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USDA is rolling out new and expanded efforts to help small and mid-sized farmers and ranchers service local and regional markets.
- Open the Farm Storage and Facility Loan (FSFL) Program to small and mid-size producers of fruits and vegetables. Loans can be issued for cold storage and wash stations.
- Available funding from the popular microloan program that USDA launched last year. Loans of up to $35,000 are possible.
- Funding for the acquisition of hoop houses to aid growers by extending the growing season. Hoop houses are also environmentally and ecologically-friendly operations.
- USDA is developing a whole farm insurance policy that will better meet the needs of highly-diversified producers, particularly small and midsized fruit and vegetable growers. Using new tools provided by the Agriculture Act of 2014, USDA is working to reduce crop insurance costs for beginning farmers and ranchers. And organic producers will benefit from the elimination of a previously-required 5 percent surcharge on crop insurance premiums.
- USDA's Farm to School Program has put seven new Farm to School Coordinators on the ground in regional offices to help build direct relationships between small and mid-sized producers and school districts. One priority area for Farm to School is creating more opportunities for small and mid-sized livestock and poultry producers.
- Expanded price, volume, supply and demand information through Market News. Market News is now collecting price data on grass-fed beef to arm producers with real pricing information from the sector. Market News will soon begin collecting data about local food prices and volume, valuable to small and mid-sized producers engaged in that marketplace.
- Launched pilot projects in five states to help small and mid-sized farmers achieve Good Agricultural Practice (GAP) certification. GAP certification indicates farmers have met food safety standards required by many retail buyers. Under these pilot programs, small and mid-sized producers will be able to share the costs and fees associated with the certification process as a group.
- Access to a Learning Guide Series for small and mid-sized producers to help them navigate available USDA resources, available on the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food website. The first in this series will be for small and mid-sized livestock and poultry producers.