Grants announced by the U.S. Department of Agriculture may help create a new generation of farm equipment users.
Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan unveiled the grants during a recent meeting at the Ollin Farm, located in Longmont, Colorado. The funds are part of the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program, which is an educational, training and assistance initiative created by the 2008 Farm Bill.
Merrigan noted those starting out in farming and ranching face particular difficulties, and that the grants can help alleviate these issues.
"As the average age of farmers today is 57 and continues to rise, we must do everything we can to recruit a new generation of people to produce our food," Merrigan said.
The program awarded $18 million in funding this year, and the next two fiscal periods should see the same level of grants. The USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture helps administer the BFRDP.
While the average age of farmers and ranchers increases, the USDA also noted recently that young people are moving away from rural areas to find economic opportunities in urban areas.