Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced Monday that USDA is awarding $301,831 in grant funding to the Hispanic Farmers and Ranchers of America, Inc., for their Socially Disadvantaged Assistance Border Outreach and Assistance Project to improve the use of USDA programs among Hispanic and Latino farmers and ranchers.

The award is being made through the Outreach Assistance to Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers (OASDFR) Competitive Grants Program, also known as the "2501 program."

"USDA and the Obama administration are committed to creating opportunities for Americans from all backgrounds," said Vilsack. "This grant will help develop programs to ensure that minority landowners have access to a full range of USDA programs, helping them increase their profitability and stay on the farm."

The Hispanic Farmers and Ranchers of America Socially Disadvantaged Border Outreach and Assistance Project will primarily serve producers who have a value of sales of less than $100,000 or who have sustained significant loss in the scope of their operation. The project's goal will be to increase the success rate of small farmers or ranchers who apply for operating loans. The Hispanic Farmers and Ranchers of America will work with small producers to help them integrate with the agricultural community by improving their financial condition and creditworthiness and to stop the decline or decrease in the number of operating small farms and ranches in Dona Ana and El Paso, New Mexico Counties.

The primary purpose of the grant being made available through the "2501 program" is to enhance the coordination of outreach, technical assistance and education efforts to reach socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers. These grants enable organizations to help farmers and ranchers successfully acquire, own, operate and retain farms and ranches and to assure equitable participation in the full range of USDA programs. Local and regional impacts include participants setting up production and marketing cooperatives, improving environmental quality and improving their profitability and sustainability.

Funding of individual recipients is contingent upon their meeting the terms of the loan, grant, or loan/grant agreement.