June 15, 2011
The USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture’s Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP) released its 2010 Outcomes Report this week. The report highlights the 29 projects that were funding in FY 2009 that helped to train, educate and provide outreach and technical assistance to beginning farmers and ranchers throughout the United States.
The BFRDP was authorized in the Food, Conservation and Energy Act of 2008. It provides grants to community organizations and educational institutions to assist and support beginning farmers and ranchers. The BFRDP matches federal resources with local, state and regionally based networks and partnerships to provide education, training, and support for beginning farmers and ranchers.
BFRDP has had a major impact on the economies of communities throughout the nation. The 29 projects have provided thousands of Americans with the skills and knowledge necessary to grow healthy food for their communities and become important contributors to their local economies.
In its first year of operation, the program will meet or exceed the goal to train more than 6,000 beginning farmers and ranchers throughout the United States. Of the thousands that have been trained, over 25 percent are social disadvantaged or farm workers.
Programs Highlighted in the 2010 Outcomes Report
National Agricultural Library (NAL)
The NAL is creating a one-stop resource center for beginning farmers and ranchers across the Nation. This “Curriculum and Training Clearinghouse” will provide new ranchers and farmers with information on financing, networking, technical assistance, all of which have been created by other BFRDP projects. The Library will also host an annual conference to bring together beginning farmers and ranchers highlight their successes. NAL has also launched its Start2Farm.gov website, which provides additional resources for new and beginning farmers and ranchers.
Western Navajo Nation Beginning Farmers and Ranchers Project
The Navajo Nation consists of 173,987 Navajo citizens spread across 26,000 square miles in northeastern Arizona, southeastern Utah and northwestern New Mexico. This BFRDP provides resources and training to socially disadvantaged and limited resource Navajo citizens who are interested in farming or ranching. This project trains new farmers to use sustainable practices that rely on both traditional Navajo farming methods and more contemporary farming techniques. In its first year, the project trained over 1,000 beginning farmers, half of which were women. The organization also pays particular attention to the cultural identity of the Navajo Nation, as well as the current and previous challenges that the tribe has faced.
Molokai Native Hawaiian Beginning Farmer Project
Hawaii imports most of its food from the US and other countries and in particular, on the island of Molokai, unemployment is the highest in the state. That makes the Molokai Native Hawaiian Beginning Farmer Project critically important to providing employment opportunities and job training to the residents of the island. This project uses a hands-on, culturally appropriate approach to provide native Hawaiians with the skills and knowledge to farm on Molokai. The organization has also established an open market so that program participants can gain experience marketing their agricultural products in their community.
How does NSAC support the Beginning Farmers and Ranchers Development Program
NSAC was instrumental in the development and passage of the BFRDP in the 2002 Farm Bill. NSAC also helped secure mandatory funding for the program in the 2008 Farm Bill. We will continue to fight for continued support for the program in the 2012 Farm Bill and beyond. NSAC and NSAC member groups are hosting a group of beginning farmers from around the country this week in Washington, DC. They will be making over 40 visits on Capitol Hill and USDA and talking about BFRDP and many other beginning farmer policy issues.
For more information about the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program, visit the NSAC website.
Categories: Beginning and Minority Farmers