Frequently Asked Questions

Ask the USDA

This page contains frequently asked questions for the USDA's Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP). All responses on this page are submitted by USDA staff, either BFRDP program staff or NIFA's Awards Management Divisoin (AMD) depending on the nature of the question.

Please review the existing FAQs, and if you have a question that is not addressed below, you can submit your own question and it will be answered by the USDA

In addition to having your question posted here for others to view (with any identifying information removed), you will also receive an emailed response to your question.

A university in our area has a BFRDP grant with a state-wide scope. But our BFRDP proposal seeks to address the needs in our "far corner" of the state. Should we address this in our application? We could get a letter from the university.

You should address the other work happening in your area in the realm of beginning farmer and rancher training in the introduction section of your narrative. Do not include letters of support beyond the letters of commitment from your partners, but you should acknowledge the university’s statewide work in the narrative.

Am I understanding that one organization can apply, but will need to show collaboration with other organizations? Or do multiple organizations have to apply for the grant together?

The proposal should come from the collaborative group together.  There will be one lead applicant, and other organizations would be subcontractors.

Another organization is considering including us as a subcontractor in their BFRDP proposal. Would this affect our eligibility to apply for our own organization's BFRDP? The funds/work would be for different projects.

As long as you have a different DUNS number from the other organization, this should not be a problem.

Are all women considered socially disadvantaged, or only women within other socially disadvantaged groups?

For BFRDP, a focus on women would count as a project serving a socially disadvantaged audience. For other USDA programs, that may not be the case.

Are coldframe purchases okay if they are used for demonstrations?

Yes, if justified as necessary for education/training.

Are farmers necessarily "farm-owners" or can the program train people into multiple farm roles - farm manager, propagation manager, etc?

Yes you can train on different management roles, but the main target of the program is farm operators, not allied or supporting careers, unless those are on a path to becoming a farm operator.

Are youth apprenticeships (youth in school, ages 16+) in line with BFRDP goals?

The BFRDP goals focus on people getting their start in farming or becoming more successful in the first ten years of running their farms. If your target audience is youth, focus on older youth. Other programs focus on the pipeline of involving youth into agriculture, but this is not the focus of BFRDP.

Can a faith-based organization apply if the purpose is not primarily religious but educational?


Can a single organization participate on competing grants?

Yes, to do different work, but you cannot propose to do the same work on two proposals to NIFA programs at the same time.

Can costs for interpretation and translation be covered as part of this grant as instrumental to the educational/training process?


Can funds be used for staff salary to implement the program, rental of office space to hold class room trainings, or pay for training classes held at a local college?

Yes to all, including space to hold classroom trainings, but not office space if it is included in your negotiated indirect cost rate.

Can funds be used to enhance accessibility for individuals who will be educated as a part of the program. Enhancements would also be used to educate individuals on modifications that could be made to their own farm operation.

Only if justified as an educational demonstration/expense, not a building/facilities modification.

Can funds be used to purchase a building to host research?

No, BFRDP funds cannot be used to purchase a building, and they also cannot be used for research.

Can funds be used to purchase animals?

Not for farming operations, but yes if a modest expense for education/training/demonstration purposes.

Can funds be used to purchase text books, training materials?


Can in kind donations of time and consulting from Extension services be counted as match?

Yes, if the time is not paid by Federal funds (matching funds must be non-federal).  You would need to provide a letter of commitment signed by the Authorized Representative of the Extension Service to include this time as matching.

Can match be in-kind?


Can multiple proposals come from one institution?

Yes, we do not prohibit multiple applications, but we caution that you need to consider your capacity to submit more than one good application (versus concentrating on your best idea). We will not fund more than one application to an organization at the same time.

Can NIFA funds be used for AI (artificial insemination) training certification for selected people from group to keep the beef producers sustainable?

Yes, if they are beginning farmers/ranchers, and if the expense can be justified as part of an educational program.

Can our project narrative include hyper-links to websites or other online materials. We have a highly networked project currently completing with excellent examples of beginning farmer resources to share as part of our case for additional funding.

NIFA has no explicit rules against hyperlinks, but panelists are guided to judge projects based only on what is contained within the proposal itself. If the material that you wish to link to via a hyperlink is to be considered by the review panelists, then you must find a way to summarize it within the project narrative.

Can proposals address more than one priority topic?

Yes, and most do. But be careful about having too many objectives, if it means that your proposal is not cohesive or achievable.

Can standard grant projects be national in focus or do they need to be regional projects?

The BFRDP legislation, and therefore the RFA, call for local and regional initiatives for standard grants. A standard grant proposal for a national project would need to have strong local or regional presence and/or partners and a clear workplan for achieving and documenting results on the ground. Educational Enhancement Teams can be regional or national.

Can the match be from a non-federal agency who fund projects with federal funds?

No.  The match cannot be from federal funds, and funds that come from the federal government are considered federal funds no matter who they pass through on their way to you.

