February 3, 2015
This week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced awards to 39 organizations that will receive federal grants to help train the next generation of farmers and ranchers. USDA Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden made the announcement at an urban aquaponics facility in New Orleans, run by one of the grant recipients.
These grants were funded through the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP) – USDA’s sole program focused on training new farmers, particularly in sustainable production practices. This program has been up and running for five years now, and applications for the next funding cycle are due in March. BFRDP was developed by NSAC and first authorized as part of the 2002 Farm Bill and funded for the first time as part of the 2008 Farm Bill.
The Fiscal Year 2014 awards announced this week will provide over $18 million to support community-based and non-profit organizations, community colleges and universities, and tribal and veteran groups in providing training, technical assistance, and outreach to aspiring and beginning farmers of all kinds.
In total, roughly $8.4 million in grant funding will support 24 projects run by community-based and non-profit organizations, while $10.5 million will go towards 15 beginning farmer programs housed within public universities or cooperative extension, including a new beginning farmer national clearinghouse to be administered by the University of Minnesota’s Center for Farm Financial Management.
Since 2009, 184 awards have been made through this program, investing more than $90 million into new farmer training programs across the country.
A Spotlight on NSAC Member Organizations
Out of the 39 organizations that will receive funding through this program this year, eight NSAC member organizations received grants in this year’s competition. Programs and policies impacting beginning and socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers has proven to be a top priority for NSAC members year after year, and many of our members work on the ground with new farmers and help to inform NSAC’s advocacy in support of beginning and socially disadvantaged farmers.
The following NSAC member organizations received funding through BFRDP this year to continue or expand their work with beginning, socially disadvantaged, and veteran farmers:
A fact sheet with a complete list of awardees and project descriptions is available on the USDA website.
Socially Disadvantaged & Veteran Farmers
This federally-administered competitive grants program is required by law to ensure at least five percent of total annual program funding supports projects focusing on the needs of minority, women, limited-resource, or immigrant farmers; and an additional five percent be directed towards projects working with veteran farmers.
Among today’s announcement, more than 15 percent of the funded projects have a substantial component that supports veterans and farming, while about 50 percent of the projects focus mainly on socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers. Over the coming months, NSAC will be working with the Land Stewardship Project to better document the extent to which grant recipients are working with these underserved communities.
Organizations and institutions in the following states will use BFRDP funding to providing training and technical assistance to socially disadvantaged farmers: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, South Dakota, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin.
Additionally, projects serving veteran farmers will be developed in the following states: Arizona, Arkansas, California, Indiana, New York, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, and Virginia.
2016 Funding Available
An additional $19 million will be available to fund other new farmer training activities in Fiscal Year 2015. The most recent Request for Applications (RFA) for 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.
See our previous blog post for additional information.