Registration is open for a free July 20 workshop to help beginning farmers, ranchers and veterans learn about resources offered by state and federal agencies.

University of Missouri Extension sponsors the workshop with funding from the USDA Office of Advocacy and Outreach through a grant to help to help veterans, Latinos and socially disadvantaged beginning farmers and ranchers.

“Understanding the Alphabet Soup of USDA” starts 9 a.m. on July 20 at the MU Southwest Research Center in Mt. Vernon, says MU Extension agriculture business specialist Jim Spencer.

Representatives of USDA Farm Service Agency, the Natural Resources Conservation Service and USDA Rural Development will provide information on how to access their agencies’ services.

Afternoon sessions will include the Missouri AgrAbility Project and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment program. Information to help participants and their families make informed health insurance decisions will be presented by MU Extension’s Health Insurance Education Initiative, funded by Missouri Foundation for Health.

Participants will discuss operational orders such as a business and marketing plan, case studies and more. A free lunch is served. Register by contacting Spencer at 417-581-3558 or spencerjr@missouri.edu. You may also register at the MU Extension Center in Christian County, 105 N. Second St., Ozark, MO 65271. Interested participants may also contact their local FSA office.

MU Extension, through a grant from the USDA Office of Advocacy and Outreach to help veterans, Latinos and socially disadvantaged persons who want to farm, offers the program to increase agribusinesses and enterprise development. Karen Funkenbusch serves as director. Patricia Barrett, Debi Kelly and Eleazar Gonzalez serve as co-directors.

The USDA 2501 grant helps beginning farmers and others evaluate and plan their farm enterprise. Participants attend a set of practical seminars and field days to learn from MU Extension specialists, farmers and agribusiness operators. The grant comes at a critical time, Funkenbusch says. More than 300,000 veterans are expected to return to their rural Missouri roots in the next decade. “Many of them will seek work in agriculture,” Funkenbusch says. Latinos also represent one of the fastest-growing populations of new farm operators.

USDA helps fund this program as part of an $8.4 million set of grants to 24 states through the Outreach and Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged and Veteran Farmers and Ranchers Program, also known as the 2501 Program. “Understanding the Alphabet Soup of USDA” is offered near military bases and areas identified by USDA as “StrikeForce” and “Promise Zone” initiatives as part of the grant.

MU’s Southwest Research Center is in Lawrence County at 14548 Highway H, Mt. Vernon. It was established in 1959 with the purchase of an 898-acre site representing soil types in this region. For more information about the center, go to southwest.cafnr.org.