February 10, 2010
USDA’s National Institute for Food and Agriculture (NIFA) has issued the 2010 Request for Applications (RFA) for the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP). A priority program of NSAC, the BFRDP funds education, training and technical assistance projects that help new farmers get started in agriculture.
For 2010, $18.2 million is available. Grants are capped at $250,000 a year, not to exceed a maximum 3-year term.
Applications for 2010 funding are due at NIFA by April 6. Public comments on the content of the RFA itself are due by the beginning of October.
Grants will be available in 2010 in two categories – standard grants and educational enhancement grants. Most of the awards will be for standard grants. Priority for educational enhancement grants will be given to regions not awarded such grants in 2009, when the Northeast and North Central regions received such awards. A 5-year national clearinghouse award was made in 2009 to the National Agriculture Library, so that award category will not be repeated again until the expiration of that grant.
A full list of priority topics for 2010 can be found on page 8 and 9 of the RFA.
Unfunded proposals from 2009 may be resubmitted, provided they respond to the previous review panel comments, and will be reviewed according to the same evaluation criteria as the new applications.
NSAC published a report on the 2009 BFRDP awards and submitted detailed comments on the BFRDP rule and on the 2009 edition of the BFRDP RFA. Many of our recommendations have been incorporated into the 2010 RFA:
In a separate communication to NSAC from the NIFA Director and the Acting Under Secretary for Research, Education, and Extension, USDA has indicated that review panel training will emphasize the role of community practitioners and farmers in the review process.
One problem for NGO and CBO applicants has not yet been solved. All awards require a 25 percent cash or in-kind match. Even for 3-year awards, the match must be secured prior to the award. NSAC and NSAC member groups have requested a year-by-year approach to cash matches, provided detailed and realistic plans are provided in the application. Though this recommendation is not included in the new RFA, USDA has indicated to us in writing that “all matching funds are required at the time of the award, but we will continue to explore ways to address this concern.” NSAC will stay engaged on that point, hoping to find an acceptable solution soon.
Categories: Beginning and Minority Farmers