USDA STANDS UP NEW TEAM TO BETTER SERVE BEGINNING FARMERS AND RANCHERS IN LOUISIANA
ALEXANDRIA, LOUISIANA, July 30, 2020 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is standing up a new team that will lead a department-wide effort focused on serving beginning farmers and ranchers.
To institutionalize support for beginning farmers and ranchers and to build upon prior agency work, the 2018 Farm Bill directed USDA to create a national coordinator position in the agency and state-level coordinators for four of its agencies – Farm Service Agency (FSA), Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), Risk Management Agency (RMA), and Rural Development (RD).
Derrick Johnson was selected as the USDA Beginning Farmer Rancher state coordinator in Louisiana. Derrick currently works as a Risk Management Specialist with the Risk Management Agency and has worked 17 years for USDA. He also runs his family’s vegetable farm in southern Mississippi.
Others on the team coordinating Louisiana’s beginning farmers and rancher efforts include, Ervin Norwood, Program Technician with the Farm Service Agency; Stephanie Paul, District Conservationist with the Natural Resource Conservation Service; and Lee Jones, Assistant to the State Director with Rural Development. This is a collateral duty for all team members.
Each state coordinator will receive training and develop tailored beginning farmer outreach plans for their state. Coordinators will help field employees better reach and serve beginning farmers and ranchers and will also be available to assist beginning farmers who need help navigating the variety of resources USDA has to offer.
More on Beginning Farmers
Twenty-seven percent of farmers were categorized as new and beginning producers, with 10 years or less of experience in agriculture, according to the 2017 Census of Agriculture.
USDA offers a variety of farm loan, risk management, disaster assistance, and conservation programs to support farmers, including beginning farmers and ranchers. Additionally, a number of these programs have provisions specifically for beginning farmers, including targeted funding for loans and conservation programs as well as waivers and exemptions.
Learn more about USDA’s resources for beginning farmers as well as more information on the national and state-level coordinators at farmers.gov/newfarmers. For more information on available programs in your area, contact your local USDA Service Center.