Secretary Perdue announces $9.4 million to support socially disadvantaged and aid program available to help veterans

Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue recently announced the U.S. Department of Agriculture will issue $9.4 million in grants to provide enhanced training, outreach and technical assistance to underserved and veteran farmers and ranchers.

This funding is available through the USDA’s Outreach and Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers and Veteran Farmers and Ranchers Program (also known as the 2501 Program), managed by the USDA Office of Partnerships and Public Engagement.

“From the beginning of this administration, USDA has focused on increasing rural prosperity and how to best serve our veterans and underserved farmers and ranchers. Helping those who served our country and assisting the disadvantaged is at the heart of our motto at USDA to ‘Do Right and Feed Everyone,’” Perdue said.

“2501 grants ensure veterans and underserved farmers and ranchers are well positioned to start their careers in agriculture and continue to give back to the American people. These resources will help strengthen the American economy and provide assistance for those who need it most.”

The 2501 Program was created through the 1990 farm bill to help socially disadvantaged farmers, ranchers, and foresters, who have historically experienced limited access to USDA loans, grants, training, and technical assistance. Provisions were expanded in the 2014 farm bill to include outreach and technical assistance to military veterans.

Grants are awarded to higher education institutions and nonprofit organizations to extend USDA’s engagement efforts in underserved communities. This is accomplished through various activities including, but not limited to, conferences, workshops, demonstrations on various farming techniques, and connecting underserved farmers and ranchers to USDA local officials to increase awareness of our programs and services while filling the needs for increased partnerships.

Area grants include the following:


$65,000 to Lutheran Services in Polk County, Iowa, to grow the profitability of sustainably-managed farming businesses owned and operated by beginning farmers who previously farmed in their home countries before being resettled in central Iowa as refugees. The project will help aspiring and existing refugee farmers improve upon their businesses through: increased participation in USDA programs including the Farm Service Agency microloan program and the EQIP conservation program as well as other programs USDA staff find are applicable through USDA presentations and outreach with Global Greens farmers; through educational activities and workshops that build relationships between refugee farmers and USDA’s local, state, regional, and national office; and through innovative training and technical assistance that introduces linguistically and culturally appropriate agriculture-related information to refugee farmers. The outcomes of the proposal are to help refugee farmers; increase their awareness and participation in USDA programs; increase their receptiveness to effectively communicated USDA outreach efforts; increase their economic stability; and increase the community marketing and sales opportunities of their farming products.


Lincoln University receives $199,990 build on the success achieved during the past two years of OAO support. The goal of the project is to directly assist Socially Disadvantaged and Veteran Farmers and Ranchers, located in southeast Missouri in being successful with their farm businesses. This will be accomplished through one-on- one technical assistance and workshops targeted to SDVFRs; building relationships between the SDVFR, their community, and the USDA; and connecting them with the resources available to them through their local USDA offices. Our second goal is to leverage these funds to expand the Innovative Small Farmers Outreach Program in Missouri. Lincoln University will adopt the program into the ISFOP, thereby expanding the impact of the program in years to come. Through outreach to USDA, MU extension, Community Based-Organizations, and Agricultural businesses, the staff will identify, recruit, and assist the SDVFR in the community and help them navigate the resources available and disseminate the latest relevant farming and ranching information. Conducting workshops and conferences will be another outreach tool to reach and assist new farmers. The ultimate goal is to help boost their farm/ranch income through one-on-one help.

Springfield Community Gardens receives $185,437, replicating a highly successful SCG model, funded in part by the National Association of Conservation Districts in 2016 and 2017, 50 veterans and socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers participating in the 12 month project will learn valuable, lucrative, and sustainable agriculture skills and experience in an area that is in need of highly skilled farmers. Specifically the project will: Assist 50 socially disadvantaged or veteran farmers and ranchers in urban and rural areas of Greene and Webster Counties in owning/leasing and operating successful farms and ranches; improve participation among socially disadvantaged or Veteran farmers and ranchers in USDA programs by 35 percent among this cohort; build relationships between current and prospective farmers and ranchers who are either socially disadvantaged or Veterans and USDA’s offices through an SCG career case manager; introduce agriculture-related information through 15 training and technical assistance; and produce a report at the end of the project that will discuss the merits of such a model for other socially disadvantaged groups such as disadvantaged youth, and/or socially disadvantaged beginning farmers and ranchers in our community, or in other rural and persistent poverty communities adjacent to Greene and Webster counties.


To ensure equitable participation in USDA programs, Legal Aid of Nebraska receives $157,785 provide outreach and technical assistance to socially disadvantaged and veteran farmers and ranchers, including those who aspire to farm or ranch, through its Legal Aid of Nebraska Socially Disadvantaged and Veteran Producer Outreach Program. This assistance will occur throughout rural areas and communities of persistent poverty across the entire state of Nebraska. Legal Aid will partner with the Center for Rural Affairs, Nebraska Department of Agriculture, and Interchurch Ministries of Nebraska as well as with local and state USDA offices to leverage funding and to maximize areas of coverage for outreach. This project will remove barriers that prevent full participation in USDA programs and build lasting relationships between the USDA and socially disadvantaged and veteran producers to improve their ability to start and maintain successful agricultural operations.


Langston University Cooperative Extension Program in collaboration with partners have a long history of working with and supporting SDA farmers and ranchers. The Oklahoma Black Historical Research Project Inc., other community-based organization, and various USDA agencies, for e.g. USDA-NRCS, will be integral partners of a $191,100 grant. The goal of this project is to increase the number of the state’s socially disadvantaged and veteran farmers in successfully operating their farm or ranch enterprise.

The Oklahoma Association of Conservation Districts, which receives a $189,104 grant, and the Oklahoma Black Historical Research Project are partnering to increase participation of USDA programs. The project’s focus is to build relationships between SDA producers, USDA, and Conservation Districts at the local, state, regional and national levels by identifying and cultivating leadership of SDA producers. Our belief is that by building relationships and cultivating leadership of SDA producers we can increase participation in USDA programs and assist producers in developing profitable, sustainable agriculture operations. The project will focus on seven counties with a substantial population of African American/Black and Native American current/prospective farmers and ranchers. These seven counties include five counties in eastern Oklahoma (Okfuskee, Okmulgee, Muskogee, Wagoner, McIntosh, Creek) and one county in western Oklahoma (Caddo). Additionally the project will provide educational information and training opportunities to SDA farmers and ranchers in larger geographic areas across Oklahoma. The project also provides educational opportunities for traditional farmers and ranchers and conservation district leaders and employees about the unique barriers that SDA farmers and ranchers face.

Since 2010, the 2501 Program has distributed more than $93 million to 398 partners.

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