If you are looking for grant and loan programs to incubate your local food and farm initiative or enterprise, this graphic from USDA’s Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food site may be of interest. The color coding refers to the specific USDA agency that manages the grant or loan program (i.e., USDA – Agricultural Marketing Service, USDA – Farm Service Agency, USDA – Natural Resources Conservation Service, etc.).
If you have specific questions and would like to talk with someone about the different programs, please visit your closest USDA Service Center or Virginia Cooperative Extension office for further guidance.
USDA Grant and Loan Programs in support of Local Food System Development.
Discussion about whether to exclude livestock from local waterways and streams can be contentious at times. However, the practice is a high-priority for Virginia as the state tries to do its part to improve local and regional waterways.
For many farmers, excluding their cattle from streams is the right thing to do and fits into their operation and management system. For other farmers, they have questions about the costs of installation and ongoing maintenance and how — or if — the practice can work on leased land. And for some farmers, being encouraged to exclude their cattle from streams feels like an intrusion of privacy and an infringement of their rights.
In working with farmers through the years, I have heard many conversations on why you should or should not exclude your cattle from streams. Of these conservations, I distinctly remember comments by two forward-thinking Virginia dairy farmers who said, “It is the 21st century and it’s the right thing to do!” and “Given all the educational, technical assistance and financial resources devoted to keeping cattle out of streams at the local, state and federal level, the practice of not keeping cattle out of streams would be indefensible today in a court of law.” (see photos below on programs and resources available)
Certainly, research into the benefits of livestock exclusion on cattle performance and herd health needs to continue. However, the benefits can include:
- Improved weight gain;
- Decreased incidence of disease and foot-related ailments
- Increased forage utilization;
- Enhanced pasture management and quality; and
- Reduced visits and bills from the veterinarian.
For farmers who have had questions about the costs of installation and ongoing maintenance and how –or if — the practice can work on leased land, they should know it is a high-priority and the state is providing resources to overcome any barrier to adoption and implementation of the practice. Virginia will provide 100% reimbursement on the installation of a livestock stream-exclusion system. Farmers and landowners can sign up for the unique cost-share opportunity now through June 30, 2015.
Do your part and do the right thing! Contact your local Soil and Water Conservation District to learn more about the practice and apply for reimbursement.
Guest post by Karen Kappert
SNAP stands for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which is a government-funded initiative aimed at preventing hunger and encouraging better nutrition. SNAP offers nutrition assistance to millions of eligible, low income individuals and families. SNAP can be used like a debit card to buy eligible food items from authorized retailers – once accepted, you will be given an electronic benefit transfer (EBT) card which looks exactly like a debit card!
Do we really need more laws and regulations or can we promote healthier communities through sound effective food policy?
As different projects, programs and initiatives are developed around Virginia and the country to address obstacles, challenges and needed change in the food system, communities and states are evaluating policies that can affect and inform change.