How can the USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) help you?
Women represent a growing segment of farmers and farmland owners in Minnesota and Wisconsin. There is a web of resources built around farming, but much of the information about those resources have historically not been focused on catching the ear or meeting the needs of women.
At Renewing the Countryside, we want to:
-build relationships among women producers and farmland owners and local FSA offices
-help women increase their understanding of the programs
-help women identify which programs are right for them
-shepherd women through the process of meeting eligibility requirements and signing up or applying for programs
As a women farmers and/or farmland owners in Minnesota and Wisconsin, we want to help you learn about and participate in FSA programs, connect with your local FSA office, and build connections with other women farmers and farmland owners.
FSA Programs we can begin to connect you with:
1) County Committees: Encouraging more women farmers to run for these positions
FSA County Committees are a critical component of the day-to-day operations of FSA and allow grassroots input and local administration of federal farm programs. Right now, nationally less than 20% of FSA County Committee members are women, so there is a need and opportunity for more women to run. More details here.
2) Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP)
NAP provides financial assistance to producers of noninsurable crops to protect against natural disasters that result in lower yields or crop losses, or prevents crop planting. Eligible crops include specialty crops, crops grown for food, and crops grown for fiber. Fees are waived for women farmers. More details here.
3) Organic certification cost-share program (OCCSP)
Once certified, a producer can apply for reimbursement of eligible costs related to certification. Reimbursement can be up to 75 percent of certification costs each year, up to a maximum of $750 per certification scope—crops, livestock, wild crops, handling and state program fees. More details here.
Microloans offers more flexible access to credit and serves as an attractive loan alternative for smaller farming operations, like specialty crop producers, mid-sized family farms, and operators of community supported agriculture (CSA). More details here.
5) Farm Ownership loans
A variety of loans are available through local FSA offices with the goal of supporting family farmers in agricultural economies to start, purchase, and/or expand their farming operation, as well as ultimately graduate to commercial credit. From farm ownership loans to youth loans and emergency loans, there are a diversity of opportunities available with different eligibility requirements, rates, and terms. More information can be found at FSA’s Farm Loan website.
Loans for socially disadvantaged (SDA) farmers help remove barriers that prevent full participation of SDA farmers in FSA’s farm loan programs. Eligible farmers include women, American Indians or Alaskan Natives, Asians, Blacks or African-Americans, Native Hawaiians or other Pacific Islanders, and Hispanics. More details here.
6) Conservation Reserve Program (CRP)
CRP is a voluntary program that contracts with farmers so that environmentally sensitive agricultural land is used for conservation benefits. Participants establish long-term, resource-conserving vegetative species, such as approved grasses or trees to control soil erosion, improve the water quality and enhance wildlife habitat. In return, FSA provides participants with rental payments and cost-share assistance. Within this area, there are two programs:
Through the Continuous Enrollment option, contracts are 10 to 15 years in duration.
The Transition Incentives Program (TIP) assists with the transition of expiring Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) land from a retired or retiring owner or operator to a beginning, veteran, or socially disadvantaged farmer or rancher to return land to production for sustainable grazing or crop production.
Find these resources and more at: www.fsa.usda.gov
If you'd like to learn more about this project, or if you live in MN or WI and want to know who your nearest regional coordinator is, please contact Grace at grace at rtcinfo dot org.