The U.S. Department of Agriculture has announced the implementation of new Farm Bill measures and other policy changes to improve the financial security of new and beginning farmers and ranchers. USDA also unveiled www.USDA.gov/newfarmers, a new website that will provide a centralized, one-stop resource where beginning farmers and ranchers can explore a variety of USDA initiatives designed to help them succeed.
The new website has in-depth information for new farmers and ranchers, including how to increase access to land and capital; build new market opportunities; participate in conservation opportunities; select and use the right risk management tools; and access USDA education and technical support programs. These issues have been identified as top priorities by new farmers. The website will also feature instructive case studies about beginning farmers who have successfully utilized USDA resources to start or expand their business operations.
Measures include waiving service fees for new and beginning farmers or ranchers to enroll in the Non-Insured Crop Disaster Assistance Program for the 2014 crop year. NAP provides risk management tools to farmers who grow crops for which there is no crop insurance product. Under this waiver, announced via an official notice to Farm Service Agency offices, farmers and ranchers who already enrolled in NAP for the 2014 crop year are eligible for a service fee refund.
Payment reductions will be eliminated under the Conservation Reserve Program for new and beginning farmers which will allow routine, prescribed, and emergency grazing outside the primary nesting season on enrolled land consistent with approved conservation plans. Previously, farmers and ranchers grazing on CRP land were subject to a reduction in CRP payments of up to 25 percent.
Payment rates to beginning farmers and ranchers will be increased under Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees and Farm-Raised Fish Program. Under this provision, beginning farmers and ranchers can claim up 90 percent of losses for lost livestock, such as bees, under ELAP. This is a 50 percent increase over previously available payment amounts to new and beginning farmers.
In the near future, USDA will also announce additional crop insurance program changes for beginning farmers and ranchers, including discounted premiums, waiver of administrative fees, and other benefits.
More information about USDA actions in support of beginning farmers and ranchers is available at www.usda.gov/wps/portal/usda/usdahome?contentidonly=true&contentid=usda-results-beginning-farmers.html.