The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) just announced up to $16 million in available funding to help socially disadvantaged and veteran farmers and ranchers own and operate successful farms. Funding is made through the USDA’s Outreach and Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers and Veteran Farmers and Ranchers Program (also known as the 2501 Program). The program is administered by the USDA Office of Partnerships and Public Engagement (OPPE).
“All farmers and ranchers deserve equal access to USDA programs and services,” said Mike Beatty, director of the USDA Office of Partnerships and Public Engagement. “2501 grants go a long way in fulfilling our mission to reach historically underserved communities and ensure their equitable participation in our programs.”
As with so many other states, Arizona has an extensive legacy of veterans returning to agriculture after service, including young veterans wanting to get into farming for the first time. “Our rural communities have always had close ties to our military forces,” said Arizona Farm Bureau President Stefanie Smallhouse. “Historically, rural recruits have always stepped up in great numbers to serve in our military. Those young men and women come back to live and work in our rural communities and any way we can thank them for their service through supporting their efforts to grow food and fiber is a truly worthwhile funding.”
Arizona Farm Bureau’s CEO, Philip Bashaw, added, “The agriculture industry is one of the most rewarding industries to work in, unfortunately, the barriers to entry can be high and prohibitive for beginning farmers. We applaud this funding to assist those interested in agriculture to clear those barriers.”
For 30 years, the 2501 Program has helped reach socially disadvantaged agricultural producers – farmers and ranchers who have experienced barriers to service due to racial or ethnic prejudice. The 2014 Farm Bill expanded the program’s reach to veterans. The 2018 Farm Bill boosts mandatory funding for the program through FY 2023. With 2501 Program grants, nonprofits, institutions of higher education and Indian Tribes can support underserved and veteran farmers and ranchers through education, training, demonstrations, and conferences on farming and agribusiness, and by increasing access to USDA’s programs and services.
Since 1994, the 2501 Program has awarded 451 grants totaling more than $103 million. Eligible 2501 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.
The deadline for applications is August 15, 2019. See the request for applications for full details.
OPPE will host a teleconference during the open period of this announcement to answer questions from interested applicants.
- August 6, 2019, 2:00 p.m. ET, 800-230-1059, passcode:469846