Mr. Bishop (GA) – Mr. Speaker, it is my great honor to extend a heartfelt congratulations to Ms. Erin Daly and the rest of the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program team at the National Institute of Food and Agriculture for being selected to receive a 2012 U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary’s Honor Award in the category of “assisting rural communities to create prosperity so they are self-sustaining, repopulating, and economically thriving.” The team and its program leader, Dr. S. (Suresh) Sureshwaran, will be honored on September 12, 2012 at the Research, Education, and Economics (REE) Mission Area ceremony and the USDA 64th Annual Secretary’s Honor Awards Ceremony, both in Washington, D.C.
I am especially pleased because Erin has served as a Brookings Institution Legis Congressional Fellow in my Washington, D.C. office since January of this year. She works on issues including agriculture, particularly as it pertains to the Farm Bill and authorization issues; environment; food safety and Food and Drug Administration issues; nutrition/hunger; HBCUs; immigration; and trade. Not only is Erin a great asset to my office, but she has also become a steadfast resource for my staff and the constituents of the Second Congressional District of Georgia. I have personally witnessed her hard work and dedication and I know this prestigious award recognizing exemplary leadership and public service is very well-deserved.
The Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP) was authorized in the 2008 Food, Conservation, and Energy Act and is administered by the National Institute for Food and Agriculture (NIFA) of the USDA. The purpose of the program is to assist farmer and rancher producers who have little or no farming experience and to provide the knowledge, skills, and tools they need to make informed decisions and improve their rate of success. As of 2010, more than 5,000 new and potential farmers had participated in BFRDP training events, including webinars, seminars, roundtable discussions, internships, mentorships, on-farm field days, etc.
In Georgia, BFRDP has awarded grants to the Development of Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers in Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi and South Carolina Program; the Cultivating Sustainable and Organic Beginning Farmers and Ranchers in Georgia Program; and the Urban Oasis Beginning Farmer Training Program. These grants have greatly assisted beginning farmers and ranchers in Georgia in obtaining the knowledge and skills necessary to manage a successful farm, improve their rural communities, and contribute to the local, state, and national economy.
Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the residents of Georgia’s Second Congressional District and the members of my staff, I ask my colleagues to join me today in recognizing Erin Daly and the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program team for their strong commitment and valuable contributions to beginning farmers and their rural communities. I am extremely proud of Erin and I know she will continue to do great things in my office and at USDA.