Resources for Resilient Farms

A new RAFI-USA project designed to help farmers of color access certain USDA programs with a focus on FSA (Farm Service Agency) and NRCS (Natural Resources Conservation Service) programs

We often hear from farmers asking us what programs or funding is out there to help them build or expand their farming operations. Luckily, between the U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), state departments of agriculture, and other local entities, there are many grants, programs, and services available to farmers that can strengthen the viability of their operations. But availability isn’t always enough. This is especially true for farmers who produce on a small- to mid-scale, produce specialty commodities, or are beginning or socially disadvantaged farmers — due to the fact that many of these programs were originally designed to assist large-scale, commodity farmers.


Resources for Resilient Farms is a project of RAFI-USA that focuses on outreach and technical assistance for USDA programs that would support greater farm resilience for those within RAFI-USA’S Farmers of Color Network. 

Lisa Misch, Director of Farmer Outreach and Technical Assistance  
Nikki Pressley, Program Coordinator, Farmers of Color Network
Sabine Frid-Bernards, Grants Coordinator, Farmers of Color Network

Call the team: 877.207.6373

Schedule a call with the team here: https://bit.ly/3lcDFiT

Email the team: [email protected]

Currently, the Resources for Resilient Farms project focuses on the following USDA programs:

  • Disaster Relief Programs
  • Noninsured Crop Assistance Program (NAP)
  • Registering for a Farm Number
  • Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) 
  • Other Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) programs

Resources for Resilient Farms helps farmers:

  • Become aware of the programs and services offered by the FSA and NRCS.
  • Help farmers access NRCS technical and financial assistance programs focused on one or more key conservation priorities
  • Determine which FSA and NRCS programs are best suited for them and their farm situation.
  • Determine eligibility and application requirements for programs.
  • Form relationships with FSA and NRCS agents in their state and county offices.
  • Troubleshoot the application process.

Explore more about USDA programs and other services that may benefit your farm.

  • Check out our Resources page.
  • Learn about upcoming trainings or recordings of past webinars on Events page.
  • Click “Request Technical Assistance” above to learn how you can contact us for one-on-one help in navigating USDA programs

Why it’s important

Since 1990, RAFI-USA has worked with small and mid-sized farmers to help them succeed in the face of financial crises and reverse the trend of farm loss. Over time, RAFI-USA recognized that farmers of color faced specific difficulties that were putting their farms and livelihoods in peril.  By 2044, the U.S. is projected to have a majority-minority population, yet the U.S. farming community remains dominated by white men. Farmers of color represent less than 4% of all owner-operators. 

In 2015, RAFI-USA began a project to increase the participation of historically marginalized farmers of color on Farm Service Agency or Soil and Water Conservation District committees. We learned that because of past bad experiences with FSA and being tokenized on such committees, most farmers of color were unwilling to engage further in that direction. That experience led to us forming our Farmers of Color Network (FOCN) led by people of color. FOCN provides farmers various types of support and prioritizes acquiring and then re-granting infrastructure funds to farmers, as that is what our analysis shows is, in part, needed to repair generations of farmers of color being under-resourced in government programs and by private lenders. We see the current corrective push by the USDA and Congress as a movement in the right direction. 

RAFI-USA has a long history of conducting outreach and technical assistance regarding disaster assistance for farmers. This has included the development of online and written materials, providing one-on-one technical assistance with navigating disaster relief programs, and providing emergency relief grants. RAFI-USA’s experience working with farmers on disaster assistance allows us to be agile and quickly mobilize resources and assistance when disasters strike.

Funding Background

RAFI-USA is one of 56 organizations that received funding to provide outreach and technical assistance to historically underserved farmers and ranchers through an FSA Program Outreach and Technical Assistance Cooperative Agreement. $4.7 million is being distributed to these organizations which will serve all states and territories in accessing FSA programs.  RAFI-USA will provide outreach and assistance to members of its Farmers of Color Network (FOCN) as well as other farmers of color in the Southeast and Mid Atlantic, with a focus on FSA Disaster Assistance programs as well as on upcoming COVID-19 relief programs. Staff will also focus on alerting FOCN members and other farmers of color about the broader spectrum of available FSA programs and services. 

Additionally, RAFI-USA received funding from USDA to help it expand access to conservation assistance for climate-smart agriculture and forestry. $50 million has been invested in 118 Conservation Cooperative Agreements, administered by USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). The two-year project is aimed at serving farmers who are new to farming, low-income, socially disadvantaged, or military veterans. 

Stay tuned for more information. To sign up to receive notifications please join RAFI-USA’s mailing list and check that you are interested in receiving information about the Farmers of Color Network.

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