The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced Thursday the availability of $8.8 million through its Rural Development agency to provide additional support and resources for America’s small and midsized farmers and ranchers.
“Small and midsized producers are a vital part of America’s agriculture future, and we are dedicated to ensuring their success,” said U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.
“These programs and opportunities announced today are part of our ongoing commitment to ensure that smaller farmers and ranchers get access to the resources they need to thrive. USDA is continually reviewing our resources, programs and policies to make sure we are working for producers of all sizes,” he said.
José Otero-García, Rural Development State Director for Puerto Rico said the funding will help opportunities for small, socially disadvantaged producers and rural cooperative centers.
Two agencies will make the funding available, with the Small, Socially Disadvantaged Producer Grant program will make $3 million available to provide technical assistance to small, socially-disadvantage agricultural producers through eligible cooperatives and cooperative development centers.
Awardees will be able to conduct market research, product and/or service improvement, feasibility studies, training and implement business plans. Applications are being accepted through June 30.
Meanwhile, the Rural Cooperative Development Grant Program will make up to $5.8 million available to Rural Cooperative Development Centers, which in turn, provide technical assistance to individuals and entities improving the economic condition of rural areas by supporting start-up, expansion or operational improvement of rural cooperatives and other business entities. Cooperatives have often been mechanism used by small and midsized producers to work together to access new markets or market value added products.