Monday, March 20, 2017

The USDA's Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program

Dear Friends,

A couple of years ago, I wrote an article America Needs Veterans To Take Up FarmingWell it seems someone has read that article and understands my interest in the future of agriculture in America. So now I've been asked to help spread the word on a program that is available for getting beginners started in agriculture. 

The USDA's Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program provides grants to organizations for education, mentoring, and technical assistance initiatives for beginning farmers or ranchers. While I don't know how individuals can apply for these grants, folks should see if this can fit their needs.

According to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service’s most recent Ag Census data, the number of young people entering farming continues to decline, but the number of new farmers and ranchers over the age of 35 as well as the number of smaller farms and ranches nationwide continue to rise. 

The USDA website for individuals can also be found at Programs & Services for Individuals

Trying to ensure that there will be a "new generation" of beginning farmers and ranchers, regardless of age or production choice, is especially important to the continuation of agricultural production in the United States. That is why the USDA created The Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program:

General Information

Opportunities exist within farming and ranching, but beginning farmers and ranchers have unique educational, training, technical assistance, and outreach needs. Capital access, land access, and access to knowledge and information to assist in ensuring profitability and sustainability are vital to those just entering agriculture and in their first ten years of operation.

Funding Priorities

In accordance with the authorizing legislation, priority will be given to partnerships and collaborations led by or including nongovernmental, community-based organizations and school-based agricultural, educational organizations with expertise in new agricultural producer training and outreach. At least 5 percent of the funds will support programs and services that address the needs of beginning farmers or ranchers with limited resources; socially disadvantaged beginning farmers or ranchers; and farm workers desiring to become farmers or ranchers. At least 5 percent of the funds will support programs and services that address the needs of veteran farmers and ranchers. The term “farmer” is used in the broadest sense and should be interpreted to include traditional agricultural farmers, ranchers, and tree farmers. As far as possible, geographical diversity will also be ensured.

Topics for programs and services, as listed in the Agricultural Act of 2014, include:
  • 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

The Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program program recipients must be a collaborative state, tribal, local, or regionally-based network or partnership of public or private entities, which may include: 
  • a State Cooperative Extension Service; 
  • a federal, state or tribal agency; 
  • a community-based and nongovernmental organization; 
  • college or university (including an institution awarding an associate’s degree) or foundation maintained by a college or university; 
  • or any other appropriate partner, as determined by the Secretary.
Types of Projects

The Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program funds three types of projects:
  • Standard Projects: to new and established local and regional training, education, outreach and technical assistance initiatives that address the needs of beginning farmers and ranchers in selected areas
  • Educational Enhancement Projects: to help develop seamless beginning farmer and rancher education programs by conducting evaluation, coordination, and enhancement activities for Standard Projects and other non-funded beginning farmer programs
  • Curriculum and Training Clearinghouse: to make educational curricula and training materials available to beginning farmers and ranchers and organizations who serve them.
The Award Process

Awards will be made through a competitive grants process, administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA).

The RFA will be posted online as soon as it's available. All applications for funding must be submitted electronically through is external). 

This process requires pre-registration which can take up to one month. We encourage all potential applicants to begin the registration process as soon as possible.

Reviewers from universities, government, community-based organizations, for-profit and non-profit organizations, and from the farming community will provide peer assessment and recommend applications for funding.
Post Award Monitoring

Projects are required to acknowledge USDA-NIFA funding in all presentations, publications, news releases, etc. Projects are required to collect and submit outcome-based data to USDA-NIFA through annual reports. The annual Project Directors meeting provides opportunities for networking and sharing of best practices.
Program Type: Grant Program

CONTACT: Jill Auburn






Friends, being frank, I was sent the information. And frankly, after looking it over, I decided that there isn't a whole lot that I can add to what is there. 

Basically, since starting up a farm or a ranch is considered an expensive venture, today funding is available from the USDA's Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program  (BFRDP). 

This program is designed to support beginners wanting to get started. Yes, that the bottom line. So please, pass the word if you someone who qualifies. As we, all know, any help getting started is a good thing.

Tom Correa 

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