Harden said the awards prioritize strategies enhancing access to markets, developing local and regional food systems, assessing the impact of economic changes to new and beginning farmers, and conducting outreach activities that can inform relevant public policy to enhance small farmers' well-being.



The University of Illinois will receive $495,000 to research risk mitigation participation strategies for small and mid-sized producers in the advanced biofuel industry, while Oklahoma State University was awarded $484,000 to research economic development opportunities for small and mid-sized farms in the local and regional food system.

Other university grants included in this package include Clarkson University, which will receive $499,000 to study anaerobic digesters for small farms, and the University of Vermont was awarded $499,662 grant to research how to improve the quality of labor management decisions for small and medium-sized farm operators.

The ten university grants awarded add up to $7 million in assistance that Harden says will directly benefit small to mid-size farm operations.

"Also included in this second round of assistance is $8.8 million in rural development programs. The first $3 million is targeted towards small and socially-disadvantaged producers through a grant program that will provide funds for market research, product improvement, feasibility studies, training and implementation of business plans, and possibly other programs designed to help them," Harden added.

The program is titled the Small, Socially Disadvantaged Producer Grant program and applications will be accepted through June 30. More information about how to apply can be found at www.rurdev.usda.gov/BCP_SSDPG.html.