When disaster strikes farmers or when new programs are handed down, local FSA staff members are charged with the responsibility of helping farmers.
I remember visiting my local FSA office many years ago, during the signup period of a new farm program. The latest Farm Bill had recently passed, and several new criteria were changing the way farmers handled much of their business.
One of the workers in the county office was trying to explain to an elderly farmer the details of the changes at hand. She patiently walked him through the process and explained the program. I thought at the time about how important good FSA staff members are to a county’s farming population. I’m blessed to live in a county where the FSA workers are patient, helpful and knowledgeable. I think that’s the case in most county offices. The folks working there are often farmers or farm spouses themselves, so they understand the frustrations and complications farmers feel when new rules and regulations, new criteria and more paperwork are handed down with each new signup or each program.
With the massive floods, wind, hail, tornadoes and drought constantly hitting parts of farm country in this nation, FSA workers are often some of the first folks to reach out to hurting farmers. They are sometimes a clearinghouse for resources. At other times, they must listen to us complain about government paperwork or the slow workings of government programs. They must feel our pain with us. They are charged with explaining new rules and regulations. And they must understand a little of how a farm works and how farmers think, in order to do their jobs well.
When new programs are passed, FSA workers have to sort it all out. They have to explain changes to farmers and answer questions on new programs, even when the answers are not easy to come by.
Whether it is certifying acres, signing up for CRP or enrolling in other programs, applying for farm loans or reporting disaster, FSA staff are the folks who take care of each of these things. So, in the summer of crazy and unusual weather out in the fields, I tip my hat to our local FSA staff, on the front line of battle, standing there beside farmers, and helping farm families do their jobs.