VSU Receives $200,000 from USDA to Help Socially Disadvantaged and Veteran Farmers and Ranchers
Published date: November 1, 2018
Virginia State University (VSU) will receive $200,000 in grant funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to help socially disadvantaged and veteran farmers and ranchers (SDVFR) in the state. The funding is part of $9.4 million in grants announced on October 12 by Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue.
The Small Farm Outreach Program (SFOP), which is part of Cooperative Extension at VSU, supports SDVFR by equipping them with the tools and skills needed to make informed decisions in owning and operating profitable farm businesses.
“We’re grateful for the funding support from USDA. We will use the funding to continue our training and outreach efforts to help socially disadvantaged and veteran farmers and ranchers build successful and sustainable businesses,” said SFOP Director William Crutchfield.
The grant money will be used to support an array of the SFOP’s programming such as workshops, conferences, field days and farm tours, as well as the one-on-one training that the SFOP provides to SDVFR located in areas from the Northern Neck to the South West region of Virginia where there is a high concentration of SDVFR. The grant will enable them to provide support to an additional 10 counties in southwest Virginia bringing the total to 74.
Funds will also be used toward a new high tunnel project that will be completed in early spring 2019 and two mobile demonstration units. Both projects also support training and education of SDVFR. Yet another important SFOP initiative is to create awareness and increase participation by SDVFR in USDA farm programs.
This USDA funding is available through its Outreach and Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers and Veteran Farmers and Ranchers Program (also called the 2501 Program) managed by the USDA Office of Partnerships and Public Engagement (OPPE). The 2501 Program was created through the 1990 Farm Bill. In a release, Secretary Purdue said, “The 2501 grants ensure veterans and underserved farmers and ranchers are well positioned to start their careers in agriculture and continue to give back to the American people. These resources will help strengthen the American economy and provide assistance for those who need it most.”
VSU’s Small Farm Outreach Program aims to encourage and assist limited-resource, socially disadvantaged and military veteran farmers and ranchers to own, maintain and operate farms and ranches independently, to participate in agricultural programs and improve their overall farm management skills. The SFOP provides outreach and assistance activities in production management, financial management, marketing, available USDA farm programs and other areas to increase farm profitability and promote sustainability. The program provides educational programming in approximately 74 Virginia counties, which have the highest concentrations of limited-resource, socially disadvantaged and veteran farmers in the state. For more information, visit https://www.ext.vsu.edu/small-farm-outreach-program/.
Extension is a joint program of Virginia Tech, Virginia State University, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and state and local governments. Virginia Cooperative Extension programs and employment are open to all, regardless of age, color, disability, gender, gender identity, gender expression, national origin, political affiliation, race, religion, sexual orientation, genetic information, veteran status, or any other basis protected by law. An equal opportunity/affirmative action employer. Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension work, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Virginia State University, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture cooperating. Edwin J. Jones, Director, Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg; M. Ray McKinnie, Administrator, 1890 Extension Program, Virginia State University, Petersburg.