UF/IFAS Extension and partner agencies, such as the USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) and Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), offer cost-share and technical resources for agribusinesses. Here are some highlights of available resources, which were originally presented in a May 2020 webinar.
Extension is a partnership between state, federal, and county governments to provide scientific knowledge and expertise to the public. The University of Florida (UF), together with Florida A&M University (FAMU), administer the Florida Cooperative Extension Service. At the University of Florida, Extension is located in the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) and is called UF/IFAS Extension. UF/IFAS is dedicated to developing knowledge in agriculture, human and natural resources, and the life sciences and to making that knowledge accessible to sustain and enhance the quality of human life.
Lauren Butler, Okeechobee County Extension Director and Livestock Agent and Yvette Goodiel, Martin County Sustainability & Commercial Horticulture Extension Agent, highlight some of the resources available to agribusinesses across the region, including:
- Weed and insect pest ID and treatment consultation
- Pasture health consultation
- Livestock nutrition, reproduction, and health advice
- Pesticide licensing examinations & continuing education workshops
- Soil moisture sensor loaner-trainer program
- Consultations with UF specialists focusing on agribusiness economics, disaster preparation/recovery, food safety/quality, cover cropping, irrigation, and more.
USDA Farm Service Agency
The USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) delivers more than 50 federal farm programs provided through Farm Bill legislation. The Agency’s programs and loans help our nation’s agricultural producers and partner organizations provide food, fuel, and fiber to people worldwide. The first step for farmers and ranchers interested in FSA’s programs is to contact your local USDA Service Center. Discuss your needs with local FSA staff. Together, you can review and select programs that will most effectively help you. Your nearest County Office can be found at offices.usda.gov. In the Treasure Coast region, the Ft. Pierce office covers St. Lucie, Martin, and Indian River counties.
Jenny Hoover, Okeechobee/Highlands County FSA Executive Director, shares details on a few of the FSA programs offered:
- Livestock Disaster Programs include the Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP), Livestock Forage Disaster Program (LFP), and Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honey Bees, and Farm Raised Fish Program (ELAP). These programs no longer require producers to purchase crop insurance or NAP coverage to be eligible.
- Noninsured Crops Disaster Assistance Program (NAP) is available on crops not covered by the USDA’s Risk Management Agency (RMA). NAP provides financial assistance to producers of non-insurable crops to protect against natural disasters that prevent crop planting or result in lower yields or losses.
- Tree Assistance Program (TAP) provides disaster assistance to eligible orchardist and nursery tree growers to replant or rehabilitate trees, bushes and vines that were lost because of an eligible natural disaster.
- FSA offers a variety of Farm Loan Programs, including loans to finance farm ownership, operating expenses, disaster/quarantine recovery, sponsored youth projects, and conservation activities.
To learn more about FSA programs or to subscribe to the FSA newsletter via GovDelivery, visit the FSA website. You can also sign up to receive important, time-sensitive text messages from your local FSA office by texting “FL” and your county name without spaces between (e.g., FLAlachua) to FSANOW (372669).
USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service
The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) delivers conservation solutions so agricultural producers can protect natural resources and feed a growing world. NRCS provides technical and financial assistance though a locally-based conservationist located in nearly every county in the US. The goal is to help clients address opportunities, concerns, and problems related to the use of natural resources.
Jennifer Abbey, NRCS District Conservationist serving Indian River, St. Lucie, and Martin counties, shares information about some of the technical and financial assistance offered:
- Technical assistance in developing prescribed grazing systems for livestock and forage health
- Technical assistance with cropland and nurseries, including cover cropping, crop rotation, and irrigation management
- The Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) and the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) provide financial assistance to producers in implementing conservation practices.