OMAHA (DTN) -- The U.S. Department of Agriculture is coming out with a pair of websites meant to help farmers and livestock producers with USDA programs and market information.
On Thursday, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced a new website for farmers to make appointments at local offices, file paperwork and apply for programs. The website links information for the Farm Service Agency (FSA), Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and Risk Management Agency (RMA).
The website is www.farmers.gov
"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 can be used on mobile devices and help farmers find the most convenient FSA office, USDA stated. More tools will be added to the website soon, including interactive calendars and digital forms. Once a new farm bill is completed, USDA expects to add new program information into the website as well.
USDA LAUNCHES MARS
On Friday, another new website will launch at USDA to provide more information on commodities.
The Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) will release a new program to provide more pricing information in a program called Market Analysis and Reporting Services, or MARS. USDA states the new data will be reported "in a more customer-focused way to better support competitive markets for producers and help stabilize food prices for American families."
The website will start Friday with more detail on dairy products, and new information is expected to come in April on cotton and tobacco, USDA stated.
The new program will provide more access to data from USDA's 3,600 or so market reports. "This new dynamic interface provides data analysts one-stop instant access to agricultural commodity data through a searchable database with the ability to create custom reports, data sets and data visualizations to make large amounts of information more easily understandable in a fraction of the time," USDA stated.
The MARS website is not active, but dairy information will show up starting Friday at https://mymarketnews.ams.usda.gov.
Chris Clayton can be reached at Chris.Clayton@dtn.com
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