July 1, 2023
Acres: Cultivating Equity in Black Agriculture
The Acres program (formally known as the Black Farmers Equity Initiative) was established in 2022 by the National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC) in partnership with Cargill and is a 12-week program designed to help Black minority business enterprises (MBEs) in the agriculture industry grow their capacity to take on major national contracts with NMSDC corporate members.
About the Acres Program
NMSDC and Cargill launched a new program in 2022, to advance agricultural supply chain access for Black farmers. According to McKinsey & Company, today just 1.4% of farmers identify as Black or mixed race compared with about 14% a century ago. Furthermore, these farmers represent less than 0.5% of total U.S. farm sales. Perhaps, even more disturbing, Black farmers operate at 70% of US peer-level farm revenue. Because of this extreme inequity in the U.S. agricultural industry and thanks to the support from Cargill, we’ve launched the Black Farmers Equity Initiative. This collaborative 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.
After an exciting first year, Walmart, Cargill, and UNFI supported the expansion of the program, now called Acres: Cultivating Equity in Black Agriculture. The expanded program looks to develop more farmers on an annual basis and consists of two elements: a learning program and strategic business support.
Criteria for Program
NMSDC is creating equitable practices and pathways for Black farmers in the agriculture industry. Applicants must meet the following requirements to be eligible for the program:
- Must be a farmer with an agriculture for profit enterprise and physically located in the U. S. or its trust territories with revenue of at least $25,000 per year.
- Minority business must be 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.
- Value added farmers, producers, commodities, and aquaculturists are preferred, but all Black farmers are encouraged to apply.
Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for questions about this program.
Components of Acres
NMSDC is creating equitable practices and pathways for Black farmers in the agriculture industry.
Program participants complete an 12-week learning curriculum focused on growing their capacity to take on major national contracts with corporate members. Topics covered in this program include:
Getting certified as a minority business enterprise (MBE) and how it can open opportunities for Black farmers.
Accessing capital, getting capital ready, and leveraging micro-loans.
Addressing issues of growth such as storage, putting acreage into production and equipment management.
Building negotiation skills.
Developing a plan for and managing growth.
Reviewing opportunities and challenges shared by corporate members.
Strategic Business Support
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.
“During the program we were able to start a new CSA program and are gearing up to enter new markets. Thank you, Cargill, and NSMDC for supporting Black farmers and providing us with this wonderful opportunity! We are excited about taking our farm business to the next level and appreciate the support from this amazing program.”
Deep Roots CPS Farm
Applications for the 2024 cohort have now closed.
Express Interest in Acres Cohort 3
Tentative dates/times for the next cohort include a twelve-week virtual program:
January 3, 2025 – April 3, 2025
Every Wednesday, from 12:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. EST
Unlock the potential to expand your agricultural business by accessing various learning solutions, certification opportunities, lending options, networking resources, new contracts, and more.
Acres Cohort 3
“The [Acres] program has been a valuable experience. I learned new information and made new connections. My awareness of certain topics was increased while I was also exposed to new experiences and ideas that included new crops and systems. I know the experience will continue to yield results even though I have completed the program.”
Mahogany Farms LLC
Meet Acres Cohort 1
Members from the first cohort of Acres completed an eight-week learning curriculum focused on growing their capacity to take on major national contracts with NMSDC’s corporate members. The 11 members of the first cohort are:
Acres Program Sponsors
This program would not be made possible without the support of our sponsors.