USDA announces grants to help veterans and minority farmers get started in agriculture

USDA Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden has announced the availability of over $9 million in outreach and technical assistance for minority farmers and ranchers and military veterans that are new to farming and ranching. The funding, provided through the Outreach and Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers and Veteran Farmers and Ranchers Program, also known as the 2501 Program, will enable community-based organizations and other partners to work directly with these groups to successfully acquire, own and operate farms and ranches and equitably participate in all USDA programs.

“The future face of agriculture needs to be varied in experience, background and knowledge to meet the demand of the 21st century,” said Deputy Secretary Harden. “The 2501 Program enables USDA to bring more farmers and ranchers into American agriculture by partnering with the institutions, land-grant universities and other organizations that work directly with these diverse communities. Through these critical partnerships, we will build a stronger agricultural future for our country and for the world.”

Deputy Secretary Harden made this announcement at the White House during the Future of American Agriculture Champions of Change event celebrating the next generation of America’s farmers and ranchers.

Through the 2501 Program, support is distributed to entities that work with minority or veteran farmers and ranchers — 1890 Land Grant Institutions, 1994 Land Grant Institutions, American Indian Tribal community colleges and Alaska Native cooperative colleges, Hispanic-serving and other institutions of higher education, Tribal governments and organizations, or community-based organizations. The 2501 Program, administered by the USDA’s Office of Advocacy and Outreach, has distributed over $57 million to 188 partners since 2010. The 2014 Farm Bill reauthorized the program and expanded targeted communities to include military veterans. Applications for 2501 Program funding will be accepted through August 25, 2014.

America’s farmers and ranchers continue to become more diverse. According to the 2012 Agricultural Census, minority and historically under-represented communities are part of the continued growth among new and beginning farmers and ranchers. According to the Census, 22 percent of all farmers were beginning farmers in 2012. That means 1 out of every 5 farmers operated a farm for less than 10 years.

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