NORMAL, Ala.-Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced, at a student roundtable on the campus of Alabama A&M University, that USDA is awarding $1.1 million in grants to three Alabama institutions through USDA's Outreach and Technical Assistance to Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers or '2501' program.
"These grants will help develop programs to ensure that African-American and other minority landowners have access to a full range of USDA programs, to increase their profitability, and to keep farmers on the farm," said Vilsack. "They are a reflection of USDA and the Obama administration's committed to being an equal opportunity service provider that creates opportunities for Americans from a diversity of backgrounds."
The primary purpose of the 2501 program is to enhance the coordination of outreach, technical assistance and education efforts to reach socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers and to improve their participation in the full range of USDA programs. The recipients of the grants announced today were:
Alabama State Association of Cooperatives Outreach Program for Western Alabama Counties - $400,000
Alabama A & M University "Intensive Southeastern Training Expansion Program (INSTEP) for African-American Landowners" - $300,000
Tuskegee University "Small Farm Outreach Training and Technical Assistance Project" - $400,000
Also, at the event, Secretary Vilsack highlighted USDA's long history of working with the 1890 land grant universities to ensure they succeed in educating the next generation of leaders in food and agriculture. The Secretary announced that a week earlier he signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the USDA and the 1890s Council of Presidents. The MOU reaffirms, engages, and sustains the partnership between the 1890 land grant universities, Tuskegee University and the USDA.
"Earlier this month I was proud to sign an MOU reaffirming the partnership between the USDA and the 1890's institutions that help train our nation's future leaders in the fields of food, agricultural, and natural resources," said Vilsack. "This document reflects our commitment to improving outreach efforts to the 1890 land-grant universities and the communities they serve."
The three Alabama schools participating in the conversation were Historically Black Land-Grant Universities, which were established by the Morrill Act of 1890. These institutions, which became known as the "1890 institutions," include 17 land-grant institutions plus Tuskegee University. For more than 100 years, they have provided educational opportunities for minority students.
Secretary Vilsack was joined at the roundtable event by Attorney General Eric Holder, as well as students from Delaware State University, Florida A&M University, and Lincoln University who participated via video teleconference.
USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender. To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call (800) 795-3272 (voice), or (202) 720-6382 (TDD).