At the Farm Progress Show in Boone, Iowa, Secretary Tom Vilsack announced expanded USDA efforts to assist beginning farmers and ranchers develop productive, sustainable farms.
USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture awarded the grants through its Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program established through the 2008 Farm Bill. More than $18 million in grant money will go to organizations in 24 states.
"I'm certainly optimistic about the importance of this program and the ability to get to more people," Vilsack said in a conference call Thursday. "I think we need to continue to recognize the challenges."