NSAC's Blog

Beginning Farmer Training Grants Now Available!

January 12, 2015

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced earlier today the availability of nearly $19 million to support new farmer training programs through the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP).

BFRDP is the only federal program targeted exclusively on growing the next generation of farmers by supporting training, outreach, and technical assistance programs. Check out more information about the program in our Grassroots Guide.

The most recent Request for Applications (RFA) for Fiscal Year (FY) 2015 is available online through the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) website. Organizations interested in applying for grant funding must complete and submit an electronic application through Grants.gov by 5:00pm EST on Friday March 13th.

Program Priorities

BFRDP, newly reauthorized in the most recent Farm Bill, provides grant funding to support the development of educational outreach curricula, workshops, educational teams, training, and technical assistance programs to assist beginning farmers and ranchers with entering, establishing, building and managing successful farm and ranch enterprises.

As such, BFRDP grants may support projects that address a variety of topics including livestock and crop farming practices, land transfer strategies; business, financial and risk management training; curriculum development; mentoring and apprenticeships; agricultural rehabilitation and vocational training for veterans; and farm safety. Refer to our Grassroots Guide or the Request for Applications for a complete list of eligible project topics.

Applications from partnerships and collaborations that are led by or include nongovernmental organizations, community-based organizations, and school-based agricultural educational organizations with expertise in new agricultural producer training and outreach will be given priority in funding.

Additionally, at least five percent of total funding available for 2015 must support projects that address the needs of limited resource or socially disadvantaged beginning farmers or ranchers or immigrant or other farm workers desiring to become beginning farmers or ranchers. An additional five percent is available to support project that address the needs of beginning farmers and ranchers who are military veterans.

If an organization is applying under either of these two priority set-aside categories, they must:

  • Identify the target audience and state what percentage of the project will be allocated to serving either socially disadvantaged, limited resource, immigrant or veteran farmers;
  • Explain how the beginning farmers and ranchers in the identified target audience will be recruited and provided with appropriate training, education, outreach, or mentoring; and
  • Provide evidence of the organization’s ability to serve the needs of the identified audience.

Grant Types and Amount

Similar to last year’s RFA, the RFA for Fiscal Year 2015 will provide funding for two types of grants: Standard grants and Educational Enhancement grants.

Standard BFRDP projects support new and established local and regional training, education, outreach and technical assistance initiatives for beginning farmers and ranchers, and the maximum award is limited to $250,000 per year for up to three years.

Educational Enhancement Team grants are expected to assemble a team of experts to review beginning farmer and rancher curricula and programs (including review and evaluation of previously-funded BFRDP projects), identify gaps, and develop, disseminate and facilitate the use of materials and tools to address these gaps. Often, these grants include “train-the-trainers” type activities. Grants are limited to $200,000 per year for up to four years. Priority will be given to proposals that evaluate previously funded BFRDP projects to determine lessons learned and best practices, enhance coordination and collaboration among BFRDP grants in a given Region, and address topics that complement or leverage rather than duplicate work completed by previously funded Educational Enhancement projects.

Eligibility and Matching Funds

Applications may only be submitted by a collaborative state, tribal, local, or regionally-based network or partnership of qualified public and/or private entities. These collaborations may include the following entities: State Cooperative Extension Services; Federal, State, or tribal agencies; community based organizations; nongovernmental organizations; junior and four-year colleges or universities or foundations maintained by a college or university; private for-profit organizations; and other appropriate partners. Inclusion of beginning and/or non-beginning farmers and ranchers as part of the collaborative group is strongly encouraged.

NIFA requires that in order to receive an award under this program, grant applicants must provide a match in the form of cash or in-kind contributions in an amount at least equal to 25 percent of the federal funds provided by the award.

Information on How to Apply

To apply, organizations must submit an electronic application through Grants.gov. If an organization has never applied to a federal grant program through Grants.gov, they must complete a one-time registration process which can take up to two weeks, so it is critical to begin as soon as possible. The deadline to complete and submit applications is 5:00pm EST on Friday March 13th.

Additional resources on how to apply to BFRDP can be found online.


NIFA program leaders will also be holding a webinar that goes through the RFA and outlines the application process, and answers any questions that applicants may have. The webinar will be held on February 11th from 2:00 to 4:00pm EST, and can be accessed through this link.

Categories: Beginning and Minority Farmers

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