USDA announces $19.1 million to support socially disadvantaged and veteran farmers and ranchers

On Oct. 6 the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced $19.1 million in grants to provide training, outreach, and technical assistance to socially disadvantaged and veteran farmers and ranchers. USDA’s Outreach and Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers and Veteran Farmers and Ranchers (2501) Program is managed by the USDA Office of Partnerships and Public Engagement.

“These grants provide access to USDA programs,” said Mike Beatty, director of the USDA Office of Partnerships and Public Engagement. “Whether it’s through individual technical training, or grassroots community partnership efforts, these projects empower socially disadvantaged and veteran farmers and ranchers to help them and their businesses thrive.”

USDA will fund approximately $17.6 million in grants issued to 49 organizations conducting outreach and assistance for socially disadvantaged and veteran farmers and ranchers in 28 states. This funding is made available through the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, the Soil Conservation and Domestic Allotment Act and the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2020.

Additionally, Alcorn State University will continue to administer the Socially Disadvantaged Policy Research Center with a $1.5 million grant authorized in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2020. The Center specializes in policy research impacting socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers in order to make policy recommendations that will improve their success.

Among the projects, the Charleston, South Carolina-based Center for Heirs Property Preservation received a grant to provide landowner outreach and forestry technical assistance to promote land retention and use. The Asian Business Institute and Resource Center in Fresno, California, received a grant to conduct outreach and training to ensure Southeast Asian farmers are aware of USDA programs that benefit their work in terms of financial resources, resources for growth, environmental practices, and long-term economic sustainability. Appalachian Sustainable Development in Bristol, Virginia, received a grant to support veterans in agriculture.

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.

The 2014 farm bill expanded the program’s reach to veterans. Grants are awarded to higher education institutions and nonprofit and community-based organizations to extend USDA’s engagement efforts in these communities. Projects funded under the 2501 Program include but are not limited to conferences, workshops, and demonstrations on various farming techniques, and connecting underserved farmers and ranchers to USDA local officials to increase awareness of USDA’s programs and services while filling the needs for increased partnerships. Since 1994, the 2501 program has awarded 533 grants totaling more than $138 million.