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USDA renews partnership to support underserved landowners

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Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack joined Cornelius Blanding, executive director of the Federation of Southern Cooperatives/Land Assistance Fund, today to sign an agreement signifying a continued partnership between the USDA and the nonprofit organization.

The partnership between the USDA and the Federation of Southern Cooperatives/Land Assistance Fund aims to increase the number of minority landowners in the South and support them in sustainable forestry and agroforestry practices. Vilsack signed on behalf of the USDA’s Forest Service, Natural Resources Conservation Service, and National Agroforestry Center, which have roles in implementing the agreement.

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Image courtesy of the U.S. Department of Agriculture

The agreement is intended to renew the USDA’s commitment to working with the Federation of Southern Cooperatives to assist Black landowners and other underserved farmers, and ensure they have access to critical resources and information. The agreement focuses on the key role that underserved landowners play in forest management, food production, conservation, wood energy, and climate mitigation.

“Through partnerships like this one, we are ensuring that historically underserved landowners and producers have the tools they need to successfully integrate conservation practices on their forest and agricultural lands,” said NRCS Chief Terry Cosby. “Equity in our programs and services is essential for addressing the unique natural resource needs and challenges across the country.”

“Our goal is to make an intentional impact so that underserved landowners, especially African American landowners, have access to resources to manage the forest and other natural resources on their land to enhance family wealth and stabilize ownership through increasing income and land asset value,” said Blanding.

The Federation of Southern Cooperatives/Land Assistance Fund is the nation’s oldest and largest cooperative association of Black farmers, landowners, and cooperatives.

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