Federal Programs Key to Improving Rural Economy | Opinion

Jean Berge

By John Berge, Executive Director of Nebraska FSA

It is the honor of a lifetime to have been appointed by the Biden-Harris administration to the position of Executive Director of the USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) in Nebraska. As Director, I am responsible for overseeing the implementation of federal agricultural policy through a network of 71 USDA Service Centers across the state.

I am proud of the work of our FSA employees and grateful for the privilege of serving Nebraska agricultural producers and industry stakeholders in our state, where one in four jobs are related to agriculture.

FSA’s mission is personal to me. One of my earliest memories is preparing for an auction of our farm in the early 1980s, when our family operation fell victim to the agricultural crisis that hit so many farmers across the country. My interest in agricultural policy grew from that day, and over the last 25 years of my career I have come to believe that agricultural policy and programs, many of which are administered through the FSA, are key ingredients in improving the economic vitality of rural Nebraska and ultimately the entire country.

I’m especially proud of the work we’re doing in three areas important to Nebraska. First, FSA provides financing for farmers and ranchers to start, expand or maintain their operations. These financing tools are offered as direct loans when a client cannot obtain commercial credit and secured loans when we partner with a commercial lender.

Second, the FSA administers disaster programs to alleviate some of the financial pressure associated with recovering from damage caused by extreme weather events due to climate change. These programs have been a valuable tool in ensuring that people affected by drought, floods, forest fires, etc. can regroup and rebuild. Finally, FSA manages a portfolio of conservation programs that not only protect natural resources, but also improve water quantity and quality and mitigate the effects of climate change.

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