Can we allocate indirect costs in excess of the 10% allowed in federal funds as part of our match contribution? For instance, if our actual indirect costs for the proposed project come to 18%, can we apply the 'extra' 8% to our match contribution?

Unrecovered indirect costs may not be used as a part of the required matching.  Total indirect costs cannot exceed the amount calculated against the Federal portion of the award. 

You may split the allowable amount of indirect costs between matching and Federal funds.  For example – if indirect costs calculate to $10,000, you may claim $5,000 of that amount under the Federal budget and the other $5,000 may be used as matching.  However, in order to use indirect costs as matching, you must have a Federally negotiated indirect cost rate in place at the time of award.

Can we seek your technical assistance on the application?

No, NIFA staff can respond to questions but we cannot help prepare your application.

Can we submit for a project starting two years or more after the application due date?

No, you should wait until the next year.

Can you expand on what is meant by "with expertise in new agricultural producer training and outreach will be given priority in funding.” We are a new program, so I am wondering how we can best show collective expertise among the collaborators.

Reviewers will evaluate your credentials and your track record, so those with little experience should find collaborators so that the whole team has all of the expertise needed to carry out the project.

Can you give a recap on the funding cycle timeline?

It typically takes 3-4 months from the application deadline until we notify applicants of the results, and then another 2-3 months to finalize the awards for those that are recommended for funding.

Can you only ask for a certain number of dollars depending upon number of farmers' reached?

No. Ask for the funds that are needed to accomplish your objectives (within the limits stated in the RFA), and make a good case for the anticipated impacts of your work and your ability to accomplish your objectives and achieve those impacts.

Could a project involving two states that are not contiguous be funded?


Could the County tax assessment of the value of the land be sufficient for establishing its value as part of the matching funds?

No, it is not the assessed or purchase value of the land that needs to be established, it is the use value (e.g., rental value).  Best to discuss your specific situation with one of the contacts for Administrative Questions in the Request for Applications.

Do partners have to have a subaward?

No it is not required for partners to receive subaward funds. However, if partners have significant roles in the project effort, subawards that are commensurate to the level of work being carried out will be highly recommended, or a brief explanation of why a partner does not require support.

Do we apply separately for AgrAbility?

You apply separately if you want to start an AgrAbility program.  But if you want to cooperate with an AgrAbility program in your BFRDP work, you can contact an AgrAbility team in your state or the National AgrAbility Project at Purdue University ( and see what part of the work they can do, and then describe that as part of your BFRDP proposal.

Do we have to pay for an appraisal to document the value of land as an in-kind contribution? If the land is currently being leased could the existing lease be used to document the value of the in-kind contribution?

You do not need an appraisal.  You can use the lease, but be able to document that the lease rate is reasonable, not just set up for the project.

Do we utilize the standard application or a separate one for socially disadvantaged?

There is only one application, the same for all proposals.

Do we verify income according to the definition for limited resource?

No. Your project should identify and aim to serve an audience, and document who you reach, but not require participants to provide personal information to document exact status.

Do you have a deadline as to when award recipients would be notified, e.g. 90 days after the Application Deadline? The question goes directly to the issue of "securing" the matching.

Applicants are generally notified in about 3-4 months from the application due date, by which time the match must be secured.  At that time, we will request documentation of the match (including “pledge letters” from third parties), for applications that are recommended for funding.  It will then take additional time to complete the paperwork to make the award (and for the funds to be available to start the project).

Does a proposal qualify if it involves a mentorship component where the mentors have 10+ years’ experience but mentors and mentees fall into one of the groups (i.e., socially disadvantaged/limited-resource or military veterans)?

The mentees would have to be beginning farmers or ranchers; that is, in their first ten years of operating, or interested in entering farming/ranching.

Does a proposal with a focus on creating training apprenticeships through a "train the trainer" approach HAVE to be submitted as Educational Enhancement? Or can it be a standard proposal, especially if there's also a focus on beginning farmers/ranchers?

A standard project can include train-the-trainer (TTT) along with direct farmer training, if TTT will amplify the impact of your work, but be sure to achieve our target outcomes (new farmers helped) in the 3-year span of the project.

Does it look like we’re not collaborating effectively if the PD and Co-PD are from the lead applicant organization?

Not necessarily. Make sure you are involving partner organizations in your project, but it is totally acceptable for the PD and Co-PD to be from the lead applicant organization.

Does serving military veterans and/or socially-disadvantaged audiences preclude applicants from being in the general pool?

No, there is not a separate pool or process for proposals serving the audiences for which there are funding set-asides.  Reviewers evaluate all proposals by the evaluation criteria published in the RFA.  Then, if funding the highest-ranked proposals would not achieve the funding targets for military veterans or socially-disadvantaged audiences (at least 5% of program funds should be spent on each), we might choose a somewhat lower-ranked (but still highly rated) proposal to achieve the program goal.

Does the "no equipment, etc." part also apply if setting up a training farm?

