Workshops to explain USDA programs

COLUMBIA — U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) agencies are teaming up in May to provide multiple workshops aimed at helping Jasper, Orangeburg, Chester, Florence and surrounding county residents with USDA investments in conservation practices, housing, community facilities, businesses and infrastructure.

During the state-wide workshops, area residents, landowners, community organizations, businesses, foundations, schools, universities, and faith-based and other groups can expect to learn about a number of programs from cost-sharing and financial assistance to loans and grants.

“The USDA in South Carolina is coming together to help grow our economy by investing in our rural communities, farmers, makers and innovators, and increasing opportunities for families,” said Ann English, state conservationist, Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in South Carolina. “We are one team working to bring economic opportunity directly to South Carolinians where they live.”

There will be two opportunities to learn about USDA programs at each workshop location. The workshop will last approximately three hours. The first workshop will begin at 9 a.m. and the second workshop will begin at 1 p.m. The same information will be presented at all workshops.

Two workshops will be held May 18 at 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. for residents of Chester and surrounding counties including Union at the Chester County Government Complex, 1476 J A Cochran Bypass, Chester.

NRCS will discuss programs providing financial and technical assistance to agricultural producers to plan and implement conservation practices that improve soil, water, plant, animal, air and related natural resources on agricultural land and non-industrial private forestland. Other programs discussed will include conservation and easement programs.

The Farm Service Agency (FSA) will discuss a loan program that provide up to 85 percent of cost, an insurance program that covers crops not traditionally covered by the Risk Management Agency, or crop insurance, and a variety of livestock programs.

“We are extremely excited about partnering with other USDA agencies,” said Wilfred Pace, state executive director, FSA in South Carolina. “This outreach effort is aimed at empowering new and existing producers with invaluable information and processes on financial services available in helping them economically sustain and grow their enterprises in today’s ever-changing environment.”

Rural Development will provide information for business and cooperative programs on a variety of loan and grant opportunities, rural micro-entrepreneur assistance, and renewable energy systems, assistance for producers, and programs that provide funding to rural projects through local utility organizations. There are also a number of opportunities through community and housing programs. Everything from clean and reliable drinking water systems to development of essential community facilities in rural areas will be discussed.

The Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) will provide information about federal nutrition assistance programs including WIC, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, and school meals. With the support of state and tribal governments, FNS programs serve one in four Americans during the course of any given year.

“Expanding access to fresh, local nutritious food is a top priority and part of USDA’s ongoing commitment to improving the diet and health of all Americans.” said Robin Bailey, regional administrator, FNS.

The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) will discuss animal disease traceability, and provide an avian influenza update and provide recommendations, which can help mitigate or reduce a poultry producer’s risks for the disease.

“Animal disease traceability is a priority for our agency,” said Dr. Delorias Lenard, assistant director, APHIS Veterinary Services in South Carolina and U.S. Virgin Islands. “We want to engage our producers. This will facilitate increased domestic and international trade for our animal resources.”

For more information about USDA programs, contact your local USDA Service Center. USDA service center locations are listed at

USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer. To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, Office of Adjudication, 1400 Independence Ave., SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call (866) 632-9992 (Toll-free Customer Service), (800) 877-8339 (Local or Federal relay), (866) 377-8642 (Relay voice users).
Chester workshop open to Union County residents

This story courtesy of the Spartanburg/Union/Cherokee FSA Office.

This story courtesy of the Spartanburg/Union/Cherokee FSA Office.