October 8, 2015
Today, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced awards totaling $17 million through the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP). BFRDP is the only USDA program exclusively dedicated to training new farmers and ranchers, particularly in sustainable production practices.
NSAC and our members who serve beginning farmers across the country originally conceptualized BFRDP nearly 15 years ago. The federal grant program was first authorized in the 2002 Farm Bill, though not funded until passage of the 2008 Farm Bill. The program supports training, technical assistance, and education to new farmers to ensure they have the business, production, and marketing skills to build successful and viable farming operations.
Since 2009, USDA has invested $90 million through BFRDP to support 184 projects serving new and beginning farmers in every state in the country. For a complete list of grantees, check out NIFA’s website.
This year, 34 organizations received BFRDP grants for projects supporting beginning farmers in 25 states. In total, about $10.7 million in grant funding will support 22 projects spearheaded by community-based and non-profit organizations, while $6 million will go towards 12 beginning farmer programs housed within public universities or cooperative extension.
NSAC Member Projects to Support Beginning Farmers
NSAC member organizations and other community-based and non-profit organizations have been vital in creating and securing public support and funding for BFRDP over the past decade. These are the hard-working and dedicated farmer-based organizations who work directly with farmers – new and veteran – in nearly every state across the country.
We therefore want to especially congratulate the following seven NSAC member organizations who were successful in receiving grant funding through BFRDP this year to support their work with beginning, socially disadvantaged, and veteran farmers:
“Dakota Rural Action is very pleased to have received this grant. It will go a long way in supporting this important program.” -Frank James, DRA Staff Director
“This award means a great deal to our efforts to support veterans transitioning into agriculture. We are thrilled to be expanding our national network, training opportunities, and one-on-one assistance at a time when the demand for our services is growing by leaps and bounds.” -Michael O’Gorman, Founder and Executive Director of Farmer Veteran Coalition
“With support of NIFA’s Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program, HND will implement our Hmong Agricultural Sustainability Training and Education (HASTE) Program. The program offers education and business resources for disadvantaged Hmong farmers and ranchers in Missouri and Arkansas. In partnership with EnSave, the HASTE program will increase access to free energy audits, technical training and financial assistance for new farm operators. These audits provide potential reductions in annual operating costs by 10-30% in the first year, and expedite the eligibility process for accessing USDA financial assistance and energy incentives from NCRS as well as other agencies.” -Bao Vang, President/CEO of Hmong National Development
“We are especially proud of our broad collaboration which one proposal reviewer said demonstrates the strongest use of partnerships that I have seen in these grants.” – Kathy Ruhf, Senior Program Director at Land For Good
“This three-year grant from the USDA is a tremendous vote of confidence in MOFGA’s nationally recognized program to train new organic farmers in Maine. It will enable us to continue building our educational programs and add another 150 new organic farmers to the state.” -MOFGA Executive Director Ted Quaday
“This grant makes it possible for World Farmers to build on our thirty year experience working with beginning, immigrant, and refugee farmers – providing support for farmers to enter into U.S. agriculture and building our next generation of farmers.” – Maria Moreira, Executive Director
Supporting Socially Disadvantaged & Veteran Farmers
The 2014 Farm Bill required that at least five percent of BFRDP funding advance projects supporting veterans and socially disadvantaged farmers.
This year, about 1o percent of the funded projects support veterans and farming, while about 50 percent of the projects support socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers.
As in past years, NSAC will collaborate with member organization the Land Stewardship Project to conduct an analysis of BFRDP grantees and publish a a progress report that reveals historical programmatic funding trends and identifies opportunities to improve the program. We will publish a post about the evaluation when it is completed.
Full project descriptions for every awardee is available on the USDA-NIFA website here.