USDA invests more to train beginning farmers

USDA invests more to train beginning farmers

Emphasis is on military veterans and limited-resource farmers.

FAQ: Funding for USDA's Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill. Tell me more about this program. How can I apply to receive help to get started?

Answer: USDA Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden earlier in February announced more than $18 million in grants to educate, mentor, and enhance the sustainability of the next generation of farmers. The grants are available through the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP) administered by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), which was authorized by the Agricultural Act of 2014 (2014 Farm Bill).

HELPING HAND: USDA's Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program accepts applications. Contact your local USDA FSA office for details.

"As new farmers and ranchers get started, they are really looking to their community for support. The Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program empowers these farmers and ranchers to bring innovative ideas to the table when it comes to addressing food security, creating economic enterprises, and building communities," said Krysta Harden. "As we celebrate the first anniversary of the 2014 Farm Bill, programs like these are evidence that an investment in beginning farmers and ranchers is an investment in our future."

Provides workshops, training, technical assistance
The grant announcement was made at Recirculating Farms Coalition in New Orleans. Recirculating Farms received a BFRDP grant to develop training sessions focusing on soil-based production and aquaculture for new and beginning farmers in New Orleans.

The BFRDP program, first established by the 2008 Farm Bill, aims to support those who have farmed or ranched less than 10 years with workshops, educational teams, training, and technical assistance throughout the United States. NIFA awards grants to organizations that implement programs to train beginning farmers and ranchers. The recent USDA announcement was funded by the 2014 Farm Bill, which continued authorization of this program.

2014 Farm Bill continues Beginning Farmer Program
The 2014 Farm Bill mandated at least 5% of BFRDP funding support veterans and socially disadvantaged farmers. Among today's announcement, more than 15% of the funded projects have a substantial component that supports veterans and farming, while about 50% of the projects focus mainly on socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers. A fact sheet with a complete list of awardees and project descriptions is available on USDA website.

•Since 2009, 184 awards have been made for more than $90 million through the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program. These awards are part of USDA's deep commitment to beginning farmers and ranchers.


Additional USDA investment in beginning farmers and ranchers include:

•Since 2009, FSA has issued more than 895,000 direct and guaranteed farm operating and farm ownership loans to beginning farmers and ranchers.

•FSA's microloan program, an important access point to credit for some new farmers and ranchers, has issued more than 9,600 microloans totaling $188 million. Seventy percent of these loans have gone to beginning farmers. Recently, USDA raised the ceiling for microloan from $35,000 to $50,000, giving new farmers access to more credit.

•The 2014 Farm Bill also strengthens the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program for new producers by reducing the premiums on buy-up level coverage by 50% for new farmers and waiving their application fee. USDA announced this new tool for farmers and ranchers in 2015.

•USDA's Value-Added Producer Grants program gives priority to beginning farmers and ranchers to help them increase revenues through value-added agriculture, marketing and new product development. Since 2009, more than 25% of 853 awarded Value Added Producer Grants went to beginning farmers and ranchers.

More information about USDA support for new farmers and ranchers is available at
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