Expensive equipment would be difficult to justify in a 3-year project if it could be leased more cost-effectively.  If equipment can be justified as necessary to the training/education project, it would be allowed.  BFRDP would rarely fund the “set-up of a training farm” since most of the budget should go to education and training, not setting up a farm.

Does the definition of military veteran include those in reserve?

Yes, if the reservist has been called into active duty.

Does the grant allow for spending any money on tangible farm equipment, amendments, etc. if it is used for training purposes?

Yes, but amendments, equipment costs, and other expenses need to be appropriate to the education/training purpose of the project.

Does the lead applicant organization have to be the PD or a Co-PD? Should the proposal be submitted through the lead applicant’s account?

The PD must be from the lead applicant organization. The lead applicant organization would be the one submitting through their account.

Does the match need to be committed at the time of application? Or can it just be applied for as long as it is committed before the project start date?

It must be committed and documented by the time we begin making the award (that is, if you are notified that the award is recommended, we will request documentation of the match, which you will need to provide within 30 days of the request).

For matching, how does NIFA account for a match that is a no-cost lease of land and buildings? Fair market value?

You must have some way to substantiate the estimate of fair market value of the lease.  It should be based on the rental rate of similar property located in the area and substantiated through real estate records.  It would not be based on the sale value or assessed value since the land is not being purchased.

Have any projects been funded in [my state]?

We have funded at least one project in every state, but not yet in most of the insular areas other than Hawaii (e.g., American Samoa, Guam, Micronesia, N. Marianas, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands).

Hello. With regard to evaluation, I am looking for examples of survey instruments used to collect farmer and farm baseline information.

Farm Credit's Farmer and Rancher Business Health Assessment is a tool that can help individuals or programs to assess the business knowledge of beginning farmers. Here's a link:


How are indirect costs expected to flow from collaborator subawards to the organization applying?

Each organization receiving a portion of the funds would be eligible to claim indirect costs if those organizatiosn have a Federally negotiated rate or an approved DeMininis rate.  The applicant organization would calculate the indirect costs on the full budget, and the subaward organizations would calculate indirect costs on their portion. 

As the indirect costs are based on the capped rate (22% or 10% of Total Federal Funds Awarded) or the organization's approved negotiated rate if that rate results in a lower amount of indirect costs, the applicant organization should do an analysis of their negotiated indirect cost rate vs. the capped rate and would use the rate with the lower amount of indirect costs. 

How do we know which Team Leader or Branch Chief is the best contact for a particular question?

You may contact any of them with any question.

How does one apply for the 10% de minimus indirect cost rate?

The 10% de minimus rate is available to any applicants that do not have a federally negotiated indirect cost rate. If you are awarded a BFRDP grant and NIFA has questions about your indirect cost rate, they will follow up with you at the time of award.

How is 'disability' defined for eligibility for AgrAbility?

It is defined by the program. It may include, for example, arthritis, diabetes, back injury, visual impairment, hearing limitations, brain injury, or amputation – any condition that impedes a farmer’s physical ability to work in a regular way on a farm or ranch.

How should one retrieve information and/or login credentials for their DUNS number and account?

If you cannot access your DUNS number or account, reach out to their support staff. For the DUNS (Data Universal Numbering System) support staff (1-855-565-35830); AND FOR SAM (System for Award Management) support staff (1-877-252-2700). Give yourself plenty of time to ensure you have your accurate DUNS number, your account is current, and you have the correct login information for support number is 1-800-518-4726.

I am a farmer looking for funding for my farm production or marketing. Can I apply to BFRDP? If not, where can I find funding or other support?

Farmers or other individuals cannot apply directly to BFRDP. Organizations that are awarded BFRDP grants use the funds to provide training and technical assistance to new farmers and ranchers.  Although BFRDP doesn’t grant directly to farmers, under BFRDP we funded a national web-based resource,, which has a wealth of information on programs and resources for farmers and ranchers.  

Also, USDA has a web site,, that brings beginning farmer resources from across the Department into one place, including funding opportunities.  It covers the full range of USDA information and resources for new farmers including education and assistance, access to land and capital, managing risk, protecting and investing in land, marketing and growing your business, and much more.  It also has special sections for women in ag, young farmers, military veterans, and farms in transition from one generation to the next, plus a “discovery tool” that helps you pull out personalized information.

You can connect with USDA at the local level at a USDA Service Center - they have representatives of Farm Service Agency (financing), Natural Resources Conservation Service (technical information and cost-share on conservation measures), and usually also Rural Development.  You can find your local office at:  

I have found samples of past abstracts, but not full proposals. Are there full proposals available?

No, but the “abstracts” of funded projects are quite detailed.

If a cattle farmer gets out of cattle and starts produce farming will he be able to qualify as a beginning farmer?

Not for the purposes of this program, if s/he has more than ten years as a cattle farmer.

If a state AgrAbility project is a partner doing specific activities with us, is there a problem with paying them with BFRD funds?

