NSAC's Blog

Much Needed Funding Will Support Outreach to Minority and Veteran Farmers

December 4, 2014

Farming is a risky business and has become increasingly difficult to enter over the past few decades. However, for the growing number of racially and culturally diverse or veteran farmers and ranchers in this country, starting and managing a successful farming operation is fraught with even greater challenges.

That’s why NSAC is especially excited about the nearly $10 million in federal grants that were announced today that will support outreach and technical assistance to minority, tribal, and veteran producers.

These grants were made available through the Outreach and Technical Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged and Veteran Farmers and Ranchers Program, also known as the “2501 Program” (after the section of the 1990 Farm Bill which initially authorized the program).

For decades, the 2501 Program has served as the only farm bill program dedicated to addressing the needs of African-American, American-Indian, Asian-American, and Latino family farmers and ranchers. The program provides critical resources, outreach, and technical assistance to reduce the trend among these historically under-served producers. The newly passed 2014 Farm Bill also expands the program to serve veteran farmers as well. Unfortunately, the 2014 Farm Bill simultaneously cut funding for the program in half, from $20 million a year to just $10 million. NSAC’s advocacy helped save the program from an even worse fate, and we continue to advocate for increased funding for the program.

Secretary Vilsack made today’s announcement at the 2014 White House Tribal Nations Conference – which brought together leaders from the country’s 566 federally recognized Tribes.

2014 Funded Projects

In total, $9.7 million of Fiscal Year 2014 funding will be awarded to 62 community-based and non-profit organizations, and educational institutions across 34 states.

Since 2010, the 2501 program has provided more than $66 million to 250 partners throughout the country to assist minority and tribal producers and help them access and utilize USDA resources and build successful farming operations.

This most recent round of awards is the first new funding for outreach efforts to these farmers provided since 2012. There were no awards made in 2013 due to the delay in passing a new farm bill – which left this program, along with many other programs that support sustainable agriculture, stranded without funding.

Twenty-five (39 percent) of the grants will go to partnerships directly targeting veterans interested in farming and are part of USDA’s enhanced commitment to expanding services to veterans in agriculture.  Twelve (20 percent) of the funded projects will work with tribal and native communities.

In particular, NSAC congratulates the following seven NSAC member organizations who received grants for their work with socially disadvantaged and veteran farmers:

  • Agriculture & Land Based Training Association (California) received a grant to support their Farmer Education and Enterprise Development (FEED) project, which provides long-term education, technical and business assistance to help transition limited resource and socially disadvantaged farmers into independent organic farm owner-operators in California’s central coast.
  • Center for Rural Affairs (Nebraska) will use 2501 funds to provide individualized support and networking for beginning Latino farmers and ranchers, whose population continues to grow across the state and country as well.
  • Farmer Veteran Coalition (California) will use funding to assist current and prospective veteran farmers and ranchers in developing economically-viable farm operations, and will work with a national coalition that includes Drake University Agricultural Law Center, American Farm Bureau Federation, and the Farm Credit Council.

“We are one of three veteran centric organizations that received funding. With the funding, we are doing a veterans resource guide on how to use VA benefits in agriculture and how veterans fit into the USDA programs. In addition, we are going to modify our database so that we can help bring qualified veteran applicants to USDA programs and help them better understand what programs they are qualified for.” – Dr. Michelle Pfannenstiel, President, Farmer Veteran Coalition-Maine

  • Georgia Organics (Georgia) received a grant to provide educational programming and support outreach and education to both socially disadvantaged and veteran farmers who are largely new and underserved across the state.
  • Hmong National Development (Arkansas, Missouri) received funding to support their Leading Engaging and Promoting Hmong Farmers Program which aims to serve 500 Hmong farmers in Arkansas and Missouri through workshops and peer to peer technical assistance, and reach an additional 4,000 Southeast Asian farmers nationally through distribution of educational materials.
  • Michigan Integrated Food & Farming Systems (Michigan) will use their grant to conduct hands-on workshops throughout the state and at farmer conferences across the country on USDA programs and services that seek to benefit socially disadvantaged producers.

“We are excited to have received the 2501 grant funding to assist socially disadvantaged and veteran farmers operate viable farms and ranches in Michigan! The grant will help us in our work to better link our USDA agency partners with our farmer and non-profit customers, conduct hands-on and conference workshops on USDA programs and services, and develop success stories illustrating the benefits of USDA programs.” – Michelle Napier-Dunnings, MIFFS Executive Director

  • National Hmong American Farmers, Inc. (California) received an award to provide agricultural services and programs that help small, limited resource, minority, and limited-english-proficiency farmers and ranchers and their families become more economically self-sufficient through outreach and education efforts.

While the list of grant recipients is long and the projects sound very good, grants for the Fiscal Year 2014 funding cycle were capped at a much smaller amount than years past, and therefore will have a smaller impact on providing resources to our nation’s growing minority, tribal, and veteran farming population.  More funding is urgently needed to ensure that this long-standing program has sufficient available resources to effectively serve our country’s most underserved producers.

Additional Resources:

Summaries of Funded 2501 Projects






Categories: Beginning and Minority Farmers, Farm Bill

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