The USDA announced on Oct. 29 that it will commit $5.6 billion to programs that help young farmers over the next two years. Additionally, a new web tool has been designed to help farm entrepreneurs identify programs and resources available to them.
"Today's announcement is symbolic of the evolution of USDA's efforts to better serve the next generation of farmers and ranchers,” said Agriculture Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden. “What began seven years ago with the recognition that the rapid aging of the American farmer was an emerging challenge, has transformed into a robust, transparent, tech-based strategy to recruit the farmers of the future."
The new tool, which will be available at www.usda.gov/newfarmers, includes advice on everything from creating a business plan to obtaining loans. Farmers can also use the Discovery Tool to identify USDA programs that work best for their current situation.
"No matter where you're from, no matter what you look like, no matter your background, we want USDA to be the first stop for anyone who is looking to be a part of the story and legacy of American agriculture,” Harden concluded.
The USDA has a goal of increasing young farmer participation in USDA programs by 6.6 percent. This objective was set when the 2014 Farm Bill rolled out, establishing additional programs for the next generation of farmers and ranchers. The average age of an American farmer now exceeds 58 years, according to the USDA.