NIFA Announces the Availability of $17.7 Million to Train, Educate the Next Generation of Farmers and Ranchers

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) today announced the availability of $17.7 million in grant funding to help train and educate the next generation of agricultural producers through the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP).

“USDA is committed to supporting the next generation of farmers and ranchers, and we know that they have unique educational, training, technical assistance and outreach needs,” said Sonny Ramaswamy, NIFA director. “The Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program funds projects that provide valuable tools and resources to help these producers succeed in building profitable and sustainable businesses in communities across the country.”

The Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program helps fund organizations implementing programs throughout the United States that train beginning farmers and ranchers, through workshops, educational teams, training and technical assistance. Eligible applicants include collaborative state, tribal, local or regionally-based networks or partnerships of public or private entities such as state cooperative extension services, community-based organizations, colleges or universities; and other organizations providing services to beginning farmers and ranchers.

2017 applications are due Dec. 8, 2016.

NIFA will host a free informational webinar for interested applicants on Oct. 26 from 1-3 p.m. EST.

Projects are encouraged that serve military veterans who are beginning farmers and ranchers, and to projects that serve a socially disadvantaged, limited-resource, or farmworkers audience. At least 25 percent of the total project cost must come through non-federal funding or in-kind support.

Priority subject matter includes:

  • Basic livestock, forest management, and crop farming practices
  • Innovative farm, ranch, and private, nonindustrial forest land transfer strategies
  • Entrepreneurship and business training
  • Financial and risk management training (including the acquisition and management of agricultural credit)
  • Natural resource management and planning
  • Diversification and marketing strategies
  • Curriculum development
  • Mentoring, apprenticeships, and internships
  • Resources and referral
  • Farm financial benchmarking
  • Assisting beginning farmers or ranchers in acquiring land from retiring farmers and ranchers
  • Agricultural rehabilitation and vocational training for veterans
  • Farm safety and awareness
  • Other similar subject areas of use to beginning farmers or ranchers

Since BFRDP’s 2009 inception, the agency has invested more than $126 million through 256 projects across the country. Previously funded projects include the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association that trained 75 new farmers who established 68 new farms, and Arcadia Farms in Virginia that is helping veterans transition into farming roles. More information on USDA’s assistance for beginning farmers and ranchers can be found at www.usda.gov/NewFarmers.

NIFA invests in and advances innovative and transformative research, education, and extension to solve societal challenges and ensure the long-term viability of agriculture. NIFA support for the best and brightest scientists and extension personnel have resulted in user-inspired, groundbreaking discoveries that are combating childhood obesity, improving and sustaining rural economic growth, addressing water availability issues, increasing food production, finding new sources of energy, mitigating climate variability and ensuring food safety.

USDA has significantly expanded its efforts to improve access to safe, healthy food for all Americans and supporting the health of our next generation. Additional information about this work can be found on USDA’s Medium chapter, Growing a Healthier Future.

Many of the BFRDP projects support new farmers who are participating in the growing markets for local and organic food. USDA’s Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food (KYF2) Initiative coordinates the Department’s work to develop strong local and regional food systems. USDA has invested over $1 billion in more than 40,000 local food businesses and infrastructure projects. See more details by state on the KYF2 Compass. Additional information about USDA work to support local and regional food systems, including by increasing SNAP access at farmers markets, can be found online at New Markets, New Opportunities.

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