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Klobuchar and Smith: $1 Million+ to Veterans, Diverse Farmers
Minnesota Ag Connection - 10/10/2019

U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith (D-Minn.) announced that more than $1 million in U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) funding has been awarded to organizations that help people from diverse backgrounds in Minnesota participate in agriculture.

This funding will support the Latino Economic Development Center (LEDC), which helps immigrant and Latino farmers in Minnesota overcome barriers to growth. It will also support the American Indian Higher Ed Consortium (AIHEC) to engage students in agriculture at tribal colleges and universities--including the four in Minnesota--and improve Native American farmers and ranchers' agricultural practices.

The senators said that this funding is available to qualifying organizations through the USDA's Outreach and Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers and Veteran Farmers and Ranchers Program (also known as the 2501 Program).The 2501 Program helps veterans, people of color, native people and immigrants own and operate farms.

"Family farmers are essential to the fabric of our country, but changes in the farm economy have put them under increasing pressure and uncertainty," said Klobuchar, a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee. "These grants will help ensure that Minnesota's historically underserved farmers and veteran farmers have equal access to important USDA resources that provide training, outreach, and technical assistance."

"We need to support all farmers--and that includes making sure we're advocating for people in Minnesota and across the country who may face unique and challenging barriers to successfully owning and operating farms," said Smith, a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee. "I fought to reauthorize funding for this program during the 2018 Farm Bill debate because supporting a diverse and growing farming industry is key to our state's economic future."

The 2501 Program was created through the 1990 Farm Bill to help socially disadvantaged farmers, ranchers, and foresters, who have historically experienced limited access to USDA loans, grants, training, and technical assistance. The 2014 Farm Bill expanded the program's reach to veterans. Grants are awarded to higher education institutions and nonprofit and community-based organizations to extend USDA's engagement efforts in these communities.

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