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USDA to offer $15 million to socially disadvantaged and veteran farmer groups

USDA announced approximately $15 million in funding will be available to help socially disadvantaged and veteran farmers and ranchers.

According to the 1990 Farm Bill, a socially disadvantaged group is defined as, “A farmer or rancher who is a member of one or more of the following groups whose members have been subjected to racial or ethnic prejudice because of their identity as members of a group without regard to their individual qualities.” Groups include, but are not limited to, African-Americans, American Indians, Alaskan Natives, Hispanics, Asians, and Pacific Islanders.

“Socially disadvantaged and veteran farmers and ranchers deserve equal access to USDA programs and services,” said Mike Beatty, director of the USDA Office of Partnerships and Public Engagement.

The funding comes from the USDA’s Outreach and Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers and Veteran Farmers and Ranchers Program, also known as the 2501 Program. It is administered by the USDA Office of Partnerships and Public Engagement.

For 30 years, the 2501 Program has helped reach socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers who have experienced barriers to service due to racial or ethnic prejudice. The 2014 Farm Bill expanded the program to veteran farmers and ranchers. The 2018 Farm Bill increased mandatory funding for the program through fiscal year 2023. With 2501 program grants, nonprofits, institutions of higher education, and Indian tribes can support socially disadvantaged and veteran farmers and ranchers through education, training, farming demonstrations, and conferences on farming and agri-business, and by increasing access to USDA’s programs and services.

Since 1994, 484 grants totaling more than $119 million have been awarded. Among recent FY 2019 grantees, Developing Innovation in Navajo Education, Inc. was awarded funds to improve the operations and profitability of Arizona’s Navajo socially disadvantaged and veteran farmers and ranchers, and increase the local production and consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables and healthy food. The Mississippi Association of Cooperatives helped socially disadvantaged and veteran farmers and ranchers and youth own and operate viable agricultural enterprises through an educational outreach program on farm management practices, financial management, and marketing.

Eligible program applicants include not-for-profit organizations, community-based organizations, and a range of higher education institutions serving African American, American Indian, Alaska Native, Hispanic, Asian, and Pacific Islander communities. Applicants may be awarded up to $450,000.

The deadline for application is August 26, 2020. The request for application can be found here. A list of frequently asked questions about the 2501 Program can be found here.

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