Cover photo for Small Ruminant Farmer Initiative for Mississippi

Small Ruminant Farmer Initiative for Mississippi (SRFI)

Natural Resources Conservation Service


The purpose of the Small Ruminant Farmer Initiative (SRFI) is to improve technical service and program participation in all USDA programs through improved outreach efforts to small ruminant farmers. Ruminants are characterized by their "four" stomachs and "cud-chewing" behavior. The cud is a food bolus that has been regurgitated. There are about 150 different domestic and wild ruminant species including sheep, goats, and red deer. Ruminant animals are further classified by foraging behavior: grazers, browsers, or intermediate grazers. Grazers, such as goats and sheep, consume mostly lower quality grasses while browsers such as deer stay in the woods and eat highly nutritious twigs and shrubs.

We must allow small ruminant farmers to select eligible NRCS practices that are best suited for their particular operations while at the same time low enough in cost to be effective and practical for small ruminant farmer operations to implement and maintain.

In developing and implementing this outreach initiative in Mississippi, NRCS technical practices and programs will help break through potential barriers to participation in USDA programs by small ruminant farmers.



The target audience is defined as any small farm that meets the USDA definition that states a farm with less than $250,000 a year in sales. All Small Ruminant Farmer Initiative funds will be used to help farms with less than $250,000 a year in sales.

Eligible land is pastureland /cut-over or abandoned areas as well as converted cropland. Incidental wooded/cut over areas are eligible when existing vegetation will support grazing/browsing animals.

To be eligible small ruminants must already to present. Small ruminant species targeted for this program are sheep, goats, and red deer. Other species may be eligible based upon circumstances approved by the area office.

All applicants must be willing to follow a prescribed grazing plan, when acceptable.

All participants must be registered in the Service Center Information Management System (SCIMS) or grant permission to be registered in SCIMS.

Existing field office technical standards are available to accomplish conservation planning for this small ruminant farmer initiative. 

As needed, NRCS will develop and apply innovative and cost effective technical standards according to policy and place in the field office technical guide.

General practice planning guidelines: To be eligible for fencing, livestock must already be present.

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Pete Markham

Updated January 28, 2021

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