Hoping to bolster support for small-to-mid size farm operations and to encourage first time farmers, USDA officials have released a second package of assistance programs that include research awards, technical assistance, and marketing support designed to aid farm operations suffering from drought and disaster.

USDA Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden told Farm Press in an interview this week that the package represents USDA's continued commitment to all producers, including the nation's small and mid-size producers. Harden helps lead the department, working to strengthen the American agricultural economy and revitalize rural communities.

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"We're very excited about this package, which represents the second wave of programs designed to help small and mid-size producers. The package is divided into three specific areas, one which will be grant funding for ten universities to develop programs that will help small and mid-size farmers to enhance and expand their production," Harden noted.

These grant awards, made by USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) Small and Medium-Sized Farms program, will focus on developing models to assist small farmers in their decision making with respect to management strategies, new technologies, sustainability, competitiveness and viability.