Local Farming: Did You Know Agricultural Management Assistance Programs Exist?

Pennsylvania farmers have begun preparing their farmland so that it can produce agricultural products such as fruits and vegetables. As you know, this is important because  it’s our primary source of essential vitamins, minerals and fiber that help protect us from chronic diseases such as diabetes, cancer and heart disease.  Talk with your doctor to learn more about your protein, carbohydrate, fat and fiber intake needs. Buy locally grown fruits and vegetables, live stock and food products to support our farmers, which in turn helps sustain our communities.

Farming: Financial and Technical Assistance

Are you interested in starting your own farm? Or do you own or manage a farm and want to learn more about ways to improve its operations? Then contact Noel Soto who works at United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Pennsylvania via email at noel.soto@pa.usda.gov or by phone at (717) 237-2173 or (866) 232-0690.

NRCS is a technical agency of the USDA. The agency was established in 1935 to carry out a continuing program of soil and water conservation. In 1994, NRCS was organized to provide financial assistance for natural resource conservation.

According to Soto, “The USDA has programs that can help people that are starting to farm or that have been farming for a while. The production site could be of any size, and the value of the farming goods as low as $1,000 per year. We also have programs for pasture and woodlands. Typically Hispanic farmers and other minorities don’t participate in the financial and technical assistance programs the USDA offers, and this is why we are reaching out to you today. Examples of the assistance that we provide are: microloans, grants for energy efficiency and marketing value-added agricultural products, incentives for the installation of high tunnels to extend the growing season, incentives to install efficient irrigation systems and programs that help families purchase their own homes.”

According to Soto, the USDA promotes organic and sustainable productions supports with technical assistance (e.g. conservation planning consultation and engineering designs) and financial assistance (money from tax payers because society demands a clean environment) for farming practices that promote clean water and air, soils for healthful and abundant crops and wildlife habitat.

Agricultural Management Assistance (AMA)

According to the USDA, Agricultural Management Assistance (AMA) provides funding assistance to help agricultural producers reduce risk by voluntarily installing conservation practices to address issues such as water management, water quality and erosion control. Pennsylvania’s 2014 funding option is Irrigation Systems. For information for eligibility and how to apply, please contact Noel Soto.

The National Institutes of Rural and Minority Health (NIRMH) recently received a USDA grant to help increase awareness and knowledge about these farming-related programs. For more information about NIRHM, please contact Mauricio Conde at (717) 608-9585.


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