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Create opportunity for disadvantaged farmers with federal, state financial programs

August 16, 2023

Minority farmers own and manage more than 2 million farms in the U.S. and control more than 900 million acres.1 The group includes many who have been historically underrepresented in agriculture.

Providing your risk management expertise and leading customers to the right insurance products is a way to build trust and play the important role in supporting the innovation that a diverse farm population supports. You can also do it by promoting key state- and federal-level programs that help all farmers thrive through programs that focus on socially disadvantaged farmers.

Who are socially disadvantaged farmers?

As it relates to the agency’s financial support programs, USDA defines socially disadvantaged (SDA) farmers and ranchers as those who “have been subject to racial, ethnic, or gender prejudice because of their identity as members of a group without regard to their individual qualities.”2 This includes:

  • American Indians
  • Alaskan Natives
  • Asians or Asian Americans
  • Black or African Americans
  • Hispanics, Central Americans or South Americans
  • Native Hawaiians or Pacific Islanders
  • Women

Programs to support SDA farmers and ranchers

The USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) offers loans for SDA farmers and ranchers. They help recipients “develop sound farm management practices, analyze problems and plan the best use of available resources essential for success.”3 Loan funds are often distributed by local ag lenders and Farm Credit System institutions. Loan funding can be used to buy farm inputs, pay operating expenses or refinance debt.

Along with a range of crop/livestock inputs and lending costs, farm insurance is one of the expenses eligible for FSA SDA operating loan funding. Repayment terms depend on collateral and normally max out at seven years.

By working with SDA farmers and ranchers using those loan proceeds for insurance, you can help ensure they’re adequately protected. This can build relationships that promote long-term business for you and your agency. Start the process for your customers by visiting your local FSA office to learn about the application process and participating lenders in your area.

State grants and loans

Many farm states have similar grants and loans for underserved farmers. See some examples below.

Become a partner in growing ag diversity

Other organizations can help you support SDA farmers and ranchers in your area. The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition offers resources specifically to provide technical assistance to SDA farmers and ranchers. Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences (MANRRS), sponsored by Nationwide, provides minority students and professionals access to resources, funding and education to prepare them for ag careers. SDA farmers and ranchers can also find inspiration from FarmHer, another Nationwide sponsored organization who shares stories of ag producers from diverse backgrounds.