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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 relief grant programs and assistance with business planning and marketing strategies, and implementation of climate smart practices.

PUBLIC COMMENT PERIOD NOW OPEN- 2023 California Underserved and Small Producer Grant Program (CUSP) Draft Request for Applications (RFA)

CDFA’s Farm Equity Office is seeking public input on the draft Request for Applications (RFA) for the 2023 California Underserved and Small Producer Grant Program (CUSP). As a component of the 2021-2022 Budget Act, the CUSP program grant solicitation will focus on drought-related challenges facing small and medium scale socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers.

15-Day Public Comment Period: November 4 through November 18, 2022

For the 2023 solicitation, the CUSP Program will continue to fund technical assistance for organizations to provide business planning, financial and marketing strategies needed for farmers and ranchers to be resilient and stay in business during the on-going drought in California. An optional CUSP grant program component is available for organizations to administer CUSP grant funds to provide direct drought relief assistance for underserved farmers and ranchers through individual grants aimed at addressing specific drought relief financial needs they have experienced as a result of the on-going drought.

  • Live Public Comment Session: The CDFA Farm Equity Office will host one live, public comment session to welcome feedback on the draft RFA for the 2023 CUSP Program for historically underserved producers. Please view the Zoom meeting details below. No registration is required, and Spanish-language interpretation will be available.
Public Comment Session When Where To Join
2023 CUSP Program Draft RFA

November 10, 2022

11:00 AM to 12:00 PM
Zoom https://us02web.zoom.us/j/6861325291
Meeting ID: 686 132 5291
Passcode: Cdfa!220

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Meeting ID: 686 132 5291
Passcode: 22155033
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Public comments on the 2023 CUSP Program draft RFA will be accepted via email and can be submitted to carmen.carrasco@cdfa.ca.gov by 5 p.m. PT on November 18, 2022. Include “2023 CUSP Program Comments” in the subject line of the email.

CDFA will consider all feedback received on the draft RFA for the 2022 CUSP Grant Program during the 15-day public comment period beginning on November 4, 2022 before releasing a final version of the grant program solicitation.

2022 Drought Relief Direct Farmer Grants - Currently CLOSED

Please check this website periodically for upcoming CUSP Drought Relief application opening periods.

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.

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.

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


2022 Drought Relief Direct Farmer Grants

Contact Us

California Department of Food and Agriculture
Office of Grants Administration
1220 N Street
Sacramento, California 95814
Phone: (916) 657-3231
Fax: (916) 653-0206