Reno, Nevada, Aug 06, 2012 -- USDA outreach meetings open doors for new, underserved customers
FSA, NRCS and RD See Increased Requests for Service
RENO, August 14, 2012—USDA Directors for the Farm Service Agency, the Natural Resources Conservation Service and USDA Rural Development have been holding community meetings in some of the most rural areas of Nevada to make residents aware of their programs and services. To date, meetings have been conducted in Round Mountain, Ely, and Fallon, and tribal meetings have been held in Fallon, Wells, Battle Mountain and Elko.
USDA officials say the results have been worthwhile.
The Natural Resources Conservation Service is seeing an increase in requests for assistance from beginning, limited resource and socially disadvantaged producers, including women. “This year, we have received applications from 168 historically underserved producers and we were able to approve 61 of them, or 36 percent of the requests,” said Bruce Petersen, NRCS state conservationist. “The average contract awarded to historically underserved producers was $39,600, and we obligated approximately $1.1 million or roughly 20 percent of our state allocation of $5.4 million,” he added.
NRCS works with agricultural producers to implement conservation measures on private and public lands. “Our high tunnel program is very popular with beginning and small farmers,” said Petersen. It’s hard to tell how many of these requests for assistance are a direct result of our public meetings, but we were able to meet face-to-face with customers and that’s worthwhile,” said Petersen.
“The contacts have been successful in many ways,” said USDA Rural Development Director Sarah Adler. “We are touching base with our rural customers and learning more about obstacles to service, and discovering ways to improve our programs. We are getting the word out about all the USDA programs and services that are available, and our customers seem to appreciate that.”
USDA Rural Development’s Housing Program is on track to break $100 million in investments for rural home loans this year, a 48 % increase over FY 2011.Affordable low interest loans have been provided to 646 Nevada families this fiscal year. The USDA Rural Development Business Program has invested over $8 million in guaranteed loans to rural businesses.
The FSA has provided nearly $9 million in direct loans, farm loans and direct counter cyclical payments to Nevada farmers. FSA State Director Clint Koble says the agency is now providing 33.9% of all farm loans to Socially Disadvantaged Americans, up from 23.8% three years ago. Rural Youth Loans are very popular and loan applications for that program more than tripled in the last three years.
“One of our primary concerns is to maintain a quick approval process despite the large number of new loan applications with a small staff,” Koble said.
For more information on the USDA programs, go to www.USDA.gov