In an announcement from the USDA this past week, the promise of the Office of Advocacy and Outreach (OAO) has come closer to fruition. The OAO was created by the 2008 Farm Bill to give voice and opportunity to beginning, minority and underserved farmers. Most notably, OAO administers the USDA’s Outreach and Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged and Veteran Farmers and Ranchers program (also known as the “2501 program”). Since its inception, the Office has not become the champion for underserved communities it was hoped to be. The structural change will make the Office report directly to the Secretary of Agriculture and will help create clear channels of communication and accountability to help OAO meet its goals. For more info, see the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition’s blog here.
New structure for OAO could mean more access for underserved farmers