NRCS Chief: $50 million investment will help underserved farmers

The USDA is investing $50 million to support historically underserved farmers and ranchers with climate-smart agriculture and forestry.

Terry Cosby, chief of USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, says the USDA is committed to revising programs to remove barriers and end discrimination.

“When we talk about historically underserved, we’re talking about beginning, veteran, socially disadvantaged, and limited resource farmers—folks that really need access to assistance and programs,” he says. “The message we’re trying to get out is that if people have information, they can act on it.”    

The Racial Justice and Equity Conservation Cooperative Agreements are available for two-year projects that expand delivery of conservation assistance.

He tells Brownfield it will help farmers implement conservation practices.

“Improving soil health, improving water quality, providing habitat for local wildlife species of concerns, improving environmental and economic performance of working lands, and building and strengthening local food projects that provide health food,” he says.

Projects should also address one or more of the following four NRCS priority areas: addressing local natural resource issues; using climate-smart agriculture practices and principles; encouraging existing and new partnerships; and developing state and community-led conservation leadership for historically underserved agricultural producers, including educating and training students for careers in natural resources management.  

Applications are due October 25.

Entities who provide outreach assistance to historically underserved groups are eligible including Native American tribal governments and organizations, nonprofits, and private and public institutions of higher education. Historically underserved producers include those who are considered beginning, limited resource, socially disadvantaged, and veteran farmers and ranchers. 

Click here for more information.

Audio: Terry Cosby

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