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Moneywise December 2010

November 24, 2010

USDA Wants 100,000 New Farmers

USDA has a very specific goal when it comes to the future
of agriculture: It wants to increase the number of new farmers by at least 100,000 in the next few years. Toward that effort, USDA has announced grants of $18 million to regionally based networks to support financial and entrepreneurial training and apprenticeships for beginning farmers.

The Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program was developed by the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC), authorized in the 2002 farm bill and provided with $75 million in mandatory funding in the 2008 farm bill. This is the second year of awards, with more rounds in 2011 and 2012. 

“Beginning farmers face a range of challenges to successful startup, including access to credit, access to land, access to markets and technical assistance,” says NSAC Policy Director Ferd Hoefner. “As our farming population ages, it is essential that we find creative and innovative ways to support young people wanting to farm.” 

The farm bill funding will need to be renewed when Congress considers the 2012 farm bill. Recent grant recipients include:

Center for Rural Affairs, to establish the Nebraska Network for Beginning Farmers and Ranchers, which will provide a range of educational activities and services and unlock the land base held by senior farmers in Nebraska.

Dakota Rural Action, for the South Dakota Beginning Farmer Training, Mentoring, Networking and Marketing Support Project to train beginning farm families in whole farm planning, business management, value-added marketing and sustainable production methods and to facilitate mentor relationships between beginning and “seasoned” farmers.

Just Food, to initiate the New York City School of Urban Agriculture, creating an agricultural training resource for underserved communities in New York City and providing beginning urban farmers with the knowledge and skills to produce food sustainably.

Land Stewardship Project in Minnesota, in support of Farmers Growing Farmers: Next Generation Education in Four Learning Stages to pilot new farmer training approaches and support 1,200 beginning farmers, including 168 successful farm business startups.

Practical Farmers of Iowa, for Supporting the Surge of Beginning Iowa Farmers to engage beginning farmers in workshops, retreats, quarterly online “farminars” and online networking, and to build upon existing on-farm mentoring and outreach.

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FEATURED IN: Top Producer - December 2010

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