NSAC's Blog

Teaching new and diversified producers about risk management

November 14, 2013

It’s not always easy for farmers to understand how to effectively manage the many risks they face on their farm, especially for new farmers just getting their operation up and running or diversified operations, including fruit and veggie growers who produce sometimes over 50 different crops.  Fortunately, groups who are interested in helping to teach producers about their risk management options, including crop insurance, cover cropping, and crop diversification, can take advantage of a long-standing grant program run through USDA’s Risk Management Agency (RMA).

Earlier this fall, RMA announced over $10 million in funding to support projects run by private, public, and non-profit organizations to help educate farmers about how to manage financial, production and business risks on their farms.  These recently announced cooperative agreements were made as part of two RMA Programs: the Risk Management Education Partnership Program and the Targeted States Program.  In total, these two programs will invest $10 million this year into public-private partnerships that allow RMA to enter into strategic partnerships with state extension programs and farmer-based non-profit organizations in order to reach and train farmers in the field about effective risk management.

The program prioritizes educating producers of crops and enterprises currently uninsured or under-served under Federal crop insurance, including specialty crops, livestock, and forage.  It also prioritizes collaborative outreach and assistance programs for limited resource, socially disadvantaged, new and beginning and other traditionally under-served farmers and ranchers — including military veterans and organic growers.

This year, six NSAC member organizations received grants to provide training and outreach to farmers on risk management options, including:

  • Northeast Organic Farming Association (New York) to provide organic and sustainable producers in New York State with risk-management resources and tools for making sound on-farm management decisions in order to reduce risk and increase success in all aspects of their farm businesses
  • Northwest Center for Alternatives to Pesticides (Oregon, Idaho) to deliver financial and production risk management training for organic and specialty crop producers in Oregon and Idaho, focusing on a new microloan program through Farm Service Agency and organic pest management
  • National Center for Appropriate Technology (Montana) to expand understanding of producers about the multiple risks and benefits associated with cover cropping practices in Montana, and to inform producers about crop insurance implications related to termination of cover crops, as well as the economic and production risks associated with the use of cover cropping practices
  • Land Stewardship Project (Minnesota, Wisconsin) to assist beginning farmers in Minnesota and Wisconsin to reduce financial and legal risks, as well as production risks for vegetable, organic and livestock systems
  • Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service (Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin) to enhance the utilization of cover crops, the transition of Conservation Reserve Program land to crop production, and successful farm financial management by organic and sustainable farmers, including women farmers in the upper Midwest
  • California FarmLink (California) to help beginning and limited-resource farmers mitigate legal and financial risk by increasing knowledge of lease agreements and providing assistance for farmers to secure strong lease contracts

In total, the cooperative agreements for fiscal year 2013 will support crop insurance education and outreach in 45 states.  Many of the projects will help farmers diversify production and marketing practices or will provide planning tools to help farmers get the insurance and credit that are often critical to their ability to stay in business or diversify their existing business.

To see a full list of cooperative agreements made, click here for Education and Partnership agreements, and here for the Targeted States agreements.

Categories: Beginning and Minority Farmers

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