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FSA trying to meet farmers needs

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Relationships with government – You will probably say you do not have a good one. But if I specifically single out the Farm Service Agency (FSA) in your county, you may be more generous in your comments.

Richard Fordyce, administrator of Farm Service Agency, talks about what they are doing and hope to do in the years ahead. Fordyce spoke to me last week at the National Association of Farm Broadcasting Convention.

AUDIO: Profit Matters 11-19-19

Richard Fordyce, who is originally from Missouri, is now administrator of the Farm Service Agency (FSA). Welcome to Kansas City.

“Thank you, Ken. You know, I love the National Association of Farm Broadcasting Convention. It’s a great time to see old friends. It’s a great time to get a chance to visit with folks like you. You guys do a fantastic job of telling the ‘good story’ of agriculture and we need those good stories out there. We need information and factual things to provide to farmers. And every farmer has a relationship with the Farm Service Agency. I think that’s without a question,” Fordyce said.

Ken: Richard, how are you feeling three years into the administration on being able to truly serve your clientele?

Richard Fordyce: “When I talk to farmers all across the country and my relationship with my local Farm Service Agency offices, those relationships are solid. The people that work for farmers and ranchers in those local service centers represent the community there. They represent those farmers. They’re that subject matter expert in the local community. And I knew this was happening in my own area, but travel the country and Farm Service Agency employees will refer to the farmers in their county as their farmers. You know, they stay late to get things done. They come in early, they accommodate producers in a way that I think is pretty unique. As your listeners know, our Farm Service Agency offices had been busy implementing the 2018 Farm Bill programs, or tweaks and shifts to new programs.” 

Ken: Do you feel you have the technology now to be able to address the needs of the farmer? Although it’s somewhat of a social relationship they have in the offices, don’t you have a lot of capability for farmers to do their work online?

Richard Fordyce: “We are moving that direction. We feel most farmers are doing a lot more with their smartphone. Their equipment is super high tech. It’s guided by satellite. It’s applying seed. It’s applying chemicals (and) fertilizer at a precise amount. We have to be in that same arena. We have to be able to offer those same kinds of services and we’re working towards that. Certainly it’s a long process, but we are making some improvements from a program delivery standpoint. We are constantly looking to upgrade and improve software that our people use. I have talked to our folks across the country that are working in the offices. That’s one of the things they asked for is better tools, newer tools, faster tools, and we’re working on that. Maybe sometimes not as quickly as some folks would like to see us to it, but certainly, we’re doing it.” 

Richard Fordyce: “Our secretary is amazing, knowledgeable and practical, a great businessman, a thoughtful, strategic thinker. So when you have a team like that, we need to be accomplishing some things. And I believe we are.”