5 things to know about working with your local USDA Service Center

Farm and Food

1. Every county has a U.S. Department of Agriculture Service Center that houses Farm Service Agency (FSA) and National Resource Conservation Services (NRCS). This is where farmers and landowners go to access their programs. As a renter you can still work with these agencies.

2. With FSA and NRCS, you can access financial assistance through conservation programs, farming loans, and disaster assistance.

3. What are farm numbers? As a farmer, renter, or landowner, you need a farm number to access NRCS or FSA programs. Farm numbers are free, there is no minimum acreage requirement, and they allow you to vote in county FSA elections or serve on the FSA county committee. Farm numbers stay with the land, not the farmer.

4. How to prepare for your first meeting and what to expect. Determine which office you want to meet with first. Do you need financial assistance or are you interested in conservation programs? This will help decide what office to meet with first.

Next, think about your farm and your goals. Be prepared to answer questions about your farm, a business plan can help you be prepared. Research programs that might be a good fit, and write down any questions that you have.
 
For your first meeting, you will want to bring: ID, proof of farm ownership or a rental agreement, and financial and production records, if you have them.

5. Always request a receipt for service following your visit. These are important for your records and the office is required to provide you one for any phone, email, or in-person interaction.