Adjusted Gross Income — The level of income on which an individual pays federal income tax, after subtracting expenses and various adjustments to income but before any deductions and personal exemptions.

Agricultural Management Assistance (AMA) program – Established under the Agricultural Risk Protection Act of 2000 and amended under the 2002 and 2008 Farm Bills, the Agricultural Management Assistance program provides crop insurance and risk management assistance, financial assistance for conservation  practices, including conversion to organic farming, and organic certification cost share.  The program is limited to farmers in 15 States (the entire northeast plus UT, NV, and WY) where participation in the federal crop insurance program has historically been low.  The 2008 Farm Act added Hawaii to the list of designated states. 

Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) — The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service administers programs that facilitate the efficient, fair marketing of U.S. agricultural products, including food, fiber, and specialty crops. 

AFRI – Agriculture and Food Research Initiative

Applied Research — Applied research expands on fundamental (basic) research findings to uncover practical ways in which new knowledge can be advanced to benefit individuals and society.  Applied research is generally designed to solve practical problems such as mitigating climate change, or developing new niche markets for family farmers, or developing plant varieties with improved nutritional values that work well in diversified crop rotations.

Appropriations — An appropriations act of Congress permits USDA or other federal agencies to incur financial obligations to be drawn from the Federal Treasury.  Appropriations are most often annual (one year in duration), but can be multiple-year (a definite period in excess of one fiscal year) or no-year (available indefinitely).   

Congress uses an authorization-appropriation process that provides for two separate types of legislation — authorization bills and appropriation bills — that are generally considered in sequence.  First, authorization bills establish, continue, or modify policies, agencies, and programs.  Second, appropriations bills provide spending for the agencies and programs previously authorized.   

Appropriations are under the jurisdiction of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees and provide for about 40 percent of total federal spending each year; the balance of federal spending is in mandatory or direct spending programs, such as Social Security, Medicare, food stamps, and farm commodity programs, under the control of authorizing committees.   

Congress annually considers a dozen appropriations measures, one of which is for agriculture, rural development, and the food and drug administration.  The interplay between the multi-year farm bill, an authorizing measure, and the annual agriculture appropriations bill sometimes results in the line between them being blurred, as when the appropriations bill uses legislative “riders” that change the terms of an authorized policy or program or when the appropriations bill limits or eliminates mandatory farm bill programs by placing limitations on agency salaries and expenses that can be spent to implement a program. 

Authorization — Legislation that establishes or continues a specific federal policy, the legal operation of a Federal program or agency, either indefinitely or for a specific period of time, or that sanctions a particular type of expenditure.  An authorization normally is a prerequisite for an appropriation or other kind of budget authority.  An authorization may limit the amount of budget authority to be provided or may authorize the appropriation of “such sums as may be necessary.”  Some authorizing committees of Congress also have jurisdiction over direct, mandatory spending and in those instances, the provisions of the authorizing legislation determine the spending level for those mandatory programs.  The farm bill is an example of an authorizing bill.  The farm bill includes programs that are authorized for appropriations as well as direct, mandatory spending programs.

Base or Contract Acreage — Land that is eligible to receive commodity program loans and payments.

Beginning Farmer or Rancher — By statute and regulation, to qualify as a beginning farmer or rancher under USDA’s Farm Service Agency guidelines, the loan applicant must be an individual or entity who:

(1) will own or operate a farm that is not larger than a family farm,
(2) meets the loan eligibility requirements of the program to which he/she is applying;
(3) has not operated a farm or ranch for more than 10 years;
(4) materially and substantially participates in the operation of the farm and provides substantial day-to-day labor and management of the farm;
(5) agrees to participate in financial and credit management programs if required; and
(6) demonstrates family resources are insufficient to start or continue farming on a viable scale without federal assistance. 

For farm ownership (FO) loan purposes, applicant cannot own a farm greater than 30 percent of the median size farm in the county.  For direct FO loans, applicant must have participated in the operation of a farm for at least 3 years.  If the applicant is a corporation, cooperative, partnership, or other type of entity, all members must be related by blood or marriage.  If the applicant is a corporation, all stockholders individually must be eligible beginning farmers.  For most other USDA programs other than FSA credit programs, beginning farmers and ranchers are defined by administrative guidance as farmers and ranchers (or all members of the entity) who (a) have not operated a farm or ranch for more than 10 years, and (b) will materially or substantially participate in the operation of the farm or ranch and provide substantial day-to-day labor and management of the farm.  In some instances, additional criteria could be added for the purposes of the particular program. 

