At the National Farmers Union National Convention in Santa Fe Monday, U.S. Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack announced USDA efforts to connect small and mid-sized famers to that agency’s resources. The aim is for smaller producers to strengthen and expand their businesses by reaching new and larger markets.
“We know and appreciate the need for outreach and for information for small and mid-sized operators so we are launching a learning guide series as part of our ‘Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food’ website. This’ll be geared toward small and mid-sized producers to help them navigate through the available resources at USDA of which there are many.”
Vilsack cites Census of Agriculture figures indicating growth in small and large sized farms, but an eroding number of mid-sized farmers. Vilsack talked about the initiative in a conference call following his address to National Farmers Union members. NFU President Roger Johnson, also on the conference call, says the secretary’s address resonated with the Farmers Union audience.
“This focus on small and mid-sized members is, in many ways, a focus on our members. Our members, historically, have largely been from this segment of the farming and ranching population.”
Secretary Vilsack says efforts include improved access to USDA resources, risk management tools for smaller producers, additional support for hoop houses, and expanded market news information. USDA will also introduce an education series for farmers focusing on local and regional food systems. In addition, USDA field staff will be boosting their outreach efforts to small and mid-sized farmers and ranchers.