Secretary Vilsack Awards $17.8 Million to Cultivate the Next Generation of Farmers and Ranchers, Sets Stage for Continued New Farmer and Rancher Support
AMES, Iowa, Aug. 17, 2016 – In a meeting with new and beginning farmers at Iowa State University today, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced a new investment of $17.8 million for 37 projects to help educate, mentor, and enhance the sustainability of the next generation of farmers. The investment is made through the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP). Since 2009, USDA has invested more than $126 million into projects targeting new and beginning farmers and ranchers through BFRDP.
In order to build upon the strong foundation of programs available to new and beginning producers, Vilsack also announced a series of Fall Forums that USDA will host in the coming months to highlight the progress made on the top issues facing the future of agriculture and set the stage for the next Administration to continue to support a strong future for American agriculture. The series of USDA Fall Forums will be hosted in partnership with leading universities across the country. Each forum will focus on a pressing agricultural issue, including land tenure and the next generation of agriculture, climate change, export markets, local and regional food systems, and groundbreaking agricultural research. High-ranking USDA officials will lead the forums and facilitate discussions with regional stakeholders to lay the groundwork for the next Administration to build on the progress USDA has made over the past seven years.
“Looking back on the past seven years, I am extremely proud of what USDA has accomplished for rural America. Even as this Administration ends, the important work of USDA will continue for the next generation and beyond,” said Vilsack. “We see new and beginning farmers and ranchers as a critical force in sustaining food security, food safety, and many other aspects of agriculture that will become even more challenging as our global population grows. The Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program, and the forums that we are planning, will be important steps in helping young people, returning veterans and others access the tremendous opportunities in the agriculture sector.”
With the average age of the American farmer exceeding 58 years, USDA recognizes the need to bring more people into agriculture. Over the course of this Administration, USDA has engaged its resources to provide greater support to the farmers of the future by improving access to land and capital; building new markets and market opportunities; extending new conservation opportunities; offering appropriate risk management tools; and increasing outreach, education, and technical support.
Through lending assistance programs, like the Farm Service Agency's new microloan program, USDA prioritized support for new farmers, providing improved access to credit, land, and equipment. USDA has also provided greater access to quality crop insurance coverage to over 13,500 new and beginning farmers and ranchers with special crop insurance benefits designed just for them. Thanks to this program, beginning farmers and ranchers have saved more than $14 million in premiums and administrative fees. More information on USDA's assistance for beginning farmers and ranchers can be found at www.usda.gov/NewFarmers.
BFRDP, administered through USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), has been a key part of this effort and supports educational programs to assist beginner farmers and ranchers who have less than 10 years of experience in the industry, including veterans and socially disadvantaged farmers. The program supports workshops, educational teams, training, and technical assistance throughout the United States.
This year's awards will be made in 27 states and the District of Columbia to help fund a range of projects by partner organizations, like the Iowa-based National Farmers Organization (NFO) that will use $588,948 in funding to assist 900 beginning organic dairy and grain producers over the next three years. NFO will provide workshops, mentoring and other assistance in 11 states, including Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin.
New Mexico State University and the Institute of American Indian Arts will partner to use $598,030 to provide education, mentoring and one-on-one technical assistance to American Indian Pueblo beginning farmers. The Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy, based in North Carolina, will use $513,959 in funding for Farm Pathways, a program to deliver whole farm training, farmer-to-farmer networking and farmland access.
2016 grants include:
Calypso Farm and Ecology Center, Fairbanks, Alaska, $369,500
Arkansas Land and Community Development Corporation, Brinkley, Ark., $481,080
ALBA Organics, Salinas, Calif., $600,000
Colorado Economic Development Office, Denver, Colo., $239,970
University of Connecticut, Storrs, Conn., $597,598
National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, Washington, D.C., $150,000
North-South Institute, Inc., Davie, Fla., $330,828
The Kohala Center, Inc., Waimea, Hawaii, $564,000
Jannus Inc., Boise, Idaho, $597,867
Angelic Organics Learning Center, Caledonia, Ill., $600,000
National Farmers Organization, Ames, Iowa, $588,948
Catholic Charities of Northeast Kansas, Overland Park, Kan., $380,433
Wolfe`s Neck Farm Foundation, Inc., Freeport, Maine, $573,256
Third Sector New England, Inc., Boston, Mass., $249,657
Tufts University, Medford, Mass., $599,796
Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture, South Deerfield, Mass., $595,533
Future Harvest Inc., Cockeysville, Md., $597,599
ECO City Farms, Edmonston, Md., $352,095
Minnesota Food Association, Marine St. Croix, Minn., $159,626
Land Stewardship Project, Minneapolis, Minn., $384,649
Stone Child College, Box Elder, Mont., $265,179
National Center for Appropriate Technology, Butte, Mont., $238,441
National Center for Appropriate Technology, Butte, Mont., $231,679
Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy, Asheville, N.C., $600,000
Foundation for Agricultural and Resources Management, Medina, N.D., $513,959
New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, N.M., $598,030
National Young Farmers Coalition, Hudson, N.Y., $574,150
Just Food, New York, N.Y., $593,930
Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association, Columbus, Ohio, $566,141
The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, $599,715
Southside Community Land Trust, Providence, R.I., $596,517
Clemson University, Clemson, S.C., $595,133
Tennessee State University, Nashville, Tenn., $470,083
Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas, $600,000
National Immigrant Farming Initiative, El Paso, Texas, $541,950
Greenbank Farm Management Group/Organic Farm School, Greenbank, Wash., $598,850
Viva Farms, Mount Vernon, Wash., $599,999
Abstracts for this year's funded projects can be viewed on NIFA's reporting website.
Since BFRDP's 2009 inception, the agency has invested more than $126 million through 256 projects across the country. Previously funded projects include the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association which trained 75 new farmers who established 68 new farms. A University of the Virgin Islands project trained 304 crop and small livestock farmers with less than 10 years of experience, increasing their agricultural knowledge and skills. Additional information about USDA support for new farmers and ranchers is available at www.usda.gov/newfarmers.
BFRDP also supports USDA's Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food (KYF2) Initiative, which coordinates the Department's work to develop strong local and regional food systems. Over the last seven years, USDA has invested close to $1 billion in 40,000 local food-related projects on farms and in communities across the country. You can find local and regional supply chain resources on the KYF2 website and use the KYF2 Compass to locate USDA investments in your community.
NIFA invests in and advances innovative and transformative initiatives to solve societal challenges and ensure the long-term viability of agriculture. NIFA's integrated research, education, and extension programs, supporting the best and brightest scientists and extension personnel, have resulted in user-inspired, groundbreaking discoveries that are combating childhood obesity, improving and sustaining rural economic growth, addressing water availability issues, increasing food production, finding new sources of energy, mitigating climate variability, and ensuring food safety. To learn more about NIFA's impact on agricultural science, visit www.nifa.usda.gov/impacts, sign up for email updates, or follow us on Twitter @usda_NIFA, #NIFAimpacts.
This month USDA is celebrating historic progress over the last eight years to improve the quality of life and access to opportunity for all Americans. Learn more online in The People's Department: A New Era for Civil Rights at USDA.