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USDA Farm Tour Celebrates Agency Success

USDA Vermont Leaders and Congressional Representatives Participate in Farm Tour

Photo (from left):

Back Row - Andrea Suhr, Champlain Orchards; Bill Suhr, Champlain Orchards; Ted Brady, Rural Development

Front Row - Patricia Coates, Congressman Welch's Office, Vicky M. Drew, NRCS; Jenny Nelson, Senator Sanders' Office, Robert Paquin, Farm Service Agency; Tom Berry, Senator Leahy's Office

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food and Agricultural Council held an all-day farm tour through Addison County and parts of Rutland and Chittenden Counties on Thursday, October 24th. Projects completed with USDA assistance were showcased during the event titled “Working Together for Vermont”. Many of the tour stops were examples of how producers can use various USDA programs in concert to obtain more sustainable farming operations. State and local partners, congressional staff, and state legislators joined USDA staff to celebrate partnerships and innovation that are alive and well in Vermont agriculture.

The Food and Agricultural Council consists of three USDA Agencies located in Vermont. The Farm Service Agency (FSA) provides farm loans, disaster assistance and income stabilization to producers. The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is the nation’s largest conservation agency providing technical and financial assistance to protect soil, water, plants, animals and energy on America’s private lands. Rural Development (RD) works to increase economic opportunity through business development, home ownership, and community and technology infrastructure. While each agency has a specialty area of expertise, all USDA employees perform their jobs to help rural America thrive.

The appreciation of USDA accomplishments, and endorsement by the partners and producers who work so closely with these agencies, was emphasized on the wake of the recent federal government shutdown. “We are happy our partners were able to join us to learn more about USDA projects and share in our success,” said Vicky M. Drew, State Conservationist for the NRCS and current Chair of the Food and Agricultural Council. Offices are open and employees across the United States are again available to help farmers and citizens access the many important services USDA provides.

Stops along the farm tour included a solar energy farm, a large wetland restoration project, a national conservation award-winning beef operation, an innovative and expanding apple orchard, a multi-generation dairy farm with a methane digester, and a riverfront farm participating in NRCS’s edge-of-field water quality monitoring project. “We witnessed innovation, thoughtful planning, and renewable energy integration in the rural landscape,” said Brendan Whittaker. Whittaker serves on the FSA State Committee that provides state-level oversight. “They [USDA] obviously love farming themselves, and are eager to help people with advice and encouragement. I love the USDA federal-state-farmer cooperation I have seen while serving on the FSA Committee."

For more information on USDA programs or operations in assisting rural communities or conservation, please visit us on the web @ www.usda.gov, or visit your local USDA Service Center.