Last week, the U.S. Department Agriculture (USDA) announced cooperative agreements with 55 partners to educate farmers and other producers that have been underserved by USDA programs historically about Farm Service Agency (FSA) programs that provide financial, disaster or technical support. Nearly $2.5 million will go to nonprofits, associations, universities, and foundations that will provide training and information on agricultural best practices, local networking opportunities, and more.
“We’re always working to find new ways for our programs to reach more producers and create more jobs in agriculture,” said FSA Administrator Val Dolcini. “The organizations selected as part of this effort share USDA’s priority of helping more Americans build successful farms and ranches.”
FSA, which solicited applications last fall, received nearly 100 proposals that requested over $9 million in funding. Cooperative agreements, encompassing more than 28 states, will be between $20,000 and $75,000 each and several involve multi-state or national efforts. A list of awardees can be found at www.fsa.usda.gov/outreach.
FSA also announced that it is accepting proposals for consideration in the second evaluation period. Applications are due no later than July 11. Projects not selected during the first evaluation period will be reconsidered during the second period. Additional information on the funding solicitation and the related FSA programs can be found at www.grants.gov using reference number USDA-FSA-CA-2016-001. For nonprofits and public institutions of higher education that are considering participation, a recording of the online informational session held with stakeholders is posted on the web at www.fsa.usda.gov/outreach.
USDA is also helping producers find an entry into farming through urban agriculture opportunities and the increasing consumer demand for locally-produced items. Under this Administration, USDA has invested more than $1 billion in over 40,000 local and regional food businesses and infrastructure projects. USDA is committed to helping farmers, ranchers, and businesses access the growing market for local and regional foods, which was valued at $12 billion in 2014 according to industry estimates. More information on how USDA investments are connecting producers with consumers and expanding rural economic opportunities is available in Chapter IV of USDA Results on Medium.