USDA’s plan to help beginning farmers and ranchers

A major issue facing the ag sector is a graying population. USDA has plans to help beginning farmers and ranchers.

The USDA says that one hope for the future of farming is with beginning farmers and ranchers.

“We have an average age of farmers increasing,” according to USDA Undersecretary Bill Northey. “It is important for us to find ways and those of us that were beginning farmers at one time, all realize how important that start is.”

He says that these days, beginning farmers have many of the same needs he had, when he started in the industry. One issue is access to capital, which is where USDA can help.

“We made, last year, about $7.5 billion dollars in loans, either ownership or operating loans, half of those go to beginning farmers,” he states. “Out of the 2018 Farm Bill, they asked us to set up a beginning farmers and rancher coordinators, so it’s Farm Service Agency, Risk Management Agency, NRCS, and then Rural Development. They go together to create these coordinators, we have one in each state and have a national coordinator.”

One of those national coordinators is Sarah Campbell. She says that a mission area of the Farm Production and Conservation Mission is the National Resources Conservation Service. It provides technical assistance to farmers.

Campbell explains, “To help them better steward their lands and implement conservation activities, help them develop conversational plans. They also oversee and implement the high tunnel cost-share program, so this is what brings a lot of beginning farmers to USDA is because they equip them so they can get season extension tools and resources and NRCS helps administer that. Gotten a lot of farmers started.”

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