Today, U.S. Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich announced that grant funding is available for New Mexico organizations conducting programs to support the next generation of farmers and ranchers. Through the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP), which Udall and Heinrich championed in the 2014 Farm Bill, more than $19 million was reauthorized to assist non-governmental, community-based and school-based organizations that conduct programs to help educate and train beginning farmers and ranchers. Grant applications are due June 12. In recent years, New Mexico has had one of the highest percentages of principal farm operators over age 65 in the country, highlighting the need to support the upcoming generation of farmers.
"The continued strength of our agriculture industry is vitally important to the economy of many rural New Mexico communities," Udall said. "This program provides valuable funding for education and training initiatives to help the next generation of farmers and ranchers establish themselves, and start their ranching and farming operations on a sturdy foundation that will prepare them for future growth and economic well-being. I encourage qualifying New Mexico organizations to apply for these grants."
"Ensuring the next generation of farmers and ranchers have access to training and education opportunities is important to continuing New Mexico's long tradition in agriculture," Heinrich said. "These investments will help strengthen our state's economy, cultivate business partnerships, and promote innovative techniques that adapt to our changing climate. I encourage our agricultural community and school-based organizations to seize this opportunity and apply for these grants."
The National Institute of Food and Agriculture within the U.S. Department of Agriculture will award grants on a competitive basis to organizations coordinating programs to educate and train those aiming to start farming, and those who have been farming or ranching for 10 years or fewer. All applicants are required to provide funds or in-kind support from non-federal sources equal to at least 25 percent of the federal funds requested. Five percent of the available funding will be allocated to programs and services for limited-resource and socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers, while an additional 5 percent will be allocated for programming and services for military veteran farmers and ranchers.