Press release on behalf of Virginia Beginning Farmer and Rancher Coalition!
The Virginia Beginning Farmer and Rancher Coalition received a federal grant to address food security issues, generate economic enterprises, and build communities among beginning farmers.
Bringing new, diverse, and younger farmers into the fold of food and fiber production is increasingly critical to sustain communities locally. From 1997 to 2012, the average age of a farmer in the United States increased from 54 years old to 58.3 years old.
The grant is funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program and offers place-based and culturally appropriate education, training, and networking opportunities for farmers and ranchers with less than 10 years of experience. The coalition will receive $724,828 over the next three years. These funds will help sustain and expand the program that established the coalition in 2010.
“These funds are an endorsement of the importance of these kinds of programs to address the challenges of food insecurity in our nation, and also the efficacy of participatory approaches to train new farmers and the educators that provide training and research support,” said Kim Niewolny, program director for the coalition, Virginia Cooperative Extension specialist, and assistant professor in the Department of Agricultural, Leadership, and Community Education in the Virginia Tech College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
The program serves as a conduit, not only to educate beginning farmers, but also to connect agricultural organizations and educators with each other in order to coordinate high quality outreach, education, training, and resource support across the commonwealth.
For more information, see: http://www.vtnews.vt.edu/articles/2015/03/033015-cals-beginningfarmer.html