Goals Needed for Beginning Farmer Assistance

A GAO report shows that USDA needs to establish goals for supporting beginning farmers.

Published on: Oct 19, 2007

Through the Farm Service Agency and Natural Resources Conservation Service, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has long supported beginning farmers. FSA has special funding earmarked for loan assistance to beginning farmers and NRCS provides higher payments to beginning farmers for two conservation programs.

But according to a Government Accountability Office report, USDA can't measure the effectiveness of their programs aiding beginning farmers. They suggest that USDA develop strategic goals for the beginning farmer program that lists the desired outcomes of the program. These should link to related agency performance goals.
GAO also says USDA should analyze trends and characteristics of beginning farmers to better determine who they are, which ones USDA assist, and how the operations of beginning farmers change over time. They also recommend USDA track the progress in implementing these goals.