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Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP) FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

The primary goal of the BFRDP, under assistance listing number 10.311, is to help beginning farmers and ranchers in the United States and its territories enter and/or improve their successes in farming, ranching, and management of nonindustrial private forest lands, through support for projects that provide education, mentoring and technical assistance to give beginning farmers and ranchers the knowledge, skills and tools needed to make informed decisions for their operations and enhance their sustainability.  

BFRDP grants may fund programs or services relating to these priorities:

  • Basic livestock, forest management, and crop farming practices.
  • Innovative farm, ranch, and private, nonindustrial forest land transfer and succession strategies.
  • Entrepreneurship and business training.
  • Technical assistance to help beginning farmers or ranchers acquire land from retiring farmers and ranchers.
  • 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.
  • Agricultural rehabilitation and vocational training for veteran farmers and ranchers.
  • Farm safety and awareness.
  • Food safety and recordkeeping.
  • Other similar subject areas of use to beginning farmers or ranchers such as: projects that address climate change with climate smart agriculture, food, and forestry solutions; improved nutritional security; and economic revitalization, particularly in socially disadvantaged communities.

The term "beginning farmer or rancher" means a person who

  • Has not operated a farm or ranch.
  • Has operated a farm or ranch for not more than 10 years.
  • Meets such other criteria as the Secretary may establish.

A Data Management Plan (DMP) is required for this program. Applicants should clearly articulate how the project director (PD) and co-PDs plan to manage and disseminate the data generated by the project. The DMP will be considered during the merit review process (see NIFA’s Data Management Plan).

Not all applications need to address the needs of underserved populations or veteran beginning farmers and ranchers. Inclusion of socially disadvantaged or veteran beginning farmers or ranchers in the applications will not result in higher proposal scores or ratings. However, priority may be given to applications that address either of the two subsets, if necessary, to achieve the targets, by awarding funding to the highest-ranked proposals that meet the set-aside.

  • At least 5% of the program funds available for standard BFRDP projects will be allocated to address the needs of limited resource beginning farmers and ranchers; socially disadvantaged beginning farmers or ranchers; and/or farm workers (including immigrants) desiring to become beginning farmers or ranchers.
  • At least 5% of the program funds available for standard BFRDP projects will be allocated to address the needs of beginning farmers and ranchers who are military veterans. A recipient of such a grant may coordinate with a recipient of a grant from the AgrAbility

program in addressing the needs of veteran farmers and ranchers with disabilities.

The duration of the BFRDP Simplified Standard grant is for up to one year and the duration BFRDP Large, Medium and Small Standard grants and Education Team (ET) grants are for up to three (3) years.

  • Standard BFRDP Projects consist of large, medium, small. and simplified standard grants
  • Education Team (ET) Projects
  • The Curriculum and Training Clearinghouse grant

The long-term goals of the Standard BFRDP projects are to 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. The maximum award sizes are as follows:

  • Large standard grant is approximately $250,000 per year for up to three years.
  • Medium standard grants of no more than $175,000 per year for up to three years.
  • Small standard grants of no more than $100,000 per year for up to three years.
  • Simplified standard grants of $49,999 or less for one year.
  • Education Team (ET) grants of $250,000 per year for up to three years (one funded, once every three years).

The long-term goals of Education Team (ET) projects are 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. The maximum award for an ET project is approximately $250,000 per year for up to three years.

The Curriculum and Training Clearinghouse grant is competed once every three years. One Clearinghouse grant was funded in FY 2022. The next solicitation for this grant type will be in FY 2025. The BFRDP Curriculum and Training Clearinghouse maintains

Applications, letters of reference or any additional application materials not submitted with the application package by the application submission deadline are considered late and will not be accepted for review.

The maximum award size for Standard and Education Team (ET) grants is $250,000 per year for each of three years for a maximum total of approximately $750,000.

Funds may not be used for:

  • Planning, repair, rehabilitation, acquisition or construction of a building or facility.
  • Hourly wages as in a job creation program for individual farmers or ranchers.
  • Small agricultural loans for individual farmers or ranchers or used to incentivize individuals to attend events, workshops, or training.
  • The purchase of farming supplies for individual farmers or ranchers or to enhance individual farmers’ or ranchers’ farms or production capabilities. Purchase of supplies for demonstration is allowable.
  • Payment of rewards to individual farmers or ranchers for outstanding effort or achievement in training.
  • Scholarships for individual farmers or ranchers to attend college courses, certificate courses, or other ‘‘for fee’’ based courses, except for a two-year degree program in agriculture or farming related field in community colleges. Funding for a 4-year degree or graduate program is unallowable.
  • Start-up or financing costs for businesses or for an organization’s capacity building, which is defined as the development of organizational competencies, strategies, or systems and structures to improve organizational efficiency and effectiveness.
  • Large equipment purchases such as vehicles, semi-tractors or refrigeration systems.
  • Meals, except in rare situations where there is a working lunch. Refreshments are allowable costs. issue:

NIFA Application Support:

  • Email Support:
  • Key information: Business hours Monday through Friday, 7 am to 5 pm Eastern Time, except federal holidays.
  • USDA BFRDP Priority Questions: Contact the BFRDP National Program Leader, Denis Ebodaghe, at (202) 445-5460 or When contacting an NPL for a meeting, it is best to write up a one paragraph summary of your project ideas and send to the NPL in advance of a scheduled meeting. Most NPL meetings are scheduled for about 20 minutes.
  • USDA BFRDP Application-Specific Support: Rebekah Hanson at Key information: Business hours Monday through Friday, 8 am to 5 pm Central Time, except federal holidays.
Program type
Competitive Grant Programs

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