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New and Beginning Farmers: Investing in Our Future

The Rural Prosperity and Food Security Act makes significant investments in the next generation of agricultural professionals – whether they are on the farm, in the lab, or in the boardroom. It provides new opportunities for training and education, opens pathways to getting started, and ensures that risk management tools meet the needs of new and beginning farmers. 

Training the Next Generation:

The bill continues mandatory funding for the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP), and it invests in land-grant universities to support education and training to prepare the next generation to feed, clothe, and fuel the world. 

For the first time, the bill permanently funds student scholarships at 1890 Institutions, and it also expands 1890 Centers of Excellence. It upholds our commitment to 1994 Tribal colleges and universities, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian serving institutions, Hispanic-serving institutions, and insular area institutions. 

The bill creates a new program to support partnerships between land-grant institutions, industry, and working farms to ensure that students are career-ready and can address the real, on-the-ground needs of our farms, ranches, and communities. 

It also creates a new program to bolster agriculture programs at community colleges around the country. Community colleges play an important role in educating and training the agriculture workforce, and many provide access for first-generation and underserved students to enter the agriculture economy.  

Starting on the Farm:

For most beginning farmers, access to credit is the first step to starting their own operation. The bill makes several improvements to lower barriers to credit and help beginning farmers get started.

It eliminates an outdated requirement, simplifies farm experience requirements, and significantly increases borrowing limitations on direct and guaranteed ownership and operating loans for beginning farmers. It also doubles the maximum amount for microloans and increases the maximum Down Payment Loan Program limitation to significantly expand financing for beginning farmers. The bill also provides $5 million in mandatory funding for microgrants directly to small farmers, ranchers, and foresters. 

The bill invests $100 million in mandatory funding to support urban agriculture, which creates new pathways and access to the agriculture economy. It also creates cooperative agreements with community organizations to conduct outreach and provide technical assistance on installing water lines, building and land use, applying for USDA programs, and more.

Supporting New and Beginning Farmers:

The bill targets resources in the farm safety net to beginning farmers, ensuring that risk management tools meet their needs. It creates new opportunities to access the Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC) programs and cuts red-tape and paperwork to make crop insurance and disaster programs more accessible and responsive for new and beginning farmers.

The bill provides the first expansion of ARC and PLC in more than 20 years by providing an opportunity for beginning farmers to access these programs through a targeted base acre establishment. 

It makes crop insurance more affordable by increasing and extending premium discounts on coverage for beginning farmers and ranchers, and it improves access and coverage for the Whole Farm and Micro Farm insurance plans. 

Natural disasters can be especially devastating for farmers and ranchers who are just getting started. The bill strengthens the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP) in part by authorizing a new revenue coverage option and streamlining application paperwork for beginning farmers. 

Providing consistent market channels for beginning farmers is key to helping them scale their operations. The bill provides local and regional food supply chain support for small, mid-sized, and underserved producers through the Local Food Purchase Cooperative Agreement Program (LFPA), the Food Supply Chain Guaranteed Loan and Grant Program, and the Regional Food Business Centers (RFBC). The bill also eliminates the match requirement for the Local Agriculture Market Program (LAMP).

The bill also carves out dedicated conservation funds from the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) for beginning farmers. Beginning farmers often have a hard time competing with larger, more established farms for conservation programs. The bill dedicates 10% of all EQIP dollars for young and beginning farmers so they can start their career on the right foot. 

For farmers with smaller operations, the bill recognizes the challenges of navigating USDA programs by establishing the Office of Small Farms. This new office will give small farmers a voice at the Department and help identify opportunities to better support these farms through existing programs and targeted technical assistance.

Beginning and young farmers often report childcare as a key barrier to growing their farm business. Nationally, three-quarters (77%) of farm families with children under 18 report difficulties securing childcare because of lack of affordability, availability, or quality. The bill prioritizes rural childcare projects in existing USDA Rural Development programs and creates a new rural childcare initiative to coordinate federal funding opportunities.

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