I hope you are enjoying the season. It’s October and I’m seeing more and more Halloween decorations around town this harvest season.

RMA just held a fantastic Hispanic Heritage Month event. This past Wednesday I hosted a discussion panel on Teams — Reaching Hispanic Producers. We discussed ways that RMA and USDA can better reach, inform, and serve Hispanic producers. I learned a lot and the guests offered amazing insights. I thank the panelists — Carlos Suarez, NRCS California State Conservationist; Marji Alaniz, SVP of Communications, Operations and Risk at AgriSompo North America; and Nicole Garza-Estrada Spurlock, a farmer from Stratford, Texas. And thank you if you tuned in. We will certainly host more events in the future to recognize our diversity and learn.

Our efforts to better reach Hispanic producers is another extension of our goal to have maximum participation in Federal crop insurance and strengthen the farm safety net. We need to continue to deliver training to communities that have historically lacked access to resources.

As part of our ongoing monthly series of messages, I’m going to talk about some of these exciting projects and hear from educators and students about the training and its impact.

This week I spoke with Joseph Bonelli, Associate Extension Educator at the University of Connecticut. He is heading a project at UConn to train new producers on crop insurance recordkeeping requirements, financial recordkeeping, and benchmarking, among other things.

Richard: We’re glad to talk to you and hear about your project and other risk management education projects around the country. Tell us a little about yourself and your team.
Joseph: Likewise. We were pleased that RMA considered funding of Risk Management programming an important component of farm viability. It’s a subject I’m passionate about. I earned my master’s degree in Ag Economics from UConn and was raised on farm in Connecticut and have always enjoyed working with farmers on business management. My partner in the project, Mary Conklin, earned a master’s degree in horticulture, and another in Education & Counseling and has worked as an extension educator at Cornell, Penn State University, and UConn with the agricultural industry at each. We both want to see growers succeed at their business, which includes understanding financial management and how crop insurance can play an important role.

Mary Conklin, Extension Educator, University of Connecticut

Richard: What do you think of RMA funding for this project and the opportunity?
Joseph: This funding provides us with the resources to reach farmers and growers in Connecticut with important risk management information. For these students to succeed in their ventures it is critical that they receive information on how crop insurance can help to manage production and financial risk, and to gain financial management skills.

Richard: What impact will this project have for producers in Connecticut?
Joseph: This project will help to provide farmers and growers with information on how crop insurance can be used to manage risk, and how an understanding of financial records and business analysis can help attain and maintain business viability. Risk management education is important in that it can help farmers and growers to better understand the risks that their business will encounter and the tools that can be used to analyze those risks, to consider the options to mitigate those risks and then to choose the best option that will effectively allow the business to manage, reduce or eliminate those risks.

I want to thank Joseph and Mary for talking to me and all the great work they are doing for new and beginning farmers in Connecticut. I am also pleased to learn that they are ensuring their training materials will be available in Spanish.

– Richard


Richard Flournoy

Richard Flournoy
RMA Acting Administrator