What is the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP)?


One of the best ways to be a successful farmer is to have proper training. These classes cost money, not only for the farmer, but for the institutions that provide them. The Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program helps by providing the funds to the institutions so that they can provide the training.

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This federal program is the only program meant specifically for new farmers. The grants are paid to colleges, community groups, and cooperative extensions that provide the education new farmers need. The projects and educational opportunities may change by year, but institutions can apply for them as they come up. The grants are awarded based on evaluations every year.

The Basics of the BFRDP

The BFRDP provides funds for a variety of educational opportunities and programs for beginning farmers. A few of the opportunities you may see in your area include:

  • Land link programs bringing retired farmers and new farmers together
  • Apprenticeships
  • Rehab programs for veterans
  • Vocational training

A few of the topics new farmers might learn about include safety, marketing, credit management, and conservation. The topics and programs will vary by state and even by county. Any topic that has to do with farming and helping new farmers may be eligible.

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The grants can provide up to $200,000 annually and are good for up to 3 years. Some institutions can receive several grants in a row, if they qualify. However, they must provide a 25% cash contribution to the funds in order to receive the grant.

Who is Eligible?

Applicants for the program must be part of a public or private group including cooperative extensions, state agencies or colleges. 5% of the funds are reserved for programs that serve socially disadvantaged farmers. This may include:

  • Minorities
  • Immigrants
  • Women farmers

Another 5% of the funds are set aside for veterans as well.

How to Apply for the Program

Institutions interested in applying for the grant, should watch the USDA BFRDP website. The grants change by year and are published on the website in the fall. Institutions have 2 months to apply for the grant and submit it. A panel of professionals including farming educators and farmers review the applications.

The Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program helps to bring more farmers into the community by providing proper training. With the grants, more institutions in your area can provide the educational experiences you need to make farming a successful venture for you.

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