The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced the availability of $18 million to fund new farmer training and education programs across the country. These federal grants are made available to non-profit and community-based organizations, as well as academic institutions and government entities, through the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP).
BFRDP is the only national program that explicitly provides funding to train the next generation of farmers. Check out NSAC’s Grassroots Guide to learn more about how the program works.
This federal grant program is administered by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) – USDA’s extramural grant-making agency. Applications must be submitted through Grants.gov and are due by 5:00pm ET on January 21, 2016.
Additional information on this year’s funding announcement can be found in the FY2016 BFRDP Request for Applications (RFA).
Applications for funding may only be submitted by a collaborative state, tribal, local, or regionally-based network or partnership of qualified public and/or private entities.
These collaborations may include community based organizations (CBOs); nongovernmental organizations (NGOs); State Cooperative Extension Services; Federal, State, or tribal agencies; colleges and universities; and private organizations. Inclusion of farmers and ranchers as part of the collaborative group is strongly encouraged.
Projects that are submitted for funding must aim to train, educate or provide other resources for beginning farmers or ranchers, which are defined as those farmers who have been farming for 10 years or less.
Evidence of farmer input on the proposed project is very important and will be used as an evaluation criteria in selecting grant applications to be funded.
Applications from partnerships and collaborations that are led by or include nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), community-based organizations (CBOs), and school-based agricultural educational organizations (SAEOs) with expertise in new agricultural producer training and outreach will be given priority in funding.
Grant Award Amounts
This year’s RFA includes changes to the maximum grant award amount. In previous years, organizations could request up to $750,000 spread across 3 years to support new farmer training projects. This year, the maximum grant award has been reduced to $600,000 for large projects and $240,000 for smaller projects.
The same evaluation criteria will be used for both small and large projects, including the priority for partnerships with non-profit and community-based organizations, but they will be evaluated separately.
According to the RFA, “the expectations for smaller projects, however, will be commensurate with their size (e.g., smaller audiences, more limited geographic reach, less complex collaborative arrangements) and provide an opportunity for smaller or less experienced organizations to propose projects that have smaller budgets and less complex administration.”
Additionally, up to $200,000 is available for Educational Enhancement Team projects which aim to engage a team of experts to review beginning farmer and rancher curricula and programs (including review and evaluation of previously-funded BFRDP projects), identify gaps, and develop, disseminate and facilitate the use of materials and tools to address these gaps. Included in this grant category are one or two-year grants to fund an evaluation of BFRDP funded projects and provide assistance to less experienced applicants to meet the application requirements for BFRDP.
In making grant awards for 2016, at least 5 percent of total funds must be directed towards projects that address the needs of limited resource and socially disadvantaged beginning farmers and ranchers, as well as farm workers (including immigrants) desiring to become beginning farmers or ranchers. This floor in past years has been exceeded by a multiple factor.
An additional 5 percent of total program funds must be allocated to address the needs of beginning farmers and ranchers who are military veterans.
Interested applicants can learn more about this year’s funding opportunity at an upcoming webinar to be hosted on December 2nd at 1:00pm ET.
Fiscal Year 2016 BFRDP Request for Applications (posted October 30, 2015)
Grants.gov BFRDP Application Form (must be submitted by 5:00pm ET January 21, 2016)