USDA offers a wealth of information for new farmers and ranchers. This includes providing cutting edge research in the field of agriculture, collecting and sharing information on markets, providing technical assistance with common issues on the farm, and offering programs to help support new farmers and ranchers in local communities.
As a new farmer or rancher, you can use these resources to plan your business, address risk, assess opportunities for growth and expansion, and connect with your community.
As an organization looking to support a new generation of farming and ranching, you can find tools to support you in your work and opportunities to partner with USDA.
For Farmers and Ranchers
USDA Research, Education, and Economics
USDA is dedicated to the creation of a safe, sustainable, competitive U.S. food and fiber system and strong, healthy communities, families, and youth through integrated research, analysis and education - offering cutting edge research, economic insight, and timely and accurate statistics for the agricultural and consumer community.
USDA and agricultural colleges around the country work together to support an extensive network of state, regional, and county Cooperative Extension offices, which can help answer questions you may have about your operation and common issues faced by agricultural producers. These offices also conduct workshops and educational events for the agricultural community.
USDA funds ATTRA, the National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service, which makes information and technical assistance available to farmers, ranchers, Extension agents, educators, and others involved in sustainable agriculture in the United States. ATTRA offers a wide variety of resources for new farmers and ranchers.
USDA, along with leaders from food and agriculture organizations, also support a free online tool, On-Farm Food Safety Project, to help U.S. producers of all sizes achieve GAP harmonized standards and certification. This site helps farmers design a customized manual to meet GAP harmonized standards and certification requirements, including USDA GAP standards, and mitigate business risks by answering just a few questions.
Food Safety: Produce Safety Alliance
The Produce Safety Alliance is developing a nationwide curriculum to increase understanding of the principles of Good Agricultural Practices and to facilitate the implementation of food safety regulations that will be part of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). Their website includes information related to training opportunities, educational materials, regulatory updates, and national produce safety collaborators. Outreach efforts focus on fresh produce growers, packers, and grower cooperatives, with special emphasis on small and very small farms and packinghouses. Additional materials for specific processed products and sprouts may also be found here:
The Food Safety Preventive Controls Alliance is a broad-based public private alliance consisting of key industry, academic and government stakeholders whose mission is to support safe food production by developing a broad range of materials, including a nationwide core curriculum, training and outreach programs to assist companies producing human and animal food in complying with the preventive controls regulations that will be part of FSMA.
Food Safety: Sprout Safety Alliance
The Sprout Safety Alliance is a public-private alliance developing a core curriculum, training and outreach programs for stakeholders in the sprout production community to enhance the industry's understanding and implementation of best practices for improving sprout safety, and additional requirements for sprout producers in the upcoming rule on standards for produce safety required by FSMA.
Complying with USDA Meat, Poultry, and Processed Egg Regulations
New and small meat, poultry, or processed egg product producers with questions about inspection-related policies, programs, systems, and procedures can find resources through the Food Safety and Inspection Service's Small Plant Help Desk.
For Organizations Supporting New Farmers and Ranchers
Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program
The Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program, administered by USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture, provides grants to organizations that train, educate, and provide outreach and technical assistance to new and beginning farmers on production, marketing, business management, legal strategies, and other topics critical to running a successful operation.
Outreach Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers and Veteran Farmers and Ranchers Grants
Outreach Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers and Veterans Farmers and Ranchers grants (formerly known as Section 2501 grants) provide funds to tribes, educational institutions, and non-profit organizations throughout the country to conduct training, outreach, and technical assistance to socially disadvantaged farmers, ranchers, forest landowners, and veteran farmers and ranchers.
The AgrAbility program supports projects (led by State Cooperative Extension Services, in coordination with private, non-profit disability organizations) to enhance quality of life for farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural workers with disabilities.
USDA works closely with the Intertribal Agriculture Council to promote the use of Tribal resources in Indian Country and facilitate the application process for USDA loans and grants. The Intertribal Agriculture Council also facilitates the export of products produced by Tribes, Tribal organizations and Tribal citizens.
The Risk Management Agency offers two opportunities each year to partner with organizations working with producers to provide crop insurance education and risk management training. Special emphasis is given to Socially Disadvantaged, Limited Resource, and Minority Farmers and Ranchers. For more information on how organizations can partner with RMA please visit Partnership and Cooperative Agreements.
Military Veterans: the Next Generation of Organic Farmers
A veteran and participant in the Veterans Sustainable Agriculture Training program handles living basil at a certified organic hydroponic farm, which grows plants in water as opposed to soil. The program, started by decorated Marine Sergeant Colin Archipley, passes on agricultural knowledge to veterans to not only provide healing through farming but also to support them in starting their own agricultural enterprises.