Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP): Like 37 other farm bill programs that don’t have a baseline beyond the 2008 Farm Bill, the BFRDP is currently frozen. Funding was not included in the short-term farm bill extension passed in January or the Continuing Resolution passed in March to keep the government funded. The stark reality is it looks like we’ll lose a year of BFRDP operation. That’s not a for sure, but even if a farm bill does pass in short order this spring it would be very challenging for NIFA to develop and RFA, accept applications, complete the review process and award projects before Sept. 30, 2013 – the end of the fiscal year. New Beginning Farmer Microloan Program: Offered through FSA is a new microloan program, announced by the USDA Sec Tom Vilsack earlier this year. The new microloan program has a smaller cap and simplified eligibility requirements. It is expected to be advantageous to beginning farmers and small-scale producers. The micro-loan program is available at county FSA offices. Here are a couple links on the new microloan program: - USDA/FSA Microloan Program Overview. - http://sustainableagriculture.net/blog/usda-microloan-program/ New farmer conservation measures:For the coming year conservation measures for beginning farmers are still in place. Both the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) continue to have set-aside pools dedicated to beginning farmers and ranchers. CSP to enroll 12 million acres in 2013: Conservation Stewardship Program funding was renewed this spring and 12 million acres are expected to be enrolled in 2013. CSP sign-up is continuous so farmers (beginning and existing) are encouraged to visit their local or county NRCS office to check out the program and submit an application. For more on CSP check out the Land Stewardship Project CSP factsheet or go to http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/main/national/programs/financial/csp/ While there is good news on CSP the overall problem facing conservation programs is the impact of sequestration which cuts both EQIP and CSP around 6 percent and also reduces the technical assistance resources that are the NRCS staffing and program support. Many thanks to Adam Warthensen from the Land Stewardship Project for providing much of this information. If you have questions, comments, concerns of feedback please contact Adam at email@example.com or Taylor Reid of Beginning Farmers LLC at firstname.lastname@example.org Expect more updates soon.