Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has awarded a new investment of $17.8 million to 37 different projects that are helping to 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), which has invested more than $126 million into projects targeting new and beginning farmers and ranchers since 2009/
Secretary Vilsack also announced a series of Fall Forums that will be hosted by USDA in the coming months to highlight the progress made on the top issues facing the future of agriculture, as well as to set the stage for the next Administration to continue to support a strong future for American agriculture. Each forum will focus on a pressing agricultural issue, and high-ranking USDA officials will lead the forums and facilitate discussions with regional stakeholders.
“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.”
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 National Farmers Organization (NFO), which will use $588,948 in funding to assist 900 beginning organic dairy and grain producers over the next three years.
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, and the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy will use $513,959 in funding for the implementation of Farm Pathways, a program to deliver whole farm training, farmer-to-farmer networking and farmland access.