Washington, DC, Jun 12, 2013 -- Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that USDA is seeking applications from cooperatives to provide technical assistance to small, socially disadvantaged agricultural producers in rural areas. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) remains focused on carrying out its mission, despite a time of significant budget uncertainty. Today’s announcement is one part of the Department’s efforts to strengthen the rural economy.
“These grants will help small, socially disadvantaged producers get the tools they need to succeed,” Vilsack said. “These producers will be able to conduct market research, product and/or service improvement, feasibility studies, training, and implement business plans. All of this is crucial to improving the rural economy.”
Funding will be made available through USDA Rural Development’s Small, Socially Disadvantaged Producer Grant program (SSDPG) through USDA Rural Business-Cooperative Services division. The maximum grant award is $200,000.
Eligible applicants include cooperatives, groups of cooperatives, and cooperative development centers where a majority of the governing board or board of directors is comprised of individuals who are members of socially disadvantaged groups. Small, socially disadvantaged producers include farmers, ranchers, loggers, agricultural harvesters, and fishermen that have averaged $250,000 or less in annual gross sales of agricultural products in the last three years.
The SSDPG and other USDA business and cooperative development programs have had a significant impact on rural communities. In 2012 alone, they helped almost 10,000 rural small business owners or farmers improve their enterprises. Business and cooperative program funding created or saved an estimated 53,000 rural jobs in 2012.
The application deadline for Small, Socially Disadvantaged Producer Grants is July 15, 2013 for paper applications and July 10, 2013 for electronic applications. For additional information on how to apply, see page 35239 of the June 12 Federal Register (http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2013-06-12/pdf/2013-13867.pdf), or visit http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/BCP_SSDPG.html.
President Obama’s plan for rural America has brought about historic investment and resulted in stronger rural communities. Under the President’s leadership, these investments in housing, community facilities, businesses and infrastructure have empowered rural America to continue leading the way – strengthening America’s economy, small towns and rural communities. USDA’s investments in rural communities support the rural way of life that stands as the backbone of our American values. President Obama and Agriculture Secretary Vilsack are committed to a smarter use of Federal resources to foster sustainable economic prosperity and ensure the government is a strong partner for businesses, entrepreneurs and working families in rural communities.
USDA, through its Rural Development mission area, has a portfolio of programs designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents, farmers and ranchers and improve the quality of life in rural America.
USDA has made a concerted effort to deliver results for the American people, even as USDA implements sequestration – the across-the-board budget reductions mandated under terms of the Budget Control Act. USDA has already undertaken historic efforts since 2009 to save more than $828 million in taxpayer funds through targeted, common-sense budget reductions. These reductions have put USDA in a better position to carry out its mission, while implementing sequester budget reductions in a fair manner that causes as little disruption as possible.
USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer. To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, Office of Adjudication, 1400 Independence Ave., SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call (866) 632-9992 (Toll-free Customer Service), (800) 877-8339 (Local or Federal relay), (866) 377-8642 (Relay voice users).