Recently Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced the availability of more than $19 million in grants to help train, as well as educate and enhance the sustainability of the next generation of agricultural producers through the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP).
Vilsack explains that as the average age of farmers continues to rise, "we have no time to lose in getting more new farmers and ranchers established. Reauthorizing and expanding the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program is one of the many resources the 2014 Farm Bill gave us to build America's agricultural future."
BFRDP is an education, training, technical assistance and outreach program designed to help farmers, ranchers and managers of non-industrial private forest land – specifically those aiming to start farming and those who have been farming or ranching for 10 years or less. It is managed by the National Institutes of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). NIFA will competitively award grants to organizations conducting programs to help beginning farmers and ranchers. Learn more about eligibility and how to apply (applications are due June 12, 2014).
Priority will be given to projects that are partnerships and collaborations led by or including non-governmental, community-based, or school-based agricultural educational organizations. All applicants are required to provide funds or in-kind support from non-federal sources in an amount that is at least equal to 25 percent of the federal funds requested.
By law, at least 5 percent of available funding will be allocated to programs and services for limited-resource and socially-disadvantaged beginning farmers and ranchers and farmworkers. Additionally, another 5 percent of available funding will be allocated for programming and services for military veteran farmers and ranchers.
BFRDP was authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill, receiving $100 million to be awarded over the next five years. The program was originally funded through the 2008 Farm Bill. Since then, NIFA has awarded more than $70 million through 145 grants to organizations that have developed education and training programs. More than 50,000 beginning farmers and ranchers have participated in projects funded by BRFDP.
NIFA is hosting two upcoming webinars for interested applicants on April 30 and May 6 at 2:00 p.m. Eastern. The first webinar will focus on general guidelines for the program, while the second webinar will focus on the funding allocations for socially-disadvantaged and military veteran farmers and ranchers.
Through federal funding and leadership for research, education and extension programs, NIFA focuses on investing in science and solving critical issues impacting people's daily lives and the nation's future. More information is available at: nifa.usda.gov.