Farm Service Agency Administrator Jonathan Coppess, hosted an informal round table discussion with farmers during the Farm Science Review, held this week in London, Ohio. Having grown up in Darke County, Ohio, Coppess felt right at home talking to farmers from the surrounding area.
Coppess addressed about 20 producers, giving them an overview of FSA and how it operates. “FSA’s nearly 2,200 offices and roughly 14,000 employees make up the delivery system for farm programs like ACRE, SURE and various conservation and disaster programs,” said Coppess, who also acknowledged the number of students attending the Farm Science Review. “This is a good sign for the future of agriculture,” he said.
Ohio State University Vice President Bobby Moser, Ph.D., echoed those sentiments as he commented that the number of college students enrolled in agricultural fields at OSU is on the rise. “With the average age of the U.S. farmer at about 57 years old, the need for beginning farmers is evident,” said Moser.
Coppess agreed. “For this reason special FSA loan programs have been developed to help new and existing farmers to fund various agricultural operations,” he said.
Some of the questions from the audience focused on simplifying any future programs that might be created in the 2012 Farm Bill. Coppess recognized program complexity as one area that policy makers will be paying close attention to when Farm Bill discussions get into full swing. The gathering also pointed out the need to address the difficulties witnessed by the dairy industry. The administrator informed the crowd that the Dairy Industry Advisory Committee was recently formed to address the host of problems that plague dairy producers everywhere.
Coppess concluded his comments by recognizing the significant contributions farmer make to improve the economy and preserve the environment. He reminded people that the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) recently accepted over 50,000 enrollment offers preserving over 4.3 million acres in CRP. He also touted the benefits that agricultural exports provide U.S. economic growth. “The American farmer’s abundant production of food, fiber and fuel is a key ingredient in our nation’s economic recovery,” said Coppess. “For that boost to the economy we all owe U.S. farmers a sincere and profound thank you.”
The Farm Science Review is a three-day event that garners more than 140,000 visitors who can explore more than 4,000 products presented by nearly 600 commercial exhibitors. Attendees are able to learn about the latest in agricultural research, conservation, gardening, landscaping and a host of other innovative technologies.
— by Mike Kaufman, FSA regional public affairs specialist