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Release No. 0490.02
 
Printable VersionPrintable Version
 
Contact:
USDA Office of Communication (202) 720-4623
Alisa Harrison (202) 720-4623
Eric Edgington (202) 690-2539
 

USDA AWARDS $18.5 MILLION IN GRANTS AND AGREEMENTS TO DEVELOP RISK MANAGEMENT TOOLS AND EDUCATION

WASHINGTON, Dec.2, 2002--Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Veneman today announced the awarding of $18.5 million dollars in grants to help provide new ways for producers to manage risks to their businesses and for outreach and educational opportunities to women, limited-resource and other traditionally underserved farmers and ranchers.

"USDA is committed to providing farmers and ranchers risk management tools to build and maintain their businesses," Veneman said. "These projects will help create opportunities for underserved, small and limited-resource producers so that they can become better risk managers."

Research and Development Grants--$9.8 million

Of the $18.5 million, $9.8 million was awarded to qualified public and private organizations for research and develop of new risk management tools for underserved producers. For example, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's Board of Regents web-based project will allow producers to analyze potential risks of climate and soil hazards to crops and livestock. The Georgia Organics partnership agreement will develop a tool to help farmers select direct marketing strategies of organic commodities to reduce their income variation.

Education Agreements--$5.5 million

Specialty crop producers and farmers in underserved states will benefit from $5.5 million in partnership agreements. Of this amount, $3.7 million will be spent on 72 projects to help educate farmers of commodities that are not yet covered by federal crop insurance and specialty crops producers. Farmers and ranchers in 15 states that have been traditionally underserved by federal crop insurance will benefit from $1.8 million in education agreements, which will be spent on 13 crop insurance education and information agreements.

The partnerships that fall under these categories include the Texas-Mexico Border Coalition agreement , to help provide risk management education to Hispanic specialty crop producers in Texas. The Michigan Department of Agriculture agreement will provide training opportunities to small and mid-size fruit, vegetable, and timber producers in Michigan. The Hiawatha Valley Resource , Conservation and Development Association agreement will conduct risk management training for producers in Minnesota, Iowa and Wisconsin with the goal of accelerating the adoption of reduced fertilizer application, as recommended in university research and as envisioned in new crop insurance plans.

Outreach Partnerships--$3.2 million

Forty-five competitively awarded partnerships with community-based, educational and nonprofit organizations will use $3.2 million dollars to educate women, limited-resource and other traditionally underserved farmers and ranchers. For example, an agreement with the Agricultural & Land Based Training Association will provide risk management training to beginning Latino farmers on the central coast of California.

The Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group agreement will develop interactive, web-based training to help improve the economic viability of small- to moderate-scale producers of organic horticultural products in the South. An agreement with the Regents of the University of Minnesota will help Hmong farmers in the state improve production and management practices.

The projects were funded and awarded by the Risk Management Agency (RMA). The agency's extensive network of public and private sector partnerships annually generates new market-driven insurance products, educational initiatives and the sales and servicing of nearly 1.3 million policies covering over 215 million acres and providing farmers over $37 billion in coverage (current as of Nov. 25, 2002).

In 2000, changes to the program made premiums more affordable and most farmers increased their coverage levels. Participation at higher levels of coverage means that RMA and private crop insurance companies automatically provide more assistance to farmers when disaster strikes. In 2002, an estimated 80 percent of the acreage growing the principal U. S. crops are insured. USDA estimates that the program will pay thousands of hard-hit farmers about $4.1 billion in claims for lost production-a record high.

Detailed information on the 2002 partnership agreements can be obtained at http://www.rma.usda.gov /news/2002/11/agreements.html, including recipients, amounts, targeted audiences and contact people.

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