U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)
Mission and Vision
U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) provides leadership on food, agriculture, natural resources, rural development, nutrition, and related issues based on sound public policy, the best available science, and efficient management.
The USDA's vision is to expand economic opportunity through innovation, helping rural America to thrive; to promote agriculture production sustainability that better nourishes Americans while also helping feed others throughout the world; and to preserve and conserve our Nation's natural resources through restored forests, improved watersheds, and healthy private working lands.
Grant Program Highlights
Farm Service Agency (FSA) Loans
FSA makes direct and guaranteed farm ownership and operating loans to family-size farmers and ranchers who cannot obtain commercial credit from a bank, Farm Credit System institution, or other lender. FSA loans can be used to purchase land, livestock, equipment, feed, seed, and supplies. Loans can also be used to construct buildings or make farm improvements.
USDA provides homeownership opportunities to low- and moderate-income rural Americans through several loan, grant, and loan guarantee programs. The programs also make funding available to individuals to finance vital improvements necessary to make their homes decent, safe, and sanitary. USDA Multi-Family Housing Programs offer Rural Rental Housing Loans to provide affordable multi-family rental housing for very low-, low-, and moderate-income families; the elderly; and persons with disabilities. In addition, rental assistance is available to eligible families.
Rural Development Loan Assistance
USDA Rural Development forges partnerships with rural communities, funding projects that bring housing, community facilities, business guarantees, utilities, and other services to rural America. USDA provides technical assistance and financial backing for rural businesses and cooperatives to create quality jobs in rural areas. Rural Development promotes the President's National Energy Policy and ultimately the nation's energy security by engaging the entrepreneurial spirit of rural America in the development of renewable energy and energy efficiency improvements. Rural Development works with low-income individuals, State, local, and Indian tribal governments, as well as private and nonprofit organizations and user-owned cooperatives.
Beginning Farmers and Ranchers
USDA, through the Farm Service Agency, provides direct and guaranteed loans to beginning farmers and ranchers who are unable to obtain financing from commercial credit sources. Each fiscal year, the Agency targets a portion of its direct and guaranteed farm ownership (FO) and operating loan (OL) funds to beginning farmers and ranchers.
Crop and Livestock Insurance
USDA helps producers manage their business risks. The mission of USDA's Risk Management Agency (RMA) is to promote, support, and regulate sound risk management solutions to preserve and strengthen the economic stability of America's agricultural producers. As part of this mission, RMA operates and manages the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation (FCIC). RMA has three divisions: Insurance Services, Product Management, and Risk Compliance. Seventeen private-sector insurance companies sell and service the policies. RMA develops and/or approves the premium rate, administers premium and expense subsidies, approves and supports products, and reinsures the companies. RMA also sponsors educational and outreach programs and seminars on the general topic of risk.
Federal State Marketing Improvement Program
This matching grant program, also known as FSMIP, provides matching funds to State Departments of Agriculture and other appropriate State agencies to assist in exploring new market opportunities for food and agricultural products, and to encourage research and innovation aimed at improving the efficiency and performance of the marketing system.
Specialty Crop Block Grant Program
The SCBGP funds can be requested to enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops. Specialty crops are defined as fruits and vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, and nursery crops (including floriculture).
The Farmers Market Promotion Program
The FMPP was created through a recent amendment of the Farmer-to-Consumer Direct Marketing Act of 1976. The grants, authorized by the FMPP, are targeted to help improve and expand domestic farmers markets, roadside stands, community-supported agriculture programs and other direct producer-to-consumer market opportunities.
Organic Cost Share Program
AMS administers two organic certification cost share programs. Each program provides cost share assistance, through participating States, to organic producers and/or organic handlers. Recipients must receive initial certification or continuation of certification from a USDA accredited certifying agent (ACA).