USDA invests nearly $28M to support beginning farmers and ranchers
December 11, 2023
WASHINGTON, Nov. 15, 2023 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture Deputy Secretary Xochitl Torres Small announced an investment of $27.9 million across 45 organizations that teach and train beginning farmers and ranchers, including programs for U.S. veterans who are entering into agricultural careers and starting new farming businesses.
“The next generation of farmers and ranchers hold the promise for future American agriculture and rural prosperity,” said USDA Deputy Secretary Xochitl Torres Small. “Under the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA is providing our newest producers with the support they need to succeed and the educational resources to guide their operations on the path toward long-term sustainability and profitability.”
This investment is part of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture’s (NIFA) Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP), which supports a wide range of professional development activities and topics, such as managing capital, acquiring and managing land, and learning effective business and farming practices.
“This investment reflects USDA’s commitment to helping new farmers and ranchers realize their dreams,” said USDA Chief Scientist and Under Secretary for Research, Education an Economics Dr. Chavonda Jacobs-Young. “As the average age of our U.S. producers continues to increase, USDA is accelerating efforts to provide meaningful support to a rising cadre of farmers and ranchers—including military veterans interested in starting new careers after their service—so they can cultivate the skills needed to be productive, profitable and resilient.”
According to USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service’s Ag Census data, one-third of the United States’ 3.4 million farmers are over the age of 65.
“Ensuring there will be a new generation of beginning farmers and ranchers – regardless of age or production choice – is essential to the continuation of agricultural production in the United States,” said USDA NIFA Director Dr. Manjit Misra. “Beginning farmers and ranchers have unique educational, training, technical assistance and outreach needs. Access to capital, land and knowledge that assists in ensuring profitability and sustainability are vital to farmers and ranchers in their first 10 years of operation.”
NIFA’s 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 unique local and regional needs of beginning farmers and ranchers.
- Educational team projects to 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 directly serve them.