For more than 40 years, the Breaking New Ground Resource Center (BNG) at Purdue University has been conducting outreach to underserved populations, primarily agricultural producers and their family members with disabilities (including those identified by the USDA as socially disadvantaged), with the goal of enhancing their quality of life, so that they, their families, and their communities continue to succeed in rural America.
In recent years, BNG and National AgrAbility Project (NAP) have added special initiatives to serve minority farmers/ranchers and farmer/rancher veterans. Since 2013, NAP has had staff members dedicated to serving the needs of these audiences.
AgrAbility's outreach to underserved populations has included:
- 9 workshops at 1890 and 1994 land-grant institutions, training more than 345 attendees about AgrAbility and other USDA services
- Direct services to over 625 military veterans in the last 5 years
- Sharing resources with 1600+ attendees at National Black Farmers Association Conferences
- Encouraging veteran and socially disadvantaged farmer participation in USDA's Beginning Farmer and Rancher Program
- Support of 4-H and FFA youth programs, including socially disadvantaged youth, to enhance rural community accessibility
- Programming and materials in Spanish for Latino/Hispanic agricultural workers
- Targeted educational programs and resource materials for Old Order Anabaptist farmers, including Amish
- Programming for women involved in agricultural production.
- In the fall of 2019, the Legacy Innovation Farming Economics (LIFE) project was launched to serve socially disadvantaged and veteran farmers and ranchers (see below).
USDA Resources for Socially Disadvantaged and Underserved Farmers & Ranchers
- 2018 Farm Bill Highlights and Implications for Beginning, Socially Disadvantaged, and Veteran Farmers and Ranchers
- farmers.gov - Gateway site to USDA services and programs for farmers and ranchers
- USDA's eligibility specifications for Beginning, Limited Resource, Socially Disadvantaged, and Female Farmers programs and services
- United States Department of Agriculture Home Page
- USDA Cooperative Extension Service Land Grant University Partner Directory
- USDA Farm Service Agency Home Page
- USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service Home Page
- National AgrAbility Project
Please visit the AgrAbility Veterans and Beginning Farmers page to access many more resources for socially disadvantaged, underserved, and veteran farmers. The site includes links to additional USDA programs, technical support, financial assistance opportunities, and many other resources useful for beginning or experienced farmers and ranchers.
In the fall of 2019, the National AgrAbility Project joined forces with The Peoples Foundation of Lompoc, California and the Legacy Farming and Health Group, based in Lyles Station, Indiana to address challenges faced by socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers, as well as veterans involved in production agriculture. The organizations bring a long and diverse history of serving these audiences. Their combined experiences will serve in developing a model, building on existing assets, to effectively promote and increase awareness and utilization of USDA programs and services by socially disadvantaged farmers, ranchers, and farmer veterans.
The Legacy Innovation Farming Economics (LIFE) Project is sponsored by the United States Department of Agriculture’s Outreach and Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers and Veteran Farmers and Ranchers Program (USDA 2501 Program).
The partners will be using the following methods to achieve program goals:
- Direct farmer consultations
- Virtual online workshops and round table discussions
- Value-added and entrepreneurship training programs
- Farmer workshops
- 4-H/Youth programs
- Annual networking conferences