You can fund them through BFRDP, but they would need to keep the activities funded by BFRDP separate from those funded by AgrAbility, so that there is no duplication of funding.

If an application is rejected before the deadline, can it be resubmitted this cycle?

You may submit an application before the deadline, then refine and resubmit it. Your most recently submitted application will be reviewed. If you submit your application early and and/or NIFA catch a problem with the application, they’ll do their best to let you know in which case you may fix your application and resubmit.

If individual is a farmworker, they need to begin as a farm owner/operator to qualify?

They should be interested in transitioning from being a farmworker to becoming an owner or operator.

If match must be secured by time of award, does that mean match can be pending between submission and notice of award, thereby giving applicants more time to secure match?

Yes, but matching commitments from partners may make your proposal appear stronger to reviewers.

If our project plans to target populations within both the subsets of the "Limited-Resource/Socially Disadvantaged” and "Military Veterans", then should we apply for one subset in particular, or both, or neither?

Both, if your project aims to serve both subsets.

If the applicant is also the fiscal agent for a collaborating partner that does not have 501c3 status, should funds for the partner be in a subcontract, or in the applicant's budget?

The collaborating partner is it's own entity, therefore, should be shown as such on the budget.  You would list the costs associated with the collaborating partner on the subcontract line and provide a separate budget and narrative to show the costs associated with the work the collaborating partner will be doing.

If there are several non-governmental partners, would it still be ok if, say the State Dept. of Labor wanted to sign on as a partner, or would that hinder the chances of the grant?

Yes, any partner that brings something relevant to the project can be added.  A project with too many partners may present a management challenge, however.

If we applied in 2011 or 2012 and were not funded, is that considered a new application or resubmitted application?

Resubmitted, if you are proposing substantially similar work and addressing the prior reviewers’ comments.

If we applied previously but were not funded, how do we get reviewer notes?

Project Directors of unsuccessful proposals are emailed the reviewers’ comments.  If you were the PD and cannot locate that email, and it is not in your spam/junk email box, contact BFRDP program staff to re-send.

If we are a sub-grantee in a similar federal grant, are we eligible to apply for this grant if it will expand our capacity to provide services?

Yes, for an expansion that does not overlap with what is already funded.  You may not apply for funds to do the same work you are doing under the other award, but you can apply to do additional/different work.

If you get a 3-year BFRDP award, can the match be paid over the 3 years as long as you have a letter of commitment for the full matching amount up front?

The match must be secured in full at the beginning of the project, so the source would have to have the funds identified at the beginning of the project, even if paid into the project later.  As long as the matching commitment is secured, it may be paid out over the three year project period.

If you have a lease fee on equipment - would that be in-kind matching?

Yes, to the extent that the equipment is being used for the project. 

In the additional attachment section, is each document attached individually or all combined into one PDF?

In field 12 Other Attachments, each letter of commitment will be uploaded individually. However, some attachments in other areas of the application may include several documents combined into 1 PDF file (ex: Conflict of Interest list – combine all Conflict of Interests from each key personnel into one PDF). However, if you have difficulty combining, as long as the required documents are attached, the form (combined or separate) is not essential.

Is a CDFI (Community Development Financial Institution) eligible to apply?

Yes, if leading a collaboration or network.

Is a logic model required for this year's application? Some partners submitted one in former applications and have asked several times. (I say no, per RFA, but they insist I ask.)

If you have room within your 16 page limit, you may include a logic model in the narrative. You may include one as an attachment.

Is a municipality (town, village, city, etc.) eligible to apply (either alone or as a collaborative member)?

Yes, a municipality could be the lead applicant for a collaborative network or partnership, if together the collaborators have the expertise to conduct beginning farmer education, mentoring, and/or technical assistance.  

A municipality would not be eligible to apply alone, since involving other entities in a collaborative network or partnership is required.

Is a project led by a non-profit organization, with subcontractors, considered a collaboration?

Yes, depending on the roles of the subcontractors; reviewers will evaluate the qualifications of the partnership or collaboration.

Is a university or college partner required for Education Enhancement Team Grants or are other nonprofits OK?

There is no requirement for projects to involve a university or college partner – any given partner may be a university, a college, nonprofit, or other type of entity. 

Is an application from someone who had a prior BFRDP award still called a renewal proposal?

No. In 2017, if the Project Director (PD) or co-PD have been involved in leading prior BFRDP project(s), the application should have a one-page “Prior BFRDP Accomplishments” section, but the proposal is otherwise the same as a new proposal.  There is no longer a separate category called renewal.

Is food and lodging for farm apprentices a valid grant expense?


Is it expected that the proposals will be for three year projects? Or can they just as likely be for shorter time frames?

Most proposals are for three years, but you can propose a shorter-term project, if you can achieve outcomes in a shorter time frame.

Is lack of English considered a "disability?"

No. AgrAbility has translated some of its materials into Spanish, however. Please contact the National AgrAbility Project ( for more information.

