California papaya farmers
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Press Release Provided by the California Department of Food and Agriculture 

The California Department of Food and Agriculture’s (CDFA) Office of Farm Equity announces that it is awarding $12.8 million in grants to 14 projects throughout the state via the 2023 California Underserved and Small Producer Grant Program (CUSP). Eight Resource Conservation Districts (RCDs) and 6 non-profit organizations will be providing technical assistance and distributing direct farmer grants to support producers recovering from drought impacts. Following the three driest years on record, many producers are still navigating the impacts of the prolonged drought, though recent rain and snowfall have dramatically changed conditions throughout the state. Funding for this grant program was made possible through the 2021 and 2022 Budget Act. 

The CUSP Program is designed to facilitate support for small and medium-scale California agricultural producers, or small and medium scale Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers (SDFR’s) through technical assistance with business planning, financial and marketing strategies. This two-year grant program also provides direct farmer grants for relief from drought impacts for those same priority groups. The estimated start date for these projects is May 2023 and will continue through April 30, 2025. 

“We have a critical need for programs like this,” said CDFA Secretary Karen Ross.  “This group of farmers and ranchers in particular can benefit greatly from technical assistance as they navigate the challenges of our changing climate.”    

The complete list of awardees and summaries of their projects can be found at https://www.cdfa.ca.gov/cusp/

The following entities were eligible to apply for this program: Non-profit organizations, Tribal Governments, County Departments of Agriculture and Resource Conservation Districts (RCDs). Entities receiving funding demonstrated expertise to facilitate business planning tools to small and medium-scale producers, capacity to assist them to apply for State and Federal economic relief funds, and/or expertise in managing direct producer grants including previous rounds of CUSP Direct Farmer Grants.

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