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News Release

Release No. 0604.09
USDA Office of Communications (202) 720-4623

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USDA Awards More Than $14 Million for Training and Assistance to Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers

PINE BLUFF, Ark. Dec. 9, 2009 – Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan announced today that USDA is awarding more than $14 million in grants to organizations throughout the country that will provide training and assistance to socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers. The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff and the Arkansas Land and Farm Development Corporation, Brinkley, Ark., will each receive $300,000 in funding. The announcement was part of Merrigan's keynote address at the South Central Regional Small Business Conference, the second in a series of small business conferences being held as part of USDA's Food Commodity Contracting Opportunities for Rural America initiative.

"USDA is committed to expanding opportunities for all Americans to succeed in agriculture and to ensuring the success of socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers as they work to feed people in their local communities and throughout the world," Merrigan said. "Not only will this conference provide new business opportunities for producers, but the grants we are announcing today will provide the training and assistance to producers who might not traditionally participate in the full range of USDA programs."

Merrigan said USDA's Food Commodity Contracting Opportunities for Rural America initiative is designed to enable rural economic growth by increasing small business contracting participation in rural areas of the country. USDA intends to help small farmer-owned cooperatives and small rural businesses to better compete for government and commercial contracts.

Merrigan also highlighted USDA's Outreach and Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers (OASDFR) grant program which is administered by USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). Developed to provide increased opportunities for socially disadvantaged producers, the program enables socially disadvantaged producers to successfully acquire, own, operate, and retain farms and ranches, and to assure equitable participation in the full range of USDA programs. A socially disadvantaged farmer or rancher is one of a group whose members have been subjected to racial or ethnic prejudice without regard to their individual qualities.

Generally, socially disadvantaged producers who participate in OASDFR-funded projects develop profitable new farming or ranching practices, receive loans more rapidly, increase their farm or ranch income, continue farming or ranching longer and are less likely to go out of business.

Fiscal year 2009 grants were awarded to:

Alabama State Association of Cooperatives, Epes, Ala., $300,000

Alabama A&M University, Normal, Ala., $300,000

Tuskegee University, Tuskegee, Ala., $300,000

Developing Innovations in Navajo Education, Inc., Flagstaff, Ariz., $299,946

University of Arizona, Tucson, Ariz., $300,000

Arkansas Land and Farm Development Corporation, Brinkley, Ark., $300,000

University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, Pine Bluff, Ark., $300,000

International Rescue Committee, Phoenix, Ariz ., $300,000

National Center for Appropriate Technology, Davis, Calif., $300,000

Cachuma Resource Conservation District, Santa Maria, Calif., $96,487

California FarmLink, Sebastopol, Calif., $300,000

Rural Coalition, Washington, D.C., $299,258

Farmworker Association of Florida, Inc., Apopka, Fla., $300,000

Federation of Southern Cooperatives, Inc., Albany, Ga., $300,000

Fort Valley State University, Fort Valley, Ga., $300,000

Kentucky State University, Frank Fort, Ky., $300,000

Southern University Agricultural Research & Extension Center, Baton Rouge, La., $300,000

University of Maryland Eastern Shore, Princess Anne, Md., $300,000

University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Mass., $300,000

Michigan Food and Farming Systems, East Lansing, Mich., $300,000

Michigan State University, East Lansing, Mich., $300,000

Minnesota Food Association, Marine St Croix, Minn., $295,561

Farmers` Legal Action Group, Inc., St. Paul, Minn., $300,000

Center for Field Services & Research, Itta Bena, Miss., $100,000

Winston County Self Help Cooperative, Jackson, Miss., $300,000

Mississippi Association of Cooperatives, Jackson, Miss., $300,000

Lincoln University, Jefferson City, Mo., $300,000

National Tribal Development Association, Granite Falls, Minn., $300,000

Indian Nations Conservation Alliance, Twin Bridges, Mont., $300,000

University of Nevada Cooperative Extension, Reno, Nev., $300,000

New Mexico State University, Alcalde, N.M., $300,000

New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, N.M., $300,000

Farm to Table, Inc., Santa Fe, N.M., $300,000

Council on the Environment, Inc., New York City, N.Y., $225,362

North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, Greensboro, N.C., $300,000

Operation Spring Plant, Inc., Henderson, N.C., $275,800

Langston University, Langston, Okla., $300,000

Adelante Mujeres, Forest Grove, Ore., $300,000

South Carolina State University, Orangeburg, S.C., $300,000

University of Puerto Rico, Agricultural Extension Service, Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, $300,000

Tennessee State University, Nashville, Tenn., $300,000

Texas AgriLife Extension Service, Weslaco, Texas, $298,734

University of Texas-Pan American, Edinburg, Texas, $300,000

Prairie View A&M University, Prairie View, Texas, $299,972

Texas/Mexico Border Coalition, Rio Grande City, Texas, $300,000

Virginia State University, Petersburg, Va., $299,880

Washington State University, Wenatchee, Wash., $300,000

Rural Community Development Resources, Yakima, Wash., $300,000

Growing Power, Inc., Milwaukee, Wisc., $300,000

Through federal funding and leadership for research, education and extension programs, NIFA focuses on investing in science and solving critical issues impacting people's daily lives and the nation's future. For more information, visit .


USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender. To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Ave., S.W., Washington, D.C. 20250-9410 or call (800) 795-3272(voice), or (202) 720-6382 (TDD).