Organizations receive federal aid to help first-time farmersby Elizabeth Baier, Minnesota Public Radio
Rochester, Minn. — Two Minnesota-based organizations have received federal grants to help beginning farmers and ranchers.
Land Stewardship gets $413,820 and Legal Action Group gets $506,170.
In all, the USDA says more than $17 million will go to 29 institutions around the country.
USDA Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan said the grants will help attract and train first-time farmers.
"We know that the average age of farmers in this country is 59," Merrigan said. "We need to figure out the next crop of farmers where they're going to come from."
Merrigan said the grants will also help programs that help ease the challenges for first-time farmers. She said a lot of the new incoming farmers are small-scale, but part of the reason for that is there are such barriers to entry.
"The cost of getting into agriculture is really high; the land, the equipment," she said.
Merrigan said education and training is essential for people who are new to agriculture and helps them make smart business decisions.