The USDA has set aside more than $50 million to support small- to mid-sized organic growers, particularly those who also are part of the local and regional food system.
The grants, created as part of the recently passed Farm Bill, set aside $19 million to help organic growers use research and technology more effectively, $24 million to improve the Farmers Market Promotion Program and $4.8 million for community food projects.
Small businesses and individuals are encouraged to apply through a separate program that specifically addresses many of the issues small farmers — including Neem Tree Farms — are facing like labor supply, marketing, finances, natural resources, genetic stock, nutrition, equipment, and hazards.
From a long-term perspective, the new focus on research into organic growing techniques – along with an emphasis on sharing the results of that research – bodes well for all growers. Their priorities include biological, physical and social initiatives that help farmers grow and market high-quality organic products. This year, special emphasis was given to research and education on the management of diseases and insect pests, obviously including neem!
Near and dear to my heart, although not part of the business plan at Neem Tree Farms, are the community food projects grants that address the issue of basic food access for low-income families, particularly those in urban areas. These projects will bring together a wide variety of experts to develop solutions to the nation’s food and hunger problems.
You can learn more about the grants at http://content.govdelivery.com/accounts/USDAOC/bulletins/d26469
And while Neem Tree Farms probably won’t be directly involved in any of these efforts, we would be delighted to work with any of our customers who are participating. Give me a call at 813-689-2616 or email email@example.com.