University of Missouri Extension

MP910, New December 2009

Resources and Services for Minority Farmers and Ranchers

A guide to programs, loans, grants and information to increase the stability of farms operated by minority farmers

CoverNadia Navarrete-Tindall
Director, Native Plants Program and
Associate Professor of Extension and Research
Lincoln University Cooperative Extension
Sandy Rikoon
Director, Community Food Systems and Sustainable Agriculture
MU Department of Rural Sociology
Casi Lock
MU Extension Associate, Community Food Systems and Sustainable Agriculture
Jose Luis Garcia-Pabon
Latino Community Development Specialist and Assistant Professor in Community and Rural Sociology
Washington State University

Who is a minority farmer?

A minority farmer is someone who is considered socially disadvantaged by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). It is someone who, because of his or her affiliation with a particular group, may have been subject to discrimination in the process of applying for agriculture-related government services. Those groups include women, Hispanics, African Americans, Asian Americans, American Indians, Alaskan Natives and Pacific Islanders.

The USDA’s Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service administers grant funding for the Outreach and Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers (OASDFR) program. The goals of the program include capacity-building and training for farmers and ranchers to improve environmental quality, sustainability and profitability of the farm enterprise.


This publication is intended to be a guide for farmers, ranchers and future farmers about technical assistance programs and other resources available to them regardless of their gender or ethnic heritage. In this publication readers will find information about programs created by Lincoln University Cooperative Extension and University of Missouri Extension specifically to assist underserved audiences. Readers will also find information about federal and state programs and services for small farms or future farms across Missouri. Underserved populations, including minorities, women, nontraditional farmers and low-income applicants for agriculture-related services will find a diverse list of loans, grants and training opportunities available throughout the year. It is expected that by taking advantage of these opportunities, small farmers can improve the stability of their operations and thereby improve their social and economic well-being. State and federal agencies represented in this publication are the Natural Resources Conservation Service, the Farm Service Agency, the Missouri Department of Agriculture, and the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program. For the past few years, these agencies have worked closely with both Lincoln University and the University of Missouri to increase outreach to minority audiences. Lincoln University Cooperative Extension and MU Extension will continue to collaborate as facilitators between minority farmers and government agencies and will continue to develop programs to help meet the needs of all farmers and future farmers throughout the state of Missouri.

Lincoln University of Missouri

Lincoln University Cooperative Extension assists small farmers and ranchers throughout the state, especially those who are socially disadvantaged or underserved.


Native Plants Program

The Native Plants Program (NPP) was created by Lincoln University Cooperative Extension to assist farmers, ranchers and others to learn to identify native plants, use them in landscaping, produce them as specialty crops, or establish them for wildlife habitat and other conservation practices. This program joins in the work begun by groups such as the Xerces Society ( to increase awareness of the importance of native plants, native pollinators and other important invertebrates, and the Missouri Departments of Conservation and Agriculture Grow Native! Program ( to advance the knowledge of these species as potential crops for small farms.

Nature Outdoor Laboratories
The NPP Nature Outdoor Laboratories consist of a series of native plant gardens for education and enjoyment. Interpretive signs include information addressing the importance of native plans for landscaping, wildlife habitat, medicine, food and value-added products such as dyes. Bilingual (Spanish-English) brochures are available for each laboratory. The outdoor laboratories are located in four sites: Lincoln University Campus at Allen Hall and Busby Farm in Jefferson City, Manheim Community Garden in Kansas City, and Martin Civic Center in Marshall (to be established in 2010 and open to visitors in the fall). These laboratories are featured during field days and workshops. The Allen Hall Outdoor Laboratory is open to the public year-round. Busby Farm and Manheim Gardens can be visited with a tour guide.

The Native Plants Program works in close collaboration with the Missouri Native Plant Society, Master Gardeners, Missouri Department of Conservation, USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service, Farm Service Agency, and with the MU-Bradford Research and Extension Center in Columbia, where research plots and demonstration gardens are open throughout the year.

Outreach and education activities include seminars and field days that are offered in different regions in the state at various times of the year. The following seminars and training sessions can be offered upon request:

Annual events
The Native Plants Program hosts these events:

The following publications will be available (some in Spanish-English) as hard copies or downloadable files from Lincoln University website

For more information about Native Plants Program

Innovative Small Farmers Outreach Program

The Innovative Small Farmers Outreach Program (ISFOP) was created to help farmers and ranchers raise the level of efficiency on their farms while taking good care of the soil, water and environment. A vast body of resources is available from universities, government agencies and various organizations for small farmers. ISFOP helps to make farmers aware of, or assists them in accessing, resources to improve their farming operations, which in turn will benefit their overall well-being.

