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USDA Announces More Than $71 Million to Support Underserved Communities

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WASHINGTON, Oct. 14, 2022 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced today a more than $71 million investment to help underserved communities.

Funding is made possible through two key USDA programs: USDA’s 2501 Program and the American Rescue Plan Technical Assistance Investment Program. These investments are part of USDA’s commitment to take aggressive action to advance equity for all, especially for farmers and producers in underserved communities.

“This is a major step in the right direction as the Biden-Harris Administration continues to ensure underserved groups can more fully access and participate in federal programs and services,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “We are committed to building a different USDA. One that is steadfast in our actions, mindset and culture around equality and justice for all. We need to not only envision a different future, but also build a path to make it possible.”

The 2501 Program extends USDA’s outreach to underserved communities by partnering with nonprofit and community-based organizations and higher education institutions to provide technical assistance and training. USDA’s Office of Partnerships and Public Engagement (OPPE) administers the program. This investment enables underserved and veteran farmers, ranchers, and foresters get needed resources to support a successful farming operation and increase profits.

Under this investment, USDA is investing $36.1 million in grants to 52 organizations (PDF, 769 KB) across the country for outreach and technical assistance to underserved and veteran farmers, ranchers and foresters. Grants are awarded to higher education institutions and nonprofit and community-based organizations to extend USDA’s engagement efforts in underserved and veteran communities.

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Among the 2501 Program grantees, Alabama A&M University received a $750,000 grant towards its mentoring programs that assist Alabama farmers in growing and sustaining their agricultural operations and bridging the gap for producers that lack access to land, capital, markets and government programs.

Pennsylvania Friends of Agriculture Foundation received a $543,296 grant to support their “Building Ready and Resilient Veteran Farms” with the purpose of fostering connections among beginning veteran farmers and service providers to create a supportive network that will enable veteran farmers to thrive.

University of Hawaii Systems received a $743,667 grant to provide language-appropriate training on financial literacy, business planning, and conservation agriculture for immigrant farmers with limited English proficiency in Hawaii.

The 2501 Program, also called “Outreach and Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged and Veteran Farmers and Ranchers Program,” has awarded 615 grants totaling $194 million since 2010.

The American Rescue Plan Technical Assistance Investment program is administered by USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). This program ensures equitable participation in the full range of USDA programs and services among underserved farmers, ranchers, forest landowners and operators through technical assistance projects and networks.

“These projects will deliver specialized technical support to underserved producer communities to benefit the launch, growth, resilience and success of their agricultural enterprises. The ARPTAI Program is one of many USDA efforts to foster equity and reduce barriers to access our programs and services,” said Acting NIFA Director Dr. Dionne Toombs.

USDA-NIFA is slated to invest $35.1 million in cooperative agreements to 13 universities and nonprofit organizations across the nation.

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Among the group of cooperators, the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley has been selected to receive $3,487,564 to provide a range of enhanced technical assistance services, delivered by a strong partnership of organizations in Texas.

The Southwest Indian Agricultural Association, Inc., of Arizona has been selected to receive $1,494,250 to partner with USDA to deliver targeted technical assistance and provide training focused on improving business management skills, promoting local food production, and increasing resiliency in Native American producer communities in the Southwest.

USDA touches the lives of all Americans each day in so many positive ways. In the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA is transforming America’s food system with a greater focus on more resilient local and regional food production, fairer markets for all producers, ensuring access to safe, healthy and nutritious food in all communities, building new markets and streams of income for farmers and producers using climate smart food and forestry practices, making historic investments in infrastructure and clean energy capabilities in rural America, and committing to equity across the Department by removing systemic barriers and building a workforce more representative of America. To learn more, visit www.usda.gov.

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USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer, and lender.

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