The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) helps America’s farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners invest in, improve and expand their agricultural operations. FSA programs also assist producers in recovering from the impacts of natural disasters and market fluctuations. The Agency’s roots trace back to the Great Depression when the Farm Security Administration was established. Although the name and mission have changed over the years, FSA remains committed to America’s farmers and ranchers.
FSA supports U.S. ag producers through farm commodity programs, disaster assistance programs, conservation programs, and various types of loans.
Farm commodity and disaster assistance programs ensure producers have a strong safety net in place in case of natural disasters, market fluctuations, or downturns. The Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC) programs provide income support to farmers from substantial drops in crop prices or revenues and are vital safety nets for most American farms.
When natural disasters strike, USDA is here to help with technical and financial assistance to help producers recover. The Livestock Indemnity Program and Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybee, and Farm-raised Fish Program, reimburses producers for a portion of the value of livestock, poultry, and other animals that died as a result of a qualifying natural disaster event or for loss of grazing acres, feed, and forage. Livestock producers in counties experiencing extreme drought may also be eligible for assistance through the Livestock Forage Disaster Program for loss of grazed forage.
The Tree Assistance Program provides cost-share assistance to rehabilitate and replant trees, vines, or shrubs loss experienced by orchards and nurseries. The Emergency Conservation Program and Emergency Forest Restoration Program can assist landowners and forest stewards with financial and technical assistance to restore damaged farmland or forests.
Producers with crops that are not covered by Federal crop insurance can protect their crops ahead of a disaster by enrolling in the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program. This program provides financial assistance to producers of non-insurable crops when low yields, loss of inventory, or prevented planting occur due to natural disasters, including excessive wind and qualifying drought (includes native grass for grazing).
USDA is committed to delivering financial assistance to agricultural producers who have been impacted by COVID-19 market disruptions. The USDA Pandemic Assistance for Producers initiative includes the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program, which provides financial assistance to producers of agricultural commodities marketed in 2020.
FSA farm loans are available for producers who want to get started in production agriculture or make investments in existing operations but are unable to obtain credit from private lenders. FSA offers a diverse portfolio of Direct and Guaranteed Ownership and Operating loans and provides loans to help producers recover from the impacts of natural disasters. These loan programs offer access to funding for a wide range of producer needs, from securing land to financing the purchase of equipment.
Farm Storage Facility Loans provide low-interest financing to producers to build or upgrade storage facilities and to purchase portable structures, equipment, and storage and handling trucks.
Additionally, Marketing Assistance Loans help producers meet cash flow needs without having to sell their commodities when market prices are low. These loans enable producers to delay selling their commodities until more favorable market conditions emerge.
FSA conservation programs give landowners the tools and resources to protect environmentally sensitive land and restore grasslands and forests; leading to cleaner water and air, healthier soil, and enhanced wildlife habitat. The Conservation Reserve Program, one of the largest private-lands conservation programs in the U.S., helps producers conserve natural resources. This is accomplished by removing environmentally sensitive land from agricultural production and planting species that will improve environmental health and quality, in exchange for a yearly rental payment.
Since its inception, FSA has facilitated programs that have been locally-led through county committees, which enable input from farmers on the delivery of the agency’s critical programs. County committees are composed of farmers and ranchers elected by fellow producers in the community. Nominations are accepted for specific areas of the county each summer and voting takes place in the fall. Check with your local FSA office to learn if your area will have an election this year.
To learn more about FSA programs, contact your local USDA Service Center or visit online at fsa.usda.gov.