Panel review members needed for Beginning Farmers and Ranchers Development Program

The National Institute of Food and Agriculture evaluates proposals for BFRDP, and a number of competitive grant programs, through peer-review panels.  In the past NIFA has established a couple of panels each year for the BFRDP which are comprised of farmers and ranchers, practitioners, CBO/NGO representatives, academic personnel, agency staff as well as others.

Why to serve on a BFRDP review panel?  It is vitally important to provide a good selection of potential review panel members — these are the people who will read and evaluate proposals with guidance from NIFA.  It is also a fantastic way to get a better understanding of what makes for good proposals.

What’s the time commitment and travel requirements? Panelists will need to review between 15-20 proposals.  It will take about one hour to two hours to review each proposal/application.  Members of the review panel will be required to attend a training webinar (approx. 1 hour) and travel to Washington D.C. to attend a panel meeting (2-3 days long) sometime during late summer to early fall of 2014.  All travel including lodging and a per diem for meals will be provided by USDA.  USDA also provides an honorarium of $225/day for days the panel meets in Washington D.C. We assume reviewing of proposals will happen in mid to late summer.

What if I’m submitting a proposal can I also serve on the review panel? BFRDP in past has had people both, serving as reviewers and submitting proposals. If NIFA goes with two panels for the Washington D.C. meeting, typically the panel without the applicant will review the proposal.  If they go with one panel, the applicant whose proposal is being reviewed is usually required to leave the room when their proposal is being discussed.  People are encouraged to submit their names to be considered as reviewers even if they are also submitting a proposal. 

Nominate yourself to serve on the BFRDP review panel

1.  Send an email to with “reviewer” in the subject line.  In the e-mail, include your contact information (organization, address, email, phone); a brief description of your areas of expertise or experience related to beginning farmers and ranchers; and whether or not you plan to be a participant on a proposal this round.

2.  Your email will be followed up with a response from BFRDP program staff with further instructions on how to register.  Instructions will likely include registering in the NIFA Peer Review System (PRS) by going to this website:;jsessionid=70445A576DA8A526155DB0203A573A98?page=create

3.  You can also email the BFRDP National Program Leader, Jill Auburn, at, for more information on what is required of peer reviewers before volunteering to serve on the panel.


* Note, just because you register doesn’t mean you’ll necessarily be a on the review panel.  NIFA will determine the number of reviews needed once the Request for Applications is released.


Deadline to nominate yourself as a BFRDP review panel member is Friday, May 30, 2014


If you have any questions or feedback on this update please feel free to email Adam Warthesen at; or call612-722-6377.