These agencies form the starting lineup for USDA in Virginia, providing the following services to enhance quality of life in rural communities:
Farm Service Agency (FSA): Provides loans, including the new microloan program and youth loans, income support for eligible commodities, farm storage loans, payments for protecting environmentally sensitive land and crop loss, and for converting bio-mass to energy.
Food and Nutrition Service (FNS): Offers children and low-income citizens access to food, a healthy diet, and nutrition education in a way that supports American agriculture and inspires public confidence. Seeks to expand the market for locally produced agricultural products through alternative ways for payment.
Natural Resources and Conservation Service (NRCS): Helps farmers and other landowners install conservation practices to increase productivity and profitability while improving soil and water quality. Provides technical assistance and financial incentives for grazing systems, GRP easements, high tunnels, and transitioning to organic farming.
Rural Development (RD): Works with communities to enhance public safety, improve access to health care and educational opportunities, improve infrastructure, and provide jobs and access to capital. Offers grants and loans for market structures and processing facilities.
Risk Management Agency (RMA): Helps producers manage their business risks through market-based management solutions to preserve and strengthen the economic stability of America’s agricultural producers.
Virginia State University (VSU): Collaborates with USDA and state agencies to provide training and technical assistance to enhance farm incomes and improve quality of life in rural communities.
Our Goals for 2013
Expand the Summer Food Service Program in Virginia by three percent. Participating agencies will assist FNS in locating sites to serve lunches during the summer to children eligible for the school lunch program.
Increase availability of Electronic Benefit Transfer at farmers’ markets so those eligible for food subsidy programs can use a debit card to pay for locally grown fruits and vegetables and farmers have a redemption point to receive payment.
Evaluate interest in and feasibility of establishing a meat processing facility in southern Virginia to expand the market for farmers raising livestock.
Develop farmers’ markets which will increase the income opportunities of local farmers and allow citizens and institutions such as schools an opportunity to acquire locally grown fruits and vegetables.