Is the maximum sub-contractor per hour rate $76/hour, if not what is it?

The $76/hour maximum rate is for consultants who are rendering advice. 

Subcontractor organizations should charge their normal rate for the staff who are working on the project.  The rate of pay should be should be the same as what is paid for that employee or for similar work within the organization.

Is there a cost limit for what is considered 'major equipment'?

Major equipment is considered any piece of equipment costing $5,000 or more.  There is not a specific limit on the dollar amount permitted to be spent on major equipment, but the project budget should be primarily for education and training, and you should consider whether renting equipment would be more cost-effective.

Is there a minimum or optimal number of collaborators?

Any given project must have at least 2 collaborators: the lead applicant plus at least one other collaborator. Beyond that, your number of collaborators depends upon the project. Engage as many collaborators as will best suit your project.

Is there a penalty for an applicant to include support letters which would also document a supporter’s commitment to the project?

Make sure to include letters of commitment from key partners/collaborators, but the RFA requests that you not attach additional letters of support.

Is there a percentage cap on in-kind contributions as part of the 25% match?


Is there a preference for regional versus statewide focus for proposals?


Is there a requirement that any part of the match be in cash or can it be in-kind, only?

It can be either cash or in-kind alone, or a combination of both.

Is there any preference for programs that have been previously funded vs new ones?


Is travel and lodging an allowable expense if used to help program participants attend agricultural training programs?


Must the 25% match for the entire three years be secured before submitting application?

Yes, or at least be in place and documented by the time the award is made.

On match, what are some examples of eligible in-kind?

Personnel, supplies, some or all of allowable indirect costs, or anything else that would be allowable as a requested amount.  You cannot use as match anything that would not be allowable as a direct cost (for example, you cannot use unrecovered indirect costs above the allowable amount.)

On the page limitation, are the attachments allowed as additional pages beyond the narrative page limit?

Yes, if it is specified in the RFA as a separate attachment.

One of the biggest challenges to socially disadvantaged farmers is access to capital. Can you discuss how this might be addressed in this grant opportunity?

Access to land and capital are big challenges.  Your project should find local sources and solutions and help people connect with them.

Page limit for narrative -- RFP indicates either single or double spaced. Therefore either is acceptable?

Yes, but most proposals are single-spaced, to maximize the amount of information in the proposal within the page limit.

Re: training farm equipment - it sounded like we couldn’t even use that as match, correct?

You could use the rental value of farm equipment, if you normally charge for it, to the extent that it is used for education and training.

Some of our new farmers just got a lot of cold damage on their specialty crops. Would testing various types of cold damage prevention be considered as well?

No, BFRDP funds cannot be used for research.

The listing of topics in the RFA does not include urban agriculture, aquaculture, hydroponics, vermicomposting, all of which are of interest to beginning farmers. Will these topics be considered?

Yes, if you can demonstrate their relevance to the beginning farmer audience you aim to serve.

The requirements for the Project Summary (from template) and Table of Contents in Project Narrative (p. 20 RFA) seem to be completely duplicative. Is this intentional? Should we put that information in both?


The RFA states "participant support costs" are not allowable. Can you clarify what is meant by that? Thank you.

Page 24 of the RFA states that participant support costs are not to be included in the calculations for indirect costs.  When you are calculating the amount of indirect costs for this project, any “participant support costs” included on the budget would be excluded from your indirect cost calculations.  The RFA does not prohibit participant support costs as a part of the direct costs of the project.

Paragraph 200.75 of the Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards (Uniform Guidance) (2 CFR 200) defines “Participant Support Costs” as direct costs for items such as stipends or subsistence allowances, travel allowances, and registration fees paid to or on behalf of participants or trainees (but not employees) in connection with a conference or training project.

We are leasing land from our county government to start an incubator farm. If we need to drill a well for farming, is this an allowable cost under this grant?

It could be an allowable cost but justification would have to be provided describing the need for the well and how the well fits the objectives of the BFRD Program in training and educating beginning farmers.  Also, since the land is being leased from the county government, documentation from the county would be needed showing they do not object to a well being drilled on their property.

We run a conference each year that educates young farmers, the number one challenge to recruiting attendees is cost. Is expanding this and reducing the cost an acceptable use of funds?

Projects may include conferences, but a proposal for a conference alone would likely not be enough to show the outcomes that are expected of a strong BFRDP project.

We run a workforce development program on an urban farm where many of our graduates move on to work at other urban farms, but few or none would start their own farm. Is this type of program something you're interested in?

It depends.  If working on a farm is a step toward running a farm, perhaps.  The purpose of BFRDP is to train farmers, including farm workers if their overall goal is to become farmers, but not people whose end goals are to be employed as farm workers.  We do fund projects in urban, rural, peri-urban, all types of settings.

What about multi-state proposals? Is that okay as compared to single state proposals?


What age range does “school-based agricultural education” refer to?

