This week, our staff participated in the Beginning Farmers and Ranchers Development Program (BFRDP) Project Directors Meeting, hosted by USDA and Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service (MOSES). We had a chance to present a few highlights from year one of our BFRDP project, Delta Farming Start.
In this three-year project, we provide basic business training (including a requirement to develop a business plan for leveraging a $500 dollar investment into increased revenue), technical assistance on farming and enterprise, mini-grants ($500 to start farming or increase income), and access to land and capital (IDAs and micro-loans). Our objective is to support 75 participants in this selective program. We have 45 participants in two cohorts so far.
Here’s why we believe this work matters: in the short-term, these efforts create opportunities for individuals to increase their incomes and in the long-term, we are building a stronger local economy rooted in community assets and traditions.
Our efforts are linked to the efforts of a mix of community partners. We need each other and support each other’s work. Just some of these partners include
- Alcorn State U processing facility
- Southern Rural Black Women’s Initiative
- Tougaloo College extension, FarmAid program
- AARP MS
- local businesses, churches
- USDA programs, such as National Institute for Food and Agriculture, Agricultural Marketing Service, and Rural Development
- school food service departments
- agricultural & technical high schools
- and more…
Over the next two years, we are looking forward to
- New cohorts
- Maybe: more donated land for participants to use
- Participants to utilize fully the special 3-to-1 matched savings-for-business accounts and apply for financing
- Expanded youth programming
The USDA NIFA funding award supporting this project is helping us deliver on vision and mission for limited resource farmers, beginning farmers and ranchers, and farm workers.