USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack on Tuesday announced distribution of $7 million in university research awards focused on small and midsized producers; $8.8 million in technical assistance for small, socially-disadvantaged producers; and a marketing certification program for small grass-fed beef producers as part of the second major USDA package released in 2014 to support small farms.
The first package included efforts to increase access to capital, provide better risk management tools, expand marketing opportunities, and offer food safety training and educational resources specific to America's small and midsize producers.
$7 million in grants
The $7 million in grant awards to 10 universities will develop programs to assist small and medium-sized farmers grow their operations, enhance their production and become economically viable, USDA said.
These awards, made by USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture Agriculture and Food Research Initiative Small and Medium-Sized Farms program, focus on developing models to assist small farmers in their decision making with respect to management strategies, new technologies, sustainability, competitiveness and viability.
The awards also prioritize strategies enhancing access to markets, developing local and regional food systems, assessing the impact of economic changes to new and beginning farmers, and conducting outreach activities which can inform relevant public policy to enhance small farmers' well-being.
A full list of university small farmer grant awardees and their projects is available on the NIFA website.
$8.8 million in funding for technical assistance
The Small, Socially Disadvantaged Producer Grant program will make $3 million available to provide technical assistance to small, socially-disadvantaged agricultural producers through eligible cooperatives and cooperative development centers.
Awardees will be able to conduct market research, product and/or service improvement, feasibility studies, training, and implement business plans. Applications are being accepted through June 30, 2014. More information about how to apply is on the Rural Development website.