WASHINGTON (USDA) – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that the Risk Management Agency (RMA) has awarded $9.6 million in Partnership Agreements to provide producers with opportunities to learn more about managing risk in their businesses, which provides an important educational opportunity for limited-resource and underserved farmers and ranchers. Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services Deputy Under Secretary Michael Scuse announced the awards on Vilsack's behalf at the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture's Annual Crop Insurance Conference.
"The partnerships we are announcing today will provide community-based opportunities for underserved, small and limited-resource producers to be better managers in an inherently risky business," said Scuse. "For small and beginning farmers in particular, risk management often means understanding direct marketing and for this they need legal, financial, and food safety tools and information appropriate for the scale of their operation and the markets that they serve."
Many of the partnerships that RMA is offering can help farmers diversify production and marketing practices, or to provide planning tools to help farmers obtain the insurance and credit that are often critical to their ability to stay in business or to diversify their existing business.
The Federal crop insurance program and Risk Management Education and Outreach programs together provide a safety net to ensure that farmers and ranchers will weather the perils of nature and the marketplace and continue in business, thus ensuring the food supply and the survival of small, limited resource, socially disadvantaged and other traditionally under-served farmers . RMA administers these partnership projects as well as the Federal crop insurance program, with funding and authority from the Federal Crop Insurance Act.
The new partnership agreements announced today include:
Crop Insurance Education in Targeted States: $5 million is being awarded to deliver crop insurance education and information to agricultural producers in 16 states designated as historically underserved with respect to crop insurance. These targeted states include: Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wyoming.
Commodity Partnerships for Small Agricultural Risk Management Education Sessions: $1 million is being awarded to fund 110 commodity Partnership Agreements across the country, delivering training to U.S. farmers and ranchers in managing production, marketing, and financial risk, such as the award to Annie's Project in Illinois, Education for Farm Women. The program gives priority to educating producers of crops currently not insured under Federal crop insurance, specialty crops, and underserved commodities, including livestock and forage. RMA expects to reach 1.2 million producers with Risk Management Education Partnerships alone; a 10 percent increase over 2009.
Community Outreach and Assistance Partnerships: USDA is awarding $3.6 million for collaborative outreach and assistance programs, such as the $100,000 award to provide emerging risk management tools to returning veterans to support successful farming. This partnership category targets limited resource, socially disadvantaged and other traditionally under-served farmers and ranchers, who produce priority commodities.
Complete listings of the agreements can be found on the RMA Web site at the following address: http://www.rma.usda.gov/aboutrma/agreements/.