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USDA Awards More Than $14 Million for Training and Assistance to Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers

Media Contact: Jennifer Martin, (202) 720-8188

PINE BLUFF, Ark. Dec. 9, 2009 – Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan announced today that USDA is awarding more than $14 million in grants to organizations throughout the country that will provide training and assistance to socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers. The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff and the Arkansas Land and Farm Development Corporation, Brinkley, Ark., will each receive $300,000 in funding. The announcement was part of Merrigan’s keynote address at the South Central Regional Small Business Conference, the second in a series of small business conferences being held as part of USDA’s Food Commodity Contracting Opportunities for Rural America initiative.

“USDA is committed to expanding opportunities for all Americans to succeed in agriculture and to ensuring the success of socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers as they work to feed people in their local communities and throughout the world,” Merrigan said.  “Not only will this conference provide new business opportunities for producers, but the grants we are announcing today will provide the training and assistance to producers who might not traditionally participate in the full range of USDA programs.”

Merrigan said USDA’s Food Commodity Contracting Opportunities for Rural America initiative is designed to enable rural economic growth by increasing small business contracting participation in rural areas of the country. USDA intends to help small farmer-owned cooperatives and small rural businesses to better compete for government and commercial contracts. 

Merrigan also highlighted USDA’s Outreach and Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers (OASDFR) grant program which is administered by USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). Developed to provide increased opportunities for socially disadvantaged producers, the program enables socially disadvantaged producers to successfully acquire, own, operate, and retain farms and ranches, and to assure equitable participation in the full range of USDA programs. A socially disadvantaged farmer or rancher is one of a group whose members have been subjected to racial or ethnic prejudice without regard to their individual qualities.

Generally, socially disadvantaged producers who participate in OASDFR-funded projects develop profitable new farming or ranching practices, receive loans more rapidly, increase their farm or ranch income, continue farming or ranching longer and are less likely to go out of business.

Fiscal year 2009 grants were awarded to:

  • Alabama State Association of Cooperatives, Epes, Ala., $300,000
  • Alabama A&M University, Normal, Ala., $300,000
  • Tuskegee University, Tuskegee, Ala., $300,000
  • Developing Innovations in Navajo Education, Inc., Flagstaff, Ariz., $299,946
  • University of Arizona, Tucson, Ariz., $300,000
  • Arkansas Land and Farm Development Corporation, Brinkley, Ark., $300,000
  • University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, Pine Bluff, Ark., $300,000
  • International Rescue Committee, Phoenix, Ariz ., $300,000
  • National Center for Appropriate Technology, Davis, Calif., $300,000
  • Cachuma Resource Conservation District, Santa Maria, Calif., $96,487
  • California FarmLink, Sebastopol, Calif., $300,000
  • Rural Coalition, Washington, D.C., $299,258
  • Farmworker Association of Florida, Inc., Apopka, Fla., $300,000
  • Federation of Southern Cooperatives, Inc., Albany, Ga., $300,000
  • Fort Valley State University, Fort Valley, Ga., $300,000
  • Kentucky State University, Frank Fort, Ky., $300,000
  • Southern University Agricultural Research & Extension Center, Baton Rouge, La., $300,000
  • University of Maryland Eastern Shore, Princess Anne, Md., $300,000
  • University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Mass., $300,000
  • Michigan Food and Farming Systems, East Lansing, Mich., $300,000
  • Michigan State University, East Lansing, Mich., $300,000
  • Minnesota Food Association, Marine St Croix, Minn., $295,561
  • Farmers` Legal Action Group, Inc., St. Paul, Minn., $300,000
  • Center for Field Services & Research, Itta Bena, Miss., $100,000
  • Winston County Self Help Cooperative, Jackson, Miss., $300,000
  • Mississippi Association of Cooperatives, Jackson, Miss., $300,000
  • Lincoln University, Jefferson City, Mo., $300,000
  • National Tribal Development Association, Granite Falls, Minn., $300,000
  • Indian Nations Conservation Alliance, Twin Bridges, Mont., $300,000
  • University of Nevada Cooperative Extension, Reno, Nev., $300,000
  • New Mexico State University, Alcalde, N.M., $300,000
  • New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, N.M., $300,000
  • Farm to Table, Inc., Santa Fe, N.M., $300,000
  • Council on the Environment, Inc., New York City, N.Y., $225,362
  • North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, Greensboro, N.C., $300,000
  • Operation Spring Plant, Inc., Henderson, N.C., $275,800
  • Langston University, Langston, Okla., $300,000
  • Adelante Mujeres, Forest Grove, Ore., $300,000
  • South Carolina State University, Orangeburg, S.C., $300,000
  • University of Puerto Rico, Agricultural Extension Service, Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, $300,000
  • Tennessee State University, Nashville, Tenn., $300,000
  • Texas AgriLife Extension Service, Weslaco, Texas, $298,734
  • University of Texas-Pan American, Edinburg, Texas, $300,000
  • Prairie View A&M University, Prairie View, Texas, $299,972
  • Texas/Mexico Border Coalition, Rio Grande City, Texas, $300,000
  • Virginia State University, Petersburg, Va., $299,880
  • Washington State University, Wenatchee, Wash., $300,000
  • Rural Community Development Resources, Yakima, Wash., $300,000
  • Growing Power, Inc., Milwaukee, Wisc., $300,000


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