Extension Helps Small Farmers Learn About New Programs
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Small farms play a vital role in supporting the competitiveness and sustainability of the United States rural and farm economies. These numerous and diverse small-scale operations provide a nursery for the development of new enterprises and marketing systems and a replenishment of the farming population. The United States Department of Agriculture classifies small farms as farms with gross sales of $300,000 or less, or net income of $50,000 or less. The National Agricultural Statistics Service’s Census of Agriculture shows they make up over 80 percent of all farms nationwide. Many of these farms consist of small-scale agriculture including fruit and vegetable production, small-scale livestock production including goats, pastured pork and pastured poultry, forestry production, and aquaculture.
Even though they make up an overwhelming majority of all farmers, small farmers still face many challenges. These production challenges include high input and energy costs, fewer off-farm employment opportunities, and increased financial and marketing risks. One of their major challenges is not knowing what state and federal programs are available or not understanding some of the eligibility requirements. Another challenge is receiving information on available financial grants and resources to keep their land valuable, sustainable, and profitable.
Farmers and landowners will have the opportunity to attend an outreach meeting designed to inform them of programs that can provide financial assistance to their farms. The meeting will be held on Wednesday, October 4 at the Powell-Melvin Service Center located at 450 Smith Circle in Elizabethtown, NC. It will start at 1:15 p.m. and last until 5:00 p.m. Information on United States Department of Agriculture – Farm Service Agency (FSA), Rural Development Agency (RD), Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), Risk Management Agency (RMA), and the Office of Partnerships and Public Engagement (OPPE) programs will be provided. Farmers will also receive information about Cooperative Extension Small Farm and North Carolina Department of Agriculture Programs. Refreshments will be provided, so please register by Tuesday, October 3, to reserve your seat online.
Remember small farmers are important to North Carolina’s agricultural industry. Please support our small farmers to make sure that they not only survive, but thrive in today’s economy.