Workshop helps beginning farmers, ranchers, veterans understand ABCs of USDA, other agencies


Openings remain for a free Sept. 18 workshop to help beginning farmers, ranchers and veterans learn about resources offered by state and federal agencies.

“Understanding the Alphabet Soup of USDA” workshop for beginning farmers and ranchers will be held 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday, Sept. 18, at Follis Hall, Fredericktown, said Richard Proffer, MU Extension business development specialist. A session designed for military veterans will be held 2:30-4 p.m.

USDA representatives from the Farm Service Agency, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Farm Loan Programs and Rural Development, will provide information on how to access their agencies’ services, as will representatives from MU Extension and the Missouri AgrAbility Project.

A free lunch is served. Register by contacting Richard Proffer at 573-243-3581 or [email protected]. You may also register at the MU Extension Center in Cape Girardeau County, 684 W. Jackson Trail, P.O. Box 408, Jackson, MO 63755.

MU Extension, through a grant from the USDA Office of Advocacy and Outreach to help veterans, Latinos and socially disadvantaged persons who want to farm, offers the program to increase agribusiness and enterprise development. Karen Funkenbusch serves as director. Patricia Barrett, Debi Kelly and Eleazor Gonzalez serve as co-directors.

The USDA 2501 grant helps beginning farmers and others evaluate and plan their farm enterprises. Participants attend a set of practical seminars and field days to learn from MU Extension specialists, farmers and agribusiness operators. The grant comes at a critical time, Funkenbusch says. More than 300,000 veterans are expected to return to their rural Missouri roots in the next decade. “Many of them will seek work in agriculture,” Funkenbusch says. Latinos also represent one of the fastest-growing populations of new farm operators.

USDA helps fund this program as part of an $8.4 million set of grants to 24 states through the Outreach and Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged and Veteran Farmers and Ranchers Program, also known as the 2501 Program. “Understanding the Alphabet Soup of USDA Programs” is offered near military bases and areas identified by USDA as “StrikeForce” and “Promise Zone” initiatives as part of the grant.

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