Funds Available to Develop Beginning Farmers and Ranchers

The United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food & Agriculture (NIFA) has released the Request for Applications for the 2021 Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP). An estimated $16.5 million of funding is available to support delivery of education, mentoring, and technical assistance programs to help beginning farmers and ranchers in the United States and its territories with entering, establishing, building, and managing successful farm and ranch enterprises.

Who is eligible to apply for the BFRDP? Applications 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 the following entities: State Cooperative Extension Services; Federal, State, municipal or tribal agencies; community-based organizations (CBOs); nongovernmental organizations (NGOs); junior and four-year colleges or universities or foundations maintained by a college or university; and private for-profit organizations. Inclusions of beginning and/or non-beginning farmers and ranchers as part of the collaborative group is strongly encouraged.

Who is the target audience for this program? The target audience for BFRDP is farmers and ranchers who have not operated a farm or ranch or have operated a farm or ranch for not more than ten years. In addition, a portion of BFRDP funding set aside for projects that address the needs of two subsets of beginning farmers and ranchers: 1) limited resource beginning farmers and ranchers; socially disadvantaged beginning farmers or ranchers and/or farm workers (including immigrants) desiring to become farmers and ranchers; and 2) beginning farmers and ranchers who are military veterans.

What are the project types that fall under the BFRDP? Applications will be accepted for two project types in FY 2021:

1. Standard BFRDP Projects consisting of large, small, and simplified standard grants:

  •  Standard BFRDP Projects (Large and Small): The long-term goals of the these projects are to enhance the sustainability of beginning farmers and ranchers through education, training, mentoring, and outreach programs that enhance self-employment in farming, ranching, and forestry opportunities. Large and small standard BFRDP projects share the same overall purpose, but differ in scale and funding amounts as detailed below. Most BFRDP funding will be directed to Standard Grants.
  • Simplified Standard Grants: Simplified Standard Grants are intended to assist organizations: 1) to sustain and enhance important collaborations and innovative activities relevant to beginning farmer and rancher programs; and 2) to initiate and develop beginning farmer and rancher project ideas to lead to future program success or success in obtaining other grants for beginning farmer and rancher education.

2. Educational Team (ET) Projects: The long-term goals of the ET projects are to identify gaps in beginning farmer and rancher training by evaluating all existing programs, and to develop and conduct train-the-trainer projects to address these gaps.

What are eligible project topics? BFRDP projects will be expected to conduct training and assistance for beginning farmers and ranchers on one or more of the follow topics:

  • Basic livestock, forest management, and crop farming practices;
  • Innovative farm, ranch, and private, nonindustrial forest land transfer and succession strategies;
  • Entrepreneurship and business training;
  • Technical assistance to help beginning farmers or ranchers acquire land from retiring farmers and ranchers;
  • Financial and risk management training, including the acquisition and management of agricultural credit;
  • Natural resource management and planning;
  • Diversification and marketing strategies;
  • Curriculum development;
  • Mentoring, apprenticeships, and internships;
  • Resources and referral;
  • Farm financial benchmarking;
  • Agricultural rehabilitation and vocational training for veteran farmers and ranchers;
  • Farm safety and awareness;
  • Food safety and recordkeeping, and
  • Other similar subject areas of use to beginning farmers or ranchers.

What are the funding levels? USDA anticipates that up to $16.5 million will be awarded for the FY 2021. Applicants may request a maximum amount of $200,000 per year for up to three years for large standard grants; $100,000 per year for up to three years for small standard grants; and less than $50,000 for a simplified standard grant application process for one year. USDA anticipates that 45 Standard Grant projects will receive funding this year. For ET grants, applicants may request a maximum amount of $200,000 per year for up to three years. USDA anticipates that two ET projects will receive funding this year.

Is there a cost-sharing/match requirement? BFRDP awardees must provide a match from non-Federal sources in the form of cash or in-kind contributions in an amount equal to 25 percent of the funds provided by the grant or cooperative agreement.

What is the grant duration? The project period is from 24-36 months.

When is the deadline? Applications are due March 25, 2021 by 5:00pm ET.

The full Request for Applications can be found here.

For more information on this grant or how to apply with Morrison’s assistance, please contact the Morrison Grants Team by email at or call us at 530-893-4764.


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