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USDA Stands Up New Team To Better Serve Beginning Farmers & Ranchers In North Dakota


August 12, 2020 | View PDF

Fargo, ND – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is standing up a new team that will lead a department-wide effort focused on serving beginning farmers and ranchers.

To institutionalize support for beginning farmers and ranchers and to build upon prior agency work, the 2018 Farm Bill directed USDA to create a national coordinator position in the agency and state-level coordinators for four of its agencies – Farm Service Agency (FSA), Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), Risk Management Agency (RMA), and Rural Development (RD).

Jill Haakenson was selected as the USDA Beginning Farmer Rancher state coordinator in North Dakota. Over the past 20 years Jill has assisted North Dakota farmers and ranchers in her work with USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and in her current position as Community Development Specialist with USDA Rural Development (RD). Jill and her husband, Tim, farm near Aneta, ND. 

Others on the team coordinating North Dakota’s beginning farmer and rancher efforts include, Conservation Delivery Unit Supervisor Amy Sand, USDA- Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS); Public Affairs/Outreach Specialist Lindsey Abentroth, USDA- Farm Service Agency (FSA) and John Lockie, USDA- Risk Management Agency (RMA) Risk Management Specialist. This is a collateral duty for all team members.

Each state coordinator will receive training and develop tailored beginning farmer outreach plans for their state. Coordinators will help field employees better reach and serve beginning farmers and ranchers and will also be available to assist beginning farmers who need help navigating the variety of resources USDA has to offer.

Twenty-seven percent of farmers were categorized as new and beginning producers, with 10 years or less of experience in agriculture, according to the 2017 Census of Agriculture.

USDA offers a variety of farm loan, risk management, disaster assistance, and conservation programs to support farmers, including beginning farmers and ranchers. Additionally, a number of these programs have provisions specifically for beginning farmers, including targeted funding for loans and conservation programs as well as waivers and exemptions.

Learn more about USDA’s resources for beginning farmers as well as more information on the national and state-level coordinators at For more information on available programs in your area, contact your local USDA Service Center.


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