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News Release

Saluting America’s Farmers, Ranchers Today and Every Day

By Lauren Finnegan, Natural Resources Conservation Service, NJ

March 23 is National Ag Day, a day to honor farmers, ranchers, and private forest landowners. This year’s celebration takes on special significance because of the coronavirus pandemic and the challenges it presented.

The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) joined other federal agencies, organizations, universities, and stakeholders to recognize farmers, ranchers and forest landowners, their families, and workers who produce food, fiber, and fuel for the nation and the world.

This year’s National Ag Day theme, “Food Brings Everyone to the Table,” demonstrates the importance of conservation programs, effective risk management tools, and safety-net programs in helping agriculture thrive. Today NRCS salutes our nation’s farmers, ranchers, and private forest landowners for their unwavering commitment to providing affordable, safe, and abundant food, fiber, and fuel to the nation and the world.

Thousands of agricultural producers have voluntarily used NRCS programs and services to protect their natural resources, invest in their operations, and manage their risks very successfully. Meet a few of them from across the country.

Meet Leah Ducey, cut flower farmer, Cream Ridge, New Jersey

Ducey fulfilled a lifelong dream when she made a career-switch from a high school biology teacher to a cut flower farmer in 2018. Since then, Ducey's business, Spring Wind Farm, has been flourishing. Last fall, with the help of NRCS, Ducey installed a high tunnel through the Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP), to extend her growing season.

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Meet the Little Traverse Bands of Odawa, Michigan

The Little Traverse Bands of Odawa in Michigan link its past and future through the Ziibimijwang Farm in Emmet County. The Little Traverse Bands of Odawa’s goal for its 311-acre farm is to achieve food sovereignty and increase the number of new tribal farmers.

The Little Traverse Bands of Odawa voluntarily used NRCS’s Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) for diverse projects ranging from tree plantings and fish passage to an aquaculture pond for raising walleye. The tribe also has one high tunnel to extend the growing season for vegetables including tomatoes. (Photos for the Little Traverse Bands story was taken before March 2020).

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Meet Bill Cooper, cattle farmer, Wythe County, Virginia

Cooper and his family raise Angus cattle on the same land his family operated since 1941. Cooper turned eight acres of his farm into buffer areas through FSA’s Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP).  Cooper and his family used CREP to improve water quality and other natural resources on or near environmentally sensitive land on his property.

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Meet Cindy Ayers-Elliott, West Jackson, Mississippi

Ayers-Elliott, owner of Foot Print Farms, continues to provide quality produce to residents of her community while the coronavirus pandemic continues to roil the nation. Ayers-Elliott credits NRCS with helping her to succeed as a small farmer. She has voluntarily used NRCS’s Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) to install many conservation practices, including high tunnels, cross fencing, a micro-irrigation system and a water well.

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Meet the Wright Family, North Smithfield, Rhode Island

Clayton Wright and his family grow corn and hay on 200-acres to feed their 115 Holstein cows. They have diversified their operation to include a creamery and a bakery. The family participates in FSA’s safety-net programs including the Dairy Margin Coverage (DMC), Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC). To cope with market disruptions and associated costs, they also signed up for FSA’s Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP).

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NRCS offers various risk management, disaster assistance, loans, and conservation programs to help agricultural producers in the United States weather market changes and recover from natural disasters. In addition, there are programs to help agricultural producers and forest landowners improve their operations.  Learn about additional programs.

For more information about USDA programs and services, contact your local service center.

 

Lauren Finnegan is a Public Affairs Specialist with the Natural Resources Conservation Service in Somerset, New Jersey. She can be reached at lauren.finnegan@usda.gov.