- Associated Press - Friday, June 13, 2014

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - The University of Minnesota is getting about $103,000 in federal money to help educate farmers and ranchers about the new farm bill.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is doling out $3 million nationwide to university extension services for outreach and education on the farm legislation signed into law in February, according to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

The nearly $100 billion-a-year farm bill sets policy for hundreds of programs, ranging from farm subsidies to nutrition. New legislation usually is written every five years.

“Helping farmers and ranchers understand new farm bill programs and what the programs mean for their families is one of USDA’s top priorities,” Vilsack said in a statement this week. “With the resources we’re providing, university experts will help ensure farmers and ranchers are highly educated as they make critical decisions about new programs that impact their livelihoods. The new tools that will be developed will empower farmers and ranchers to select the plan that best fits their unique needs.”

The money will fund outreach meetings where producers can talk with extension agents and staff with the Farm Service Agency, which oversees federal farm programs, to get a better understanding of the new programs and their options. The meetings are to begin late this summer.

USDA also is providing $3 million for officials at the University of Illinois, the University of Missouri and Texas A&M; to develop online tools for producers and train experts to educate farmers.

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