The information provided by ISFOP to small farmers helps them to adapt to a rapidly changing farm economy. ISFOP works in partnership with MU Extension, USDA and state agencies, and nongovernmental organizations. The program provides research-based information to help farmers achieve the following objectives:

Two regional small farm specialists (ISFOP coordinators), one in Kansas City and one in St. Louis, work with and coordinate the activities of farm outreach workers (FOWs) who work and live in the counties surrounding the two cities. If you qualify as a small farmer (see “Eligibility” below), you can schedule an appointment with the FOW in your county. He or she will visit you on your farm and do a site walk. We encourage you to discuss the goals and plans for your farm with the FOW, and come up with realistic ways to achieve your goals based on the resources available. The FOW will give you relevant technical information that will not only help you realize your goals and plans, but also increase your skills in farm management. The FOW will also inform you of any upcoming workshops or events of interest in your area. With these available resources, you should be able to raise your income level and have a more profitable and well-managed farm.

Urban focus
In addition to working with the small farmers and ranchers, ISFOP also focuses on urban food production in the two largest cities in Missouri. One of the goals of the program is to help limited resource minority residents, especially the elderly, get access to fresh, nutritious produce. The program has formed partnerships with various groups and community garden organizations that promote urban agriculture, including backyard and neighborhood gardens.

As interest increases in various aspects of farming, ISFOP will be offering relevant workshops and training sessions.

Recent workshops include the following:

You are eligible to participate in the ISFOP if

For more information about Innovative Small Farmers Outreach Program

CoverAt a farmers’ market, this woman sells produce that she and her family grow in southwestern Missouri. They could benefit from programs that the Missouri Agricultural and Small Business Development Authority (MASBDA) and other agencies offer for small farmers.

CoverMU Extension and Lincoln University conduct seminars, such as this one in Marshall, Mo., to discuss services and opportunities available to minority farmers.

MU Extension


Missouri Alternatives Center

The mission of the Missouri Alternatives Center (MAC) is to provide Missourians with timely information about alternative agricultural opportunities, to evaluate diverse enterprises, improve management decisions, increase economic returns and enhance the quality of their lives.

Pinpointing the answers you need
There has never been greater diversity in the types of farms and people engaged in alternative agriculture ventures in Missouri. Despite an explosion of information about alternative agriculture, producers can find themselves unable to put their finger on exactly the information they need to answer specific questions.

The Missouri Alternatives Center sorts through the masses of information to point producers in the right direction. The center works to improve its clients’ profitability and at the same time, maintain the agricultural base needed to sustain rural communities, by providing access to the information they need. The Missouri Alternatives Center serves as a communications center for Missouri farmers, Extension staff, government personal and people who want to begin farming, diversify their current operation, or find ways to profit from small amounts of acreage. The center has answered more than 85,000 information requests on about 3,200 topics since opening in 1989. These topics include:

The MAC LinkList
From agri-tourism to vermiculture, the MAC LinkList covers hundreds of alternative agriculture topics. The center has compiled a list of links to extension guide sheets from some of the top university research centers in the world. These links provide immediate access to unbiased, research-based information, online at

Ag Opportunities Newsletter
Ag Opportunities, the bimonthly newsletter of the Missouri Alternatives Center, provides up-to-date information about alternative agriculture opportunities and resources and a calendar of events. The newsletter is free to Missouri residents.

For more information about Missouri Alternatives Center

Missouri AgrAbility

Promoting success in agriculture for people with disabilities and their families

The Missouri AgrAbility project was created to assist people with disabilities who work in agriculture. The project links the Cooperative Extension Service at a land-grant university with a private nonprofit disability service organization to provide practical education and assistance that promotes independence in agricultural production and rural living.

The National Institute for Food and Agriculture (NIFA), an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, administers the AgrAbility project. It is a collaborative project of University of Missouri Extension, Services for Independent Living, and Midland Empire Resources for Independent Living.

The Missouri AgrAbility project involves extension educators, disability experts, rural professionals and volunteers who work in partnership to offer many services such as:

Those eligible for services may have any type of disability or chronic disease, whether it is physical, cognitive or illness-related. Eligible disabilities and diseases include the following:

For more information about Missouri AgrAbility

Alianzas program

Alianzas is a statewide program of MU Extension and the University of Missouri, Kansas City (UMKC) Institute for Human Development. The program was recognized in 2001 in response to the influx of Hispanic/Latino residents in Missouri. Alianzas provides training and support to MU Extension and its partners in response to the changing demographics in Missouri communities. Alianzas promotes and supports cultural diversity as community strength. Alianzas mission is to foster inclusive communities that recognize and address the unique qualities and challenges of Hispanic/Latino residents using a community-based, collaborative learning approach. Some activities that Alianzas is currently collaborating are: Binational Health Week, Mexican Consulate, Alianzas Cultural Academy, MU Extension Community Development Academy, Hospital Hill Diversity Council, UMKC’s Hispanic Advisory Board, Cambio de Colores/Change of Colors Conference, and many other community meetings and partnerships.

