Sen. Smith concerned USDA moved funds that help minority & veteran farmers

WASHINGTON – Minnesota Senator Tina Smith demands answers after she says the Department of Agriculture is moving funds from a program supporting producers who are veterans and from diverse backgrounds.

The Outreach and Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged and Veteran Farmers and Ranchers Program aims to reverse disparities for historically underserved communities. It funds outreach and technical assistance programs through community organizations, tribes and educational institutions.

Smith and 40 of her congressional colleagues sent a letter saying they are concerned the decision was made without input from lawmakers, stakeholders and the communities of color and the veterans they serve. North Dakota Senators John Hoeven and Kevin Cramer and Minnesota Congressman Collin Peterson were not among those who signed the document. Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar reportedly signed an updated version of the letter. When asked if Cramer supports the letter, his office said in an email he “was not asked to sign on.”

“I am deeply concerned about our nation’s most underserved farmers who often have the fewest resources to draw on and who most need our support during these challenging times. And my worry is exacerbated by the fact that the U.S. Department of Agriculture is diverting funds from a program that supports producers from diverse backgrounds, including farmers from communities of color, immigrants and veterans. I fought to reauthorize the Outreach and Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged and Veteran Farmers and Ranchers program in the 2018 Farm Bill—and to increase funding—because it’s an important program that aims to reverse the disparities that have existed for these historically underserved communities. It’s also the only Farm Bill program dedicated to addressing the specific needs of Black, American Indian, Asian American, Latino, and military veteran family farmers and ranchers. I’m leading an effort to get to the bottom of what’s happening because it’s critical that the program receives its funding,” Smith said.

Click here to read the letter.

Categories: Agriculture, Minnesota News