Alcorn receives grant for Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers Policy Research Center

Alcorn State University is establishing the Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers Policy Research Center, thanks to a $2 million grant the U.S. Department of Agriculture awarded the land-grant university. Alcorn will receive $400,000 for five years to research how current and past agricultural policies affected minority farmers and use that information to inform policy debate affecting future farm bills. The center will also provide education and support for minority farmers and ranchers.

“Through the work of this Policy Research Center, Alcorn will expand its footprint as a premier land-grant university,” Alcorn President Alfred Rankins Jr. said. “We’ll work with the minority agriculture community, gaining a deeper understanding of how policies have affected their farms.”

Alcorn will collaborate with other land grant universities, state and federal agencies, and agricultural leaders to build a national model for making informed farm policy decisions.

“It is an honor to receive this grant award,” Dean of the School of Agriculture, Research, Extension and Applied Sciences and Director of Land Grant Programs Ivory W. Lyles said while explaining Alcorn’s place in history as the oldest 1890 institution. “Working with the advisory committee comprised of other 1890 institutions, tribal sector representatives, farmers, ranchers among others, will positively impact and provide viable resources for the minority agriculture community.”

Alcorn’s grant was announced Monday along with $8.4 million the USDA is awarding to 54 other partner organizations in 35 states.

“Today's announcement is part of our ongoing commitment to support an agricultural landscape where there is room and opportunity for all,” U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack said in the federal announcement. "Agriculture is just like any other business — it needs people from diverse backgrounds and experience levels in order to reach its full potential and meet the challenges of tomorrow. Identifying, recruiting and training a vibrant next generation of American farmers and ranchers has never been more exciting or more urgent than it is right now.”

The center’s research will focus on numerous areas, including farm income and credit, land conservation and catch-up policies intended to compensate for past discrimination.

“This was a team effort with strong support from our congressional delegation, in particular, Congressman Bennie G. Thompson, Senator Thad Cochran and their staffers,” Rankins said.

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