The Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program provides grants to organizations for education, mentoring, and technical assistance initiatives for beginning farmers or ranchers. According to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service’s most recent Ag Census data, the number of young people entering farming continues to decline, but the number of new farmers and ranchers over the age of 35 as well as the number of smaller farms and ranches nationwide continue to rise. Ensuring there will be a “new generation” of beginning farmers and ranchers — regardless of age or production choice — is especially important to the continuation of agricultural production in the United States.
Opportunities exist within farming and ranching, but beginning farmers and ranchers have unique educational, training, technical assistance, and outreach needs. Capital access, land access, and access to knowledge and information to assist in ensuring profitability and sustainability are vital to those just entering agriculture and in their first ten years of operation.
In accordance with the authorizing legislation, priority will be given to partnerships and collaborations led by or including nongovernmental, community-based organizations and school-based agricultural, educational organizations with expertise in new agricultural producer training and outreach. At least 5 percent of the funds will support programs and services that address the needs of beginning farmers or ranchers with limited resources; socially disadvantaged beginning farmers or ranchers; and farm workers desiring to become farmers or ranchers. At least 5 percent of the funds will support programs and services that address the needs of veteran farmers and ranchers. The term “farmer” is used in the broadest sense and should be interpreted to include traditional agricultural farmers, ranchers, and tree farmers. As far as possible, geographical diversity will also be ensured.
Topics for programs and services, as listed in the Agricultural Act of 2014, include:
Basic livestock, forest management, and crop farming practices
Innovative farm, ranch, and private, nonindustrial forest land transfer strategies
Entrepreneurship and business training
Financial and risk management training (including the acquisition and management of agricultural credit)
Natural resource management and planning
Diversification and marketing strategies
Mentoring, apprenticeships, and internships
Resources and referral
Farm financial benchmarking
Assisting beginning farmers or ranchers in acquiring land from retiring farmers and ranchers
Agricultural rehabilitation and vocational training for veterans
Farm safety and awareness
Other similar subject areas of use to beginning farmers or ranchers
BFRDP program recipients must be a collaborative state, tribal, local, or regionally-based network or partnership of public or private entities, which may include: a State Cooperative Extension Service; a federal, state or tribal agency; a community-based and nongovernmental organization; college or university (including an institution awarding an associate’s degree) or foundation maintained by a college or university; or any other appropriate partner, as determined by the Secretary.
Types of Projects
BFRDP funds three types of projects:
Standard Projects: to new and established local and regional training, education, outreach and technical assistance initiatives that address the needs of beginning farmers and ranchers in selected areas
Educational Enhancement Projects: to help develop seamless beginning farmer and rancher education programs by conducting evaluation, coordination, and enhancement activities for Standard Projects and other non-funded beginning farmer programs
Curriculum and Training Clearinghouse: to make educational curricula and training materials available to beginning farmers and ranchers and organizations who serve them.