BFRDP – Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program

BFRIDA — Beginning Farmer and Rancher Individual Development Account Program

Biomass — Plant material, vegetation, and forest and agricultural waste used as a fuel or energy source.  The 2008 Farm Bill defines “renewable biomass” in part to include any organic material available on a renewable or recurring basis on private or tribal land including renewable plant materials and waste materials (crop residues, wood waste, animal waste and byproducts, and food and yard waste).

BCAP — Biomass Crop Assistance Program

Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance — A database of all Federal programs available to: State and local governments; federally-recognized Indian tribal governments; Territories (and possessions) of the United States; domestic public, quasi-public, and private profit and nonprofit organizations and institutions; specialized groups; and individuals.   

Change in Mandatory Program Spending (CHIMPS) — A method of limiting or eliminating mandatory spending (i.e., spending not subject to annual appropriations) in an appropriations bill by limiting or eliminating funding for salaries and expenses to implement the program beyond a certain size or at all.  The purpose of the CHIMP is generally either to reallocate spending to other programs that are subject to annual appropriations or to reduce overall spending.

Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) — A federally owned and operated corporation within the USDA created to stabilize and support agricultural prices and farm income by making loans and payments to producers, purchasing commodities, and engaging in various other operations.  The CCC handles all money transactions for agricultural price and income support and related programs.  The CCC authorizes the sale of CCC-acquired commodities to other government agencies, foreign governments, and relief and development organizations.  The CCC also provides mandatory funding for other farm bill programs, including conservation, rural development, renewal energy, and research.  The CCC is managed by a Board of Directors under the Secretary of Agriculture.

CFP – Community Food Project Grants

Competitive Grants — Funds that are awarded to project proposals submitted by eligible individuals or entities in response to a request for applications or proposals based on a set of criteria, often by review panels of relevant experts and professional peers.  For most competitive programs, only a portion of the proposals submitted will be ranked highly enough to receive funding.

Congressional Budget Office (CBO) — A legislative branch agency that reports to Congress on budget and economic matters.  The office makes projections about the national debt, budget surpluses or deficits, and the effect various policy and spending proposals will have on the budget.  

Congressional Research Service (CRS) – An arm of Congress, housed within the Library of Congress, that provides congressional offices with objective, non-partisan assessments of legislative options for addressing the public policy problems facing the nation.

Conservation Activities — Conservation systems, practices, or management measures designed to address a resource concern.

Conservation Compliance — Compliance rules require producers who crop land classified as highly erodible land (HEL) implement a soil conservation plan or risk losing their farm program benefits, including most commodity, conservation, and disaster payments.  Conservation compliance requirements are similar to those of the Sodbuster requirements (compliance on newly planted land, see entry below) but can be less stringent.  For more information, see

Conservation Plans and Planning — A natural resource and environmental problem-solving and management process that for a particular farm or field identifies resource concerns, inventories resources and baseline data, identifies desired future conditions and conservation objectives, selects conservation activities to implement, improve or maintain, and periodically assesses progress.  Conservation planning generally integrates ecological, economic, and social considerations.  The ultimate objective is the sound use and management of soil, water, air, energy, plant, and animal resources to prevent their degradation and ensure their sustained use and renewal.  A conservation plan can also refer to a plan developed for the purposes of meeting the requirements of conservation compliance or sodbuster.

Conservation Practice — Any technique or measure used to protect or improve natural resources and environmental quality, for which standards and specifications for installation, operation, or maintenance have been developed.  Practices approved by the Natural Resources Conservation Service are compiled at each conservation district in its field office technical guide.  Conservation practices generally fall into one of the following categories: structural, vegetative, or land management measures.

COOL – Country of Origin Labeling

CRP — Conservation Reserve Program

CSP – Conservation Stewardship Program

Conservation Technical Assistance (CTA) – Conservation technical assistance, administered by USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and local conservation districts, provides technical assistance to farmers for planning and implementing conservation systems and practices.  More broadly, technical assistance means technical information and tools needed for the conservation of natural resources on agricultural land, including technical services provided directly to farmers as well as the technical infrastructure (research, training, standards, monitoring, etc.) needed to support the delivery of technical services.

