ANNAPOLIS - Elizabeth Anderson, executive director for USDA's Farm Service Agency in Maryland, says FSA is reaching out to women, ethnic and minority farmers in the state in an effort to get more of them involved in its programs.
"FSA programs are available to all producers but we would like to increase participation by traditionally underrepresented groups in all program areas," Anderson said.
FSA defines a socially disadvantaged (SDA) farmer, rancher, or agricultural producer as one of a group whose members have been subjected to racial, ethnic, or gender prejudice because of his or her identity as a member of the group without regard to his or her individual qualities. SDA groups are women, African-Americans, American Indians, Alaskan Natives, Hispanics, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.
According to Anderson, the FSA also reserves a portion of its direct and guaranteed loan funds each year for SDA loans for eligible participants. These loan programs are designed to help farmers purchase and operate family farms.