BFRDP is for adult learners, or older adolescents who are on a path to enter farming.  We don’t set a minimum age range, but it would be hard to achieve our target impacts (new farmers helped or started) in the 3-year life of the project with younger audiences. Some projects have included youth in addition to adults. Projects involving youth should focus on 16 years and older if they have an on-farm component, since child labor requirements may deem agricultural work to be particularly hazardous for those under 16. The priority for involving school-based agricultural education organizations (SBAO) refers to high-school level organizations such as FFA.

What are some examples of how impact has been measured?

See the information in “Outcomes Based Reporting” under “Resources” on the BFRDP “program” page ( Many projects use before-and-after questionnaires and tests, and follow-up interviews. We highly recommend involving a professional evaluator on your team to lead the design and conduct of impact assessment and reporting.

What are the annual and total limits, in terms of maximum budgets?

Standard Grant proposals and Educational Enhancement Team proposals can request up to $200,000 per year for up to three years and in addition to that request provide the 25% match.  Small Standard Grant proposals are those under $100,000 per year.

What are your limits or expectations of numbers of farmers served? I have seen a wide range on the prior grant descriptions. Can you talk about the different factors that would cause you to select a project with fewer rather than greater numbers?

Some projects serve hundreds of people through workshops, internet training, and other methods with broad reach; some serve a smaller group more intensively (e.g., incubators, apprenticeships) and/or work with audiences who are harder to reach or have significant barriers. Reviewers will evaluate your proposed reach (numbers), the degree of change you propose to bring about, and the challenges faced by your target audience.

What do you advise is the best way to include testimonials from beginning farmer graduates to show we have a history of accomplishment if those graduates aren’t committing to a specific role in the proposal grant project? Letters? Quotes in narrative?

Address this history/experience/accomplishment in your narrative – do not include additional letters of support. The introduction section of your proposal narrative would be the most appropriate place to include this information/background.

What if a son wants to participate as new farmer but parents have been farming for over 20 years?

The son would be considered a beginning farmer.

What if refugees may have done farming in their home country but want to learn to farm in the US? Would they qualify as new farmer?


What is a Development Award and can I apply for it?

A Development Award was a smaller award made in 2015 and earlier.  In 2017, there will be no Development Awards.  Instead, organizations interested in proposing smaller projects can apply for small Standard Grants of up to $100,000 per year.

What is the approximate timeline for review and award of applications in 2017? What should I plan as a starting date?

Proposals are due by 5:00 pm on December 8, 2016.  First they will be screened by NIFA for the requirements in the RFA, and if they meet the requirements they will be accepted for peer review (by late December or early January).  Peer review will take place in the winter and early spring.  Applicants with highly-rated proposals will be contacted in the spring (late April or early May) to provide additional documentation (the Just-In-Time pilot described in the RFA).  Applications that are recommended for an award go through additional review within NIFA for administrative requirements, which may take some weeks.  A good starting date to plan for a 2017 project is August 15, 2017.

What is the military definition, post 9/11 or broader?

Broader; anyone with active military experience who is a beginning farmer or rancher.

What valuable suggestions could you offer to a project that is fairly new at beginning farmer training that would help to create a strong proposal?

Look at prior projects, get to know your audience, and find partners with expertise and experience that you lack.

What’s new for 2017 regarding eligibility?

Beginning with the 2017 RFA, BFRDP will not make more than one award to the same organization or Project Director in the same calendar year.  Therefore we will not accept an application from a current awardee (organization) unless the current project is in its final year at the time of the new application. Organizations that received three-year standard grant awards in December 2014, which will conclude in December 2017, may apply this year (December, 2016).  See the list below of current awardees from which we will not accept an application in December, 2016.

Current BFRDP Project Directors and awardee institutions may serve as partners in applications submitted by other organizations.

An eligible organization may submit more than one application (whether the same or different Project Directors), but we will not fund more than one award per organization.

Organizations with multiple locations but a single administration (the entity that would submit an application and administer an award) and the same DUNS number are considered a single organization. 

List of current awardees from which we will not accept an application in December, 2016 (State; Awardee (Institution); Award Number; Ending Date):

AK; Calypso Farm and Ecology Center; 2016-70017-25347; 31-Jul-19

AL; Auburn University; 2015-70017-23910; 31-Aug-18

AL; Tuskegee University; 2015-70017-23897; 31-Aug-18

AR; Arkansas Land and Community Development Corporation; 2016-70017-25345; 31-Jul-19

