compared farms that sell directly to customers with those that sell their products through an intermediary such as a supermarket or a restaurant. The study found that marketing local foods–both those sold directly to consumers and those sold through an intermediary–earned a total gross revenue of 4.8 billion dollars that year. Farms selling their food solely through intermediary markets made 2.7 billion dollars in local food sales that year, about three times more than was sold directly by farmers to consumers through farmers’ markets, roadside stands, and CSAs. The report notes that as much as two-thirds of local foods are marketed through supermarkets or restaurants. Selling local foods through intermediate outlets such as supermarkets or restaurants may also require less labor because the farmer need to spend time at intermediate outlets, such as farmers’ markets do.
via the Center for Rural Affairs:
Despite lots of action from folks like you who want farmers to have a fair shot to make a living from raising livestock, Congress this week blocked almost all of the livestock fairness rule, or “GIPSA rule,” from moving forward.
This is not what democracy looks like. But we’re not giving up. Sign here!
How did this happen? The meatpackers didn’t like the proposed GIPSA rule because it would mean they’d have to treat independent family farmers fairly. They lobbied congress to block the final rule by changing the bill that funds the Department of Agriculture. (You can read more details on how this happened here). Continue Reading →
Love v. Vilsack could be settled by legislation
Back in 2000 Rosemary Love of Harlem, Montana brought a discrimination lawsuit with other women farmers alleging
they were denied loans by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) because they are women. The suit is known as Love v. Vilsack, and if this suit sounds familiar it is because African American farmers, Native American farmers, and Hispanic farmers have brought similar discrimination lawsuits against the USDA.
Now, as Jerry Hagstrom reports for Agweek online, House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee Chair Rosa DeLauro (CT) has introduced legislation that “finally could bring settlement of a discrimination lawsuit” filed by Love and the other women farmers. Continue Reading →
Severine emails with the USDA’s National Agriculture Statistics Service (NASS), about her missing census mail survey and related protocols.
Severine: How do you address the under reporting of certain farming demographics, such as nomadic and young famers?
NASS: Thank you for contacting the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS). Although the statistical methodology for the 2007 Census is somewhat different you may want to review the statistical methodology used for the previous Census which may be found at the following link: http://www.agcensus.usda.gov/Publications/2002/Volume_1,_Chapter_1_US/us2appxc.pdf.
We are no longer mailing out forms for the Census due to the time frame. Please provide us with your address and if we determine you were on the mailing list we would be able to provide you with your Census ID so you could complete it online.
We look forward to hearing from you. Please contact us if we may be of any further assistance.
Severine: Yes. Thank you for your reply. I don’t think I am on your mailing list, and indeed I’m wondering how one gets on your mailing list. How do you select the farmers to be surveyed if they are small farmers and not getting any payments or loans from the USDA?
NASS: We try to have every segment of farming represented when we do surveys. However, the census is suppose to be mailed to every farmer in the United States. We used many resources to identify farmers and made a massive effort to particularly reach small and minority farmers for the 2007 Census of Agriculture. We used lists from other USDA agencies, farming associations, publications, etc.
If you provide us with your address we will contact your NASS field office and have you added to the list. Participating in our surveys is your opportunity to have your voice heard and gives you the power to influence key decisions that will shape the direction of American agriculture for years to come.
Have a great day.