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Sustainability 101 Pathway:

USDA Resource: A Guide to USDA Sustainable Farming Programs

 

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USDA Resource Summary

Today’s farmers are changing the way we farm and eat in this country. Folks starting out in farming today are:

  • From both rural and urban areas, and everywhere in between
  • Conscious of their impact on the environment and interested in learning how to protect natural resources on their farms
  • Pursuing new markets and selling both fresh and value-added products directly to consumers, wholesalers, restaurants, schools, and food hubs
  • More likely to be female, a person of color, and/or have served in the U.S. military
  • More likely to consider diversification options, comprehensive conservation systems, and organic farming practices

USDA recognizes the needs of farmers of all kinds, and has worked hard to improve federal resources so they work for all farmers. However, navigating the programs and understanding what each program can do for you is confusing and time consuming. This guide is for anyone who is farming – or thinking about getting into farming – whether you’re a beginner or just looking to try something new.


View the full document: A Guide to USDA Sustainable Farming Programs

USDA Agencies

Agricultural Marketing Service
(AMS) 

Agricultural Marketing Service
(AMS) 

Market Data, Certification, and Labeling 

AMS facilitates the strategic marketing of agricultural products in domestic and international markets while ensuring fair trading practices and promoting a competitive marketplace. AMS publishes price data, conducts market research, provides audits and accreditation, and helps farmers pay for organic certification.

Farm Service Agency
(FSA) 

Farm Service Agency
(FSA) 

Farm Loans, Disaster Assistance, and Commodity Programs 

FSA administers credit and loan programs and manages conservation, commodity, disaster and farm marketing programs through a national network of offices.

Find your local FSA field office at: http://offices.sc.egov.usda.gov/locator/app?agency=fsa

Natural Resources Conservation Service
(NRCS) 

Natural Resources Conservation Service
(NRCS) 

Conservation Payments and Technical Assistance 

NRCS provides leadership in a partnership effort to help people conserve, maintain and improve our natural resources and environment through federal conservation programs.

Find your local NRCS field office at: http://offices.sc.egov.usda.gov/locator/app?agency=nrcs

Risk Management Agency
(RMA) 

Risk Management Agency
(RMA) 

Crop Insurance Policy Development and Data Collection 

RMA helps to ensure that farmers have the financial tools necessary to manage agricultural risks. RMA works with private crop insurance companies and agents to administer the Federal Crop Insurance Program which protects farmers against losses on their farms.

Rural Development
(RD) 

Rural Development
(RD) 

Grants, Loans, and Rural Infrastructure 

RD helps rural areas to develop and grow by offering federal assistance that improves quality of life. RD targets communities in need and then empowers them with financial and technical resources.

Additional Resources

USDA Program and Farming Practice Resources in Other Languages
  • ATTRA (Appropriate Technology Transfer for Rural Areas) – Para más información sobre agricultura sustenible a nivel nacional.
  • Pregúntele a Karen – Un servicio de USDA para contestar preguntas sobre manipulación y almacenamiento seguro para prevenir el envenenamiento.
  • Para una tabla de información sobre préstamos agrícolas del USDA en español, visite la página de información aquí (Este documento no refleja los cambios de la Ley Agrícola del 2018).
  • Helping New American Farmers – Includes videos about basic concepts important for farmers such as marketing farm products, USDA programs and services, and cooperative extension in slow English, Mai Mai, Kirundi and Nepali languages.
  • How to work with USDA – Video in Hmong with English subtitles made by the National Hmong American Farmers
USDA Farm Bill Webpage

As the main USDA webpage for the 2018 Farm Bill, this site contains up to date information on important Farm Bill meeting dates and deadlines, current Farm Bill news, and the 2018 Farm Bill itself. The webpage also includes a guide describing assistance available to producers through the 2018 Farm Bill, and it is available in Hmong, Mandarin, Spanish, and Vietnamese.

Additionally, USDA factsheets outline key changes to FSA, NRCS, and RMA programs brought about by the new Farm Bill. This webpage includes information on programs now available for hemp growers.

Congressional Research Service Farm Bill Online Resources

The Congressional Research Service (CRS) periodically publishes reports on various Farm Bill topics. This report contains a summary and side-by side comparison of the new Farm Bill with previous legislation, and this report includes a short two-page summary on some key changes made in the 2018 Farm Bill and historical trends, as well as its estimated cost. For a quick reference guide on leading policies and programs within each title of the bill, refer to this report. CRS reports cover a wide array of farm bill topics and issues, which can be found by searching on their website.

House and Senate Committees on Agriculture

Includes information on the current activities of the Congressional authorizing Committees that have jurisdiction over the farm bill. This includes farm bill implementation and oversight activities, as well as archived reports, hearing transcripts, and other documents leading up to passage of the 2018 Farm Bill.

House and Senate Subcommittee on Agricultural Appropriations
National Agricultural Law Center

Farm Bills Pages: Full text and resources for all U.S. Farm Bills from 1933 to the present

CRS Reports: CRS is the public policy research arm of the United States Congress.  Through Congress, the National Agricultural Law Center periodically receives CRS reports related to agriculture and food issues. New and updated reports are posted as they are obtained.

Center for Effective Government

The Center for Effective Government (CEG), formerly known as OMB Watch, is a leading nonpartisan independent watchdog, which champions good government reforms to achieve a more effective, accountable, open, and ethical federal government. In 2016, CEG joined the Project on Government Oversight (POGO) to continue its mission to improve access to decision-makers and energize citizen participation. Their website includes a wide range of publications, blogs, and other resources that examine regulatory policy, federal budget, and government actions.

Federal Register

Published by the Office of the Federal Register, National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), the Federal Register is the official daily publication for rules, proposed rules, and notices of Federal agencies and organizations, as well as executive orders and other presidential documents.

Economic Research Service (USDA)

ERS is USDA’s economic policy analysis agency, and the ERS website presents highlights and some economic implications of the Farm Bill’s new programs and provisions.

View the source.

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