On October 28, 2011, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced that its Risk Management Agency (RMA) awarded grants to 125 organizations that will engage in crop insurance education and outreach. The grants totaled 13.6 million dollars and were distributed to organizations in 47 states. They came from two separate programs: the “Education and Outreach” program and the “Targeted States” program. Together the programs support many American farmers and ranchers, and help small and underserved farmers learn about crop insurance and how to handle risks associated with farming. The Education and Outreach program, which provided 8.5 million dollars in grants to 109 organizations, funds programs that educate farmers about crop insurance and risk management strategies. The Targeted States program, which awarded five million dollars, gives an extra boost to organizations in states that have been historically underserved with respect to crop insurance. This year, one organization was chosen from each of sixteen states: Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wyoming.
I had the chance to talk to Shirley Pugh, Director of Public Affairs at the RMA, about these programs. Pugh said that the program has been in existence since 2002. She also said that the USDA has a few million dollars to give out in grant money each year, and that in order to receive this money crop insurance education organizations must go through an application process. She said the goal of the programs is to teach people risk management strategies, and that the main focus of these partnerships is to help minority farmers, as well as young and beginning farmers. In order to apply for grants, organizations began with the application kit on their website and picked out a group of people they wished to assist. The grants cover the organizations’ expenses for their crop insurance education programs.