(Image: iStock / Kikujiarm) Young African woman hemp farm checking plants and flowers before harvesting. Business agricultural cannabis farm and herbal medicine concept. Seedlings sow seeds alternative medicine farming herb.
The National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC) and Cargill have announced they’re taking applications for the second cohort of their Acres: Cultivating Equity in Black Agriculture Initiative.
According to an NMSDC press release, the program held its first cohort last year and is now working to develop more Black farmers annually. The program will consist of two elements, a learning program and strategic business support.
The initiative is part of the Black Farmers Equity Initiative, a collaboration between the NMSDC and Cargill to create a pathway for emerging Black farmers to achieve parity in the agriculture industry with learning solutions, certification, lending, networking, and new contracts.
According to McKinsey & Co., less than 2% of U.S. farmers identify as Black or mixed race. A significant drop from 14% a century ago. Additionally, these farmers represent less than 1% of total U.S. farm sales.
Participants in the second cohort will complete a 12-week course focused on growing their capacity to take on major national contracts with corporate members.
The course will work with Black farmers to ensure they can:
Get certified as a minority business enterprise (MBE) and how it can open opportunities for Black farmers.
Access capital, get capital ready, and leverage micro-loans.
Address issues of growth such as storage, putting acreage into production and equipment management.
Building negotiation skills.
Develop a plan for and manage growth.
Review opportunities and challenges shared by corporate members.
The strategic business support portion of the program will cover:
Being connected through a customized online learning community so they can network and build relationships with each other.
Receiving assistance in completing the certification process with NMSDC, with certification fees covered by this program.
Having the opportunity to apply for growth-oriented micro-loans through a Business Consortium Fund opportunity specifically for farmers in the program.
Participating in mentoring and matchmaking sessions with participating corporate members assisting to create direct relationship-building and contract opportunities.
Mentoring will focus on navigating the procurement process and responding effectively to requests for proposals.
Source: Black Enterprise