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In search of new farmers

BFRDP is now entering its fourth year, and has already funded over a hundred projects and provided training, education, outreach, and technical assistance to more than 5,000 beginning farmers or ranchers.

The Request for Application for the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP) is now available, and applications are due by Nov. 22, 2011.  Projects will be awarded in 2012 and performed between October 2012 and September 2013.  Approximately $19 million is expected to be available.

The program is now entering its fourth year, and has already funded over a hundred projects and provided training, education, outreach, and technical assistance to more than 5,000 beginning farmers or ranchers.   Each year there are many more applicants than awards, so if you are interested in applying be sure to read all of the application criteria carefully and submit a proposal that addresses all of the requirements.  Examples of past successful applications can be found here, and a full list of current projects can be found here.

We will also host a grants writing webinar from 2:00 to 3:30 p.m. EST on Oct. 21, 2011. More information about the program and the webinar can be found on the BFRDP website. Or feel free to contact me at bfrdp@nifa.usda.gov.

Applications are reviewed by a panel of peers.  If your organization is not applying for an award this year, please consider becoming a reviewer.  Reviewers provide invaluable experience and perspective, and usually say that they also gained valuable experience by being on a panel. To be considered as a potential reviewer, please send an email message with your contact information and area(s) of expertise to: newreviewer@nifa.usda.gov

One of the areas reviewers consider is the “plan for outcomes based reporting.”  We use individual program outcome reports to evaluate the overall program performance.  The recently released 2010 Outcomes Report, documents the impacts of the 29 BFRDP projects funded in FY 2009.

In just one example, the Agriculture and Land-Based Training Association, which provides training in Spanish, reported that one year after completing the program, 45 percent of the participating farmers had changed their land management practices and 100 percent had developed a farm plan.

As the program manager since its inception, I have seen how these projects have provided thousands of Americans with the skills and knowledge necessary to grow healthy food for their communities and become important contributors to their local economies.  This is why I am looking forward to managing another successful year of this important program, and why I encourage you to learn more about the application process.

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