Wyden, Merkley Announce $1.49 Million Award to Support Beginning Farmers, Ranchers in Oregon 

Oregon’s U.S. Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden announce the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is awarding a total of $1,493,897 to support education and land access programs for beginning farmers and ranchers in Oregon, providing them the tools and resources to succeed. 

“Agriculture is deeply ingrained in Oregon’s economy,” said Senator Merkley. “These awards to OSU and Rogue Farm Corps will ensure that Oregon’s new farmers and ranchers are able to thrive and make Oregon’s economy even stronger in the future.” 

“This federal investment in the next generation of farmers and ranchers in our state will help ensure a bright future for these traditional Oregon enterprises,” Wyden said. “I’m glad OSU and Rogue Farm Corps have earned these grants, and I will keep battling to secure similar investments that provide opportunities to grow farming and ranching throughout Oregon.” 

These awards are part of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture’s (NIFA) Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BRDDP) that supports a wide range of professional development activities across an array of important topics for new farmers and ranchers, such as managing capital, acquiring and managing land, and learning effective business and farming practices. 

“This grant allows us to continue our work supporting Oregon’s beginning farmers as they build profitable businesses that contribute to and diversify Oregon’s farm and ranch economy. This grant includes a special focus on adapting to and developing resilience in a changing climate. We do this work by collaborating with our extensive network of farmers on cutting edge online and in person education, mentoring through farmer networks, and hands-on demonstration and training,” said Garry Stephenson, Director of the Center for Small Farms & Community Food Systems at Oregon State University 

“The average age of farmers in Oregon is 60, and nearly two-thirds of our state’s farmland is expected to change hands in the next 20 years,” said Project Director and Rogue Farm Corps Executive Director, Abigail Singer. “When this land gets put on the open market, it’s at risk for development, real estate investment, and being taken out of agriculture. But in this moment of transition we also have an opening to connect retiring farmers with a new, more diverse generation of farmers who are ready to take the reins. This USDA grant will provide much-needed resources to facilitate this intergenerational transition work, at a time when beginning farmers face huge barriers to entry.” 

The awards to Oregon can be found below: 

  • Rogue Farm Corps: $743,900 to support Transitioning Oregon’s Farmland: Access, Planning, and Assistance for This Generation and the Next (TOF), which is working to establish Oregon’s first regional hub for land access and will provide one-on-one land access support through individualized planning, skill-building, and connections with service providers. 
  • Oregon State University: $749,997 to support the OSU Extension Small Farms Program housed within the OSU Center for Small Farms & Community Food Systems, which is developing innovative programs that effectively support the launch and success of beginning farmers and ranchers (BFRs). 

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