Dear Young Farmer Advocates,
Through policy advocacy and working with the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) staff at the national level, Young Farmers staff, members, and partners have been pushing hard to make sure that USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) loans and programs truly serve the needs of all young farmers. There are several ways for you to get directly involved in the day-to-day operations of FSA and to help shape FSA programs at the local level.
Here are some opportunities for you to engage with FSA and advocate for young farmers this summer:
Run for County Committee
FSA County Committees are teams of individually elected farmers or ranchers who have had experience with FSA programs. During their three-year term, these farmers make decisions about local FSA programs and outreach.
Since 1999, the USDA has faced five class-action lawsuits and acknowledged systematic racial discrimination in farm loan and service programs. The USDA and FSA are actively addressing inclusivity within their programs by attempting to diversify their staff, reaching out to underrepresented farmers, and setting aside percentages of loan program allocation for farmers of color.
It is important that FSA County Committees are aware of the unique needs of young farmers and farmers of color, and also of farm diversity (all scales, products, and practices). Because farmers of color, Indigenous farmers, and female farmers have historically been underserved by FSA programs, the pool of these applicants for County Committees is smaller. It is important that FSA County Committees represent the full diversity of farmers, and also of farms. So, especially if you are a beginning farmer, a woman, a farmer of color, or an Indigenous farmer who has used an FSA program, please consider running for your county committee! It’s a powerful way to make your voice heard, connect with your regional farming community, and set the precedent for equal representation of all farmers.
Interested farmers should contact their local FSA office to register and find out how to get involved in their county’s election. You should check with your local USDA Service Center to see if their LAA is up for election this year. To be considered, a producer must be registered and sign an FSA-669A nomination by August 2, 2021.
Apply to serve on the Urban Agriculture County Committees
USDA has selected FSA County Committees focused on urban agriculture. The 11 county committees for urban agriculture are located in:
New Orleans, Louisiana
Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota
St. Louis, Missouri
Albuquerque, New Mexico
The urban and suburban county committees will work to encourage and promote urban, indoor, and other emerging agricultural production practices. Additionally, the county committees may address areas such as food access, community engagement, support of local activities to promote and encourage community compost, and food waste reduction. To be considered, a producer must be registered and sign an FSA-669A-3 nomination by August 2, 2021.
Nominate Yourself for State Committee
State Committees are responsible for carrying out Farm Service Agency (FSA) programs at the state level. State Committee members are intermittent employees (also referred to as Special Government Employees) appointed by the Secretary of Agriculture to oversee the implementation of domestic farm programs, provide policy direction to their respective FSA State Executive Director, and oversee agency county committees. The State Committees can be compared to the Board of Directors of a company. State Committees members should possess knowledge of FSA farm programs and have experience in being actively engaged in farming operations.
If you are interested in this position, please answer the following questions and send them along with your name, state, and resume to email@example.com by September 5th.
- How will you hold your local FSA office and staff accountable for outreach and services being delivered to young farmers and Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) farmers?
- BIPOC farmers have faced disproportionate rates of land loss, and the drop in numbers of their farms over the last century has been attributed in part to decades of discriminatory practices by the USDA, which the department itself has been forced to admit and begin to address. How will you address racial inequities in our agriculture?
- How will you ensure that BIPOC farmers and young farmers are adequately supported through COVID-19? Do you support direct payments specifically structured to be easily accessed by BIPOC farmers and young farmers?
August In-District Meetings
Are you ready to start building a relationship with your members of Congress? Do you want to deepen a relationship you already have to get your chapter well positioned to share your needs next year in Farm Bill discussions?
Host an in-district meeting this summer!
Congress will be in recess for the whole month of August and it’s a great opportunity to invite your Senators or Congressperson out to your farm for a tour and some light lobbying.
Want to learn more about how in-districts work and hear from some other chapters about their spring meetings? Check out our wrap-up blog post!
Ready to schedule your meetings? Email firstname.lastname@example.org to get started!