USDA Announces Awards Targeted at Socially Disadvantaged Producers
August 17th, 2012
On Wednesday, August 8th, USDA announced $19 million in grants that will support outreach and technical assistance projects aimed at socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers, including Hispanic, tribal, African-American, and women producers. These grants were awarded through USDA’s Outreach and Technical Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers Program, also known as the 2501 Outreach Program.
This year’s awards fund projects that serve a diverse range of traditionally underserved farming communities, including:
- Native tribes in Alaska
- Southeast Asian farmers in Arkansas
- Navajo and Tohono O’odham producers in Arizona
- Chinese growers in California’s central coast
- First Nation producers in Colorado
- Immigrant and refugee farmers in Massachusetts and New Hampshire
- Latino farmers in Michigan
- Asian refugees and immigrants in northeast Ohio
- Crow Creek Sioux Indians in South Dakota
- Hispanic farmers in Texas’s Lower Rio Grande Valley
- Immigrant farmers in rural Washington
- Oneida tribal producers in northeastern Wisconsin
USDA awarded a total of 70 grants in this year’s funding cycle, half of which are new grants and half of which are continuation grants.
NSAC members, partners, and allies are leading several of the funded projects, including:
- Farm to Table (Santa Fe, NM): Farm to Market: Building on Success, Farmers Teaching Farmers How to Grow Their Businesses and Enter New Markets
- Maine Rural Partners (Orono, ME): Growing Micmac Farms and Farmers
- Growing Power (Milwaukee, WI): To assist small and disadvantaged farmers in meeting their economic goals, sharing USDA information, and providing technical training and local food
- Winrock International Institute for Agricultural Development (Little Rock, AR): Outreach and Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers Program
- Rural Coalition (Washington, DC): To assist socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers in owning and operating successful farms; improve participation in USDA programs; and provide outreach and education on USDA class action lawsuits and claims processes
These awards represent the last round of grants before program funding expires. The 2501 Outreach Program is authorized through the farm bill process, and is set to expire on September 30th unless Congress reauthorizes it. A host of other important programs that support minority producers, rural economic development, and the next generation of farmers are also set to expire unless they are reauthorized — including the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program, the Value-Added Producer Grant Program, and the Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program.
Despite the continued success and long history of the 2501 program, which dates back to the 1990 Farm Bill, future funding for this program remains uncertain as Congress faces a gridlock on how to proceed with reauthorizing the farm bill.
The Senate’s version of the 2012 Farm Bill reauthorizes the 2501 program, but provides only $5 million in mandatory funding per year. This represents a 75% cut in annual funding levels compared to the current funding stream of $20 million per year. Although the bill that was voted out of the House Agriculture Committee (but not yet voted on by the full House) provides twice the amount in the Senate bill, this still represents a 50% cut in critical funding targeted at our country’s most underserved farmers.
NSAC and our allies are disappointed at the significant cuts made to the program in both the Senate and the House Committee versions of the 2012 Farm Bill, and will continue to advocate for increased funding for the 2501 program as the farm bill reauthorization process moves forward.
To learn more about how this program works on the ground, listen to a recent interview with one of NSAC’s members who works with socially disadvantaged producers in Michigan.
To see a complete list of Fiscal Year 2012 awards for the Outreach and Technical Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers Program, click here.