The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced it will issue $16.2 million in grants to provide training, outreach and technical assistance to underserved and veteran farmers and ranchers.

In Nebraska, the Center for Rural Affairs will receive $484,222 to provide education and technical assistance to at least 300 current and aspiring Latino farmers to enable startup and development of diversified farms. These prospective and current farmers rarely use mainstream educational resources or USDA programs, according to a USDA press release. Individual technical assistance will be provided by Center for Rural Affairs and Practical Farmers of Iowa, two leading support organizations for beginning farmers.

The activities will take place in rural, high-Latino-population counties in Nebraska and Iowa.

The USDA grants are available through the Outreach and Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers and Veteran Farmers and Ranchers Program (also known as the 2501 Program), managed by the USDA Office of Partnerships and Public Engagement.

“All farmers and ranchers deserve equal access to USDA programs and services,” said Mike Beatty, director of the USDA Office of Partnerships and Public Engagement. “2501 grants go a long way in fulfilling our mission to reach historically underserved communities and ensure their equitable participation in our programs.”

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.

Since 2010, the 2501 Program has awarded 484 grants totaling $119.5 million.

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