Through Highs and Lows, Farm Service Agency is here to Assist Wyoming Farmers and Ranchers

Written by Jodene Johnson

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), nicknamed “The People’s Department” by President Abraham Lincoln, was established in May of 1862. USDA is currently made up of multiple agencies and offices, one of which is the Farm Service Agency (FSA).

FSA’s mission is to equitably serve all farmers, ranchers and agricultural partners through the delivery of effective, efficient agricultural programs for all Americans. These programs include conservation, commodity, farm loans and disaster assistance.

FSA oversees a number of voluntary conservation-related programs aimed at addressing farming- and ranching-related conservation issues, such as preservation and restoration of forests and wetlands, the reduction of soil erosion, loss of wildlife habitat and drinking water protection.

The Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) was signed into law in 1985. The program pays a yearly rental payment in exchange for farmers removing environmentally sensitive land from agricultural production and planting species that will improve environmental quality. CRP contracts are 10 to 15 years in length. The long-term goal of the program is to re-establish valuable land cover to help improve water quality, prevent soil erosion and reduce loss of wildlife habitat.

FSA’s farm loan programs offer farmers and ranchers access to credit to start, improve, expand, transition and strengthen their farming operations. FSA loans can be either direct loans, where the funding comes directly from FSA, or guaranteed loans, where the borrower works with a lending institution and FSA provides a loan guarantee. 

An example of one of our successful direct loan programs is FSA microloans. Microloans offer more flexible access to credit and serve as an attractive loan alternative for smaller farming operations. There are two types of microloans, farm operating loans and farm ownership loans.

FSA provides recovery assistance to producers through numerous disaster assistance programs. The Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP) provides financial assistance to producers of noninsurable crops when low yields, loss of inventory or prevented planting occur due to natural disasters. The Livestock Forage Disaster Program (LFP) aids livestock producers who have suffered grazing losses due to a qualifying drought condition during the normal grazing period for the county.

Producers who suffer livestock losses due to a natural disaster can turn to FSA’s Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP). Other programs that help recover from physical farm damage, loss of feed or other crop losses include the Emergency Conservation Program (ECP), Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honey Bees and Farm-Raised Fish Program (ELAP) and the Tree Assistance Program (TAP).

The Marketing Assistance Loan (MAL) program allows farmers to obtain a short-term loan using their commodities as collateral. This gives farmers interim financing during harvest time when crop prices tend to be lower and gives flexibility to market their crops at a later date. When that harvest is really abundant, FSA offers low interest loans for on-farm storage and handling equipment through the Farm Storage Facility Loan (FSFL) program.

FSA also offers Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC) programs. ARC provides revenue loss coverage at the county level. Payments are issued when the actual county crop revenue of a covered commodity is less than the county guarantee for the covered commodity. PLC payments are issued when the effective price of a covered commodity is less than the respective reference price. The effective price equals the higher of the market year average price or the national average loan rate for the covered commodity.

Whether you’re just getting started in production agriculture or have a well-established operation, FSA is here to assist.

For more information about FSA programs, contact your local FSA office or visit fsa.usda.gov. To find your local FSA office, visit offices.usda.gov.