S.2839 / H.R.5824
For the last 30 years, the farm bill’s Outreach and Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged and Veteran Farmers and Ranchers Program (also known as “Section 2501”) has stood out as the only U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) program specifically dedicated to addressing the needs of “socially disadvantaged” farmers. On May 15, 2018, Senators Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Doug Jones (D-AL), Tina Smith (D-MN), and Tom Udall (D-NM), and Representatives Ben Ray Luján (D-NM) and Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-NM) introduced the “Assist Socially Disadvantaged and Veteran Farmers and Ranchers Act of 2018,” which will help to ensure that farmers of color and veteran farmers are equitably served by USDA programs and that they have equal opportunities for success in agriculture.
Historically, military veterans and farmers of color have not participated in or benefitted from USDA programs to the same extent as other farmers. The Section 2501 program was created in the 1990 Farm Bill to address and rectify these disparities. Subsequently, in the 2014 Farm Bill, military veterans were added to the list of “underserved farmers” that the program is charged with serving. Section 2501 provides grants to organizations that work with underserved farmer populations, helping them to provide assistance to better enable these producers to purchase and operate their own farms and effectively participate in USDA programs. According to USDA, the program has supported assistance to over 100,000 farmers to date.
The Assist Socially Disadvantaged and Veteran Farmers and Ranchers Act would support the vital mission and work of the Section 2501 Program by: