Agriculture Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden today awarded 17 grants in 12 states to help small, socially disadvantaged agricultural producers expand their operations and create jobs.
"These grants help small producers and other business owners who often lack access to the capital and technical assistance they need to grow and prosper," Harden said. "This funding is an example of the Obama Administration's dedication to the economic stability of rural communities throughout the nation. By providing assistance to small and diverse producers, USDA is expanding healthy food options in small and economically diverse markets. Additionally, many of these grants will allow even the smallest producers to take advantage of the latest innovations in ag production."
USDA is investing $3 million through the Small Socially Disadvantaged Producer Grant program. The program funds technical assistance and other services to help producers develop new markets and business opportunities.
For example, the Mississippi Association of Cooperatives is receiving a $200,000 grant to provide innovative technical assistance tools such as personal and business record-keeping, business planning and marketing assistance. The University of Texas-Pan American has been selected for a $197,317 grant to help small-scale Hispanic producers market their food to local businesses and consumers.
Below is a complete list of grant recipients. The funding is contingent upon the recipient meeting the terms of the grant agreement.
- Tuskegee University – $188,899 grant; To help 150 socially disadvantaged agricultural producers in the Black Belt region secure profitable markets to sell their produce.
- Alabama State Association of Cooperatives – $200,000 grant; To help African-American producers of vegetable and forest products in Greene, Wilcox, Hale, Pickens, Marengo, Choctaw and Sumter counties.
- San Xavier Cooperative Association, Inc. – $188,129 grant; To provide business planning and marketing assistance to socially disadvantaged producers.
- University of Arkansas-Pine Bluff – $169,066 grant; To develop business plans, conservation plans, market research and other tools to help socially disadvantaged producers and two vegetable cooperatives.
- Southern California Focus on Cooperation – $200,000 grant; To provide training on growing practices, crop planning, processing and post-harvest handling to immigrant and refugee farmers and cooperatives.
- The Kohala Center, Inc. – $197,219; To provide technical assistance to the Maui Acquaponics Workers Cooperative, the Palili 'O Kohala Cooperative, the Ka'u Coffee Growers Cooperative and the Molokai Livestock Cooperative.
- Coastal Communities Consulting, Inc. – $200,000 grant; To provide legal assistance, business planning and marketing plan development to socially disadvantaged commercial fishermen.
- World Farmers, Inc. – $135,188 grant; To provide technical assistance on harvesting, marketing and post-harvest practices to 225 immigrant, socially disadvantaged and refugee farmers to ultimately result in access to new and innovative marketing opportunities for their crops.
- Cooperative Development Institute Inc. – $100,743 grant; To provide cooperative development training and technical assistance to refugee farmers primarily from Somalia, Bhutan, Burundi, Sudan and the Congo, collaboratively with four partners: the Association for Africans Living in Vermont, the Organization for Refugee and Immigrant Success, Cultivating Community, and the U.S. Kenyan Somalian Cross Border Trader's Association.
- Tri County Agricultural Cooperative – $200,000 grant; To help socially disadvantaged agricultural producers develop diversified farms and utilize production and management strategies that will enhance their long-term viability.
- Mississippi Association of Cooperatives – $200,000 grant; To provide technical assistance tools such as personal and business record-keeping, business planning and marketing assistance.
- Southwest Development Center, Inc. – $188,255 grant; To provide accounting and financial management training to socially disadvantaged producers, and to help develop a cooperative food hub and a Native American food hub.
- Capacity Builders, Inc. – $174,984 grant; To provide technical assistance, research, legal advice, feasibility studies and business plan assistance for the "Earth Mother Agricultural Initiative."
- Farmers Cooperative Community Improvement – $100,000 grant; To provide technical assistance to help socially disadvantaged producers develop marketing plans, risk management and whole-farm planning.
- SCF-Organic Farms, LTD – $200,000 grant; To complete an organic farming progress study, conduct on-farm pest management workshops and conduct on-farm land preparation demonstrations for socially disadvantaged producers.
- University of Texas-Pan American – $197,317 grant; To increase the capacity of small-scale Hispanic producers to improve production technologies and serve local markets.
- Northwest Cooperative Development Center – $160,200 grant; To help socially disadvantaged producers become sustainable cooperative businesses.
The Small Socially Disadvantaged Producer Grant program is one of many USDA programs that help rural businesses. Since the start of the Obama Administration, USDA has provided more than 18,000 loans and grants that have helped 74,000 rural businesses. Many of these grants have allowed producers to engage in the local food market sector and support their regional economies. In 2010, for example, USDA Rural Development awarded Minnesota's Hillside Farmers Co-Op a Small Socially Disadvantaged Producer Grant to help develop small-scale sustainable farms.
The Co-op is a partnership between Latino farmers, including recent immigrants, and established farmers in southeastern Minnesota. They are working together to produce sustainable foods and build healthier communities. The co-op pairs immigrant families with established farmers in the area who rent out their land for gardening and poultry production.
President Obama's historic investments in rural America have made our rural communities stronger. Under his leadership, these investments in housing, community facilities, businesses and infrastructure have empowered rural America to continue leading the way – strengthening America's economy, small towns and rural communities.