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October 29, 2004   Email to Friend 

Debra Davis
(334) 613-4686
October 29, 2004

WASHINGTON, D.C. - USDA is awarding 22 competitive grants totaling more than $5.9 million to strengthen efforts aimed at serving minority and disadvantaged farmers. Tuskegee University and Alabama A&M University each will receive $300,000 in grants.

Tuskegee UniversitY will receive $300,000, to work with minority farmers, specifically Native American and Hispanic/Latino farm families to develop, and implement programs so that eligible farmers and their family members may apply for and acquire farms, equipment and housing.

"We are committed to helping the nation's minority and socially disadvantaged farmers," said Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Veneman. "The grants will help many farmers and ranchers to successfully acquire, own, operate and retain farms and ranches by delivering a wide range of outreach and assistance activities including farm management, financial management and marketing."

The grants announced today are part of the Outreach and Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers (OASDFR) Program, also referred to as the 2501, and are administered by USDA's Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service (CSREES). 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.

Veneman said that USDA is working to improve services to minority and socially disadvantaged farmers including creating USDA's Office of Minority and Socially Disadvantaged Farmers Assistance (MSDA), established almost two years ago to work with minority and socially disadvantaged farmers who have concerns and questions about loan applications. The office, operated by the Farm Service Agency, is open from Monday to Friday, 8 to 5 p.m. Eastern Time, and can be reached by calling 1-866-538-2610 (toll free) or 202-720-1584 (local). In addition, Vernon Parker, assistant secretary for Civil Rights, is increasing communications with various groups about improving access to USDA programs and insuring compliance with civil rights laws and regulations.

Of the 22 organizations that will receive an award, eight are 1890 land grant colleges and universities, one is a 1994 land grant college, nine are not-for-profit, one is a Hispanic Serving Institution, and three are from other universities that serve socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers.

In addition to Tuskegee University and Alabama A & M University, other grants included:

* Developing Innovations in Navajo Education, Inc., Flagstaff, Ariz., $292,886, for promoting the distribution and adoption of effective traditional Navajo agricultural practices throughout the southwest region of the Navajo Nation. This project will also increase Navajo farmer access to vital USDA support services.

* The Southside Community Land Trust, Providence, R.I., $62,918, to teach basic computer skills, risk management and learning to grow and market ethnic and tropical varieties of vegetables to new entry immigrant and minority farmers. * Kentucky State University, Frankfort, Ky., $300,000, to enhance the knowledge of socially disadvantaged farmers, specifically Native American and African American farmers in beef cattle and dairy beef operations and marketing systems. This endeavor will improve their farms' profitability by applying risk management strategies, farm management, and recordkeeping systems.

* Virginia State University, Petersburg, Va., $208,231, to assist socially disadvantaged farmers, particularly African American farmers in developing and enhancing farm business management skills and computer technology; beginning farmers will also be assisted in identifying and adopting environmentally sound alternative enterprises through inexpensive and efficient production practices.

* Kansas Black Farmers Association, Omaha, Neb., $197,500, to assist Black farmers in Kansas and Nebraska in addressing issues related to improving and expanding farming opportunities including raising grain crops and developing markets.

* Langston University, Oklahoma City, Okla., $300,000, to equip socially disadvantaged farmers, particularly Native American and African American farmers, to own and operate farms and ranches; and to develop business and entrepreneurial skills.

* University of Arkansas, Pine Bluff, Ark., $299,772, to assist African American and Hispanic socially disadvantaged farmers in learning the skills necessary in owning and maintaining farm lands. These farmers will also receive training in completing loan and grant applications, improving production practices, farm management, and utilizing alternative enterprises to increase farm profits.

* Tuskegee University, Tuskegee, Ala., $300,000, to work with minority farmers, specifically Native American and Hispanic/Latino farm families to develop, and implement programs so that eligible farmers and their family members may apply for and acquire farms, equipment and housing.

* University of Hawaii, Hoolehua, Hawaii,$ 300,000, this project will enable the Molokai native Hawaiians to establish farms as a strategy to demonstrate and transfer appropriate technology to native Hawaiian farm families on the Island of Molokai.

* Si Tanka (Big Foot) College, Eagle Butte, S.D., $299,748, for hands-on training to strengthen the skills of Native American farmers in value-added processing and marketing of cooperatives.

* Coastal Enterprises, Inc, Portland, Maine, $300,000, to work with Latino farm workers and Somali farmers and assist them in building successful farm enterprises that are consistent with their culture and lifestyle.

* University of Hawaii, Hilo, Hawaii, $300,000, to improve the technical and managerial skills of small scale farmers in the Federated States of Micronesia, the republic of the Marshall islands, Hawaii and Alaska so as to enhance production, business management and marketing skills through strengthening of regional extension network.

* Texas/Mexico Border Coalition, $297,870, to provide training and technical assistance to Hispanic producers for computer usage through the USDA e-Government initiatives and also in gaining access to USDA programs and services. Prairie View A&M University, Prairie View, Texas, $200,000 for work with African American and Hispanic farmers by teaching strategies for effective marketing practices, better farm management, and business decision making through computer applications.

* Alcorn State University, Alcorn State, Miss., $300,000, for outreach in identifying socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers who can participate in USDA programs. A promotional program will be implemented statewide through media, and publications to enhance small farmers' awareness of USDA programs and offer them technical assistance.

* Minnesota Food Association, St. Anthony, Minn., $299,000, for work with new immigrants from South East Asia, Hispanic and Latin countries and Africa on programs and services available through the USDA and assist these farmers in developing new market outlets. * Alabama A&M University, Normal, Ala., $300,000, to work one-on-one with agricultural producers, more specifically African American and Hispanic socially disadvantaged farmers to increase their awareness and understanding of alternative farm management concepts, tools and strategies.

* Inter-Tribal Agriculture Council, Billings, Mont., $300,000, to develop an outreach educational program which will include establishing and maintaining an internet site which will serve American Indian tribes, Indian agricultural producers, Indian landowners, and Tribal Land Grant Institutions.

* University of Hawaii, Honolulu, Hawaii, $25,000 to identify the Filipino immigrant farmers who are willing to participate in outreach and assistance programs, and assess the needs of immigrant farmers in pesticide use and marketing.

* Federation of Southern Cooperatives, Albany, Ga., $269,190 to strengthen the capacity of minority farmers, particularly African American farmers to gain access into federal farm assistance programs, value-added enterprises, and cooperative marketing, enabling them to increase both gross sales and net earnings and position themselves for future success.

* Mississippi Association of Cooperatives, Jackson, Miss., $299,787, for work with African American farmers in improving the management of small farm cooperatives and income of their members through farm and credit management training, marketing, and value-added processing.

* New Mexico State University, Alcalde, N.M., $219,283, for outreach and technical assistance to Native American and Hispanic farmers and ranchers so they can enhance their capacity to improve upon their farm management and marketing skills.

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