“We are committed to helping the nation’s minority and disadvantaged farmers,” said Secretary of Agriculture Ann Veneman. “The grants will help many farmers and ranchers to successfully acquire, own, operate and retain farms and ranches by delivering a wide range of outreach and assistance activities including farm management, financial management and marketing.”

The grants announced today are part of the Outreach and Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers (OASDFR) Program, also referred to as the 2501, and are administered by USDA’s Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service (CSREES), USDA’s leading research and education funding agency.

A socially disadvantaged farmer or rancher is one of a group whose members have been subjected to racial or ethnic prejudice without regard to their individual qualities.

Veneman said that USDA is working to improve services to minority and socially disadvantaged farmers including creating USDA’s Office of Minority and Socially Disadvantaged Farmers Assistance (MSDA), established almost a year ago to work with minority and socially disadvantaged farmers who have concerns and questions about loan applications.

The office, operated by the Farm Service Agency, is open from Monday to Friday, 8 to 5 p.m. Eastern Time, and can be reached by calling 1-866-538-2610 (toll free) or 202-720-1584 (local). In addition, Vernon Parker, assistant secretary for Civil Rights, is increasing communications with various groups about improving access to USDA programs and insuring compliance with civil rights laws and regulations.

Of the 34 organizations that will receive an award, 20 are land grant colleges and universities, 11 are not-for-profit organizations that serve socially disadvantaged farmers, and three are non-land grant universities.

Those receiving grants include:

Ogallala Lakota College, South Dakota, $300,000; New Mexico State University, New Mexico, $284,640; Arkansas Land and Farm Development Corporation, Arkansas, $300,000; University of California, Davis, California, $298,744; Agriculture and Land-based Training Association, California, $200,000; Tuskegee University, Alabama, $200,000; Alabama A & M University , Alabama,

$200,000.

Also, Southern University, Louisiana, $200,000; University of Texas Pan-American, Texas, $200,000; Tufts University, Multiple, $200,000; Fort Berthold Community College, North Dakota, $100,000; Hmong American Community, California, $100,000; University of Maryland Eastern Shore, Maryland, $200,000;

Federation of Southern Cooperatives, Georgia, $200,000; National Center for Appropriate Technology, Montana, $162,703.

Also, Mississippi Association of Cooperatives , Mississippi, $200,000;

University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, Arkansas, $200,000; Fort Valley State University, Georgia, $200,000; Fort Peck Community College, Montana, $200,000;

Kentucky State University, Kentucky, $200,000; University of Vermont, Vermont, $200,000; California State University, San Bernardino, California, $200,000; Alcorn State University, Mississippi, $200,000; Langston University, Oklahoma, $200,000;

Little Big Horn College, Montana, $200,000.

Also, Hispanic Farmers and Ranchers of America, Multiple, $200,000; North Carolina A & T State University, North Carolina, $200,000; Virginia State University, Virginia, $200,000; Michigan Integrated Food & Farming Systems, Inc., Michigan, $200,000; Lincoln University, Missouri, $200,000; Rural and Community Development Resources, Washington, $200,000; Texas/Mexico Border Coalition (Conference Grant), Texas, $25,000; The Food Trust (Conference Grant), Pennsylvania, $25,000; University of California, Davis (Conference Grant), California, $16,735.