Other than farmers and rancher, many people have not heard of the FSA or Farm Service Agency. The Farm Service Agency traces its beginnings to 1933, in the depths of the Great Depression. A wave of discontent caused by mounting unemployment and farm failures had helped elect President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who promised Americans a "New Deal."

One result was the establishment in 1935 of a Department of Agriculture agency with familiar initials: FSA, which stood for Farm Security Administration. Originally called the Resettlement Administration, and renamed in 1937, its original mission was to relocate entire farm communities to areas in which it was hoped farming could be carried out more profitably.

FSA also promoted co-ops and even provided medical care to poor rural families. Although the scope of its programs was limited, poor farm families who took part benefited greatly. One study estimates that families who participated in FSA programs saw their incomes rise by 69 percent between 1937 and 1941! Annual per capita meat consumption increased from 85 pounds to 447 pounds in the same period. Milk consumption increased by more than half.

Today, FSA's responsibilities are organized into five areas: Farm Programs, Farm Loans, Commodity Operations, Management and State Operations. The agency continues to provide America's farmers with a strong safety net through the administration of farm commodity programs. FSA also implements ad hoc disaster programs. FSA's long-standing tradition of conserving the nation's natural resources continues through the Conservation Reserve Program. The agency provides credit to agricultural producers who are unable to receive private, commercial credit. FSA places special emphasis on providing loans to beginning, minority and women farmers and ranchers. Its Commodity Operations division purchases and delivers commodities for use in humanitarian programs at home and abroad. FSA programs help feed America's school children and hungry people around the globe. Additionally, the agency supports the nation's disabled citizens by purchasing products made by these persons.

However, one online service that FSA also provides, that could be beneficial to local hay producers and livestock owners, is the "Hay Net."

For many years, FSA's Hay Net website www.fsa.usda.gov/haynet has been the "go to" online resource for agricultural producers to list information concerning the need for hay or the availability of hay.

Now, in response to requests from livestock producers and landowners, FSA has expanded the site to include the option to list a need for grazing acres or to list acres available for grazing.

Due to our current drought conditions, producers may be in need of hay and/or grazing acres to support livestock. If so, producers can access Hay Net to post an advertisement seeking these resources. Likewise, landowners who have hay and/or grazing acres available for livestock producers should post a Hay Net advertisement as well.

How Do You Access the Hay Net Service? First, go to: http://www.fsa.usda.gov/FSA/hayNet?area=online&subject=landing&topic=han&setflag=welcome. Browsing access to the Hay Net service is available to all USDA customers, without the need to create an account. Then, select if you need or have hay/grazing acres, and then select the state you want to search.

A few things to remember when getting familiarized with the site:

There is a one-time registration process that should be completed by all users who want to post an ad online.

Users just wishing to browse ads DO NOT NEED to have a user id.

Hay Net Ads will be automatically removed after a period of 13 months.

Please help your fellow farmer and rancher by keeping ads current and up to date. Remove ads you no longer need advertised on our Web.

Please use this site in a courteous manner. The site was not designed for use by placing ads in each state, or advertising your company.

The sole purpose of this online resource is to provide a site for the exchange of information. For more information about Hay Net and other FSA services and programs, please contact your local FSA office. For local FSA Service Center contact information, please visit: http://offices.sc.egov.usda.gov/locator/app .