The USDA will advance $17 million to 29 institutions to train farmers in sustainability and aspects of marketing.

The 2008 Farm Bill authorized the funding awarded through the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, the successor to the Cooperative State Research Education and Extension Service.

Farmers with less than 10 years of experience are eligible for course work offered by land grant universities and qualified institutions. Funding is part of the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food program, initiated in September 2009. The object of the initiative is to promote the success of family farms including direct marketing to consumer and schools in the local area of production. Education, outreach mentoring and internship opportunities are offered by the program.

The funding announcement was made by Kathleen Merrigan, deputy secretary of the Department of Agriculture, at an event at Hidden Stream Farm in Elgin, Minn.