Wednesday, March 18, 2020

USDA to increase efforts to help beginning farmers and ranchers; national coordinator for program hired

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is creating a new team focused on helping beginning farmers and ranchers, Ryan McCrimmon reports for Politico's Morning Agriculture.

The average farmer is 58 years old, and 63 percent of American farmland will need a new farmer in the next 25 years as more farmers retire. More than a quarter of producers are beginners, and may not know about resources and programs they're eligible for. The 2018 Farm Bill directed the USDA to create one national coordinator position, plus state-level coordinators for each of its four agencies: the Farm Service Agency, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, the Risk Management Agency, and Rural Development. Each state coordinator will receive training tailored to their state.

The newly hired national coordinator is Sarah Campbell. "A beginning farmer herself, Campbell held previous positions with USDA and has a wealth of experience working on issues impacting beginning farmers and ranchers. She recently served as acting director of customer experience for the Farm Production and Conservation Business Center," said a press release. Campbell's perspective as a female farmer may be helpful, since women make up an increasing share of young farmers.

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