U.S. Senator Tina Smith Announces Significant Investments to Assist Underserved Farmers

WASHINGTON, D.C. [11/02/22] — U.S. Senator Tina Smith (D-MN), announced over $2 million in funding for a key program aimed at helping underserved and veteran farmers in Minnesota access critical financial services. The program, which Smith helped reauthorize in the 2018 Farm Bill, will deliver support and training for Minnesota farmers who have historically lacked access to critical federal programs and services, including loan and grant assistance.

“We have to acknowledge that the USDA has a history of institutionalized discrimination against farmers of color. That is the history and we cannot shy away from it,” said Sen. Smith. “As a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, I have worked hard to create equitable access to financial services for underserved farmers including Black, Hmong, Latino and Native American farmers in Minnesota. These investments will help level the playing field and ensure everyone has equal access to financial services and other critical federal programs.”

The Outreach and Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged and Veteran Farmers and Ranchers program relies on peer “Connectors,” who deliver culturally relevant trainings and offer one-on-one support to help farmers understand and access U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) resources. By using existing connections to Black, Hmong, Latinx, and beginning farmer networks, thousands of Minnesota farmers will gain awareness of these programs and services.

Additionally, funding will be used to build comprehensive financial literacy and business development programs to help underserved farmers access financial capital and gain a better understanding of their farm’s finances. The program will also provide culturally informed technical assistance to farmers, including application help, credit counseling, and assistance securing USDA grants and loans.

The grant recipients – Renewing the Countryside II, the Hmong American Partnership, and the Latino Economic Development Center – will help serve socially disadvantaged farmers across Minnesota.

Sen. Smith has long worked to ensure farmers of color in Minnesota and across the country have equal access to financial services and federal programs. As a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, Smith has pressed USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack to ensure the agency ends the historic discriminatory practices that have deprived farmers of color across the country of needed services and assistance. Last year, she introduced the Justice for Black Farmers Act, aimed at addressing and correcting historic discrimination within the USDA in federal farm assistance and lending, which has caused Black farmers to lose millions of acres of farmland, and has robbed them and their families of the hundreds of billions of dollars of inter-generational wealth. As part of the 2018 Farm Bill, Smith introduced legislation that reauthorized the Outreach and Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged and Veteran Farmers and Ranchers program.