New USDA Investment in Beginning Farmers in the Northeast

New USDA Grant Awards Mean $3million Investment in Northeast Beginning Farmers On October 18, Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan awarded grants to 40 organizations throughout the country to provide training and assistance to beginning farmers and ranchers that will help them run successful and sustainable farms. Of the 40 recipients, six of them are in the Northeast and will provide a range of services—from hands-on production training to business planning, mentoring to land access assistance--to new farmers over the next 1-3 years: ·        Tufts University, New Entry Sustainable Farming Project, Boston, Mass., $749,014 ·         Nuestras Raices, Inc., Holyoke, Mass., $740,131 ·         Land for Good, Keene, N.H., $547,307 ·         Groundswell Center for Food and Farming, Ithaca, N.Y., $349,873 ·         Just Foods, Inc., New York, N.Y., $426,921 ·         Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York, Inc., Rochester, N.Y., $143,973 Last year’s Northeast grant recipients included the Cornell Small Farms Program, which is using the funds to develop new online courses and videos, build a Northeast network of organizations serving beginning farmers, and work with high schools to put farming back on the radar as a viable career choice. The Penn State Cooperative Extension of Lehigh County was also a recipient last year, and is developing SEED Farm, an incubator farm providing low-cost land and equipment to help new farmers get started without an enormous capital investment. “Beginning farmers and ranchers face unique challenges, and these efforts will help provide the training needed to ensure these producers become profitable and sustainable,” said Merrigan. “As the average age of farmers today is 57 and continues to rise, we must do everything we can to recruit a new generation of people to produce our food. They will continue to play an important part of American agriculture as they feed people in their local communities and, in some cases, throughout the world.”

USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) awarded the grants through its Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP). BFRDP is an education, training, technical assistance and outreach program designed to help U.S. farmers and ranchers, specifically those who have been farming or ranching for 10 years or fewer. Under the program, which was established through the 2008 Farm Bill, NIFA will make grants to organizations that will implement programs to help beginning farmers and ranchers. BFRDP provided $18 million in funding this year. This is the second year of the program, and $18 million will be made available in fiscal years 2011 and 2012.  In FY 2009, BFRDP made 29 awards for approximately $17 million. For more information on the BFRDP program, visit: http://www.nifa.usda.gov/funding/bfrdp/bfrdp.html.  To view the USDA news release,  visit http://www.nifa.usda.gov/newsroom/news/2010news/10181_beginning_farmers.html.

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