The Farm Bill
Whether you are an experienced farmer or just getting started, it’s important for you to know that there are resources available to help you succeed. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is a significant source of educational, financial, and technical assistance for your farm business. MIFFS has collected information for you on different USDA agencies and financial assistance programs for your toolbox, and produced several step-by-step guides to assist you in navigating these programs.
First of all, it is important to understand that these resources are available thanks to the farm bill.
What is the Farm Bill?
The farm bill is comprehensive legislation that governs federal farm, food, fiber, and forestry programs and rural policies that began during the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression. Programs in the bill touch impact our everyday life - whether we are farmers or consumers - through programs ranging from beginning farmer training, to healthy food access to low-income families, and crop insurance, to name a few.
The farm bill expires and gets updated every five years - with the last farm bill passed in 2014. The future of these important programs relies on support from everyone - from farmers to eaters and everyone in between! The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, an alliance of grassroots organizations that advocates for federal policy reform to advance the sustainability of agriculture, food systems, natural resources, and rural communities, is a great place to start learning how you can get involved. See how you can take action.
The USDA is made up of several agencies that provide leadership on food, agriculture, natural resources, rural development, nutrition, and related issues based on public policy, the best available science, and effective management. For most beginning farmers, there are 3 main farmer agencies 1) Farm Service Agency, 2) Rural Development and 3) Natural Resources
Click to see larger image of how these three agencies provide services to farms.
Additional Natural Resources Conservation Services:
NRCS Conservation planning and Financial Assistance Programs.
Conservation Technical Assistance Program
Environmental Quality Insurance Program (EQIP)
Awareness about USDA agencies and programs is a critical first step, however we know that awareness alone is not enough! That’s why we’ve gathered a collection of resources that are out there to help you figure out which programs are best for you, as well as developed step-by-step guides to walk you through different processes with different agencies.
USDA has developed a comprehensive website for new farmers that hosts information on how to get started. There is even a personalized Discovery Tool that will help guide you as you begin to make your plan!
USDA Program Guides:
To help you through the process of accessing USDA programs that can help your farm business succeed, the MIFFS team has created step-by-step guides. You can find information about USDA agencies, programs, and instructions and talking points for getting the most out of the services available to you.
USDA 101: Farm Number Registration (Recorded for vets-in ag) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HwTbWS0pHyk&feature=youtu.be
USDA blogs: https://www.usda.gov/media/blog