Planting Seeds - Food & Farming News from CDFA

California organizations among USDA Equity in Agriculture grant recipients

From a USDA news release

The USDA has announced a trio of awards totaling nearly $25 million in grants and cooperative agreements intended to ensure broader access and participation in USDA programs and services for historically underserved farmers and ranchers. These efforts are the latest in a series of announcements building momentum around USDA’s historic commitment to root out generations of systemic racism, center equity in decision-making and policymaking, lower barriers to access, and ensure USDA programming is inclusive of all employees and all customers.

“Equity is a vital consideration in all we do at USDA,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

One set of awards announced includes $18.6 million in grants to provide training, outreach, and technical assistance to historically underserved and veteran farmers and ranchers in 21 states through USDA’s 2501 Program. Among the 29 grantee organizations (PDF, 175 KB), the Agriculture and Land-Based Training Association in Salinas, California, will offer farm production and business training to historically underserved producers, a majority of whom are Mexican immigrant farmworkers and beginning farmers seeking career advancement or independent farm ownership. Kitchen Food Ventures Inc. of the Inland Empire also received funding for technical assistance and other assistance programs for socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers. Learn more about the 2501 program.

Additionally, USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) is awarding $4.7 million to organizations for projects that will provide historically underserved producers with improved access and technical assistance as they apply for and make use of Farm Service Agency programs and services. USDA programs for which the projects will provide outreach and technical assistance include pandemic assistance programs, including the signup re-opening of the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program 2 (CFAP 2). The projects funded will also ensure ample outreach to historically underserved producers for FSA’s farm programs. California grant recipients in this programs are California Farmlink and the CSU Fresno Foundation. Read the full FSA press release.

USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service is funding $1.73 million for nine projects to improve the oversight capacity of the organic industry by supporting and expanding the pool of qualified inspectors, reviewers and other professionals who oversee organic production—now and in the future. The funded projects provide support across the human capital pipeline, from initial workforce development to creating resources for existing professionals. The initiative also supports the Biden-Harris Administration commitment to advancing equity, by removing barriers to access and building inclusive programs. Read the full AMS press release.

This announcement follows USDA’s recent call for nominations for an Equity Commission. The Equity Commission will advise the Secretary of Agriculture by identifying recommendations for how USDA can take steps to address programs, policies, systems, structures, and practices that contribute to barriers to inclusion or access, systemic discrimination, or exacerbate or perpetuate racial, economic, health and social disparities.

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