National Institute of Food and Agriculture awards MSU Center for Regional Food Systems $3.45 million to Expand Culturally Relevant Support for Farm and Food Business owners
Over the next five years, MSU CRFS will work with MSU Extension, Michigan Food and Farming Systems (MIFFS), and the Julian Samora Institute to develop resources for inclusive farm business engagement.
East Lansing, MI — The Michigan State University Center for Regional Food Systems (MSU CRFS) has been awarded $3.45 million by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) American Rescue Plan Technical Assistance Investment Program to support inclusive technical assistance for historically underserved producers in Michigan. Over the next five years, MSU CRFS will work with MSU Extension, Michigan Food and Farming Systems (MIFFS), and the Julian Samora Institute to develop resources for inclusive farm business engagement.
“The goal of the program is to ensure improved understanding of, and equitable participation with, the resources and programs offered by the USDA,” Jude Barry, MSU CRFS Associate Director, said. “Our CRFS team and our partners are seeking to establish an inclusive technical assistance network to best serve agricultural producers that have historically been underserved in Michigan."
This collaboration, the Network for Inclusive Farm Business Engagement, will develop materials, resources, and experiences to better serve Black, Brown, and Indigenous producers within Michigan. Keesa V. Johnson, CRFS Specialist, said, “The leadership we will take from them will help create a better agriculture system in Michigan for us all.”
During this award's implementation, a pathway will be developed for Michigan farmers of color to engage with statewide and federal agricultural resources in restorative and sustainable ways. Community listening sessions will inform, and improve the creation and coordination of, additional and available resources offered to farmers. Participating producers will be able to use business support to connect with USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) resources and market opportunities, address business finances, risk assessment strategies, production and food safety education, and land use tools along with legal and tax issue support.
“The NIFA award provides us with the unique opportunity to look inward on our programs and processes to assure the partners engaged are offering the most culturally relevant resources to support farmers of color,” Ron Bates, Director of the MSU Extension Agriculture and Agribusiness Institute, said. “By developing a more inclusive network of business support professionals in our state, we seek to build trust with and create stronger, more Extension offerings.”
NIFA invests in and advances agricultural research, education, and Extension across the nation to make transformative discoveries that solve societal challenges. NIFA supports initiatives that ensure the long-term viability of agriculture and applies an integrated approach to ensure that groundbreaking discoveries in agriculture-related sciences and technologies reach the people who can put them into practice. In FY2020, NIFA’s total investment was $1.95 billion.
Visit NIFA’s website: www.nifa.usda.gov; Twitter: @USDA_NIFA; LinkedIn: USDA-NIFA. To learn more about NIFA’s impact on agricultural science (searchable by state or keyword), visit www.nifa.usda.gov/impacts.
The Michigan State University Center for Regional Food Systems advances regionally-rooted food systems through applied research, education, and outreach by uniting the knowledge and experience of diverse stakeholders with that of MSU faculty and staff. Our work fosters a thriving economy, equity, and sustainability for Michigan, the nation, and the planet by advancing systems that produce food that is healthy, green, fair, and affordable. Learn more at foodsystems.msu.edu and connect on Twitter and Facebook: @MSUCRFS.