Moore brings wealth of ag experience to director position
Aaron Moore hopes area farmers will stop into the Farm Service Agency office in the Pierce County Office Building in Ellsworth and introduce themselves. After all, the new county executive director thrives on his ability to help people.
Moore took over the position Sept. 5 from Robert Forrest, who retired at the end of August. His job involves working with farmers to sign them up for programs administered through the FSA, although that's just the tip of the iceberg. Before coming to Pierce, he held that position managing the Balsam Lake Service Center.
Moore is new to Pierce County, but not the United State Department of Agriculture, under whose umbrella the FSA finds itself.
The UW-River Falls graduate liked the area and its dedication to agriculture, prompting him to apply for the open position.
"It was appealing to me," Moore said.
The FSA administers federal farm programs that Congress institutes through the Farm Bill, such as price support, disaster mitigation, conservation practices, farm loans for purchasing equipment and farms, etc. Moore oversees an office of four program technicians who help producers navigate these programs.
"The County Committee, locally farmers, come in and provide oversight as well," Moore said of the FSA County Committee.
Growing up on a hog farm in southern Wisconsin was a great foundation for Moore's ability to develop relationships with farmers and knowing the agricultural ins and outs of the county. His family farm at one time raised 300 sows "from farrow to finish."
"I may not want to actually be a farmer, but I want to be able to help them in some aspect," Moore said of his career path, which began with his pursuit of a degree in agriculture education and business.
He's spent most of his career with the USDA, totalling 14 years, including two years with the Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service.
"I like working with people and seeing the changes we can make in their farming operation," Moore said.
He recalled an instance where a young, startup farmer came in for help as he took over the family farm from his parents. Supplying him with the proper resources was rewarding.
"Getting them through the good and the bad," Moore said. "Our staffs are dedicated to getting producers information and signed up for programs."
Moore encourages family farmers and startups especially to contact the FSA.
"We have so many programs available," Moore said. "Talk to an actual farmer who's actually farming. In Balsam Lake, many people were interested in starting small farms.:
His career has seen many changes, as most careers do.
"There has been lots of fluctuation of prices" dependent upon weather, Moore said. "Farming is definitely becoming much more of a business. You have to do some planning and risk management to make it through the tough times. The margins are getting so narrow on profit."
The toughest aspect of farming, according to Moore, is managing the financial side. That's where he and his program technicians can help too.
"Markets are so volatile," Moore said. "No commodity right now is getting the best prices."
Farmers' interest in their loan programs has grown, Moore commented. Especially the farm storage facility program, which offers reasonable interest rates, or to purchase land, cattle or equipment. Marketing assistance programs can help producers strategically market their grain.
"I like people to use this because they can get the money up front to pay for expenses such as taxes, etc.," Moore said. "Versus taking out a high interest loan. Crops are cyclically marketed."
Things to keep in mind
The fall crop reporting deadline is Nov. 15. Any fall seeded crops need to be reported, such as new seeding of alfalfa, winter wheat or permanent pasture.
Every five years, the Ag Census is taken by a USDA agency. Moore said it's imperative producers fill these out as they are relied on quite a bit when developing programs. They will be mailed in December and are due Feb. 5.
"We use the survey information more and more in our programming," Moore said. "Congress uses it to develop programs. It's becoming much more vital."
Moore can be reached at 715-273-8004 or Aaron.C.Moore@wi.usda.gov.