By Leila Naylor, Rhode Island Farm Service Agency
Finding Satisfaction in Farming
Vincent J. Confreda began his farming career at the age of nine. Farming since 1922, Confreda Farms is one of the oldest and largest commercial vegetable farms in Rhode Island and recently added an apple orchard to their operation. The Confreda’s sell their produce to both wholesale and retail markets.
The farm consists of Confreda, along with his father and three sons. Each have designated responsibilities based on each of their strengths and interests. His father continues to work the fields, while Confreda and his sons take on other responsibilities such as maintaining their greenhouses, filling customer orders, and managing employees.
“The number one reason I chose farming as my career is for the love of the land and the satisfaction of watching a plant grow from start to finish,” he said. “When you are a farmer, you also become a mechanic, an engineer, a weatherman, a manager and more.”
Serving his Local Farming Community
Confreda represents his Local Administrative Area (LAA) on the Kent County, Rhode Island, USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) County Committee. Each year, FSA accepts nominations for a certain LAA and the LAA up for election rotates each year. Confreda was immediately interested when he first learned about the county committee elections in 2005 and accepted a nomination to serve as a committee member.
“I decided to become a county committee member to better understand how farm programs work and to better educate other growers in my community on how government programs can benefit the farmer,” he said.
County committee members are elected by their peers and are a direct link between the agricultural community and USDA. Farmers on the committee help deliver FSA farm programs at the local level, help decide the kind of programs their counties will offer and work to make FSA agricultural programs serve the needs of local producers.
Growing with the Farm Service Agency
Confreda is no stranger to the county committee, having served for three consecutive terms, taking a three-year break and being elected again in 2017. He is currently serving as the chairman of the committee.
Programs offered through FSA, such as farm loans, have helped grow the Confreda family business into what it is today. FSA’s disaster assistance programs have assisted them with unexpected crop losses due to hazardous weather events.
“The Farm Service Agency has helped me and my family through the years therefore, I feel honored by having the opportunity to educate other producers in my county of the exceptional services provided by the Farm Service Agency and their dedicated employees,” Confreda said.
Confreda encourages others to get involved as serving on the committee and says it is a rewarding experience knowing that you can help other farmers in your community.
“County committee members assist the Farm Service Agency county office with important program decisions that affect the farmers,” he said. “The people who live in the county know the land and know how decisions may affect them. It is important to have a diverse group of farmers on the committee to better serve the community.”