For more information about Alianzas

Community Food Systems and Sustainable Agriculture Program

The Community Food Systems and Sustainable Agriculture Program began in 2001 to provide the people of Missouri with information about sustainable agriculture and to support communities in decision-making processes to sustain themselves and their natural resources. Extension faculty link University resources with producers, consumers, institutions and organizations; encourage networking; enhance the relationships between MU Extension field faculty and Missouri communities; and educate producers, consumers and communities about sustainable food and farming opportunities.

For more information about Community Food Systems and Sustainable Agriculture

Food Circles Networking Project

The goal of the Food Circles Networking Project (FCNP) is to connect farmers, consumers and communities and to encourage the development of sustainable, community-based food systems throughout Missouri and beyond. Extension faculty members provide support for those who want to be involved in a food-circle project. The FCNP has a website with information about localized, community-based food systems, sources of local food in Missouri, and links of interest for farmers, consumers and organization partners.

For more information about Food Circles Networking Project

United States Department of Agriculture


Natural Resources Conservation Service

Helping People Help the Land

Since 1935, when it was called the Soil Conservation Service, the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has provided leadership in a partnership effort to help America’s private landowners and land managers conserve soil, water and other natural resources.

NRCS employees provide technical assistance based on sound science and suited to a customer’s specific needs to reduce soil erosion and to preserve and enhance soil and other natural resources. They provide financial assistance for many conservation activities. Participation in programs is voluntary.

NRCS reaches out to all segments of the agricultural community, including underserved and socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers, to ensure that its programs and services are accessible to everyone.

NRCS manages natural resource conservation programs that provide environmental, societal, financial and technical benefits. Its science and technology activities provide technical expertise in such areas as animal husbandry and clean water, ecological sciences, engineering, resource economics and social sciences.

NRCS provides expertise in soil science and leadership for soil surveys and for the National Resources Inventory, which assesses natural resource conditions and trends in the United States.

NRCS provides technical assistance to foreign governments, and participates in international scientific and technical exchanges.

NRCS in Missouri
NRCS in Missouri is designed for customer service and field office support. The agency has 100 field offices serving 114 counties. It employs about 400 people. In addition to field offices, NRCS also has technical offices that support soil survey, watershed projects, water quality, outreach, resource conservation and development and plant materials.

NRCS field office space is shared with local soil and water conservation district (SWCD) staff. Most NRCS offices are located in USDA Service Centers that also include local offices of two other USDA agencies, the Farm Service Agency and Rural Development.

NRCS programs

For more information about Natural Resources Conservation Service

Farm Service Agency

The Farm Service Agency (FSA) serves the public by providing all farmers and ranchers access and opportunity to participate in farm commodity, credit, conservation, environmental and emergency assistance programs. Through these activities, FSA supports the USDA mission and helps ensure a healthful, stable, accessible and affordable food supply. FSA also fosters good land stewardship, which will help preserve our agricultural prosperity for generations to come.

Missouri Farm Service Agency (FSA) helps ensure the well-being of American agriculture and the American public through efficient and equitable administration of farm commodity, farm loan, conservation and emergency assistance programs. Missouri FSA administers the farm programs legislated by Congress through 97 county offices.

FSA farm programs

For more information about Farm Service Agency

Contact the FSA office serving your county.

Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education

Since 1988, the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program has provided competitive grants for sustainable agriculture research and education through four regional administrative councils. Involving producers in SARE research projects has been a primary component of SARE-funded projects since the program’s inception. Recognizing that producer interest in sustainable agriculture research was growing, SARE’s North Central Region began directly funding farmers and ranchers in 1992. By 1995, each SARE region had begun to offer grant opportunities to producers. Now, farmers and ranchers can apply for grants of up to $6,000 for one producer or $18,000 for a combination of as many as three producers working on one grant.

The SARE Outreach Office produces books, bulletins and online resources highlighting SARE project results and other innovative research.