AR; University of Arkansas; 2015-70017-23895; 31-Aug-18

CA; Agriculture and Land-Based Training Association; 2016-70017-25379; 14-Aug-19

CA; Farmer Veteran Coalition; 2015-70017-24103; 31-Aug-18

CA; Planting Justice; 2015-70017-23903; 31-Aug-18

CO; Economic Development, Colorado Office Of; 2016-70017-25501; 31-Jul-19

CT; University of Connecticut; 2016-70017-25416; 14-Aug-19

DC; American Farmland Trust; 2015-70017-23901; 31-Aug-19

FL; North-South Institute, Inc.; 2016-70017-25343; 31-Jul-19

GA; University of Georgia Research Foundation; 2015-70017-22861; 30-Apr-18

HI; The Kohala Center, Inc.; 2016-70017-25524; 14-Aug-19

IA; Iowa State University of Science and Technology; 2015-70017-23960; 31-Aug-18

IA; NFO, Inc. (dba National Farmers Organization); 2016-70017-25525; 14-Aug-19

ID; Jannus Inc; 2016-70017-25378; 31-Jul-19

ID; Regents of the University of Idaho; 2015-70017-23932; 31-Aug-18

IL; Angelic Organics Learning Center; 2016-70017-25373; 31-Jul-19

IL; Chicago Horticultural Society; 2015-70017-23909; 31-Aug-18

KS; Catholic Charities of Northeast Kansas; 2016-70017-25500; 31-Jul-19

KY; Kentucky State University; 2015-70017-23959; 31-Aug-18

MA; Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture; 2016-70017-25423; 14-Aug-19

MA; Third Sector New England; 2016-70017-25499; 14-Aug-18

MA; Tufts University; 2016-70017-25376; 14-Aug-19

MA; World Farmers Inc; 2015-70017-24102; 31-Aug-18

MD; Engaged Community Offshoots, Inc. dba ECO City Farms; 2016-70017-25342; 31-Jul-19

MD; Future Harvest Inc; 2016-70017-25503; 14-Aug-19

ME; Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association; 2015-70017-24119; 31-Aug-18

ME; Wolfe`s Neck Farm Foundation, Inc.; 2016-70017-25374; 31-Jul-19

MN; Hmong American Farmers Association; 2015-70017-24012; 31-Aug-18

MN; Hmong American Partnership; 2015-70017-22870; 31-Aug-18

MN; Hmong American Partnership; 2015-70017-24015; 31-Aug-18

MN; Land Stewardship Project; 2016-70017-25502; 31-Jul-19

MN; Minnesota Food Association; 2016-70017-25349; 31-Jul-18

MN; Regents of the University of Minnesota; 2015-70017-22874; 30-Nov-19

MS; Mississippi Delta Council for Farm Workers Opportunities, In; 2015-70017-23935; 31-Aug-18

MS; Winston County Self help Cooperative; 2015-70017-23906; 31-Aug-18

MT; National Center for Appropriate Technology; 2016-70017-25344; 31-Jul-19

MT; National Center for Appropriate Technology; 2016-70017-25350; 14-Aug-19

MT; Stone Child College; 2016-70017-25418; 31-Jul-19

NC; Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy; 2016-70017-25341; 31-Jul-19

ND; Foundation for Agricultural and Resources Management; 2016-70017-25414; 14-Aug-19

NE; Legal Aid of Nebraska; 2015-70017-23907; 31-Aug-18

NH; LAND FOR GOOD, INC; 2015-70017-23900; 31-Aug-18

NJ; Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey; 2015-70017-23911; 31-Aug-18

NM; Regents of New Mexico State University; 2016-70017-25507; 31-Jul-19

NY; Hawthorne Valley Association; 2015-70017-23904; 31-Aug-18

NY; Just Food; 2016-70017-25522; 14-Aug-19

NY; National Young Farmers Coalition; 2016-70017-25498; 14-Aug-19

OH; Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association; 2016-70017-25346; 31-Jul-19

OH; The Ohio State University; 2016-70017-25377; 14-Aug-19

RI; Southside Community Land Trust; 2016-70017-25415; 31-Jul-19

SC; Clemson University; 2016-70017-25351; 31-Jul-19

SD; South Dakota State University; 2015-70017-23893; 31-Aug-18

TN; Tennesee State University; 2016-70017-25573; 31-Aug-19

TX; National Immigrant Farming Initiative; 2016-70017-25523; 31-Jul-19

TX; Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service; 2016-70017-25417; 14-Aug-19

TX; University of Texas Rio Grande Valley; 2015-70017-23956; 31-Aug-18

VA; Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University; 2015-70017-23933; 31-Aug-18

VT; The University of Vermont and State Agricultural College; 2015-70017-23898; 31-Aug-19

WA; Greenbank Farm Management Group/Organic Farm School; 2016-70017-25526; 14-Aug-19

WA; Grow Food dba Viva Farms; 2016-70017-25348; 31-Jul-19

WA; Organic Seed Alliance; 2015-70017-23934; 31-Aug-18

WI; Easter Seals Wisconsin, Inc.; 2015-70017-23896; 31-Aug-18

WI; Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service; 2015-70017-24092; 31-Aug-18

WI; Southwest Badger Resource Conservation & Develop. Council; 2015-70017-23912; 31-Aug-18


What’s new for 2017 regarding matching?

