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US Ag Dept. Expands Support For New Farmers And Ranchers


The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced Wednesday that it is expanding its support of new farmers and ranchers.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack met in Ames, Iowa with over a dozen young, beginning, and military veteran farmers. He listened to their start-up stories and announced another $18 million in grants to help new farmers get going. Vilsack says the diversity of farmers, crops, and production strategies all make the food system more resilient. He’s also tried to connect government policy with the on-the-ground needs for farmers.

"I’ve encouraged those in the regulatory space to have that conversation so that there is not this us-against-them kind of mentality," Vilsack says.

The Agriculture Department has spent more than $125 million on beginning farmer programs since Vilsack took office.

Amy Mayer is a reporter based in Ames. She covers agriculture and is part of the Harvest Public Media collaboration. Amy worked as an independent producer for many years and also previously had stints as weekend news host and reporter at WFCR in Amherst, Massachusetts and as a reporter and host/producer of a weekly call-in health show at KUAC in Fairbanks, Alaska. Amy’s work has earned awards from SPJ, the Alaska Press Club and the Massachusetts/Rhode Island AP. Her stories have aired on NPR news programs such as Morning Edition, All Things Considered and Weekend Edition and on Only A Game, Marketplace and Living on Earth. She produced the 2011 documentary Peace Corps Voices, which aired in over 160 communities across the country and has written for The New York Times, Boston Globe, Real Simple and other print outlets. Amy served on the board of directors of the Association of Independents in Radio from 2008-2015.