Last Updated November 9, 2009
Risk Management Education Program
Providing grants for training and outreach about agricultural risk management strategies
Since it was authorized by Congress in 2001, USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) has managed the Risk Management Education (RME) Program to provide farmers with the knowledge, skills and tools needed to make informed risk management decisions for their operations, with the goal of enhancing farm profitability.
Such risk management strategies can range from futures, options, forward contracts to broader risk management strategies. These include crops and enterprise diversification, conservation planning, new and value-added markets, debt reduction, and asset building strategies.
The program currently has five priority topics for grants: production risk, price or marketing risk, human resources risk; legal risk (e.g., liability and environmental risk); and financial risk.
The program operates through four regional risk management education centers and a fifth digital center. In 2009, NIFA solicited proposals from institutions in each of the four national regions to manage these centers. Thus, the location for some of the regional centers will change; new centers had not been chosen as of this writing. Updated information about these centers can be found at: www.nifa.usda.gov.
The RME provides accessibility to a wide range of information about RME-funded projects and risk management strategies at its fifth, non-regional, center - the Digital Center for Risk Management Education. As of this writing, this part of RME is housed at the University of Minnesota www.agrisk.umn.edu. However, continued responsibility for this function may change; the following link can direct you to the correct website. www.nifa.usda.gov/nea/economics/in_focus/farm_if_risk.html#risk
The 2008 Farm Bill directed NIFA to emphasize grants to risk management education projects that assist:
- Beginning farmers or ranchers;
- Legal immigrant farmers or ranchers that are attempting to become established producers in the U.S.;
- Socially disadvantaged farmers or ranchers;
- Farmers or ranchers that are preparing to retire and are pursuing transition strategies to help new farmers or ranchers get started, and
- New or established farmers or ranchers that are converting production and marketing systems to pursue new markets.
- $4,900 was granted to Colorado State University Cooperative Extension to develop and train farmers in using a computer-based decision-making tool to help farmers make informed choices around purchases of breeding females.
- $44,572 was granted to Wisconsin's Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection to help farmers develop the skills and connections to successfully market products to local food buyers. This project helped link 100 farmers with local food buyers, creating new market opportunities.
- The University of Vermont's Center for Sustainable Agriculture received funding for a series of 6 workshops on different risk management strategies for pasture-raised livestock. Topics ranged from parasite and pest problems to nutrition and diseases, with discussion of methods that meet organic certification requirements.
Application and Financial Information
The RME is funded at $5 million annually. Grant awards will normally not exceed $50,000 for single region projects. Generally, the range of awards, for single region projects is from $5,000 to $50,000; however there is no absolute upper or lower limit on the funds provided to a project. The awards will reflect a mix of project sizes to meet our investment goal of a balanced portfolio.
Eligibility, Uses and Restrictions
Organizations eligible for grants are private and public groups, organizations and institutions including land grant colleges and universities, Cooperative Extension, other colleges and universities, and other qualified public and private entities in the region with a demonstrated capacity to develop and deliver educational programs for agricultural producers and their families. These entities include farm organizations, commodity groups, lenders, consultants, marketers, risk management service providers such as crop insurance agents, and other non-governmental and community-based organizations. Collaboration between the public and private sectors is strongly encouraged.
Antonio McLaren, NIFA
RME National Program Leader
email@example.com (202) 720-5997