The requirement of 25% non-federal match has not changed, but in the 2017 RFA, as part of the “Just-In-Time” application process, the pledge letters that document the match are not submitted with the application; instead, they will be requested later for applications recommended for an award. 

The required non-federal match should be included in the proposed budget (R&R Federal and non-Federal) and in the budget justification, but without the documentation (pledge letters) from each third-party source. 

Commitment letters, which provide evidence of the partners’ roles in the project and commitment to the management plan (often but not always from some of the same partners that provide matching funds), are required as part of the application.  For examples of commitment letters and pledge letters, see .

What’s new in 2017 regarding budgets?

In the 2017 RFA, the limit on a small standard application is $100,000 per year for up to three years, or a total of $300,000 over three years (higher than in 2016).  The limit for a large standard application remains at $200,000 per year for up to three years. 

Also, for 2017, the budget format is simplified from prior years, as part of the Just-In-Time pilot: complete the budget form (R&R Federal and Non-Federal) for one project period that represents the entire project (e.g. all three years combined), instead of annual budgets.

What’s new in 2017 regarding the application format?

In the 2017 RFA, BFRDP is piloting a “Just-In-Time” process that streamlines the application submission process by allowing applicants to submit certain supporting documents only once a grant is recommended for an award.  Do not submit these documents with a 2017 BFRDP application: Current and Pending Other Support, Matching Support documentation (Pledge Letters), Felony Tax Certification, Subcontract Statement of Work, and Subcontract Letter of Intent.  Also, complete the budget form (R&R Federal and Non-Federal) for one project period that represents the entire project (e.g. all three years combined), instead of annual budgets.

When requesting not to send in "form letters," is that for letters of commitment from collaborating organizations?

Yes, each letter should be specific to the role that each collaborator is committing to.

When should someone apply as a resubmitted application vs. new?

Choose resubmitted if your proposal is substantially the same as a previously submitted proposal, or similar enough that you would benefit from the extra 1 page Response to Previous Review. There is not necessarily a benefit or penalty to submit as new or resubmitted – it’s a judgment call for the applicant.

When should we assign someone as a Co-PD, as a partner who must submit a subaward, or a collaborator or consultant only submitting a letter of commitment?

The defined project roles of your collaborators/partners depends upon their involvement in your project. A Co-PD would be someone who is greatly involved in your project, perhaps providing oversight or decision making. Submitting a subaward depends upon how much you are budgeting for that partner. Defining someone as a collaborator or consultant depends upon their role and involvement in the project. Letters of commitment are required from all partners playing a substantial role in your project.

Where can I find the definition of socially disadvantaged?

See the “Definitions” section of the RFA.

Who counts as Senior/Key persons: do we have to submit all information on every single person involved (i.e. potential guest speakers for one class), or only if the grant will fund them?

Key persons are those who contribute in a substantial way to the project, such as those who are responsible for the success of the project or a key component of the project, whether or not they are receiving funding from the grant.  A guest speaker for one class would not normally be a key person.

Who should letters of commitment be addressed to if applying from Charleston, SC? (Name and address) Thank you!

Letters can be addressed to a program leader at NIFA, to the review panel, or to the project director. We leave that up to your discretion. What is most important is that the letter be on letterhead, and include a commitment to abide by the management plan.

Will all three years of selected projects be funded out of the funding offered in a given year, or just the first year? Put another way, if a typical project ask is $600,000 do you expect to make around 30 grants or 90 grants?

We generally fund all years up front, so typically 30-35 projects per year.

Will unfunded partners carry as much weight as funded partners?

Yes, if they have a role in the project and are willing to provide it without funding.  But sharing the budget with partners is often a good idea unless it is clear that the partner can play the desired role without funding.

Will we be responsible to verifying the Veteran's status or show a DD214 for each veteran served?

No; we evaluate your proposal’s plans for outreach, education, etc. and ask you to report participation but that can be based on participants’ responses to your evaluations.

Would a project that offers several different tracks for different audiences be competitive? For example, one general track and several specialized tracks that not everyone would do?


Would it be possible to use grant funds for new farmer apprenticeships/internships?


Would the expense of field representatives for on-farm training and assessment be allowable?


Would training individuals in market gardening for supplemental income count as farmer training?

Yes, if they are on a path to commercial farming (which may be part-time) but no, if they are gardening primarily for their own consumption and the “supplemental income” is minor.

You ask questions about program sustainability beyond the term of the grant. How have prior awardees successfully sustained their programs?

It varies.  Some find funding from donors, members or partners; some rely on program income once their programs are established; some build endowments or other kinds of capacity among organizations or partners.

You said most grants pick one target audience and train on a range of topics. Can you train on one specialized topic for a range of target audiences?

Yes, if you can show outcomes as a result, such as improved success of beginning farmers and ranchers.

Your power point said that funds from an organization doing a similar project cannot be used as matching funds. But what if that organization is a partner or collaborator and their program is part of your project and counted as an in-kind contribution.

That would be acceptable as long as the work is not being counted twice.