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We know that America’s farmers and rural communities are vitally important to our nation’s economy, producing the food, feed, fiber and fuel that continue to help us grow. There are hundreds of programs and resources available to help meet these efforts.  However, sometimes it’s hard to know where to look.  To overcome this challenge, the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Agricultural Library, in partnership with the American Farm Bureau Federation, has created ,an online database connecting beginning farmers and ranchers with available programs and resources. allows potential and beginning farmers to search for programs and resources for training, financing, technical assistance, and business-to-business support.  The database, which includes hundreds of records, is searchable by geographical area or by topic. Additional features include a ‘Thinking about farming?’ tutorial, and an event calendar. was funded via the NIFA Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP), a competitive grant for America’s new farmers and ranchers. In 2009, the first year of NIFA’s Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program, three-year grants supported training for 5,000 beginning farmers and ranchers. In 2011, it is anticipated that these grants will have supported training for more than 10,000 beginning farmer and ranchers. In addition to offering resources and information for new and beginning farmers, will coordinate the efforts and stories of all BFRDP grantees. will be showcased at the American Farm Bureau’s Young Farmer and Rancher Conference, to be held February 18-20 in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

11 Responses to “ Helps Beginning Farmers and Ranchers Get Started”

  1. maryam khatami says:

    My husband has passed away this last year and I was left with 6 acres of almonds that I know nothing about. I really have no money to get the land ready. My husband always hired someone to do the harvesting but the person is too busy. I would like to know if there is someone who would like to lease my almond farm and I would only get a small percentage of the profit.

  2. Julianne Lopez says:

    I may live in the city but I want to learn how to be a farmer. I usually have a small vegetable garden, which usually starts off with a small selection of seeds. I would like to know how to grow better quality vegetables to own a harmers stand to sell them. At least that is my dream, on how to make a profitable buisness growing fresh vegetables

  3. Rebecca [USDA Moderator] says:


    Thank you for your comment to the Helps Beginning Farmers and Ranchers Get Started blog post. A couple of organizations that might be able to provide some help come to mind as I read your concerns:

    1) California FarmLink

    Landowners may post a “land opportunity” on the website and/or receive succession planning assistance using the “Retiring Farmer Questionnaire” available on the lower left of the Home page menu.

    2) University of California Fruit and Nut Research and Information Center

    The University of California Farm Advisors should be able to connect you with others involved with almond production in your area and perhaps facilitate a leasing agreement.

    Locate a Farm Advisor:

    Since most of the almond production in the U.S. is located in California, I have directed you to resources in this state. If your land is in another state, please contact me through the at, or 800-633-7701 (toll-free) and I will find resources specific to your state.



    Thank you for taking time to comment about your experience on the Helps Beginning Farmers and Ranchers Get Started blog post. was created for people exactly in your position. We created a whole “Thinking about Farming” section of the site at to help people understand what running a farm business entails.

    From there, people can continue to explore resources and training on the New to Farming page at

    We also provide several tools for farm business planning to help you translate your dreams to paper on our Successful Planning page at includes hundreds of programs and resources for beginning farmers and we are constantly adding more, but if you do not find what you are looking for, please contact us at, or 800-633-7701 (toll-free) for additional assistance.

    Stephanie M. Ritchie

  4. ChrisM says:

    I would like to say to maryam khatami that she has a great offer for someone interested. You should not undervalue your property and investment in the trees. It is common for row crop landowners to receive 50% of the sale of the crops. You should get legal and tax advice regarding whether to divide the crop or receive a rental payment from the tenant.

  5. rwilymz says:

    I spent four hours on this cryptic, dense, official-ese infused “start2farm” website the other day attempting to do something I hoped might be fairly simple, just to see if it was. I had my doubts.

    I’ve got a 5AC farm with 10 sheep and 9 hens at the edge of nowhere. I know it’s the EDGE of nowhere rather than the middle of nowhere because I’m on a rural electric co-op and the folks in the brand new subdivision growing in the soybean field across the road are on commercial power. Needless to say, we lose power several times a week when they don’t, and we’re significantly more likely to lose power for hours – or days – at a time. Plus, we pay almost twice the KwH rate for the privilege. Gotta love federal programs!

    Anyhow, I’ve had a passing idea for several years now [which my wife does not share] of possibly putting up a wind turbine in the pasture to generate AC electric that I can sell back to the co-op when it’s more than we are using, install the cutoff so that when the co-op grid is down – which is several times a week – we don’t electrocute the linemen fixing the lines … the whole bit. “Are their ag grants to help do this?” I wondered.

    So I looked. Followed your “grants” links, followed your “renewable energy” links, finally found a map where I could click on my state to find my state’s Rural Energy for America Program grants people. Pulled up a page that proudly declared that there were a dozen field offices for this function, and a handful of satelite locations. The page also helpfully informed me that if I wanted to apply for a grant for rural energy to see the nearest one of those locations.

    Great! Where are they?

    None were listed.

    I was told the USDA *has* them, but nothing on the page lists them. Nothing on the page points at an energy grant application form. Nothing on the page does anything more than give a handful of phone numbers of individuals associated with USDA offices all 175 miles away at my state’s land grant university, and none identified as Rural Development State Office, or REAP, or renewable energy, or energy grants …

    Okay, seriously, what is the matter with you folks? Are you institutionally incapable of designing a website for practical functionality? Can you not visit any commercial operation’s website to see how they do things and apply it yourselves? It’s one thing to not be user-friendly – and no government website I’ve ever seen is – but do you have to be outright user-HOSTILE?

    Your acronyms are only meaningful to YOU, not to the public. Your statutory and regulatory authorities [and endless citations of it] are only meaningful to YOU and to lawyers, not to the public. I tried to find the same page of your labyrinthine website again, only to fail …over … and over … and over again.

