The U.S. Department of Agriculture (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, 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. In Massachusetts, the New Entry Sustainable Farming Project will provide training and resources to help underserved producers access land, own and operate economically viable farms, meet community demands for locally grown food, and access USDA programs and services. Learn more about the 2501 program.
"New Entry was one of the first programs in Massachusetts to serve immigrants and refugee to transition their knowledge to farming in New England."
New Entry Sustainable Farming Project’s goal with this project is to reach over 900 socially disadvantaged (SD) and veteran farmers across 3 Massachusetts counties to provide training and technical assistance to improve their direct market, high-value commercial farming enterprises in order to own and operate economically viable farms. These farmers are critical to meeting community demands for locally grown food. The outreach will help these farmers access USDA programs and services and gain skills in climate resilient agricultural production and farm business management. New Entry will collaborate with 17 governmental/nonprofit agencies to support immigrants and refugees with farming backgrounds in a linguistically and culturally appropriate manner, and will outreach to other underserved beginning farmers, urban minorities, and recent military veterans through veteran outreach partnerships.
New Entry will offer “Explore Farming” workshops that will help prospective farmers conduct a skills and asset assessment of their readiness to start a commercial farm operation. The project will also offer hands-on Crop Production Courses through a demonstration plot at Moraine Farm. New Entry offers a USDA Farm Service Agency-accredited Farm Business Training Courses approved for borrowers. Incubator farm plots will make land available to farmer and individual technical assistance will connect producers to USDA loan programs, conservation planning, cost-share, and marketing programs. New Entry Director Jennifer Hashley says, “We are excited to have this critical support to provide racially and culturally diverse farmers with the supports they need to succeed in farming. New Entry was one of the first programs in Massachusetts to serve immigrants and refugee to transition their knowledge to farming in New England. We look forward to continuing our legacy and supporting more farmers of color and veterans to succeed and to provide food to their communities.”