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USDA Farming Grants

Did you know the number of farms in the United States has decreased over the past five years? According to the 2012 Agriculture Census, conducted every five years, although the value of crops and livestock has increased since 2007 the total number of farms has gone down 4.1%. This continues a long term trend of fewer farms in America.

As farming numbers are trending lower, the average age of the American farmer is increasing. U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Vilsack said, "While the aging nature of the farming population is a concern, we are hopeful that as we attract and retain the next generation of talent into rural America." To do this, the USDA has developed several programs to assist beginning farmers and ranchers. These programs range from education and training to proving grants.

Start2Farm should be the first stop for any beginning farmer or rancher. This portal provides resources to help new farmers learn the business, find financing, locate technical services and get connected with other farmers. Already farming? Use this site to find best practices.

Beginning Farmer & Rancher Development Program (BFDRP)

BFDRP is a grant program administered by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture. Grants are awarded to those providing serves to beginning farmers, i.e. extension offices, colleges.  $19.2M is available to support outreach, technical assistance and training in FY14.

Farm Service Agency (FSA) Loans

The FSA makes and guarantees loans to beginning farmers who are unable to receive financing from commercial lenders. Each fiscal year the FSA sets aside a portion of their overall loan amount to assist those starting in the agriculture business. FSA's beginning farmer loan programs include down payment programs, joint financing agreements and land contract guarantees. Additionally when the FSA sells its inventory of farmland, eligible beginning and socially disadvantaged farmers are given priority to buy the property at fair market value.

Even if you aren't a beginning farmer, USDA may have a grant available for you:

  • Livestock & Crop Conservation Grants - Provides grants to landholders and lessees help encourage conservation and environmental stewardship.
  • Chesapeake Bay Watershed Initiative - Provides technical and financial assistance to aid landowners in implementing conservation practices to protect the watershed's soil and water resources while maintaining their farmland. 
  • Farm Fencing Grants - USDA provides grants to lower cash flow farmers to assist with farm fencing.  The New Jersey deer fence method helps reduced revenue farmers keep deer from destroying their crops by supplying up to 5,000 linear feet of fencing and 30% of line posts.
  • Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education Producer Grant Program - Provides grants to research renewable energy, pest and weed management and other sustainable solutions to farming problems.
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