NSAC's Blog

USDA Calls for Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program Applications

October 28, 2010

On Tuesday, October 26, USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) issued a request for applications (RFA) for its Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP) for the fiscal year 2011.  The application period runs through December 22, 2010, with awards expected to be made by or before October 2011.  The farm bill provides $19 million for the program in 2011.

Applications must be submitted electronically to Grants.gov, and detailed instructions on how to apply are contained in the RFA beginning on page 13.  NIFA reports that 34% of last year’s applications received funding.

According to the RFA, BFRDP “provides resources 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.”

Recipients of the grant must be “a collaborative, State, tribal, local, or regionally-based network or partnership of public or private entities.”  The grants have a term of 3 years and cannot exceed $250,000 a year.

The BFRDP sets aside 25 percent of the yearly funds for projects serving limited resource and socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers, including minority, immigrant, and women farmers and ranchers, as well as farmworkers desiring to become farmers in their own right.  As with the 2010 RFA, the 2011 version emphasizes that this is a set-aside, not an indication that all proposals should be targeted in this manner.  It also stresses that applicants for the set-aside funds must provide evidence of a strong track record in serving the needs of the targeted group(s).

Also reiterating a message also included last year, the new RFA indicates that projects may include financial management training, including assessment and training for establishing Individual Development Account programs, though grant funds may not be used as cash matching funds for IDA recipients or to provide micro loans.

The bulk of grant awards will be for standard grants across the full range of eligible project topics.  A small number of awards might be made in the “education enhancement team” category.  Education enhancement teams review beginning farmer curriculum and programs, identify gaps, and disseminate materials to help fill the gaps.  There were no awards in this category in 2010, though awards were made in 2009 in the northeast and north central regions.  If any such projects are awarded in 2011 they would likely only be from the southern or western regions.

To read more about eligibility and the history of the program, visit its page on the USDA website, or read our synopsis of the program in our Grassroots Guide to the 2008 Farm Bill.  To look at past funded projects, click here.

NIFA is also requesting comments (or “stakeholder input”) on this RFA for consideration of the next RFA.  Comments should be submitted to RFP-OEP@nifa.usda.gov.

For more information, contact Siva Sureshwaran at ssureshwaran@nifa.usda.gov, or by phone at 202-720-7536.

Categories: Beginning and Minority Farmers, Grants and Programs

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