By Elisha Greeley Smith
There are many farm bill programs that offer opportunities for farmers, ranchers and aspiring farmers and ranchers. The trick is being aware of these programs and being able to comprehend them. The Center for Rural Affairs' recently released guide, "Farm Bill Programs for You and Your Community," is designed to provide farmers and ranchers information on farm bill programs that can help them get started in farming or ranching, establish high-value niche markets, implement conservation-based farming or ranching systems as well as transition to organic farming or ranching.
The comprehensive guide provides information on 23 different farm bill programs that are targeted to help farmers, ranchers and rural people across the country. There are programs on conservation, credit and land access, rural development and local food, research, horticulture and organic, and risk management and outreach. Perhaps even more valuable for users is the resource section at the end of the guide. It includes state-by-state contacts for government agencies, nonprofits and others in the know about how programs can be accessed in each state.
The free guide can be downloaded at: www.cfra.org/node/1917
The Center is also operating a Farm Bill Helpline where producers can call in (402-687-2100) and receive assistance in accessing farm bill programs.
People are also encouraged to call the helpline to share their experiences with the programs. It is critical that farmers and ranchers add their voices to this process so these programs work effectively to serve their needs and the needs of their communities.
Elisha Greeley Smith is with the Center for Rural Affairs in Lyon, Neb.