Factors Impacting Access to and Participation in Farm Bill Programs by Socially Disadvantaged and Veteran Farmers and Ranchers
Abstract: The aim of this project is to address an issue that has been at the forefront for many years, the level of participation of Socially Disadvantaged and Veteran Farmers and Ranchers (SDVFRs) in farm bill programs. The rate at which SDVFRs participate in farm bill programs has been low historically, even when efforts have been put in place to improve the rate of participation. What may be at the core of the issue may have to do more with history and perception, than fact. However, that is not to say that more should not or could not be done. In as much as most programs are implemented at the local or county level, there is still a lack of SDVFRs on county committees and/or advisory boards. On the other hand there is an established fact that farm bills are written to support the big commercial farmers and ranchers, and unfortunately, not many SDVFRs meet the criteria. The 2014 farm bill took a giant leap forward in its effort to be more inclusive and user friendly to SDVFRs. However, the extent to which SDVFRs have been able to access programs is still relatively unknown. Therefore, the objectives of this project are to: 1. Determine the extent to which SDVFRs participate in farm bill programs, 2. To ascertain the extent to which focused efforts have made a difference in the rate at which SDVFRs participate, and 3. To examine language and/or provisions in the bill that are pertinent to the needs of SDVFRs. This study used a mixed-methods approach to gather data, inclusive of primary and secondary data from USDA Agencies, CBO organizations, and related organizations. This study follows a Farm Bill educational program that was conducted in 2014-2015 to provide education to SDVFRs in selected counties in regard to steps to accessing and participating in farm bill programs. Over the course of this study we have seen an increase in the number of SDVFRs and other farming groups come forward to take advantage of farm bill programs.
Alfred L. Parks*, Nelson T. Daniels, Gbenga O. Ojumu and Victoria Parker
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