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USDA Grants Help Socially Disadvantaged and Veteran Farmers and Ranchers


The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that approximately $15 million of funding is available to aid socially disadvantaged and veteran farmers/ranchers. This funding is made through the USDA’s Outreach and Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers and Veteran Farmers and Ranchers Program (the “2501 Program”). This client alert will provide a brief overview of the 2501 program and application process.

What is the 2501 program?

The 2501 Program has helped socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers who have experienced barriers due to racial or ethnic prejudice for over 30 years. The 2014 Farm Bill expanded the program to include veteran farmers and ranchers, and the 2018 Farm Bill increased funding for the program through 2023. The 2501 program grants help nonprofits, institutions of higher education, and Indian Tribes support socially disadvantaged and veteran farmers/ranchers through education, training, farming demonstrations, and conferences on farming and agri-business.

Who is eligible for the program?

Eligible applicants include nonprofits, community-based organizations, and higher education institutions serving socially disadvantaged groups. Applicants must have at least 3 years of experience in providing agriculturally related education, training, or services to socially disadvantaged or veteran farmers/ranchers.

A socially disadvantaged group is defined as: “A farmer or rancher who is a member of one or more of the following groups whose members have been subjected to racial or ethnic prejudice because of their identity as members of a group without regard to their individual qualities” (7 U.S.C. § 2279(e)). These groups include, but are not limited to:

  • African Americans
  • American Indians
  • Alaskan Natives
  • Asians
  • Hispanics
  • Pacific Islanders
  • Refugees
  • Immigrants

The term veteran farmer or rancher means a person who served in the United States Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, or Coast Guard (including reserve components) and was discharged or released under conditions other than dishonorable and who also meets the definition of beginning farmer or rancher.

Additional Program Information:

Interested applicants can find more information on the USDA’s FAQ page.

There are also recordings of the latest 2501 grant applicant Q&A teleconferences:

  • 8/6/19 Grant applicant Q&A teleconference recording: 800-475-6701, Access Code: 469846
  • 7/23/19 Grant applicant Q&A teleconference recording: 800-475-6701, Access Code: 469845

Application Information:

The deadline for applications is August 26, 2020. See the request for applications for full details.

Additionally, all applicants that receive 2501 funding should familiarize themselves with the ezFedGrants system, USDA’s system for managing grants/awards.

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