USDA names new team to serve beginning farmers, ranchers in Missouri

The Rolla Daily News

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced a new team will lead a department-wide effort focused on serving beginning farmers and ranchers.

To institutionalize support for beginning farmers and ranchers and to build upon prior agency work, the 2018 Farm Bill directed USDA to create a national coordinator position in the agency and state-level coordinators for

four of its agencies – Farm Service Agency (FSA), Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), Risk Management Agency (RMA), and Rural Development (RD).

Jessica Claypole, Public Affairs and Outreach Specialist with Farm Service Agency, was selected as the USDA Beginning Farmer Rancher state coordinator in Missouri. Others on the team coordinating Missouri’s beginning farmer and rancher efforts include,  Brad McCord, Acting Assistant State Conservationist, Partnerships and Initiatives with Natural Resources Conservation Service; Nathan Tutt, Business Program Specialist with Rural Development; and Jeff Darrow, Deputy Director with Risk Management Agency. This is a collateral duty for all team members.

Each state coordinator will receive training and develop tailored beginning farmer outreach plans for their state, according to the USDA. Coordinators will help field employees better reach and serve beginning farmers and ranchers and will also be available to assist beginning farmers who need help navigating the variety of resources USDA has to offer.

More on Beginning Farmers

Twenty-seven percent of farmers were categorized as new and beginning producers, with 10 years or less of experience in agriculture, according to the 2017 Census of Agriculture.

USDA offers farm loan, risk management, disaster assistance and conservation programs to support farmers, including beginning farmers and ranchers. Additionally, a number of these programs have provisions specifically for beginning farmers, including targeted funding for loans and conservation programs as well as waivers and exemptions.