BY GARY L. SIX
Today is National Agriculture Day — a day designated each year by the Agriculture Council of America to celebrate the accomplishments of agriculture. The Farm Service Agency (FSA) joins the council in thanking American agricultural producers, especially in Texas, for their contributions to the nation’s outstanding quality of life.
This year’s theme, Agriculture: Food for Life, spotlights the hard work of American farmers, ranchers and foresters who diligently work to provide food, fiber and more to the United States and countries around the world. To ensure a prosperous future for American agriculture, FSA provides continuous support to agriculturalists across the country.
FSA is rural America’s engine for economic growth, job creation and development, offering local service to millions of rural producers. In fiscal 2017, USDA Farm Loan programs provided $6 billion in support to producers across America — the second highest total in FSA history. FSA also distributed $1.6 billion in Conservation Reserve Program payments to over 375,000 Americans to improve water quality, reduce soil erosion and increase wildlife habitat.
For agricultural producers who suffered market downturns in 2016, USDA is issuing approximately $8 billion in payments under the Agriculture Risk Coverage and Price Loss Coverage programs. USDA also continues to provide extensive assistance in response to natural disasters throughout the country, including last year’s hurricanes in Florida, Texas, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, drought in the northern high plains, wildfires in the west and central plains, floods, tornados, freezes and other catastrophic weather events.
To support beginning farmers and ranchers, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue signed a memorandum of understanding with officials from SCORE, the nation’s largest volunteer network of expert business mentors, to support new and beginning farmers. The agreement provides new help and resources for beginning ranchers, veterans, women, socially disadvantaged Americans, and others, providing new tools to help them both grow and thrive in agribusiness.
I am honored to administer programs that enable our producers to manage their risks when the agriculture industry faces hardship. On behalf of the Farm Service Agency here in Texas, I would like to thank our agricultural producers for continuing to feed our nation and the world.
Gary L. Six is state executive director for the Farm Service Agency – Texas.