As farmers and ranchers, you want to always find ways to improve your operation.
Improvements can come in the form of funds for projects, new learning, or marketing opportunities. If you are always seeking to improve your farm, consider participating in a farm program. The U.S. Department of Agriculture, Natural Resource Conservation Service, state departments of agriculture and more offer a wide variety of farm programs that can benefit you as a producer.

Benefits of Farm Programs
There are a wide variety of benefits to producers who participate in farm programs.
Many of these benefits are not just geared towards individual farmers, but can offer assistance to other agricultural based organizations as well.
Through farm programs offered by the NRCS, the USDA and more, farmers can be assured that they are helping to maintain America’s farmland, and ensure its continued existence for the next generation of farmers.
“Missouri is fortunate to have a strong USDA program with a large amount of funds for various farm ventures,”  Lane McConnell, executive director of Farmers Market of the Ozarks said. “Through farm programs, farmers can make energy improvements on their farm, obtain marketing assistance and valuable research, business and consulting on ways to make the farm more profitable, and even develop new market shares with farm programs.”

Farm Program Considerations
“Participating in farm programs isn’t a walk in the park,” McConnell warned.
Proper record keeping is imperative for participating and being successful in a farm program.
McConnell stressed that “producers will have to be ready for record-keeping of funds spent, and accurate accounting and reporting on the progress of the program.”
Planning into the future in also a key component to receiving all the potential benefits of a farm program.
“Farmers must consider how a farm program fits into the farm’s long-term planning stages,” said McConnell. “Obtaining funds is important, but it’s how the farmer will use them to grow a sustainable farm operation that is more important.”

Types of Farm Programs
There are many different types of farm programs available for producers to participate in – such as USDA Value-Added Producer Grants and USDA Rural Development Programs. The National Resource Conservation Service also offers numerous funding and education opportunities, like the Environmental Quality Incentives Program.
Curt McDaniel, assistant state conservationist for the Missouri NRCS, said programs and initiatives are “aimed at producers who have environmental needs with livestock, landscape and headquarters.”
Some of the initiatives EQIP encompasses are the On-Farm Energy Initiative, the Organic Initiative, and the Seasonal High Tunnel Initiative.
SARE Grants are another beneficial farm program for small and beginning farmers who are seeking ways fund improvements or research on the farm.


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