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4/11/14 11:21 AM EDT

USDA announces $19 million in grant money to help train beginning farmers

The USDA announced today it is making $19 million available for grants to “help train, educate and enhance the sustainability of” beginning farmers in an effort to counteract the increasing average age of agriculture producers in the U.S.

“USDA is committed to the next generation of America's farmers and ranchers because they represent the future of agriculture and are the backbone of our rural economy,” USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a statement released today. “As the average age of farmers continues to rise, we have no time to lose in getting more new farmers and ranchers established."

The money is part of the total $100 million in funds that will be available over the next five years through the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program, which was reauthorized by Congress in the 2014 farm bill. The program was started in the 2008 farm bill and is operated by the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture. Since the inception of the BRFDP, USDA has distributed $66 million through 136 grants.

— Bill Tomson

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