USDA Provides $17 Million To Support Beginning Growers

USDA Provides $17 Million To Support Beginning Growers

The USDA has awarded more than $17 million in grants for organizations that will develop training and provide other resources for beginning farmers and ranchers, including greenhouse growers. The awards are made through the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP), administered by USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA).

“When new farmers and ranchers start their operations, the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program can help them implement tested strategies and new ideas that in turn benefit all of us by reducing food insecurity, growing economic opportunities and building communities,” says USDA Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden. “Today, we are partnering with organizations who recognize that an investment in our beginning farmers and ranchers is also an investment in our future.”

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The Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program was first established by the 2008 Farm Bill and was continued in the 2014 Farm Bill. The program provides support to those who have farmed or ranched for less than 10 years. NIFA awards grants to organizations throughout the U.S. that implement programs to train beginning farmers, which may take place through workshops, educational teams, training or technical assistance.

The 2014 Farm Bill mandated that at least 5 percent of BFRDP funding must support veterans and socially disadvantaged farmers. This year, 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.

Since 2009, 184 awards have been made for more than $90 million through the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program. These awards are part of USDA’s commitment to empowering beginning farmers and ranchers across America.

Fiscal year 2015 grants were awarded to 34 organizations (http://content.govdelivery.com/accounts/USDAOC/bulletins/11e53f5), some of which have direct ties to the ornamental industry, including:
• University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, Ark.
• American Farmland Trust, Washington, D.C.
• Chicago Horticultural Society, Chicago, Ill.
• Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa
• Kentucky State University, Frankfort, Ky.
• Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association, Unity, Maine
• The Greening of Detroit, Detroit, Mich.
• Rutgers University, New Brunswick, N.J.
• Oregon State University, Corvallis, Ore.
• Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, Va.
• University of Vermont, Burlington, Vt.
• Organic Seed Alliance, Port Townsend, Wash.
• University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wis.
• Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service, Spring Valley, Wis.

Funding for the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program is authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill.