Does anyone have any knowledge on USDA loans in the Atlanta, GA area?

I’m attempting to buy my first house, however I’m concerned about using FHA due to the strict inspection requirements. My husband and I have been hunting around but haven’t quite figured out the process.
I’ve recently found out about USDA loans and how they require 0% in a rural area (which is where I’m looking)
I’m still trying to figure out how much I can afford for a house, housing here is increasing steadily from what I can see online.

How do I find a reputable lender?
Is there a downside to using USDA vs conventional?
Should I just find an agent first or get prequalified with the loan?

TIA for any information or resources you may have!

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