Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has announced the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is now accepting applications to provide technical assistance to socially-disadvantaged groups in rural areas.
"These grants will help socially-disadvantaged business owners develop the tools and skills they need to grow their enterprises and succeed at creating jobs and expanding economic opportunities in rural areas," Vilsack said. "American agriculture is becoming increasingly diverse in many ways, with more minorities and women seeking to enter the field, as well as greater diversity in the age of farmers, the size of operations, in production methods, and in the types of crops being grown. All of these forms of diversity help strengthen U.S. agriculture for the future."
“One of USDA Rural Development’s missions is to provide assistance that will increase the economic conditions of rural communities,” said Texas State Director Paco Valentin. “These grants allow eligible applicants to provide technical assistance to socially disadvantaged groups in rural areas and in turn, promote job creation and improve their operations.”
Examples of technical assistance are conducting feasibility studies, developing business and strategic plans, and providing leadership training.
USDA plans to make up to $3 million in grants available. The maximum award under this notice is $175,000. More information on how to apply can be found on page 28937 of the May 20 Federal Register (http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2015-05-20/html/2015-12225.htm). Applications submitted by mail must be postmarked by July 20, 2015. Electronic applications must be submitted at www.grants.gov no later than midnight Eastern Time July 14, 2015.
Eligible applicants include groups of cooperatives, cooperative development centers and individual cooperatives that serve socially-disadvantaged groups. The cooperatives or centers can be located in any area, but the groups assisted must be located in an eligible rural area. Also, the majority of the governing body of the organization must be compromised of individuals who are members of socially-disadvantaged groups.
USDA Rural Development is encouraging applications for projects in census tracts with poverty rates of 20 percent or higher. All grants are awarded through a national competition.
USDA, through its Rural Development mission area, administers and manages housing, business and community infrastructure and facility programs through a national network of state and local offices. These programs are designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents, farmers and ranchers and improve the quality of life in rural America. For information on this and other USDA Rural Development programs in Texas, visit http://www.rd.usda.gov/tx.