USDA is working to give smaller, socially disadvantaged farmers a leg up and announced grants this week for those producers. In its release the agency noted it "remains focused on carrying out its mission, despite a time of significant budget uncertainty." The effort is part of a program USDA has embarked on to strengthen the rural economy.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack comments: "These grants will help socially disadvantaged business owners get the tools they need to succeed and expand markets across the nation." Funding for the program comes from USDA's Small Socially Disadvantaged Producer Grant program. That program is designed to offer technology assistance to help producers develop new markets and grow their operations.
What follows is a list of programs by state. Recipients must meet the terms of the grant agreement:
Alabama A&M University – $195,730 grant. Funds will be used to help socially disadvantaged producers build sustainable farming and agricultural businesses.
Southern California Focus on Cooperation – $200,000 grant. Funds will be used to provide technical assistance and cooperative education to refugee and immigrant farmers.
The Kohala Center, Inc. – $151,913 grant. Funds will be used to provide technical assistance to Palili 'O Kohala Cooperative, Maui Aquaponics Cooperative, Kau Agricultural Water Cooperative, and Cho Global Farming Cooperative.
Pembroke Family Farmers Association – $153,925 grant. Funds will be used to help create business management practices.
Kentucky State University – $103,450 grant. Funds will be used to help small socially-disadvantaged producers develop cooperatives, register and secure proper title to farmland, and fully utilize various USDA programs that assist small farmers.
Cooperative Development Institute – $45,192 grant. Funds will be used to help partner organizations in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont provide technical assistance to immigrant and refugee farmers from Bhutan, Somalia, Burundi, Sudan and the Congo.
Latino Economic Development Center – $200,000 grant. Funds will be used to provide legal and business training to small Latino and Hmong agricultural producers.
Southwest Development Center Inc. – $150,000 grant. Funds will be used to help set up and manage two food hubs at a food cooperative.
North Carolina A & T State University – $196,120 grant. Funds will be used to help farm businesses develop marketing plans.
North Country Grown Cooperative, Inc. – $109,552 grant. Funds will be used to provide training on peer-to-peer learning and business development practices.
Cooperativa De Ganaderos De Carne De Res – $123,800 grant. Funds will be used to develop a marketing plan, provide legal assistance, and animal health and humane treatment training.
Farmers Cooperative/Community Improvement – $40,700 grant. Funds will be used to provide legal assistance, leadership training and identifying ways to expand agricultural production capabilities.
Intertribal Buffalo Council – $200,000 grant. Funds will be used to provide best management practices training on low-stress handling of buffalo.