WASHINGTON (WHTM) — The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced an investment totaling more than $71 million to help underserved communities.

According to a press release, the funding for this investment has been made possible through two key USDA programs: USDA’s 2501 Program and the American Rescue Plan Technical Assistance Investment Program.

USDA is committed to take aggressive action to advance equity for the farmers and producers in underserved communities. These investments will help with that commitment.

“This is a major step in the right direction as the Biden-Harris Administration continues to ensure underserved groups can more fully access and participate in federal programs and services,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “We are committed to building a different USDA. One that is steadfast in our actions, mindset and culture around equality and justice for all. We need to not only envision a different future, but also build a path to make it possible.”

The 2501 Program helps to extend USDA’s outreach to underserved communities by partnering with nonprofit and community-based organization and high education institutions to provide technical assistance, as well as training. USDA’s Office of Partnerships and Public Engagement (OPPE) administers the program.

This investment will enable underserved and veteran farmers, ranchers, and foresters, and help them to get needed resources to support successful farming operations and increase their profit.

The USDA will be investing a total of $36.1 million in grants to 52 organizations across the country. Pennsylvania Friends of Agriculture Foundation is one of these organizations, receiving a total of $543,296 in grants to support their “Building Ready and Resilient Veteran Farms,” with the purpose to help foster connections among veteran farmers who are beginning, as well as service providers to help create a supportive network that will allow them to thrive.

The American Rescue Plan Technical Assistance Investment program is administered by USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). The program will help to ensure equitable participation in the full range of USDA programs and services among underserved farmers, ranchers, forest landowners, and operators through technical assistance projects and networks.

“These projects will deliver specialized technical support to underserved producer communities to benefit the launch, growth, resilience and success of their agricultural enterprises. The ARPTAI Program is one of many USDA efforts to foster equity and reduce barriers to access our programs and services,” said Acting NIFA Director Dr. Dionne Toombs.

The USDA-NIFA will also be investing $35.1 million in cooperative agreements to 13 universities and nonprofit organizations across the nation.