    All the “I Want To …” links don’t help. “I want to…” find a form. You have to know the form number and its arcane, acronymed, hyphenated title. “I want to …” find a Rural Development office. As indicated: none listed.

    Well, perhaps it’s under the “grants” link on the left side of the page…? Nope, that puts me back at the link-dense page where you have to know the acronym of whatever program it is you’re looking for that [finally] gets you to the page with the unlisted Rural Development offices. One great big circle.

    If the USDA were a business it would have pre-emptively gone bankrupt before opening its doors. …which might not be a bad idea, actually. You need to start over.

  6. rwilymz says:

    And after all this, I still don’t know if there are ag grants for what I want.

  7. Andrew Anderson says:

    I’m not a USDA employee, and I don’t work for the government…so please don’t take my advice as official.

    But I read your problem with interest, and decided to see if I could resolve it. I think I might have some help for you.

    I began at
    From there I clicked on
    1. Already Farming
    2. Find Financing
    3. About Grants

    That brought me to a page listing five or six grants, including the REAP grants you mentioned.
    I clicked on the REAP grant link on, and was immediately sent to the USDA’s site for Rural Development, under their energy topic.

    At the top right corner of that page was a box containing a link titled “About Energy Programs” and containing a link marked “Contacts”.
    Clicking that link provides me a contact person with email, web page, telephone, and physical address for every state, Alaska to Wyoming.

    I can’t speak for your state without more information, but when I looked at PA’s web page, it gave me another list of people to contact depending on what county I was in.
    It seems pretty straightforward.

    You’ll have to look for your own state, but you should find the REAP programs helpful. Hopefully I left a nice clear trail for you.

    Best of luck with your issue.

  8. newbie says:

    I”m 33. Worked since I was 12, saved my $. bought 40 acres, planted about half of it in fruit trees, which are just starting to bear fruit. I NEED a cold storage facility, and it would be great to have a grading/packing shed also. My wife and kids would LOVE to have a house to live in instead of where we are now. BUT, this county FSA DOES NOT loan money, DOES NOT give grant money, DOES NOT in any way assist farmers…let alone YOUNG FARMERS. It is the managers goal to keep as much $ in the government coffers as possible. The Young and Beginning Farmer progarm is only for those who want to be a farmer…not for those who are already starting. If the USDA doesn’t get it right pretty soon, I’m wondering if there will be food enough for my kids…certainly not for the grandkids.
    Have been trying for three years to wade through the red tape of the USDA loans, grants, helps…sorry folks, don’t get your hopes up. It’s not there. Like a lot of things from the government…mostly hot air.

  9. rwilymz says:

    Thanks, Andy.

    That’s all what I did, pretty much exactly.

    My state is IL. I don’t have access to email [I'm on a DoD system, and email is "not secure" or some such rationalization - but I can get to dot-gov sites]. The IL REAP webpage has a notice for women/hispanic farmers only.

    Under the “find a rural development office” **today** it connects me to Virginia. Last week when I tried this it sent me to a page where it had a dozen or more email addresses all in Champaign/Urbana but not one location of a Rural Dev Office.

    Now I **did** check the PA link briefly. Under PA’s “I want to find…” link – THAT’S what I’m talking about. You get this state map, color coded by region, showing county lines in each region, stars on the map where [presumably, I didn't check] the office is located.

    I didn’t look beyond that, though. Perhaps I should move to PA to raise sheep and erect the turbine my wife wants no part of.

  10. Rick De says:

    My wife and I have rented a half acre to produce vegetables at a farm 30 minutes drive from our home for 5 years now. Thats an hour of driving total, 4-8 hours of work, 1-2 hours putting hoses and tools away, then cooking dinner when we get home. On top of this I work a full time job. We have learned much from this farmer, but he will not and cannot sell his land due to land conservancy.

    We have always thought it would be great to buy some land and have a small market farm. The truth has always been disappointing!

    First, land is unbelievably expensive. In our SW corner of MI land, even in larger acreage, sells for 5000-10000 dollars per acre. We would have to sell our home and deplete our savings and retirement just to buy land.

    Next, when we have checked into semi-affordable land we find that the land that is already farm land has been will become residential when we buy it. This too is a major problem with starting a farm! Local Governments only want more tax revenues, they don’t care about sustainable farms.

    Next, almost every single 10+ acre parcel we looked into limited the number of farm animals you can have on that parcel. They would say no chickens allowed periord, or say only one chicken per acre. Seriously, there are way too many local goverbment regulations that deter you from becoming a farmer. All of this to deter the starting of a farm in suburbia!

    Next, there are also restrictions on how you move onto the land. More regulations have been setup to keep you from actually starting as a farmer unless you build a house to start. We have found multiple townships that do this. They want your tax money, they don’t want farms!

    Finally, the realization that what money you actually make from all the long hard work you put in will not even pay your debt off! On top of that it won’t be enough to pay health insurance or be enough to cover repeairs that come up for equipment. Unless things change the number of farmers will decline until the only thing left are the mega farms owned by just a few corporations that have monopolies over all of us! Think of it as oil companies providing food!

    When my great grand parents came to the UP in MI they homesteaded and busted their behinds to make a go of it. These days land is handed down through families or sold at unbelievable cost. Many times the heirs sell their family worked lands off to make good or very good money. It’s sold again to make excellent money by those building subdivisions.

  11. cody janes says:

    so i got a business plain i am starting on so i can get some grants to start a bigger farm. i farm 300 acres in grass hay doing it for 5 years now. i raise 25 head of cattle. it is a family farm i want to branch out and own my own farm i am willing to learn to grow anything. i just need help with the capital to start it can anyone help a 23 year old kid to maybe get funded to start a farm.

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