AUSTIN (September 22, 2016) – Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller, along with the Texas Agricultural Finance Authority Board, have announced grant awards for 20 young farmers and ranchers totaling more than $175,000 through the Texas Department of Agriculture’s (TDA) Young Farmer Grant program. These grant awards are part of a larger effort to promote and sustain the Lone Star State’s position as an agricultural powerhouse by supporting younger agricultural producers.
“Our young farmers are the future of agriculture in the great state of Texas, and I’m pleased to announce these grant awards to help our young producers continue to put food on our plates for years to come,” Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller said. “By supporting our young producers today, we are ensuring that they’ll contribute to Texas agriculture’s success in the future.”
The young farmers and ranchers receiving these grant awards reflect the changing nature of agriculture across the state. Of the 20 grants awarded, recipients will use the money towards the following ag-related projects: beekeeping operations, hydroponic or aquaponic crop production, grass-fed beef production, heritage breed pigs, vineyard diversity, traditional cattle operations and crop production for onions, mushrooms, coastal hay and pima cotton.
“From apiaries to viticulture, the Texas Department of Agriculture supports production agriculture in Texas from a to z,” Commissioner Miller said. “We are excited to help young farmers and ranchers who are trying innovative new methods of crop production, different breeds of livestock and some of the less traditional aspects of agriculture like beekeeping. I’m also proud that a number of the grants have gone to women ag producers. Younger ag producers hold the future of Texas agriculture in their hands, so helping these folks out now will pay off for years to come.”
One of the grant recipients, Krystal Hodge, a young farmer from Spring, Texas, became interested in bees after learning about a family friend who was leasing use of his land out to a beekeeper producing huisache honey. Hodge is a member of the Brazoria County Beekeepers Association and took a beekeeping class prior to starting her beekeeping operation. Hodge said her land is surrounded by cornfields and other crops, so she will be producing local natural honey.
“I look forward to utilizing the help provided by the Young Farmers grant,” Hodge said. “This grant will help me get started so much quicker than if I had to provide all the funding up front.”
It seems beekeeping is a trend in this round of grant awards. Grant recipient, Tera Waldroup in Rockwall, got into beekeeping as a way to make some extra income while raising her young daughter. Waldroup and her husband plan to establish a two-acre lavender crop and apiary. They will make lotions, soaps and other bath products, as well as culinary products, with both the lavender and honey produced on their land.
“We are extremely grateful and excited to have been awarded the Young Farmers Grant for our lavender and apiary project,” Waldroup said. “Our love for lavender and desire to be closer to Mother Nature motivated us to pursue this project.”
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.
TDA is currently accepting applications for our next grant cycle, which will be awarded in spring 2017. Young farmers age 18 to 46 are encouraged to apply. Applications are due by close of business on Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2016. For a complete list of award recipients and more information about the program, click here.
If you would like assistance facilitating interviews with Commissioner Miller and/or our grant recipients, please contact TDA’s communications officer, Jennifer Dorsett, at Jennifer.Dorsett@TexasAgriculture.gov or (512) 463-7899.