Kentucky State University’s College of Agriculture, Food Science and Sustainable Systems received a $199,138 grant through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Office of Outreach and Advocacy to assist veteran, beginning and socially disadvantaged farmers in improving their profitability through local food systems and USDA programs.

The grant will assist targeted farmers in 73 Kentucky counties with owning and operating successful farms; will improve participation of these farmers in USDA programs; will help build relationships between current and prospective farmers and the USDA’s local, state, regional and national offices; will provide outreach and education to farmers; and will introduce new information through innovative outreach and technical assistance techniques.

These efforts are expected to reach 4,500 farmers across the state. As a result of this program, 100 farmers are expected to implement new farming practices, new enterprises, value-added opportunities, improved record-keeping systems or new marketing techniques. Nearly 500 farmers who receive extension education through this grant will produce for and direct market into local food systems throughout Kentucky. The total economic impact is anticipated to be $2.4 million on cooperators’ farms and $7 million for their communities.

KSU area small farm agents will provide one-on-one outreach and technical assistance. These agents will recruit farmers to participate in USDA programs; will introduce, build and foster relationships between farmers and USDA professionals; and will provide technical help during the USDA application processes, including aid in completing applications and implementing, monitoring and evaluating the approved projects. The small farm agents also will assist these farmers in applying for various grants, operating and farm ownership loans, small business development projects, cost-sharing projects and educational programs and farmer demonstrations.

Outreach and education will be provided by College of Agriculture, Food Science and Sustainable Systems extension agents, who will provide expertise in the areas of farm business management and record-keeping systems; marketing systems; local food production; food safety; local food systems; goats, pastured poultry, aquaculture, livestock and forages; vegetable and fruit varieties and production systems; organic and sustainable production systems; black plastic and mulching systems; honey bees; and value-added. This assistance will target African American, Hispanic, beginning, veteran and female limited-resource farmers.