Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced grants to support small, socially disadvantaged agriculture producers. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) remains focused on carrying out its mission, despite a time of significant budget uncertainty. Today's announcement is one part of the Department's efforts to strengthen the rural economy.
"These grants will help socially-disadvantaged business owners get the tools they need to succeed and expand markets across the nation," said Vilsack. "This funding is an example of the Obama Administration's dedication to the economic stability of rural communities throughout the country."
Funding is provided through USDA's Small Socially Disadvantaged Producer Grant program, which offers technical assistance to help producers develop new markets and grow their operations. For example, the Latino Economic Development Center in Minneapolis has been selected to receive a $200,000 grant to provide legal and business training to small Latino and Hmong agricultural producers.
A complete list of grant recipients follows below. The funding is contingent upon the recipient meeting the terms of the grant agreement.
Alabama A&M University -- $195,730 grant. Funds will be used to help socially disadvantaged producers build sustainable farming and agricultural businesses.
Southern California Focus on Cooperation -- $200,000 grant. Funds will be used to provide technical assistance and cooperative education to refugee and immigrant farmers.
The Kohala Center, Inc. -- $151,913 grant. Funds will be used to provide technical assistance to Palili 'O Kohala Cooperative, Maui Aquaponics Cooperative, Kau Agricultural Water Cooperative, and Cho Global Farming Cooperative.
Pembroke Family Farmers Association -- $153,925 grant. Funds will be used to help create business management practices.
Kentucky State University -- $103,450 grant. Funds will be used to help small socially-disadvantaged producers develop cooperatives, register and secure proper title to farmland, and fully utilize various USDA programs that assist small farmers.
Cooperative Development Institute -- $45,192 grant. Funds will be used to help partner organizations in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont provide technical assistance to immigrant and refugee farmers from Bhutan, Somalia, Burundi, Sudan and the Congo.
Latino Economic Development Center -- $200,000 grant. Funds will be used to provide legal and business training to small Latino and Hmong agricultural producers.
Southwest Development Center Inc. -- $150,000 grant. Funds will be used to help set up and manage two food hubs at a food cooperative.
North Carolina A & T State University -- $196,120 grant. Funds will be used to help farm businesses develop marketing plans.
North Country Grown Cooperative, Inc. -- $109,552 grant. Funds will be used to provide training on peer-to-peer learning and business development practices.
Cooperativa De Ganaderos De Carne De Res -- $123,800 grant. Funds will be used to develop a marketing plan, provide legal assistance, and animal health and humane treatment training.
Farmers Cooperative/Community Improvement -- $40,700 grant. Funds will be used to provide legal assistance, leadership training and identifying ways to expand agricultural production capabilities.
Intertribal Buffalo Council -- $200,000 grant. Funds will be used to provide best management practices training on low-stress handling of buffalo.
Secretary Vilsack noted that today's funding announcements are another reminder of the importance of USDA programs for rural America. A comprehensive new Food, Farm and Jobs Bill would further expand the rural economy -- and he said that's just one reason why Congress must get a Food, Farm and Jobs Bill done as soon as possible.
President Obama's plan for rural America has brought about historic investment and resulted in stronger rural communities. Under the President's 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. USDA's investments in rural communities support the rural way of life that stands as the backbone of our American values. President Obama and Agriculture Secretary Vilsack are committed to a smarter use of Federal resources to foster sustainable economic prosperity and ensure the government is a strong partner for businesses, entrepreneurs and working families in rural communities.