Many opportunities exist in farming and ranching in America, yet beginning farmers and ranchers have unique needs for education, training, technical assistance, and outreach.
For those within their first 10 years of operation, it’s vital to have capital access, land access, and access to knowledge and information to assist with achieving profitability and sustainability.
The USDA-National Institute of Food and Agriculture’s (NIFA) Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP) provides competitive grants to organizations and institutions for education, mentoring, and technical assistance initiatives for beginning farmers or ranchers. Each year, project proposals are solicited through an official Request for Applications posted on NIFA’s website as soon as it's available.
NIFA’s BFRDP funds three types of projects:
- Standard Projects: to new and established local and regional training, education, outreach and technical assistance initiatives that address the unique local and regional needs of beginning farmers and ranchers
- Educational Team 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 directly serve them
NIFA has awarded a total of $16,783,829 in BFRDP grants for FY20. Some recent examples include:
- In Her Shoes, Inc. received a three-year grant of $295,761 for The Increasing Agribusiness Viability Among Women and Minorities project. Their work will provide education, training and mentorship opportunities to 20 new and beginning women and minority, particularly black farmers, each year in Georgia.
- Rosebud Economic Development Corporation received a three-year, $599,326 grant to provide training and technical assistance to native American tribes in establishing new farm operations in South Dakota.
- Agriculture and Land Based Training Association received a three-year, $600,000 grant to assist Latino Immigrant farmworkers transition to organic farming by assisting to secure land and navigating transition to successful independent farming in California.
Ensuring there will be a new generation of beginning farmers and ranchers — regardless of age or production choice — is vital to the successful continuation of agricultural production in the U.S.
NIFA’s National Program Leader for Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program is Denis Ebodaghe, who oversees partnership and collaborative efforts with NIFA’s land-grant university partners and other stakeholders, formulating and guiding broad scale efforts to assist small farmers and ranchers in improving their profitability and the economic viability of their enterprises.