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USDA announces various funding for underserved and veteran farmers 

By: Sydney Sheffield 

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced a variety of funding for underserved and veteran farmers. First, vided an availability of up to $125 million through two new grant programs that will create more options for meat and poultry farmers by investing in independent, local meat and poultry processing projects that increase competition and enhance the resiliency of the food supply chain. Second, USDA announced an additional $45 million available to organizations that help underserved and veteran farmers, ranchers, and foresters own and operate successful farms.

The two new grant programs, the Indigenous Animals Harvesting and Meat Processing Grant Program (IAG) and the Local Meat Capacity Grant Program (Local MCap) are part of the broader $1 billion American Rescue Plan investment to expand processing capacity for small and midsized meat and poultry processors. 

“This is the latest step in USDA’s transformational work to fill gaps and help small and underserved producers market their products, support thriving local and regional food systems by investing in processing capacity that’s closer to farms, and alleviate major bottlenecks in food and agricultural supply chains,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “Importantly, we’re also taking steps to increase the overall availability of protein from indigenous animals like bison, reindeer, and salmon, which have been the backbone of tribal food systems for generations.”

IAG supports traditional harvesting methods and community animal protein processing operations. The goal is to enhance or expand animal protein processing capacity in Indian countries. Eligible activities will demonstrate the ability to improve harvesting, processing, and packaging to create more resilient, diverse, and secure indigenous food systems. Local MCap supports independently owned meat and poultry processing businesses with funds to provide more and better processing options for local livestock producers by modernizing, increasing, diversifying, and decentralizing meat and poultry processing capacity, including support for rendering.  

The additional $45 million for underserved and veteran farmers is made through USDA’s Outreach and Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers and Veteran Farmers and Ranchers Program, also known as the 2501 Program. This program is administered by the USDA Office of Partnerships and Public Engagement (OPPE). Since 2010, the 2501 Program has awarded 615 grants totaling more than $194 million. 

“By supporting organizations that work with veterans and underserved groups, 2501 Program funding can help these individuals access and participate in USDA programs and services,” said OPPE Director Lisa Ramirez. “This program demonstrates USDA’s commitment to advance equity and lower barriers to USDA resources.”

Eligible applicants for the funding include nonprofit organizations, community-based organizations, federally recognized tribes, tribal organizations, and a range of higher education institutions serving veteran farmers and African American, American Indian, Alaska Native, Hispanic, Asian, and Pacific Islander communities. Applications close July 25, 2023. 

Learn more about applying for a grant here