Tue Jul 5, 2022

If you plant it, Dean Sasser wants to know about it

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Dean Sasser, the new county executive of the Farm Service Agency (FSA) for Columbus and Brunswick counties, is no stranger to farming or farmers or the FSA, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) presence in Columbus and Brunswick counties.

Sasser spent 28 years as loan officer for the two FSA offices, handling the many different types of loans to help farmers over the rough spots in their financing of their agriculture endeavors.

He is well suited for the job, holding a degree in animal science from N.C. State University (a college degree in some phase of agriculture is a requirement for the job), was born and raised into a successful farming family, worked as a youth in farming tasks, and now lives on a farm in a renovated home built by his late grandfather in the Honey Hill community south of Hallsboro.

Columbus County is classed as an agricultural county, one made up of many small farms. Neighboring Brunswick County has fewer farms than Columbus and as a cost-saving move, the Columbus FSA office sends a Whiteville office employee to Brunswick one day per week to assist with any problem with government paperwork Brunswick farmers may have.

“We keep regular hours (for the visit) so people will know when to come see him,” Sasser says of this plan.

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Sasser’s new position involves the responsibility of directing his office in keeping records of what farm commodities are planted by whom and where in the two counties.

This information is generated by the farmers who are required, if they choose to take part in any programs available from the USDA, including crop insurance eligibility and payments in the event the grower suffers a crop failure.

“If he (the farmer) wants to take part in any program, he’s going to have to do a crop report,” Sasser says. The reports show the number of acres planted in different commodities, and when combined with crop reports from throughout the nation, are invaluable to businesses doing business with farmers.

Sasser’s office maintains a file of maps, produced from aerial photos, showing each farm field to facilitate identifying the owner and often the type of crop planted.

Record-keeping occupies much of the time of workers in the FSA and is a necessary task in order for the USDA to determine the amount of foodstuffs and other agriculture products being produced.

FSA does not tell farmers what to plant but keeps records of agriculture production in various crops.

These production figures combined with numbers from harvests of similar crops throughout the nation will be used in various business decisions by firms doing business with farmers.

Dependable knowledge of the earth’s food resources is invaluable. USDA says that farmers worldwide must produce 70 percent more food by 2050 in order to feed the expected world population.

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