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36 grants totaling $17.7 million to support beginning farmers

Nerthuz/Thinkstock Money bag with gold coins sitting around it
USDA's Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program supports projects that deliver education, mentoring, and technical assistance programs to help beginning farmers and ranchers in the U.S.

USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) has announced awards to support the next generation of farmers and ranchers through the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP).

“According to the 2012 Agriculture Census undertaken by the National Agricultural Statistics Survey, the average age of the American farmer is approximately 59 years old,” said NIFA Director Sonny Ramaswamy. “The Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program provides the training and resources to attract a wide range of communities – veterans, refugees, socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers, women, individuals from underrepresented groups, small farmers, aspiring farm workers, and others – into farming and ranching.” 

BFRDP supports projects that deliver education, mentoring, and technical assistance programs to help beginning farmers and ranchers in the U.S. and its territories with entering, establishing, building and managing successful farm and ranch enterprises.

There are 36 grants totaling $17.7 million funded through fiscal year 2017’s BFRDP.

  1. Alabama A&M University, Normal, Alabama, $600,000
  2. Ajo Center for Sustainable Agriculture, Ajo, Arizona, $299,237
  3. University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, Arkansas, $599,971
  4. University of California, Davis, California, $599,921
  5. California FarmLink, Santa Cruz, California, $599,074
  6. National Hmong American Farmers Inc., Fresno, California, $300,000
  7. First Generation Farmers, Brentwood, California, $200,000
  8. First Nations Development of Agriculture, Longmont, Colorado, $297,506
  9. The Florida International University, Miami, Florida, $600,000
  10. Global Growers Network, Atlanta, Georgia, $598,095
  11. Athens Land Trust, Athens, Georgia, $298,893
  12. University of Hawaii, Honolulu, Hawaii, $600,000
  13. Shawnee RC&D, Simpson, Illinois, $325,113
  14. Practical Farmers of Iowa, Ames, Iowa, $577,965
  15. Kansas Department of Agriculture, Topeka, Kansas, $257,000
  16. Cultivating Community, Portland, Maine, $597,252
  17. Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan, $600,000
  18. Renewing the Countryside II, Minneapolis, Minnesota, $576,017
  19. Community Food and Agriculture Coalition, Missoula, Montana, $523,355
  20. Organization for Refugee and Immigrant Success, Manchester, New Hampshire, $539,275
  21. Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, $599,147
  22. Glynwood Center, Cold Spring, New York, $404,650
  23. Orange County Partnership for Young Children, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, $292,645
  24. Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania, $600,000
  25. Rodale Institute, Kutztown, Pennsylvania, $498,706
  26. Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture, Millheim, Pennsylvania, $391,596
  27. Center for Heirs’ Property Preservation, Charleston, South Carolina, $600,000
  28. The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Tennessee, $567,069
  29. Utah State University, Logan, Utah, $599,615
  30. Vermont Housing & Conservation Board, Montpelier, Vermont, $546,386
  31. Virginia State University, Petersburg, Virginia, $600,000
  32. Arcadia Food, Inc., Alexandria, Virginia, $$597,124
  33. Appalachian Sustainable Development, Abingdon, Virginia, $473,915
  34. Seattle Tilth Association, Seattle, Washington, $597,846
  35. Dairy Grazing Apprenticeship, Medford, Wisconsin, $596,625
  36. University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin, $480,051

Details on all of fiscal year 2017 awards can be found on the NIFA website

These projects provide valuable training, education, and technical assistance to farmers and ranchers either entering into or improving their success in farming, ranching, and management of private forest lands. The knowledge, skills, and tools needed to make informed decisions for their operations, and enhance their sustainability will be provided by awardees such as Florida International University and Alabama A&M University. 

Previous BFRDP awards demonstrate the positive impacts of this program on the success of farmers and ranchers. The University of Arkansas led a team of experts from the University of Missouri, Appalachian State University, the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, and the Farmer Veteran Coalition to develop targeted mentoring programs nationwide for beginning farmers and ranchers that emphasize business practices and marketing opportunities, such as a “veteran-grown” label program. The “Armed to Farm” program helped 99 veterans prepare to start farming, and 228 veterans improve their farming success. The Dairy Grazing Apprenticeship in Wisconsin is the first formal apprenticeship for farming in the nation. It provides training to help transition farm ownership to the next generation of beginning farmers and aims to establish a standard career pathway for beginning dairy producers in support of profitable and sustainable businesses. The Dairy Grazing Apprenticeship enrolled 140 approved Master training farms in 10 states with 43 active apprentices, 18 graduates, and 241 candidates for apprenticeship.

NIFA’s mission is to invest in and advance agricultural research, education, and extension that solve societal challenges. NIFA’s investments in transformative science directly support the long-term prosperity and global preeminence of U.S. agriculture.


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