The following are comments from Juli Obudzinski, NSAC Senior Policy Specialist, on today's USDA beginning farmer and rancher announcements of a new resource website and improved evaluation measures:

"The new and improved USDA "New Farmer" website should win an award for accessible, user-friendly assistance from what has sometimes been a difficult to access bureaucratic minefield for those seeking help in getting started in agriculture. As we as a nation try to promote increased economic opportunity in agriculture, this new tool is a most welcome addition and a great advance on anything USDA has offered heretofore."

"No less important, though, is the announcement today that the government is going to assess how well its programs are working to create new farming opportunities. This is where the rubber really meets the road. The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition has long advocated for USDA to set performance standards to measure progress, or lack thereof, in helping new farmers get started and beginning farmers build toward long-term viability. We couldn't be more pleased, therefore, that performance targets are now being set, and will regularly be reported on, for eight key agricultural programs, with the possibility that more will be added later."

"NSAC has carefully monitored these credit, crop insurance, conservation, marketing, and value-added programs for years, and we now intend to track USDA's progress in part through the new government performance and results targets they are setting for themselves. Hopefully, through this new 'good government' initiative, and through the new, more user friendly website, we will see steady progress toward the important public policy goal of increasing farming opportunity and growing the next generation of America's food providers."

For more information, visit