CCPI – Cooperative Conservation Partnership Initiative

Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service (CSREES) — The Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service (CSREES) is one of four USDA agencies that make up its Research, Education, and Economics (REE) mission area.  CSREES supports research, education, and extension programs in the Land-Grant University System and other partner organizations.  CSREES programming and authorities will be transferred by October 1, 2009 to the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, newly authorized in the 2008 Farm Bill. 

Cost-sharing — Payments to producers to cover a specified portion of the cost of installing, implementing, or maintaining a conservation practice. 

Covered Commodity (or Program Commodity) – Commodities for which federal support programs are available to producers, including wheat, corn, barley, grain sorghum, oats, extra long staple and upland cotton, medium and long grain rice, oilseeds, peanuts, pulse crops (small and large chickpeas, dry beans and lentils), and sugar. 

Crop Insurance — Insurance that protects farmers from crop losses due to natural hazards.  A subsidized multiperil federal insurance program, administered by the USDA’s Risk Management Agency, is available to most farmers.  Federal crop insurance is sold and serviced through private insurance companies.  The Federal Government subsidizes a portion of the premium, as well as some administrative and operating expenses of the private companies.  The Federal Crop Insurance Corporation reinsures the companies by absorbing the losses of the program when indemnities exceed total premiums.  Various types of yield and revenue insurance products are available for major crops.  Hail and fire insurance are offered through private companies without Federal subsidy. 

Cropland — Land used primarily for production of row crops, close-growing crops, and fruit and nut crops.  It includes cultivated and noncultivated acreage, but not land enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program. 

Direct Loan – “Direct” farm loans are made by USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) to family-size farmers and ranchers who cannot obtain commercial credit from conventional lenders.  The FSA also services these loans and provides supervision and credit counseling so borrowers have a better chance for success.  Farm Ownership (FO), Operating (OL), Emergency, and Youth loans are the main types of loans available under the Direct farm loan programs.  Direct loan funds are also set aside each year for loans to minority applicants and beginning farmers.  Direct loan applications are made at the local FSA office. 

Direct Payments — Fixed payments for eligible historic production of wheat, corn, barley, grain sorghum, oats, upland cotton, long and medium grain rice, soybeans, other oilseeds, and peanuts. Producers enroll annually in the program to receive payments based on payment rates specified in the Farm Bill and their historic program base acres and yields. 

EQIP – Environmental Quality Incentives Program

Farmer-to-Consumer Direct Marketing Act — The legislative authority under which the Farmers Market Promotion Program and other programs administered by USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service operate.  Can include farmers’ markets, farm stands, roadside stands, community-supported agriculture, pick-your-own farms, Internet marketing, and other niche direct markets. 

Discretionary Funding — Funding dependent upon the annual Congressional appropriations process.  This funding is optional and does not have to be provided.  See entry for appropriations for more information.  

Economic Research Service (ERS) — A primary source of economic information and research in the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the ERS conducts research to inform public and private decision making on economic and policy issues involving food, farming, natural resources, and rural development. 

Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) – Debit card technology used for issuing food stamp benefits and potentially other nutrition assistance programs. 

FMPP — Farmers’ Market Promotion Program 

Farm Ownership Loan — Farm Ownership (FO) loans may be made by the Farm Service Agency (FSA) to purchase farmland, construct or repair buildings and other fixtures, develop farmland to promote soil and water conservation, or to refinance debt.  FO loans are made under both guaranteed and direct loan programs, and are made to producers unable to obtain credit from conventional lenders. 

Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002 (2002 Farm Bill – P.L. 107-171) – The farm bill for 2002-2007.  The legislation was signed into law on May 13, 2002.  This farm bill re-introduced counter-cyclical farm program payments, introduced the Conservation Security Program, and was the first farm bill to include a separate energy title. 

Farm Service Agency (FSA) — The Farm Service Agency (FSA) administers and manages farm commodity, credit, disaster, and loan programs as laid out by Congress through a network of federal, state and county offices.  It also manages the Conservation Reserve Program and the Biomass Crop Assistance Program and has co-responsibility along with NRCS for the Grasslands Reserve Program.  

Federal Agriculture Improvement and Reform Act of 1996 (1996 Farm Bill – P.L. 104-127) –The farm bill for 1996-2002.  The legislation was signed into law on April 4, 1996.  The bill is sometimes referred to as the Freedom to Farm Act for its policy shift ending all forms of supply management, the mainstay of farm programs since the Great Depression.  The bill also consolidated many older conservation programs into the new Environmental Quality Incentives Program.

