U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue unveiled Farmers.gov, the new interactive one-stop website for producers maintained by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Farmers.gov is now live but will have multiple features added over the coming months to allow agricultural producers to make appointments with USDA offices, file forms, and apply for USDA programs. The website, launched at a breakfast hosted by the Michigan Farm Bureau, gathers together the three agencies that comprise USDA's Farm Production and Conservation mission area: the Farm Service Agency, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, and the Risk Management Agency.
"Many farmers are out in their fields using equipment that is connected to satellite and GPS technology, yet when they need to interact with USDA, they have to stop, fill out a paper form, and fax or carry it to their local office. That is a real digital divide," Perdue said. "Our staff is friendly, and they love to see farmers in person, but they know that time is valuable. Producers are working hard to make their farms profitable, so these tools will help get the paperwork done without taking a big chunk out of the day to fill out forms."
Farmers.gov is mobile device-friendly and can identify for farmers the most convenient USDA office locations. New functions will be added shortly, including an interactive calendar, farming success stories, an online appointment feature, digital forms, and a business data dashboard. Additionally, when the 2018 Farm Bill is signed into law, there will be plain language program descriptions and a tool to determine eligibility.
"As I've traveled to 32 states in my first nine months as Secretary of Agriculture, I have consistently heard people express a desire for greater use of technology in the way we deliver programs at USDA," Perdue said. "It's my goal to make USDA the most effective, most efficient, most customer-focused department in the entire federal government, and Farmers.gov is a big step in that direction."