SANTE FE, N.M., March 10, 2014 –Today in remarks at the National Farmers Union National Convention, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced new and expanded efforts to connect small- and mid-sized farmers and ranchers with USDA resources that can help them build stronger businesses, expand to reach new and larger markets, and grow their operations.
"The recent Census of Agriculture shows that there is tremendous growth potential for small and mid-sized producers in the American agricultural landscape," said Vilsack. "USDA is taking a hard look at our existing resources to ensure that they work for producers of all sizes. We've adjusted policies, strengthened programs and intensified outreach to meet the needs of small and mid-sized producers. These producers are critical to our country's agricultural and economic future."
Efforts include improved access to USDA resources, revised risk management tools that better fit the needs of smaller producers, additional support for hoop houses, and expanded collection of valuable market news information. USDA is also introducing a series of education tools focusing on opportunities for farmers engaged in local and regional food systems. In addition, USDA field staff will be boosting their outreach efforts to small and mid-sized farmers and ranchers.
More information about tools and resources available to small and mid-sized farmers will be rolled out in the coming months, including information about access to capital, risk management, food safety, and locating market opportunities on USDA's Small and Mid-Sized Farmer Resources webpage.
The new efforts announced by the Secretary today include:
ACCESS TO CAPITAL
LOCATING MARKET OPPORTUNITIES
EDUCATIONAL RESOURCES AND OUTREACH
2014 FARM BILL
The recently-signed 2014 Farm Bill provides USDA with more direct resources to support small and mid-sized farmers, including:
- Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP), which provides grants to organizations that train, educate and provide outreach and technical assistance to new and beginning farmers on production, marketing, business management, legal strategies and other topics critical to running a successful operation. The 2014 Farm Bill provides $100 million total to BFRDP over the next 5 years.
- Value-Added Producer Grant Program was modified to allow USDA to better target small and mid-sized family farms, beginning and socially-disadvantaged farmers, and veterans. The 2014 Farm Bill provides $63 million over the next 5 years.
- Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program is expanded to support both direct-to-consumer opportunities and other supply chain projects such as food hubs. The 2014 Farm Bill provides $30 million annually.
USDA FY2015 BUDGET PROPOSAL
USDA last week released its FY2015 Budget, which includes additional resources to help small and mid-sized farmers and ranchers, including:
- $2.5 million to provide food safety training to owners and operators of small farms, small food processors, and small fruit and vegetable vendors affected by Food Safety Modernization Act.
- $3 million for Small, Socially Disadvantaged Producers Grants Program to ensure historically underprivileged rural Americans have opportunities for cooperative development.
- $2.5 million for a new Food and Agriculture Resilience Program for Military Veterans (FARM-Vets) that promotes research, education, and extension activity for veterans.
- $11 million for the Value-Added Producer Grants Program. The 2014 Farm Bill provides an additional $63 million in mandatory funding that is available until expended.
- $2.5 million in funding for the National Agricultural Statistics Service to conduct a survey on land ownership and farm financial characteristics. This supports an Administration priority that will provide additional demographic data related to small and beginning farmers and ranchers.
- $1.2 million for the Office of Advocacy and Outreach to carry out these responsibilities and the provisions of the 2014 Farm Bill related to outreach to beginning, small, and socially disadvantaged farmers, and ranchers, including veterans, and rural communities.
- $25.7 million for Departmental Administration to maintain critical support activities and oversight for the Department, including management of small and disadvantaged business utilization programs.
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