Federal Crop Insurance Corporation (FCIC) — Federally owned and operated corporation within USDA that promotes the economic stability of agriculture through a system of highly subsidized crop insurance. 

Federal Register — The Federal Register is the official daily publication for rules, proposed rules, and notices of Federal agencies and organizations, as well as executive orders and other presidential documents.   

Final Rule — A rule promulgated by an administrative agency after the public has had an opportunity to comment on the proposed rule and/or an interim final rule that translates statutory authority into programmatic details used to actually administer a policy or program.   

Fiscal Year — The federal government’s annual accounting period.  It begins October 1 and ends on the following September 30.  A fiscal year is designated by the calendar year in which it ends and is often referred to with the abbreviation FY.

Food, Agriculture, Conservation and Trade Act of 1990 (1990 Farm Act – P.L. 101-624) — The farm bill for 1991-1995.  The legislation was signed into law on November 28, 1990.  The longest farm bill (before or since), it included 25 titles and introduced the full-fledged Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program, the Wetlands Reserve Program, the Organic Food Production Act, farm program planting flexibility for sustainable farmers, the National Research Initiative, the first ever beginning farmer credit provisions, and grants for outreach to minority farmers, among many others.

Food Security Act of 1985 (1985 Farm Act – P.L. 99-198) – The farm bill for 1986-1990.  The farm bill was signed into law on December 23, 1985.  The law established marketing loans and loan deficiency payments, and included the first major conservation title in a farm bill, creating conservation conditions in return for the receipt of farm program benefits and establishing the Conservation Reserve Program. 

Fruit and Vegetable Planting Restrictions — Planting for harvest of fruits, vegetables (other than lentils, mung beans, and dry peas), and wild rice is prohibited on base acres of commodity program participants, except in certain limited situations.  These restrictions were initiated in 1990 and extended in the 1996, 2002 and 2008 Farm Acts. 

Fundamental or Basic Research — Research conducted primarily to increase scientific knowledge or understanding that might have broad potential application but not necessarily for direct application or new commercial products or processes.  Also known as “basic research.”

Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) — Part of the USDA’s Marketing and Regulatory Programs, GIPSA facilitates the marketing of livestock, poultry, meat, cereals, oilseeds, and related agricultural products, and promotes fair and competitive trading practices for the overall benefit of consumers and American agriculture.  

Guaranteed Loan — Farm Service Agency (FSA) and Rural Business-Cooperative Service (RBS) guarantees loans by private commercial lenders (e.g., banks, Farm Credit System institutions, credit unions, etc.), generally for between 80 and 95 percent of any loss of principal and interest on a loan.  The guarantee permits lenders to extend credit to farmers or businesses who do not meet the lenders’ normal underwriting criteria.  In the case of FSA, guaranteed loans are made both for farm ownership (FO) and operating (OL) purposes.

Highly Erodible Land (HEL) — Soils with an erodibility index (EI) equal to or greater than eight are defined as HEL.  An EI of eight indicates that without any cover or conservation practices, the soil will erode at a rate eight times the soil tolerance level.  Fields containing at least one-third or 50 acres (whichever is less) of HEL are designated as highly erodible for the purpose of conservation compliance and sodbuster. 

Incentive Payments – Payments to producers in an amount or at a rate necessary to encourage producers to adopt one or more land management practices. 

Indirect Costs — The portion of a grant that covers general operating expenses and administrative activities not directly related to activities sponsored by the grant.  Generally program rules will include a specific limit on the amount of indirect costs, if any, for which grant funds may be used.

Initiative for Future Agriculture and Food Systems (IFAFS) — Authorized in the Agricultural Research, Extension and Education Reform Act of 1998, IFAFS funded integrated research, extension, and education projects to address critical emerging agricultural issues related to 1) future food production, 2) environmental quality and natural resource management, 3) farm income, and 4) rural development.  The program operated separately for a few years, then in a combined fashion with the National Research Initiative for several years and finally in the 2008 Farm Bill IFAFS and NRI were officially merged into the new Agriculture and Food Research Initiative. 

Integrated Research — CSREES defines integrated research as bringing the three components of the agricultural knowledge system (research, education, and extension) together around a problem area or activity.  Integrated projects must involve at least two out of the three components.

