The Office of Advocacy and Outreach (OAO), created by the 2008 Farm Bill, coordinates programs and outreach across USDA for small and beginning farmers and ranchers. Loan and grant programs, along with farm and resource management training programs help small and beginning farmers create and maintain successful farming or ranching businesses. The Advisory Committee on Beginning Farmers and Ranchers ismade up of farmers and ranchers as well as local agricultural authorities, meets annually to discuss issues facing small and beginning farmers and ranchers. The Committee provides recommendations to the Secretary.
Small and beginning farmers and ranchers face unique challenges in agriculture. USDA is committed to assisting small and beginning farmers and ranchers in order to strengthen the American agricultural economy and ensure its continued success in years to come. The 2007 Agricultural Census data show farm and ranch operators in America are getting older, medium-sized farms are disappearing, and it is increasingly necessary to supplement farming with another source of income. In order to combat such trends, USDA is striving to improve outreach efforts and available opportunities for small and beginning farmers and ranchers.