The American Farm Bureau Federation is encouraging farmers and ranchers to complete a short online survey about 10 Agriculture Department programs. All farmers – whether they are long-time food producers or just beginning their careers – are encouraged to complete the survey.
“If you have ever found it confusing or complex to apply for USDA programs, this is your opportunity to provide feedback on how to improve the process,” said AFBF President Zippy Duvall. “We know USDA staff are concerned that farmers and ranchers who could benefit from agency programs frequently do not apply,” he added. “Our goal is to help turn that around.”
In Arizona, many of our farmers and ranchers are quite familiar with these programs. “Many of these programs such as the Environmental Quality Incentives Program are widely used in Arizona and are a valuable tool in managing resources, rural development, and industry growth for the younger generations coming up in farming and ranching operations,” says Stefanie Smallhouse, Arizona Farm Bureau’s First Vice President and partnered with her husband in a ranching and plant nursery business in southern Arizona. “There are elements of these programs which work really well and deserve to be noted, such as the technical professionals working on the ground with producers, but the paperwork can be frustrating especially given what seem to be continuous changes in reporting requirements and the different agencies not communicating. This creates redundancy. These experiences both good and bad need to be conveyed to the USDA in this process to ensure these programs continue to be efficient and effective.”
AFBF will use feedback from the survey to develop recommendations on how USDA can enhance its programs and make them more useful.
The survey focuses on the following programs housed in three USDA agencies – Farm Service Agency, Natural Resources Conservation Service, and Rural Development:
- Environmental Quality Incentives Program;
- Conservation Stewardship Program;
- Conservation Reserve Program;
- Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program;
- Value Added Producer Grants;
- Rural Energy for America Program;
- Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program;
- Direct Farm Ownership Loans;
- Direct Farm Operating Loans; and
- Guaranteed Farm Loans (farm operating and farm ownership).
Membership in Farm Bureau is not required for the survey, which takes fewer than 10 minutes to complete.
Take the survey online through March 15 at http://usdaprograms.questionpro.com/. Contact Dr. Lisa Benson, AFBF’s director of rural development, with questions about the survey (firstname.lastname@example.org or 202-406-3685).