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Agriculture Today

USDA funding restored for beginning farmer training

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April 23, 2014 | 4,418 views | Post a comment

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the availability of $19 million in funding for beginning farmer training grants through the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program. This highly successful initiative, administered by USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture, provides competitively awarded grants to academic institutions, state extension services, producer groups, and community organizations to support and train new producers across the country.

The Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program was authorized as part of the 2002 Farm Bill and was provided Farm Bill funding starting with the 2008 Farm Bill. The new 2014 Farm Bill has renewed funding for the program, providing $100 million over the next five years.

The beginning farmer training program addresses the barriers new farmers face -- like access to credit and affordable farmland -- by supporting increased technical assistance, innovative farm training and mentoring programs, and land-linking resources to help ensure the success of the next generation of farmers, a generation that faces unprecedented challenges when pursuing a career in agriculture.

The Fiscal Year Request for Applications announced April 11 includes several changes to reflect new provisions adopted in the 2014 Farm Bill. Among those changes are:

•A new focus on agricultural rehabilitation and vocational training programs for veterans who wish to pursue a career in farming;

•A dedicated funding stream for projects serving military veterans;

•Streamlining of grant procedures for project administrative expenses; and

•The inclusion of projects led by school-based agricultural educational organizations with expertise in agricultural production and outreach.

Applications are due Thursday, June 12, and awards are likely to be announced later this year.

The National Institutes of Food and Agriculture is hosting two webinars for interested applicants on Wednesday, April 30, and Tuesday, May 6, at 1 p.m.. The first webinar will focus on general guidelines for the program, while the second webinar will focus on the funding allocations for socially disadvantaged and military veteran farmers and ranchers.

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