USDA Implements Grant Program for Beginning Farmers and Ranchers

USDA Implements Grant Program for Beginning Farmers and Ranchers

USDA is providing farmers and ranchers financial support to begin agricultural businesses through $17.7 million worth of grants in the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP).

What is BFRDP?

It's the only competitive federal grant program directed at assisting beginning farmers and ranchers (someone who has been farming less than 10 years), or those who have never managed a farm or ranch, administered by the USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture, that funds education, outreach, technical assistance initiatives and extension. This program hopes to enhance sustainability of the next generation of farmers.

It was created due to the 8 percent decrease in number of farmers and ranchers projected between 2008-2018, the average age of current farmers and ranchers being about 58 years old, and to assist emerging producers in the face of challenges from buying land, education and other resources. BFRDP was given permanent annual funding during the passage of the 2008 farm bill.

The program supports vocational and agricultural rehabilitation for veterans, curriculum development activities to assist beginning farmers and ranchers, financial and entrepreneurial training, mentoring and apprenticeship programs such as the land link program where retiring farmers are connected with new landowners.

The grants have a 3 year term, not to exceed $200,000 for large grants and $100,000 for small grants. Eligible recipients can qualify for grants so long as they provide a cash or "in-kind" contribution match equal to 25 percent of the grant funds awarded. Those who don't farm can use the funds, so long as the project goes towards beginning farmer opportunities.

Who is eligible? 

"1862 Land-Grant Institutions, 1890 Land-Grant Institutions, 1994 Land-Grant Institutions, Hispanic-Serving Institutions, and Private Institutions of Higher Ed."

Furthermore, "The recipient must be a collaborative, state, tribal, local, or regionally-based network or partnership of public or private entities, which may include: state cooperative extension service; community-based and nongovernmental organization; college or university (including institutions awarding associate degrees); or any other appropriate partner." - nifa.usda.gov

Not only is the program helping beginner farmers, it is setting aside 5% specifically to aide minorities including, women, immigrants, farm workers and those whom are socially disadvantaged, to begin their own farming operations. Another 5% is set aside as well for veterans, including those with disabilities.

The application deadline for the 2018 year is February 8th, 2018. For more information, click here.

Cover photo courtesy of foodtank

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