SFOP Will Boost Programming and Outreach to Socially Disadvantaged and Veteran Farmers and Ranchers

VSU Small Farm Outreach Program agents use their skills and knowledge to help Virginia’s small, minority and beginning farmers build and maintain sustainable farm operations.

VSU Small Farm Outreach Program agents use their skills and knowledge to help Virginia’s small, minority and beginning farmers build and maintain sustainable farm operations.

The Small Farm Outreach Program (SFOP) received a $200,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) that will enable it to expand its programming and outreach. The funding, which is part of $9.4 million in grants announced on October 12 by Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, will be used to help socially disadvantaged and veteran farmers and ranchers (SDVFR) in the state.

“We’re grateful for the funding support from USDA. We will use the funding to continue our training and outreach efforts to help socially disadvantaged and veteran farmers and ranchers build successful and sustainable businesses,” said SFOP Director William Crutchfield.

The SFOP supports SDVFR by equipping them with the tools and skills needed to make informed decisions in owning and operating profitable farm businesses. The grant money will enable the SFOP to provide support to an additional 10 counties in southwest Virginia, bringing the total to 74. The SFOP will use the funds to support areas from the Northern Neck and the Eastern Shore to the Southwest region of Virginia where there is a high concentration of SDVFR. It will provide workshops, conferences, field days and farm tours, as well as the one-on-one training to SDVFR.

Funds will also be used toward a new high tunnel project that will be completed in early spring 2019 and two mobile demonstration units. Both projects also support training and education of SDVFR. Yet another important SFOP initiative is to create awareness and increase participation by SDVFR in USDA farm programs.

This USDA funding is available through its Outreach and Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers and Veteran Farmers and Ranchers Program (also called the 2501 Program) managed by the USDA Office of Partnerships and Public Engagement (OPPE). The 2501 Program was created through the 1990 Farm Bill.

Erica Shambley