Interim Final Rule — A rule promulgated by an administrative agency that goes into effect when it is published, but will be open for public comment for a specific period of time and then potentially revised and issued as a final rule.

Land Grant Colleges and Universities — Institutions of higher education that have been designated by its state legislature or Congress to receive unique federal support under the Morill Acts, the Hatch Act, the Smith-Lever Act and federal laws. 

Limited-resource Farmer or Rancher — Under several federal agricultural programs, producers who lack the income or asset base to obtain credit or require additional assistance are referred to as limited-resource producers.  The Bush Administration has further refined the definition through program guidance to mean farmers and ranchers with (a) direct or indirect gross farm sales of $116,800 or less (adjusted for inflation starting in 2005) in each of the previous 2 years and (b) total household income at or below the national poverty level for a family of 4 OR less than 50 percent of county median household income in each of the previous 2 years. 

Loan Guarantee — A statutory commitment by the federal government to pay part or all of a loan’s principal and interest to a lender or the holder of a security in case the borrower defaults.

Management Practices — Changes in the management of agricultural production in the context of environmental programs, e.g., nutrient or manure management, integrated pest management, irrigation management, tillage or residue management, grazing management, etc. 

Mandatory Funding – Funding not controlled by annual decisions of Congress in the annual appropriation bills.  These funds are automatically obligated by virtue of previously-enacted laws.  In the farm bill context, commodity programs, food stamps, many conservation programs, and some research, rural development, and renewable energy programs receive mandatory funding through the farm bill.  Also referred to as “direct” spending.  “Entitlement” programs represent a specific type of mandatory spending.  Commodity programs and food stamps, as well as Social Security and Medicare, are examples of entitlement programs.

Matching Funds — Funds that a grant recipient must provide from their own funds or from another source as a condition for receiving grant funds from a particular federal program.  For some federal programs, matching funds may be “in cash” or “in kind” or in a combination.  Many federal programs prohibit the match from being funding from another federal program.

National Institute for Food and Agriculture (NIFA) – The 2008 Farm Bill changes the name of USDA’s Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service (CSREES) to NIFA beginning October 1, 2009.  NIFA is to be headed by a scientist appointed by the President as NIFA Director for a 6 year term.  The Director will report directly to the Secretary rather than through the Under Secretary for Research, Education and Extension. 

NOCCSP – National Organic Certification Cost Share Program

National Organic Program –USDA organic regulatory program for organic agriculture, established under the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 (part of the 1990 Farm Bill), that sets production, handling, and labeling standards for organic agricultural products.  The NOP also accredits the certifying agents (foreign and domestic) who inspect organic production and handling operations to certify that they meet USDA standards.

National Research Initiative (NRI) — The largest of several competitive grant research programs administered by the Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service, the NRI was established by the 1990 Farm Bill.  The NRI formalized and enlarged earlier competitive grants activities.  In the 2008 Farm Bill the NRI and another competitive grants program, the Initiative for Future Agriculture and Food Systems, were combined to form the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative.

Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) – NRCS is the Federal agency that works in partnership with America’s private land owners and managers to conserve and sustain their soil, water, and other natural resources.  NRCS provides technical and financial assistance to accomplish these goals. 

Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) — A formal statement published in the Federal Register announcing the availability of funds for a specific program and outlining how to apply for funds.  Notice of Solicitation of Applications

(NOSA) — A formal statement published in the Federal Register announcing the solicitation of applications for a specific program. 

Operating Loan (OL) — Farm Service Agency (FSA) operating loans (OL) may be used to purchase livestock, farm equipment, feed, seed, fuel, farm chemicals, insurance, and other operating expenses.  Operating Loans can also be used to pay for minor improvements to buildings, costs associated with land and water development, family living expenses, and to refinance debts under certain conditions.  Operating loans are made under both direct and guaranteed programs to producers who cannot obtain funding without assistance from conventional lenders. 

OREI – Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative

Organic Certification — The process by which agricultural products grown and processed according to USDA’s national organic standards are approved by a USDA-accredited State or private certification organization.  Certifying agents review applications from farmers and processors for certification eligibility and qualified inspectors conduct annual onsite inspections of organic operations.  Certifying agents determine whether operators are in compliance with organic production standards.  

Organic Production – Production system managed in accordance with the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 and subsequent Federal regulations.  Organic production systems respond to site-specific conditions by integrating cultural, biological, and mechanical practices that foster cycling of resources, promote ecological balance, and conserve biodiversity.  

