Some groups of people are identified in Farm Bill legislation and in USDA policy as being Historically Underserved (HU). Members of these communities have been historically underserved by, or subject to discrimination in, Federal policies and programs.
Four groups are defined by USDA as “Historically Underserved,” including farmers or ranchers who are:
– Socially Disadvantaged*;
– Veterans; and
– Limited Resource.
USDA recognizes the need to be inclusive of all people and ensure equitable access to services. So, special provisions include specific incentives, waivers, priorities, set asides, and other flexibilities for producers who meet the definition for historically underserved producers within USDA programs—such as increased financial assistance for conservation practices, dedicated conservation funding and loan allocations, and access to advance payments for conservation practice implementation—to farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners that fit into any of the four HU groups.
For the Farm Service Agency (FSA) a Historically Underserved (HU) Producer is described as one of the below:
- Beginning Farmer or Rancher – An individual who has not operated a farm or ranch for more than 10 cumulative years.
- To qualify, an individual must provide substantial day-to-day labor and
management of the operation, consistent with the practices in the county or
State where the operation is located.
- A legal entity or joint operation can be considered BFR if all members individually qualify.
- For FSA Farm Loan Programs, an entity is considered a BFR if all members are related and individually qualify.
- Socially Disadvantaged Farmer or Rancher* – Members of a group who have been subjected to racial or ethnic prejudice because of their identity as members
of that group without regard to their individual qualities.
Includes the following groups:
– American Indian or Alaska Native
– Black or African American
– Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander
- For some programs, FSA additionally includes women farmers and ranchers.
- A legal entity or legal operation can be considered SDFR if at least 50 percent ownership in the business is held by SDFR individuals.
- For FSA Farm Loan Programs, the majority of the entity must be owned by SDFR individuals, unless they are married,
in which case just one of the spouses must be SDFR.
*We acknowledge that the term “socially disadvantaged” is not how individuals who fit the definitions below identify themselves. In our work, it is included out of necessity as a legal term used in the Farm Bill to outline specific incentives, priorities, and set asides for underserved producers within USDA programs.
- Veteran Farmer or Rancher – An individual who has served in the armed forces,
including a reserve component; was released from service under conditions other than dishonorable; and:
– qualifies as BFR (see differences); or
– first obtained veteran status during the last 10 years.
- A legal entity or legal operation can be considered VFR if at least 50 percent ownership in the business is held by VFR individuals.
- For FSA Farm Loan Programs, the majority of the entity must be owned by VFR individuals, unless they are married, in which case just one of the spouses must be VFR.
- Limited Resource Farmer or Rancher – An individual who has direct or indirect gross farm sales not more than the current indexed value in each of the previous 2
– has a total household income at or below the national poverty level for a family of four in each of the previous 2 years; or
– has a total household income less than 50 percent of the county median household income in each of the previous 2 years.
- To determine if you qualify as LRF, USDA provides an online self-determination tool at lrftool.sc.egov.usda.gov.
- A legal entity or joint operation can be considered LRF if all members individually qualify.
- For FSA Farm Loan Programs, there is no specific LRF definition as all applicants must be unable to obtain commercial credit
to qualify for a Farm Loan, so all have limited financial assets.
Producers are encouraged to explore the Get Started Guide for Historically Underserved Producers and/or reach out to the County Office for more information on qualifying as Historically Underserved and accessing available programmatic benefits.