Getting a sense of how to better serve her team and Indiana’s farmers is why the head of Indiana’s USDA Farm Service Agency has been taking her office on the road.
Even though she’s back on the job for a little more than six weeks, Julia Wickard, who is serving her second stint as Indiana state executive director of the USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA), says she’s been spending her time traveling across the state and meeting one-on-one with her teams at FSA offices around the state to personally connect with those she serves.
“It was really my goal to get out and listen to our county office employees [and] hear the concerns that were on the table [including] the things that are working [and] the things that aren’t,” says Wickard.
“I told [my team] I want the good, bad and ugly. Give me what’s happening. Give me the lay of the land and if we can affect change, if I can take things up the ladder, I want to do that. If there are things we can adjust here in Indiana, let’s do that,” she adds.
Wickard also says she’s also been on the road listening to feedback from Indiana farmers and ag leaders.
“I really want to hear what’s working. We know we have some programs that don’t work as well, [but] we have we have some programs that are solid and do, and so [I] just kind of want to hear the gamut from producers as well.”
“As we gear up for probably a new farm bill in the next few years, certainly [I am] having my ear attuned to those issues. [We’re] making sure that in a state like Indiana we’re talking about grain, but we’re also talking about livestock [and] we’re talking about specialty crops,” according to Wickard.
She says as she continues to serve, she still wants to hear how the agency can best serve Indiana’s ag community.
“If there are things that farmers have on their minds [or] things that I can help navigate, talk to your county office. That’s really grassroots America. That’s where the comfort level really is.”
“[I encourage] working with your program technician or your county executive director at that local level, but if there’s something that needs to be on my radar screen that might not be, I’m just a phone call or an email away and would be glad to have those conversations as well,” says Wickard.
Click BELOW to hear C.J. Miller’s report on how Julia Wickard, Indiana state executive director of the USDA’s Farm Service Agency, has been hitting the road to better serve her team, Indiana farmers and the ag community.