WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns today announced that USDA is awarding 21 competitive grants totaling more than $5.6 million to strengthen efforts aimed at serving minority and disadvantaged farmers.

"USDA is committed to helping the nation's minority and disadvantaged farmers," Johanns said. "The grants will help many farmers and ranchers successfully acquire, own, operate and retain farms and ranches by delivering a wide range of outreach and assistance activities including farm management, financial management and marketing."

A socially disadvantaged farmer or rancher is one of a group whose members have been subjected to racial or ethnic prejudice without regard to their individual qualities.

The grants announced today are part of the Outreach and Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers program, also referred to as the 2501 program. The awards are administered by USDA's Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service.

See the full USDA release for the list of fiscal year 2006 awards.

CSREES advances knowledge for agriculture, the environment, human health and well-being, and communities by supporting research, education, and extension programs in the Land-Grant University System and other partner organizations.

SOURCE: USDA news release.