Hilda Moreno and Carlos Alvarado dream of setting their children up for success through opportunity. They want to show their sons that it’s important to work hard – it’s not easy, but it’s worth it.
Carlos grew up on a ranch, and wanted to return to farming; however, farming on their own proved to be more challenging than expected. The family faced barriers such as access to land, access to credit and no knowledge of where to go for help and resources.
Beginning Latino farmers face more obstacles than non-Latino beginning farmers would. In general, the Latino community is not well-informed regarding resources offered by the USDA. Additionally, many Latino farmers struggle to communicate with staff in these offices due to language barriers.
While the USDA offers bilingual resources, staff are limited and not available in every office. This can be a challenge when trying to apply for a loan, or participate in a program.
The USDA’s Outreach Assistance to Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers Competitive Grants Program, or 2501 Program, can help. The Center for Rural Affairs was one entity awarded with funds to assist Hispanic and Latino farmers and ranchers, like Hilda and Carlos, in accessing USDA programs.
Staff provided financing information, and the couple has qualified for loans to help continue growing their successful farming operation. Today, Hilda and Carlos help others by hosting meetings, classes and learning circles for fellow Latinos interested in farming and ranching.
The current farm bill expires on Sept. 30, and the 2501 Program is at risk of expiring with it. Despite increased demand to assist socially disadvantaged and veteran farmers and ranchers, the program remains underfunded.
To continue this valuable work, Congress must take action to reauthorize and provide additional funding for the 2501 Program.
Established in 1973, the Center for Rural Affairs is a private, nonprofit organization based in Lyons, Neb., working to strengthen small businesses, family farms and ranches and rural communities through action-oriented programs addressing social, economic and environmental issues.