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California Underserved and
Small Producers Program

The California Underserved and Small Producers (CUSP) Grant Program was created in 2021. It is designed to facilitate direct assistance to individual small and mid-scale and socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers who need technical assistance support in applying for economic and drought relief grant programs, and assistance with business planning and marketing strategies, and implementation of climate smart practices.


Farmers and Ranchers ELIGIBLE- for Direct drought relief through the CARCD’S CUSP Drought Relief Grant Program. Please see section below called 2022 Drought Relief Direct Farmer Grants for program details.

2023 CUSP Program Solicitation- NOW OPEN (This solicitation is open to: Non-profit organizations, Tribal Governments, County Departments of Ag, and Resource Conservation Districts. Individual producers are NOT eligible.)

Press Release: Cdfa Accepting Applications For The 2023 California Underserved And Small Producer (Cusp) Grant Program

The 2023 CUSP Drought Relief Technical Assistance and Direct Producer Grant Program is currently accepting applications from eligible entities including: Non-profit organizations, Tribal Governments, County Departments of Agriculture and Resource Conservation Districts (RCDs).

Applications will be accepted through March 16, 2023, at 5pm PST.

Applicants may apply for one or both of the funding tracks available under this grant program:

  • Part 1: Drought Relief Technical Assistance grants from $50,000 up to $100,000. This funding track is for eligible technical assistance providers to support California agricultural producers in applying for Federal and State drought relief grant programs including the CUSP Drought Relief Direct Producer Grant Program, and assistance with business planning, financial and marketing strategies needed to be resilient and stay in business during the on-going drought in California.
  • Part 2: Drought Relief Direct Producer Block Grant Program provides funding from $500,000 up to $1,500,000 for organizations to act as regional administrators to provide drought relief grants for small and medium scale producers or small and medium scale Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers (SDFR’s) to aid in addressing specific financial needs due to the drought.

The 2023 CUSP Drought Relief Technical Assistance and Direct Producer Grant Program application link can be found here: 2023 CUSP Grant Program Application.

The 2023 CUSP Drought Relief Technical Assistance and Direct Producer Grant Program request for applications (RFA) can be found viewed here: 2023 CUSP RFA.

Cusp Program Timeline

Item Date
Grant Application Opens January 17, 2023
CUSP Application Question Session 1

Join Zoom Meeting
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/86333941026

Meeting ID: 863 3394 1026
Passcode: Cdfa!220
February 2, 2023
1 p.m. to 2 p.m.
CUSP Application Question Session 2

Join Zoom Meeting
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/88061801786

Meeting ID: 880 6180 1786
Passcode: Cdfa!220
February 16, 2023
1 p.m. to 2 p.m.
Grant Application Closes March 16, 2023 @ 5 PM PST
Application Review Process Mar/Apr 2023
Award Announcement April 17, 2023
Grant Term Begins May 1, 2023
Grant Term Ends April 30, 2025

AmpliFund Applicant Portal Resources

Please view these training materials on how to set up an account on AmpliFund before applying to the 2023 CUSP Grant Program.


2022 Drought Relief Direct Farmer Grants - Currently OPEN

California continues to face escalating drought conditions and as a result, Control Section 11.85 of the Budget Act of 2021 allocated $5 million for direct drought relief funds which will be administered through the CUSP program partner organizations throughout 2022. These direct grants will assist small-scale and historically underserved producers to apply for relief grants for those most in need of immediate drought assistance. Producers will apply for the funds through local partner organizations.

CDFA has partnered with the California Association of Resource Conservation Districts (CARCD) to manage this current round of CUSP Drought Relief Direct Farmer Grants.

For information about the CARCD’s CUSP Drought Relief Direct Farmer Grant Program, visit the CARCD’s website:

Producers who have received a COVID-19 economic relief grant will be eligible for drought relief funds one calendar year (12 months) after applying for economic relief funds. This is to prioritize historically underserved, small-scale producers throughout California who have not received any Federal or State relief grant funds to date. Those who received funding in 2021 will be eligible to re-apply for CUSP direct relief funds 12 months after receiving the first round of funds.

The Drought Relief Direct Farmer Grants administered through the CUSP partner organizations are reimbursement grants for expenses incurred as a result of the drought. Examples of covered expenses can include but are not limited to:

  • Drilling of new wells or repairs on existing wells if sole source of water for operation. To be eligible, an applicant must provide written verification from a Groundwater Sustainability Agency managing the basin or area of the basin where the well is located or proposed to be located approving the action, per Executive Order N-7-22.
  • Increased electric utility bills of 50% or more due to increased electricity rates
  • Surface water costs if increase from year prior
  • Cost of hauling water for livestock
  • Lowering ag well pumps if a primary source of water is lost
  • Emergency upgrades to irrigation system (paired with conservation) if not covered through CDFA OEFI programs or USDA programs and for other emergency scenarios.
  • Decreased crop yields/crop loss due to less water available or having to fallow land

AVAILABLE - Technical Assistance (TA) for Producers to receive assistance on business planning, marketing strategies, and application support for relief grant programs.

Critical technical assistance is available statewide for small-scale and socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers to apply for federal and state economic and drought relief programs, including the CUSP Drought Relief program during open application periods. CUSP Program TA providers can also assist farmers and ranchers to adjust their business planning and marketing strategies and to become more resilient and recover from the adverse effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and the on-going California drought.


2023 CUSP Program draft RFA Public Comment Summary

The California Department of Food and Agriculture Office of Farm Equity announces that it is awarding $1.1 million in grants to 11 projects throughout the state via the 2021 California Underserved and Small-Scale Producer Grant Program (CUSP). These groups will be providing critical technical assistance for small-scale and socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers to apply for COVID-19 relief funds, adjust business planning and marketing strategies and other direct technical support for producers to become more resilient and recover from the adverse affects of COVID-19. The funding for this grant program was made possible through SB 85.

Press Release — CDFA Announces $1.1 Million In Technical Assistance Grants For The 2021 California Underserved And Small-Scale Producer Grant Program (CUSP)

Summary of 2021 Funded Projects


Press Release — Announcing Funding Opportunity

2021 CUSP GRANT APPLICATION MATERIALS — 2021 Program Application Period Now Closed

Request for Proposals — due date May 10, 2021, 5:00pm PT

Grant Applications Due: May 10, 2021
Summary of Public Comments

Program Status

Open

Now Accepting Applications for 2023 CUSP TA Support & Drought Relief Direct Producer Grant Administration

Now Accepting Applications for 2022 Drought Relief Direct Producer Grants

Contact Us

California Department of Food and Agriculture
Farm Equity Program
1220 N Street
Sacramento, California 95814
Phone: (909) 219-2991 or
(916) 202-9415