Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers Policy Research Center specializes in policy research impacting socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers. Through collaboration with universities and organizations inside and outside the land grant community, Alcorn State University leverages Alcorn State University employees’ expertise and increases personnel capacity with contractual partnerships with other universities and agencies. The mission of the Policy Research Center is to make policy recommendations that will improve the success of socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers and will be accomplished through a transparent management structure focusing primarily in three areas, research, stakeholder engagement, and outreach. These three areas, when strategically integrated, produce a platform for relevant active research, ongoing stakeholder dialogue, and continuous dissemination of findings.
Federal policies shape the reality of the U.S. farm industry. These policies unleash possibilities and difficulties for socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers and their communities. Often, socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers in contemporary society are distant from federal policy construction, interpretation and implementation. For many years, tens of thousands of socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers have accused USDA of patterns of historical discrimination, and there has been evidence of this claim. In light of these allegations, USDA continues to address civil rights and social justice issues. However, for USDA to adequately address civil rights and social justice issues, a mechanism that recognizes socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers and USDA’s intrinsic relationship and that their continued future existence depends on mutual and reciprocal dialogue and collaboration needed to be established. The Policy Center will contribute toward better connecting socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers in meaningful ways to federal policy construction, interpretation, and implementation.
The 2014 Farm Bill Policy
The 2014 Farm Bill Policy created the Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers Policy Center: "Title XII: Miscellaneous- Subtitle B: Socially Disadvantaged Producers and Limited Resource Producers amends the Food, Agriculture, Conservation, and Trade Act of 1990 to direct the Secretary to award a grant to a college or university eligible to receive certain funds, including Tuskegee University, to establish the Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers Policy Research Center."
Location of Policy Center
The Center is national in scope with a strategic focus on the 18 states with 1890 universities to assist in reaching the socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers in high concentrated areas. Although national in scope, the Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers Policy Research Center is located at Alcorn State University in Lorman, Mississippi in the Biotechnology building.
Why Alcorn State University?
The Policy Research Center at ASU is an outstanding geographical location to collect the data needed for research. This site is designated as headquarters of the Center; with satellite locations in other areas through partnerships with 1890’s Universities. Forty-percent of the black farmers in the United States reside in Mississippi and the four adjacent/contiguous states of Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Tennessee. The crops grown in Mississippi are a representative sample of crops grown by blacks in the south and will assist with an understanding of black farmers and their crops grown in other parts of the nation. Although, Mississippi has the second highest number of black farmers, the decline of black farmers and the loss of black-owned land in Mississippi are greater than other states. Alcorn State University has the premier Small Farm and Agribusiness Center in the 1890 community. In addition to providing broad-based technical assistance, the Center has a vibrant Small Farm Loan Program that has approved over 300 loans to farmers and cooperatives for a total of $3,000,000 since 1996, having a cumulative economic impact of $12,000,000 in the state. The Center and the Extension Program have connected farmers and their co-ops to USDA Programs in a substantial way. Alcorn State University has a solid working relationship with Mississippi State University and the Southern Rural Development Center that can assist with research and will use the collaboration skills learned within those partnerships to create collaborative relationships at a national level. In addition to collaboration experience, Alcorn State University currently houses a farmer and rancher policy institute that works primarily with socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers.