USDA announces Biden’s $300 million equity giveaway
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced June 22 its selection of 50 projects for potential award, totaling approximately $300 million.
The USDA, based in Washington, DC, indicates that these projects are to help improve access to land, capital, and markets for underserved farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners. The Increasing Land, Capital, and Market Access (Increasing Land Access) Program, which is funded by President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act, “works to increase access to farm ownership opportunities, improve results for those with heirs’ property or fractionated land, increase access to markets and capital that affect the ability to access land, and improve land ownership, land succession and agricultural business planning.”
This would average $6 million per project, were they to receive equal shares.
“Land access, market access and capital are critical to the success of the hardworking producers who keep agriculture thriving,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “Underserved producers have not had access to the amount of specialized technical support that would increase opportunities to access and capital and benefit the launch, growth, resilience, and success of their agricultural enterprises.
The Increasing Land Access Program is part of the Biden-Harris administration’s commitment to advancing equity for all, including people who have been underserved, marginalized, and adversely affected by inequality, by providing the resources, tools and technical support needed to directly help local farmers and ensure we have a strong agricultural system across the country.”
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Examples of selectees for potential award include:
Community Development Corporation of Oregon will work to provide long term and sustainable land access to disadvantaged refugee and immigrant beginning farmers in Oregon’s east Multnomah and Clackamas counties. A few of the goals of the project are to purchase the currently rented farm, reduce the net cost of the land through a conservation or working lands easement, and provide an equitable and engaging process of education and training about cooperative land ownership, finance concepts, and related USDA programs.
The Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin will work to establish an equity capital fund to provide support for Tribal producers’ land, equipment, and operational needs. Additionally, this project will work to provide targeted technical assistance to Tribal producers in developing comprehensive farm and food business plans, including conservation plans to support expanded production and access to the full suite of USDA and other support resources.
Workin’ Rootz will work to increase access to land and capacity-building at five urban farms/community market gardens in Detroit which include Workin’ Roots Farm, Love n’ Labor, Foster Patch Community Garden, Love Earth Herbal, and Urban Bush Sistahs. These farms will serve as resource hubs by sharing infrastructure (tiller, lawn tractor, wash and pack, cooler storage, etc.) with other urban farmers and gardeners in their prospective neighborhoods.
Maine Farmland Trust will work with low-income farmers on access to low-interest capital for land purchase or business operations, farm upgrades and infrastructure investments that promote viability, technical assistance in the areas of real estate and business planning, and more.
Alabama A&M University, in collaboration with four other 1890 land grant universities (Southern University, Alcorn State University, Fort Valley State University, and Tennessee State University) and many other local organizations, will provide delivery of technical assistance to underserved farm populations in chronically and economically depressed communities of Alabama, Tennessee, and Mississippi to ensure the success of existing farmers and ranchers and to rapidly increase the numbers of small farm operators in the targeted communities.
The tentative selectees include national, regional, and local projects that cover 40 states and territories including Washington D.C., Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. USDA will work with the selected applicants to finalize the scope and funding levels in the coming months.