Friday, April 20, 2018

USDA/FSA Burns "Bridges"

The Obama administration established "Bridges to Opportunity"--see the explanation here and a press release from January 2017 on the expansion. My brief explanation is FSA agreed with nonprofit organizations to refer farmers to them (i.e.  if someone was interested in organic ag, the FSA office could refer the person to organizations promoting organic ag, using a database of those with agreements) using a database.

Now the Trump administration is having the FSA offices to revoke the written agreements with these nonprofits.

The assertion is that the referral service is being incorporated into the "" website.  That seems reasonable, but what's not clear in the notice is why they need to revoke the agreement, if the change is basically incorporating the old "bridges" database into their new consolidated website.

I'd guess there was boilerplate language for the agreements with the nonprofits, but I can't find it anywhere. If I were really curious I'd submit a FOIA request for the language and for data on how many agreements were entered into.  If I were cynical, and I am, I'd suspect the Republican administration views the nonprofits with which agreements were made as likely leaning Democratic, many of them likely serving minorities and women.

Apparently the bulk of the "Bridges" was a replacement for the "Web Receipt for Service" software of several years ago.

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