Over $27 million given to underserved and veteran farmers
By: Sydney Sheffield
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced over $27 million in grants to underserved and veteran farmers, ranchers, and foresters. The funding will provide training, outreach, and technical assistance to help them own and operate successful farms, ranches, and forest lands. Funding is made through USDA’s 2501 Program. The 2501 program is administered by the USDA Office of Partnerships and Public Engagement (OPPE).
“The 2501 Program demonstrates USDA’s commitment to improving the livelihoods of the country’s underserved and veteran farmers, ranchers, and foresters by ensuring that they have access to and are equipped with the resources, knowledge, and tools to be successful,” said OPPE Director Lisa Ramirez. “This program is part of USDA’s commitment to equity and inclusion for underserved communities and reducing barriers to USDA programs and resources.”
The 2501 Program was created through the 1990 Farm Bill to help underserved farmers, ranchers, and foresters who have historically experienced limited access to USDA loans, grants, training, and technical assistance. The 2014 Farm Bill expanded the program to include veterans. Grants are awarded to higher education institutions and nonprofit and community-based organizations to extend USDA’s engagement efforts in underserved and veteran communities. Projects funded under the 2501 Program include conferences, workshops, and demonstrations on various farming techniques, and connecting underserved farmers and ranchers to USDA resources and services. Since 2010, the 2501 Program has provided more than $221 million dollars to fund more than 657 projects.
The priorities of the 2501 program include:
- Assist socially disadvantaged or veteran farmers and ranchers in owning and operating successful farms and ranches
- Improve participation among socially disadvantaged or veteran farmers and ranchers in USDA programs
- Build relationships between current and prospective farmers and ranchers who are socially disadvantaged or veterans and USDA’s local, state, regional, and National offices
- Introduce agriculture-related information to socially disadvantaged or veteran farmers and ranchers through innovative training and technical assistance techniques
- Introduce agricultural education targeting youth and beginning socially disadvantaged and veteran farmers
One recipient of the funding is Tennessee State University, which will provide training to new and beginning, veteran farmers in all areas of agriculture and USDA Programs and Services. There will be a Veteran Boot Camp which will provide a 4-day intense training and make farm visits to assist new veterans in the areas of production and marketing. There will also be various classes and workshops discussing the production and marketing of all types of vegetables and fruits, how to develop and grow your business, animal production and management, and writing business plans.
Another receipt is the Alcorn State University Policy Research Center which will conduct research, analyze policy, and make recommendations seeking to achieve equitable and economic integration of USDA programs and policies for socially disadvantaged farmers, ranchers, communities, and rural landowners. The vision of the Policy Center is to be the premiere authority for information on the history, current conditions, trends, and future projections of socially disadvantaged farmers, ranchers, and communities.
See the full list of funded projects here.