The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) provides many resources for public use. In addition to educational resources, the NRCS has some financial assistance programs available to help eligible landowners and agricultural producers plan and implement conservation practices.
These programs address natural resource concerns and include: saving energy; improving soil, water, plant, air, animal and related resources.
Specific programs include:
- Agricultural management assistance
- Agricultural water enhancement program
- Air quality initiative
- Cooperative conservation partnership initiative
- Conservation innovation grants
- Conservation stewardship program
- Environmental quality incentives program
- Emergency watershed protection program
- Wildlife habitat incentive program
The Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food Compass is a valuable resource for food producers, community leaders and consumers.
This online multi-media resource provides seamless access to programs designed to support local food systems under the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food Initiative. This effort combines the work of 17 USDA agencies and is producing some powerful results.
From the USDA,
“The Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food Compass is a valuable resource documenting the innovation, entrepreneurship and impact of local food systems across the country. It [Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food Initiative] is driving job growth, keeping farmers and on the land, and keeping wealth in rural communities. We invite you to dive deep into this new tool, and be inspired by the stories it tells and the ideas it can spur for you and your community.”
Much of the information at the site is shared in a narrative format, providing viewers with an in-depth, inside look into the nation’s local food systems.
- The what and why of local foods
- What is Know Your Farmer?
- Local food infrastructure
- Stewardship and local food
- Local meat and poultry
- Farm to institution
- Healthy food access
- Careers in agriculture
- Local food knowledge
- Local food: Not Just USDA
- Case studies
- Grants, loans and other resources
Funded through the USDA and National Institute of Food and Agriculture, the Start2Farm and the Beginning Farmer & Rancher Development Program were created in partnership with the National Agricultural Library and the American Farm Bureau Federation.
Both programs were developed to assist people those new to farming or ranching, and those who have less than 10 years of experience.
General topics of resources and programs include:
- Learn How – Develop the know-how to run your farm or ranch business
- Find Financing – Find funding opportunities to help finance your farm or ranch business
- Locate Services – Find assistance with legal and technical requirements of farming
- Get Connected – Build relationships and connect with others
While the website is a little challenging to navigate, the resources are fabulous.
Thanks to the productivity, resiliency and resourcefulness of America’s food producers, United States agriculture is experiencing its most productive period in decades.
From the USDA:
“Today, net farm income is at record levels while debt has been cut in half since the 1980s. Overall, American agriculture supports 1 in 12 jobs in the U.S. and provides American consumers with 86% of the food we consume, while maintaining affordability and choice…Strong agricultural exports are a positive contribution to the U.S. trade balance, support nearly 1 million American jobs and boost economic growth.”
In an effort to provide additional support and opportunities for beginning farmers and ranchers, the USDA has expanded some of their programs. To learn more about these programs, please visit this webpage.
Across the nation food producers are turning to alternative energy to run their operations. In addition to saving money some producers are able to sell excess energy, increasing revenue.
The USDA currently operates four programs to assist in achieving energy independence.
- The Biorefinery Assistance Program provides loan guarantees for the development, construction, and retrofitting of commercial-scale biorefineries.
- The Repowering Assistance Program provides payments to eligible biorefineries to replace fossil fuels used to produce hear or power to operate the biorefineries with renewable biomass.
- The Advanced Biofuel Payment Program provides payment to producers to support and expand production of advanced biofuels refined from sources other than corn kernel starch.
- The Rural Energy for America Program provides assistance to agricultural producers and rural small businesses to complete a variety of projects, including renewable energy systems, energy efficiency improvements, renewable energy development, energy audits, and feasibility studies.
To learn more about the programs, please visit this webpage.