USDA Announces Nearly $18 Million to Train, Educate the Next Generation of Farmers and Ranchers

WASHINGTON, October 30, 2015 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) today announced the availability of $17.7 million in grants to help train, educate and enhance the sustainability of the next generation of agricultural producers through the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP).


“As the average age of farmers in the US continues to rise, we recognize the need for new programs to address the needs of the next generation of beginning farmers and ranchers” said Sonny Ramaswamy, NIFA director. “We see these new ranchers and farmers as a critical force in sustaining food security, food safety, and many other aspects of agriculture that positively impact the societal challenges facing our growing population.”


The 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 who are aiming to start farming and those who have been farming or ranching for 10 or fewer years. A competitive grant selection process will review proposals from organizations that are conducting or will conduct programs to help beginning farmers and ranchers. Applications are due January 21, 2016. Please see the request for applications for specific program requirements.


The two priority application types identified by BFRDP are standard and Educational Enhancement Team (EET) projects. Standard project applications should focus on long-term goals that enhance the sustainability of beginning farmers and ranchers through education, training, mentoring and outreach programs that enhance self-employment in farming, ranching and forestry opportunities. Goals for EET projects should be to identify gaps in beginning farmer and rancher training by evaluating all existing programs, and to develop and conduct train-the-trainer projects to address these gaps. 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 five 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 five 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 $66 million through 136 grants to organizations that have developed education and training programs. More than 50,000 beginning farmers and ranchers have participated in projects funded by BFRDP.


NIFA is hosting a webinar for interested applicants on December 2, 2015 from 1:00-4:00 p.m. Eastern. The webinar will focus on general guidelines for the program, and the funding allocations for socially-disadvantaged and military veteran farmers and ranchers.


NIFA invests in and advances agricultural research, education, and extension and seeks to make transformative discoveries that solve societal challenges. To learn more about NIFA’s impact on agricultural science, visit or follow us on Twitter @usda_nifa#NIFAimpacts.

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