OASDFR or “Section 2501” – Outreach and Technical Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers Program

Payment Limitation – The maximum annual amount of commodity program benefits a person can receive by law.  The total amount of payments must be attributed (linked) to a person, by taking into account direct and indirect ownership interests of the person in a legal entity, such as limited partnerships, corporations, associations, trusts, and estates, that are actively engaged in farming.  The 2008 Farm Act eliminated payment limits for marketing loan benefits and loan deficiency payments but they continue for direct and counter cyclical payments.  Various payment limitations also apply to farm bill conservation programs.

Planting Flexibility – An allowance to plant something other than the particular historic commodity crop on commodity program base acres for a particular crop while retaining some of the benefits of the commodity program.  Where flexibility exists, it can be used to plant a different program crop, to plant a non-program crop, or to plant pasture.  Under current program rules there is a general prohibition against planting fruits, vegetables or wild rice on base acres, and hence no flexibility with respect to such crops.

Precision Agriculture — An information-based farming system designed to increase long-term, site-specific, and whole-farm production efficiencies, productivity, and profitability by addressing in-field variability and using global positioning, sensors, yield monitors, geographic information systems, and variable rate technology to evaluate and implement optimum sowing density, agrichemical inputs, water drainage, and other input needs.

Producer — An owner, operator, landlord, tenant, or sharecropper who shares in the risk of producing a crop and is entitled to share in the crop available for marketing from the farm, or would have shared had the crop been produced.  As used in the farm bill, a producer includes crop share landlords but does not include cash rent landlords.

Program Crops — Crops for which Federal support programs are available to producers, including wheat, barley, corn, grain sorghum, oats, extra long staple and upland cotton, rice, soybeans and other oilseeds, peanuts, and sugar. 

Proposed Rule – A proposed rule describes how an agency will implement a federal program.  It provides the justification and analysis behind the need for a rule and the agency’s response to any public comment submitted in response to an advance notice of proposed rulemaking if there was an advance notice.  It also includes the actual proposed regulatory language for the rule.  Once a proposed rule is published, a public comment period begins, allowing the public to submit written comments to the agency.  The agency is required to respond to each distinct issue raised in the comments.  Depending on the complexity of the rule, comment periods may last for 30 days or a multi-month period of time.

Request for Applications (RFA) – A formal statement published in the Federal Register inviting submission of grant applications for a specific program. 

Request for Proposals (RFP) — A formal statement published in the Federal Register inviting submission of grant proposals for a specific program.   

Risk Management Agency (RMA) — USDA agency that administers programs of the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation. 

RME – Risk Management Education Program

REAP – Rural Energy for America Program

Rural Microenterprise — A sole proprietorship or business entity with not more than 10 full-time equivalent employees located in a rural area.

RMAP – Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program

Socially-disadvantaged Farmer or Rancher (SDA) — A farmer or rancher who is a member of a group whose members have been subjected to racial or ethnic (and in some cases gender) prejudice because of his or her identity as a member of the group.  The definition of SDA farmers varies by Title; some include gender and some are limited to racial or ethnic groups.

Sodbuster — Requires producers who began cropping highly erodible land (HEL) after December 23, 1985 to implement a soil conservation plan or risk losing their Federal farm program benefits, including most commodity, conservation, and disaster payments.

Specialty Crops — Fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, nursery crops, and floriculture.  Also referred to as horticulture crops. 

SCBG – Specialty Crop Block Grants

SCRI – Specialty Crop Research Initiative

Stewardship Threshold — A term used in the implementation of the Conservation Stewardship Program to describe the level of natural resource conservation and environmental management required under the CSP.  The threshold level is one that improves and conserves the quality and condition of a natural resource and is generally the level that ensures the resource does not degrade but instead improves or regenerates.

Structural Practice — A practice that involves a constructed facility, land shaping, or permanent vegetative cover designed to preserve soil; reduce runoff of nutrient, sediment, and pesticides; enhance wildlife habitat; or other purposes.  Examples include animal waste-management facilities, terraces, grassed waterways, contour grass strips, filter strips, tailwater pits, permanent wildlife habitats, and constructed wetlands.  Note: Sometimes permanent vegetative cover practices are included as structural practices and sometimes they are referred to separately as vegetative practices.

VAPG – Value-Added Producer Grant Program

WRP — Wetlands Reserve Program