NMSDC, black business,Cultivating Equity in Black Agriculture, Cargill, acres program, farmers

The NMSDC Acres Program Is Supporting Black Farmers’ Agricultural Businesses

The National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC) new program, “Acres: Cultivating Equity in Black Agriculture” is designed to assist Black farmers in closing the wealth gap.

The program was launched by NMSDC and Cargill in 2022 and further expanded in 2023, thanks to the additional support of Walmart and the United Natural Foods, Inc (UNFI). The initiative aims to create a pathway for emerging Black farmers to achieve parity in the agriculture industry with learning solutions, certification, lending, networking, and new contracts.

Additionally, in 2020, during the Coronavirus Pandemic, the USDA created the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) to provide financial aid to farmers impacted by the pandemic.

The Environmental Working Group (EWP) found that in the first eight months of the pandemic, 97% of the $9.2 billion in CFAP aid that had been distributed went to white farmers. Even worse, the money that did go to Black farmers was eight times less than what white farmers received, on average.

The NMSDC is working to correct these inequities by giving Acres participants a 12-week curriculum focusing on growing their capacity to handle and land major national contracts.

Topics covered during the program will include:

  • Getting certified as a minority business enterprise (MBE), which can open opportunities for Black farmers.
  • Being capital-ready and accessing capital and micro-loans.
  • Addressing issues preventing growth, including equipment management and storage.
  • Reviewing opportunities and challenges shared by corporate members.
  • Building negotiation skills.

NMSDC reported the Acres program will also provide strategic business support for Black farmers, including connecting them through a customized online learning community so they can network and build relationships with each other. Participants will also receive assistance in completing the certification process with NMSDC, with certification fees covered by the program, and assistance in applying for growth-oriented micro-loans through a Business Consortium Fund opportunity specifically for farmers in the program.

Additionally, Acres participants will have mentoring and matchmaking sessions with participating corporate members, assisting in creating direct relationship-building and contract opportunities for Black farmers navigating the government procurement process and responding effectively to requests for proposals.

Those interested in joining the program can apply here. The application deadline for this year’s cohort is October 30, 2023.

To qualify for the program, applicants need to be:

  • A farmer with an agriculture-for-profit enterprise physically located in the U.S. or its trust territories with revenue of at least $25,000 per year.
  • A minority business at least 51% Black–owned, managed, and controlled. Participants must meet the African American/Black definition as set by NMSDC.
  • Management and daily operations must be exercised by the Black ownership member(s).
  • Must have two years of farming experience.
  • Must be registered with the Secretary of State in the state where business is conducted.
  • Must have a business bank account.
  • Must have proof of United States Citizenship.