PETERSBURG, Va. (AP) – Virginia State University has received a $600,000 grant award to educate and mentor beginning farmers and ranchers in the state. The grant is one of 36 totaling $17.7 million funded through 2017’s Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program. The grant program was authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill to help address issues associated with the rising age and decrease in the number of U.S. farmers and ranchers. It is the only federal program exclusively dedicated to training the next generation of farmers and ranchers. It pays for everything from production techniques to mentoring new farmers in how to develop a business plan. The three-year grant was awarded to VSU’s Cooperative Extension Small Farm Outreach Program.