USDA grants $676K to Caguas youth agricultural project
The US Department of Agriculture announced it has awarded a $676,133 grant to the Corporación Juvenil para el Desarrollo de Comunidades Sostenibles in Caguas to increase the number of farmers and ranchers.
The nonprofit will design and implement a recruitment program for 140 beginning farmers and ranchers of which 10% will be military veterans and 70% low-income, of which 65% will complete the program — 91 participants — as designed for their specific business needs, according to the project proposal submitted to the federal agency.
“The program includes five visits to established farms, so participants experience what they learned theoretically. Develop knowledge and tools to enter, begin and start up and manage a local agricultural business. Develop knowledge and tools to begin and establish a farm business with a vision of the use and conservation of natural resources,” according to the proposal’s goals.
The program seeks to incubate at least five economically viable and self-sustaining value-added enterprises that use locally grown agriculture products.
The Corporación Juvenil para el Desarrollo de Comunidades Sostenibles will “find five experienced farmers and ranchers that will join us and share their knowledge through technical assistance and mentoring to inspire and empower the next generation of agri-entrepreneurs with advice from experienced enterprises by providing mentoring and internships in specific subjects needed by the new farmers and ranchers,” it told the USDA in its proposal.
The Caguas-based organization is one of 45 entities across the US and its territories that will split $24 million from the USDA.
“Investing in the professional development of our nation’s newest farmers and ranchers will help our food and agriculture sectors to flourish from the ground up,” said USDA Chief Scientist Chavonda Jacobs-Young, who is also USDA’s Under Secretary for Research, Education and Economics. “Strengthening and growing our next generation pipeline is vital to the continued success of American agriculture and prosperity of rural communities.”
This investment is 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.