For more information about Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education

Missouri Department of Agriculture


Missouri Agricultural and Small Business Development Authority

The Missouri Agricultural and Small Business Development Authority (MASBDA) was created by the Missouri General Assembly in 1981 as an independent political and corporate body of the state of Missouri (RSMo 348). Its purpose is to promote the development of agriculture and small business and to reduce, control and prevent environmental damage in Missouri by providing additional sources of financing at interest rates that are below conventional rates. MASBDA administers a grant program and tax credit programs related to new-generation cooperatives and value-added agricultural projects.

MASBDA programs

For more information about Missouri Agricultural and Small Business Development Authority


Publication background
Between September 2006 and February 2009, MU and Lincoln University of Missouri conducted a project entitled Inclusion Leads to Success: Assisting Minority Farmers and Ranchers to Use Federal Agricultural Services in Missouri and Beyond. The project was funded by the National Institute for Food and Agriculture (NIFA), formerly known as the National Institute for Food and Agriculture (NIFA), through their Outreach and Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers Program (2501 Program) (

The main purpose of this project was to increase awareness about federal and state services and programs available for minority farmers, regardless of their cultural background, in Missouri and neighboring states. During this period several workshops were offered across Missouri, including cities bordering Kansas, Arkansas and Illinois. Farmers and other members of communities of different ethnicities participated in these events.

During the workshops, MU and LU Extension specialists and representatives of federal and state agencies discussed their programs with participants. Agencies represented include the Farm Service Agency (FSA), the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC), the Risk Management Agency (RMA), the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program, and the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS). Recipients of SARE farmers’ and ranchers’ grants were guest speakers in Boone County workshops and shared their experience with attendees. Representatives of the University of Missouri Alternatives Center and AgrAbility program participated during the last year of the program.

During the first year, nine seminars were held throughout the state. These seminars took place in cities and towns in seven of the eight MU Extension regions (only the Northwest region was not included, because the number of minority farmers is low in that region). About 150 men and women, including Hispanics, African Americans, Hmong and Native Americans, attended these seminars to obtain information about grant and loan programs, conservation programs and sustainable agriculture.

During the second year, five seminars were held in cities and towns in west central, central and east central Missouri. About 130 people attended these seminars. In the third and final year, two seminars and two field days brought together 120 participants interested in learning to access state and federal agriculture services, to write grant proposals and to develop a farm business plan.

The content of seminars varied for each location to cover special needs of the target groups. In Kansas City, for example, special emphasis was placed on urgan agriculture, and in Marshall, Mo., a Latin American family hosted a hands-on demonstration field day. A special case was Webb City, Mo., where a planning meeting was conducted with agency representatives and producers. The survey showed that Hmong farmers and other small farmers in this area were interested in attending training workshops, especially about organic farming. The last two workshops were offered to provide specific training about writing and submitting a SARE Farmers and Ranchers Grant proposal and developing businesses. In all locations, English-Spanish interpretation was provided on request.

The Gardening and Hispanic Culture Field Day provided a setting for participants to learn about fall gardening while increasing their understanding of Hispanic culture, and the In Touch with Nature Field Day included training to adopt conservation practices to protect watersheds. Both field days provided training on growing native plants, composting and environmental education.

The project was awarded to Jose Garcia at MU in 2006 by NIFA and was continued by Nadia Navarrete-Tindall in 2007. Casi Lock, Extension Associate of MU, was the research assistant during the entire period of the project. Garcia is currently at Washington State University, and Navarrete-Tindall is currently at Lincoln University of Missouri.

This publication marks the culmination of three years of outreach activities between the MU-Community Food Systems and Sustainable Agriculture program (CFSSA), in close collaboration with Lincoln University Cooperative Extension to serve minority farmers throughout Missouri. Beginning in 2009, Lincoln University Cooperative Extension will take the lead to continue serving farmers and other minority groups.

About this publication

This publication is intended to be a resource for Extension staff, educators, minority farmers, ranchers and producers and agricultural professionals who work with minority and underserved populations to provide a comprehensive source for information about state and federal agency programs and services that can be incorporated into agricultural enterprises.


Special thanks to Stan Cook, Karen Funkenbusch, Debi Kelly, Charlie Rahm, Dana Rogge and Christina Vasquez Case, who submitted information about their agencies’ programs and granted permission to publish it and make it available to the public. Thank you to the project administrative assistant Sharon Naylor for her valuable assistance. Thanks also to the extension specialists of MU Extension and Lincoln University Cooperative Extension and to the farmers who contributed to the success of this project. This publication is funded by the National Institute for Food and Agriculture (NIFA), Lincoln University Cooperative Extension and University of Missouri Extension.

MP910 Resources and Services for Minority Farmers and Ranchers | University of Missouri Extension

Order publications online at or call toll-free 800-292-0969.

University of Missouri Extension - print indicia