In December 2021, ABIRC staff distributed CDFA-California Underserved Small Producers Program (CUSP) checks to small, disadvantaged BIPOC farmers in Fresno County, Merced County, and Sacramento County. There was a total of 70 small farmers who were approved for funding, 35 in Fresno County, 18 in Merced County, and 17 in Sacramento County. The grant amount ranged between $2,500-$5,000 and close to $200,000.00 were given out.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, these small farmers struggled to sell their produce due to the closure of farmer markets and restaurants. A few were able to sell their produce to local Asian grocery stores but made barely enough to cover their expenses. Some of farmers had to leave their produce to wilt and die on the field, leading to excessive waste. Farmers will use the grant dollars to help purchase plastic sheets to build greenhouses, pay farm rental fees, buy clones and farming equipment, and cover other needed expenses.
Lastly, ABIRC wants to thank our community partners, Merced Lao Family Inc. and Sacramento Cultural and Linguistic Center, and Lao Veterans of America, Inc in Fresno for letting us use their venue to hand out checks to our farmers. We are very appreciative of our community leaders, Executive Directors, Bee Vang, Paul Pao Thao and Sadia Himalaya, as well as their staff for collaborating with us.
Blong Xiong, ABIRC Executive Director