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ISU Extension Receives USDA Grant To Support New And Beginning Farmers

By John Lawrence, Margaret Smith
Funding will be used to develop programs for new farmers, retiring farmers and military veterans
Iowa State University Extension and Outreach will develop and implement programs to support beginning and retiring farmers and military veterans interested in farming with a grant received from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The funds are part of the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program, which is administered by USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture. Iowa State’s award is $698,393 for the three-year program.
“Our program, Roads to Successful Farm Succession, will help retiring farmers find opportunities for successful farm business succession and new farm business startups within their families or with unrelated parties,” said John Lawrence, associate dean in College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and director for Agriculture and Natural Resources Extension and Outreach at Iowa State University. “While at the same time, we’ll be developing tools to help new and aspiring farmers succeed in greater numbers.”
Lawrence notes that the Roads to Successful Farm Succession program strengthens the efforts of the Beginning Farmer Center and Beginning and Young Livestock Producers Success network already in place. “This funding will help ISU Extension and Outreach build capacity for our existing programs and give us the opportunity to broaden our audience to meet the needs of more Iowa farmers," he said.
In addition, ISU Extension and Outreach will partner with the Farmer Veteran Coalition of Iowa to assist military veterans who are interested in entering or re-entering the farming business.
According to the 2012 Census of Agriculture, 28 percent Iowa’s farmers are over age 65 and there are four times more farmers over 65 than under 35 years of age.
“Components of the Roads to Successful Farm Succession program will include farm business development workshops, establishing a network of like-minded farmers who are partnered with experienced farmers to learn skills, and workshops that focus on farm transition planning,” according to Margaret Smith, extension specialist with Value Added Agriculture at Iowa State University.
The Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program was first established by the 2008 Farm Bill and was continued in the 2014 Farm Bill. The program provides support to those who have farmed or ranched for less than 10 years. NIFA awards grants to organizations throughout the United States that implement programs to train beginning farmers and ranchers, which may take place through workshops, educational teams, training or technical assistance. The 2014 Farm Bill mandated that at least five percent of BFRDP funding must support veterans and socially disadvantaged farmers. This year, 10 percent of the funding supports veterans and farming, while about 50 percent of the funding will serve socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers.
Since 2009, 184 awards have been made for more than $90 million through the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program. These awards are part of USDA's deep commitment to empowering beginning farmers and ranchers across America.
Funding for the BFRDP program is authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill. The Farm Bill builds on historic economic gains in rural America over the past five years, while achieving meaningful reform and billions of dollars in savings for taxpayers. Since enactment, USDA has made significant progress to implement each provision of this critical legislation, including providing disaster relief to farmers and ranchers; strengthening risk management tools; expanding access to rural credit; funding critical research; establishing innovative public-private conservation partnerships; developing new markets for rural-made products; and investing in infrastructure, housing and community facilities to help improve quality of life in rural America. For more information, visit the Farm Bill page on the USDA website.   

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