USDA commits $50 million to developing new farmers

The nation’s farmers are aging up and out of the food supply, so U.S. agriculture officials are investing in training the next generation of growers to replace them.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture announced Wednesday that it has committed more than $50 million to 140 organizations and institutions that teach and train beginning farmers and ranchers as part of the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program.

Beginning farmers need access to capital, land and science-based information and educational resources to ensure early success and long-term profitability and sustainability, according to the agency. The USDA recognizes that aiding young producers is “vital to the continued success of American agriculture, said NIFA Director Carrie Castille.

“This investment will support curriculum creation, as well as informational materials and professional development on a wide range of important topics for new farmers and ranchers, such as managing capital, acquiring and managing land, and effective business and farming practices,” Castille said.

She added the projects will benefit new farmers regardless of age or what they choose to produce.

The $50 million investment comes from enhanced funding from the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021.

The investment will include 85 newly funded grants and 55 continuing projects. Priority for funding will be given to partnerships and collaborations led by or including state, tribal, local or regional networks or partnerships of public or private entities, such as:

  • A state Cooperative Extension Service.
  • A federal, state or tribal agency.
  • A community-based, non-governmental organization; college or university, or foundation managed by a college or university.
  • Other appropriate partners as determined by the USDA.