Farm Bureau recently launched an online survey (http://usdaprograms.questionpro.com) to collect feedback from farmers and ranchers on Agriculture Department programs. The survey, which is open to all U.S. farmers, ranchers, producers and growers, has been completed by 983 respondents from rural and urban areas, including Washington, D.C.
The survey focuses on the programs housed in three USDA agencies - Farm Service Agency, Natural Resources Conservation Service and Rural Development.
Survey respondents provide feedback on 10 programs - Environmental Quality Incentives Program, Conservation Stewardship Program, Conservation Reserve Program, Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program, Value Added Producer Grants, Rural Energy for America Program, Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program, Direct Farm Ownership Loans, Direct Farm Operating Loans, and Guaranteed Farm Loans (farm operating and farm ownership).
"If you have ever found it confusing or complex to apply for USDA programs, this is your opportunity to provide feedback on how to improve the process," says American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall. "We know USDA staff are concerned that farmers and ranchers who could benefit from agency programs frequently do not apply. Our goal is to help turn that around."
AFBF will use feedback from the survey to develop recommendations on how USDA can enhance its programs and make them more useful. All survey responses will be anonymous.
"We're looking for straight talk about people's experiences with USDA programs - the good, the bad and the ugly," says Dr. Lisa Benson, AFBF's director of rural development. "We're encouraged that USDA staff really want to learn how to improve and strengthen their programs."
Benson reports that to date, farmers have responded from all 50 states but more respondents are sought, especially from the Northeast region of the U.S., Washington state and Wyoming.
The survey takes less than 10 minutes to complete and closes March 15. Don't let the opportunity to let USDA know what you think about agency programs pass you by! Membership in Farm Bureau is not required to participate.
Take the survey at http://usdaprograms.questionpro.com.
Cyndie Shearing is director of internal communications at the American Farm Bureau Federation.