October 18, 2022
The Honorable Thomas J. Vilsack
Secretary of Agriculture
U.S. Department of Agriculture
1400 Independence Avenue, S.W.
Washington, DC 20250
Extension Request to Increasing Land Access, Market and Capital Program.
Dear Secretary Vilsack,
The undersigned organizations with decades of experience supporting underserved producers with land, capital, and market access, join together in asking for a 30-day extension of the application deadline for USDA’s recently announced grant opportunity through the Increasing Land, Capital, and Market Access Program; USDA-FSA-LANDACCESS-22-NOFO0001219.
This program is the first of its kind—offering a flexible programmatic framework to invest directly in diverse efforts across the country aimed at improving access to land, capital, and markets for underserved farmers and ranchers. USDA should strive to create adequate space for thoughtful and meaningful reflection among its potential applicants, so they may put forward innovative and responsive proposals designed to best serve underserved producers. Specifically, this program requires collaborative partnerships and engaging with the target audience in conceptualizing the project, which both require adequate time to do properly. With an extended application deadline, we believe that overall participation, as well as the quality of applications and equity of this process, would be greatly improved.
In addition to the short application window, the timing of the grant opportunity as it relates to other workflows connected to USDA is also concerning for the stakeholders USDA hopes to engage. A significant number of organizations with the deepest knowledge of supporting underserved producers in access to land, capital, and markets—whose applications are critical to this outcomes of this program—are currently engaged in other related critical efforts to provide technical assistance as cooperators with USDA through funding from Section 1006 of the American Rescue Plan and/or supporting farmers left out of the the debt repayment program for Black, Indigenous, Latino, and other farmers of color formerly authorized in Section 1005 of the American Rescue Plan, now amended by the Inflation Reduction Act.
Seasonally, this grant opportunity also comes at the intersection of intense growing periods and the beginning of harvests across most of the country—further compounding the demands on limited time that key USDA stakeholders and our constituencies have available to fully participate in this funding opportunity.
Based on these shared concerns, we request an extension of not less than 30 days for the USDA-FSA-LANDACCESS-22-NOFO0001219, Increasing Land, Capital, and Market Access Program, to help this process be more equitable and to support a stronger and more diverse application pool. Thank you for your leadership, your time, and for your consideration of this request.