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beginning farmer and rancher program

NIFA Now Accepting Applications for the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program

The Request for Application for the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP) is now available, and applications are due by November 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.

USDA Grant to Enhance Sustainability of Beginning farmers and Ranchers

One of our biggest opportunities to increase employment and income in rural America is to enhance the sustainability of beginning farmers.  Many farmers are retiring, and coupled with a renewed interest in local foods is causing an increased demand on small and medium-sized farmers. Nearly 25 percent of U.S. farmers are 65 years and older.  The average age of the farm operator is 57 years.  I have noticed a shift is occurring with an increase in the number of new farm operations with many Americans interested in becoming beginning farmers and ranchers.  However, these farmers face unique challenges, including rising cost of farm land, lack of knowledge about accessing farm land and the capital to buy the land, lack of training in sustainable farming practices, a lack of operating capital in their initial years, and many need experiential learning to be successful.