A Great Road Ahead
November 19, 2021
I am happy to post this message on my first week on the job. My name is Marcia Bunger, and I am humbled, overwhelmed, and excited to serve as the new RMA Administrator.
First, I am thankful to Richard Flournoy, who has led the agency for the past year between administrators, and all RMA career employees for the amazing job they have done over the past year and throughout the Pandemic. It’s truly incredible how RMA has met the needs of those we serve through unprecedented challenges. I am lucky to now be at the wheel of a well-oiled machine firing on all cylinders.
I am coming to RMA after serving as an FSA County Executive Director for 18 years. During that time, I worked closely with the Pine Ridge Tribal Government to administer FSA programs on one of the largest Indian Reservations in the country. I also served for several years on the South Dakota Advisory Council to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.
Prior to FSA and other public service, I worked at Farm Credit Services of America as both a Crop Insurance Specialist and Crop Insurance Officer. I’m also owner and operator of a 2,000-acre, family-owned farm, so I understand first-hand the importance of what we do and the impact it makes.
As a woman and member of the Asian American and Pacific Islander community, ensuring access for all to USDA programs and providing opportunities in historically underserved communities is something I am passionate about. Among my top priories will be ensuring RMA can do what it can to reduce climate change and identify and strengthen agriculture through risk management tools in underserved areas.
I come from a state with nine Indian Reservations. Their lands are one of their most important resources. Investing our energies toward increasing awareness and utilization of what RMA has to offer this community is huge for me.
Erin Parker, Director of the Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative at the University of Arkansas recently pointed out the access gap for Native Americans when it comes to crop insurance.
"Nearly 80,000 Native agriculture operators produce over $3.5 billion worth of agricultural products each calendar year,” she explains. “Yet there is a significant need for crop insurance and risk management products that address the circumstances of Native food producers across Indian Country.”
Training at the 2019 Native Youth in Food & Agriculture
Leadership Summit, held in Fayetteville, Arkansas
Erin’s team at the University of Arkansas is one of RMA’s Risk Management Education partners. We are currently funding their nationally focused project that provides resources and information to Native producers about crop insurance options.
For these producers, accessing education that addresses the unique legal complexities of producing food on tribal lands can be challenging. But with the work of our partners and our own outreach efforts we will ensure Native farmer and rancher success through relevant risk management tools.
Kelsey Scott, Director of Programs for the Intertribal Agriculture Council (IAC), another RMA Risk Management Education partner, explained how our funding for education programs will improve business for Native producers and assist RMA in achieving our mission objectives.
“Indian producers have historically been exposed to some of the greatest risks, with minimal access to protection,” Kelsey says. “Now, through this project, we feel that our producers will become even more empowered and protected as we help to strengthen their relationship with RMA.”
I am excited about the opportunities ahead to expand Federal crop insurance in ways that are eco-friendly, strengthen the farm safety net, and ensure all communities have access to our programs and risk management tools.