This month, the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) announced more than $300 million in awards to 50 projects focused on increasing underserved farmers and ranchers’ access to land, markets, and capital. These projects were awarded under the Increasing Land, Capital, and Market Access (Increasing Land Access) Program (LCM). This program funds cooperative agreements or grants for projects that help move underserved producers from surviving to thriving. The awardees – which include many National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) members – proposed national, regional, and local projects that cover 40 states and territories including Washington DC, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands.
In February 2022, USDA released its Equity Action Plan, a framework for reckoning with USDA’s history of challenges with underserved communities, including Black, Hispanic, Native American, Asian American and other farmers of color. Later that year, acting on the framework laid out in the Equity Action Plan, USDA made a historic new investment to fund and direct action to help underserved producers with the resources, tools, programs, and technical assistance they need to succeed in agriculture. With funding through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) Section 1006, as amended by Section 22007 of the Inflation Reduction Act, USDA made available $300 million for projects that enable underserved producers to access land, capital, and markets. The program was the first of its kind to directly address land access and related challenges facing young, beginning, and Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) producers, with services including succession planning, down payment support, business and financial planning, and heirs’ property title resolution
Project highlights include:
Leveraging a Latino-led CDFI to provide Capital, Market, and Land Access to Underserved Farmers – Latin Economic Development Center
National Native American Land, Capital, and Market Access Program – Intertribal Ag Council
Creating a Pathway to Land Ownership for Immigrants, Refugees, and Underserved Farmers in MA, ME, NY, and FL – World Farmers Inc.
The LCM Program was funded through the Inflation Reduction Act and therefore is not currently a permanent program, meaning that Congress must act if the program is to continue. In June, Representatives Budzinski (D-IL-13), Nunn (R-IA-03), Courtney (D-CT-02), and Spanberger (D-VA-07) introduced the bipartisan Increasing Land Access, Security and Opportunities Act. A Senate companion bill was introduced by Senator Smith (D-MN) in July. This legislation would expand the capabilities of the LCM program and authorize $100 million per year in funding and would be a historic step toward addressing the land access crisis facing this new generation of farmers.
Read the full review by National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition HERE.