WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns has announced that USDA is awarding $5 million in competitive grants to help minority and disadvantaged farmers and ranchers.

"We are committed to helping our minority farmers build successful farming operations," said Johanns. "I'm pleased that some of these funds will support a wide range of activities at our nation's Tribal and 1890 colleges and universities that help minority farmers."

As part of the Outreach and Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers Program, the grants will help organizations conduct outreach and technical assistance to encourage and assist farmers and ranchers to own and operate farms and ranches and to deliver a wide range of support activities including farm management, financial management and marketing. This program is administered by USDA's Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service.

The grants support projects that encourage youth to become beginning farmers and enhance farm transition; create profitable and competitive agricultural systems for new and emerging Latino farmers; assist farmers and ranchers in using computers as a management and resource tool; and develop an educational resource to help farmers and ranchers build value-added businesses.

Of the 22 organizations receiving an award, nine are 1890 land-grant colleges and universities, and two are 1994 land-grant tribal colleges and universities. A complete list of funded projects is available online.

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.