MN grant program helps young farmers buy land

Minnesota launched what may be the nation’s first-of-its-kind program to bring in a new, diverse generation of farmers as the current, 99%-white farmer population grows older.

This $15,000 matching grant opened at 9:00 a.m. on January 4, 2023 and had 28 applications in the first five minutes. Within days, the funds were claimed, applications closed, and the waiting list of 100 was full.

Due to high demand, the program is seeking more funding, and another round will open in July.

The Minnesota Down Payment Assistance Grant helps qualified farmers purchase their first farm. The grant program is administered by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture Rural Finance Authority (RFA) as part of its mission to develop the state’s agricultural resources.

And another good sign: the grant program was one of the only things lawmakers could agree to spend part of Minnesota’s historic budget surplus on.

This timely effort to lift up young and marginalized farmers comes at a time of record-high land prices.

The program manager, Jenny Heck, noted applicants were nearly 20 years younger than the average Minnesota farmer’s age, which is almost 57.

“So I think that brings a lot of hope to what the future of farming looks like. There are lots of people who are interested in getting into farming, younger people, but they just need a little help getting started.”

Thank you, Minnesota, for investing in regional food security and the all-important next-generation of farmers. May you be an example to neighboring states, the country, the world.

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