AUSTIN – Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller today announced grant awards for 23 young farmers and ranchers totaling $222,732 through the Texas Department of Agriculture’s (TDA) Young Farmer Grant Program. Today’s announcement comes as part of a larger effort to promote and sustain Texas’ position as an agricultural powerhouse, as well as support younger agricultural producers.
“With only six percent of our farmers and ranchers under the age of 35, now more than ever, it is imperative that we support this critical segment of our industry,” said Commissioner Miller. “The future of Texas agriculture lies partly in the hands of our next generation — today’s young farmers. I’m pleased to be announcing these grant awards and cannot wait to see the impact these bright young folks have on Texas agriculture.”
Agriculture producers between the ages of 18 and 45 are eligible for the Young Farmer Grant Program. Funds are used to help create, sustain or expand agricultural businesses in Texas. Among the 23 recipients are producers specializing in all areas of agriculture, including horticulture, livestock, apiary and cheese-making.
“Our young farmers are facing challenges different from the preceding generations with more and more mouths to feed,” said Commissioner Miller. “It won’t be an easy task, but I know these grant winners are up for the challenge.”
Commissioner Miller joined Erin Pilosi-Kimbrough, one of the Young Farmer Grant recipients, at her ranch in College Station today to announce the awards. Pilosi-Kimbrough will use grant funds to help grow her livestock operation and increase her herd of Boer goats on the Growin On Faith Farm, LLC. She’s working towards providing fresh, locally grown, grass-fed goat meat to meet a growing demand and yield a positive impact on her community.
“I would like to express gratitude for the Texas Department of Agriculture’s commitment to the growth of agriculture in Texas,” said Pilosi-Kimbrough. “The agency’s support of our mission to provide our community with high-quality, naturally raised meats in a sustainable way will increase the economic impact of agriculture in communities across our state. Thank you for believing in us.”
Since the program’s inception in 2009, a total of $1.6 million has been given to 171 young farmers and ranchers. Each of these individuals has the same goal in mind: Grow and support Texas agriculture. Take Nicole Sosebee for example. She received a grant in the fall of 2013 to help assist with the operations on her small goat dairy farm. Like many young farmers, Sosebee has experienced firsthand how expensive and difficult it can be to start an agricultural operation. She credits the Young Farmer Grant Program for helping give her a boost.
“The Young Farmer Grant Program has been a form of encouragement for our hard work and aspirations,” said Sosebee, who works alongside her husband, Jacob, on the farm. “It isn’t a hand out or easy money. Nothing in ag production comes easy and without sacrifice. It has helped relieve some of the financial burden placed on the farm, which has allowed us to reinvest in our operation and increase the number of families we can serve.”
By supporting young farmers, TDA aims to maintain a vital agriculture industry for generations to come. Grant recipients must be able to match grant awards dollar-for-dollar. The Young Farmer Grant Program is funded by agricultural vehicle registration fees paid for by farmers.
For a complete list of 2015 award recipients, click here. TDA is currently accepting applications for the next round of funding for the Young Farmer Grant Program. Click here for more information and a grant application. The deadline to apply for a Young Farmer Grant is close of business, or 5 p.m., on March 10, 2015.