University of Missouri Beginning Farmer Grant
A three-year, $730,000 USDA grant will enable the University of Missouri, Lincoln University and the Jefferson Agricultural Institute to expand a training program for beginning farmers.
Offered in various parts of the state in 2008-2009, MU Extension’s Grow Your Farm program was a series of eight weekly seminars and three farm tours designed for new and beginning farmers as well as established farmers interested in alternative methods
The grant from the USDA’s Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program will fund a second tier of courses and workshops focusing on producing fruits, vegetables, specialty grains and small livestock on limited acreage.
The aim is to help those who have been farming for less than 10 years as well as those farming with limited resources, said Rob Myers, MU adjunct associate professor of plant sciences and director of programs at the Jefferson Institute, a nonprofit agricultural research and education organization based in Columbia.
The expanded program will address three priorities: production and management strategies that enhance land stewardship; business management and financial viability; and marketing strategies to increase competitiveness.
“We expect a variety of age groups, providing opportunities for all decision-making members of the farming family,” Myers said.
Teams of faculty from MU Extension, Lincoln University and the Jefferson Institute will provide the education and training.
Faculty will develop training modules for use across the state. Families can receive help in transferring farm assets, acquiring farmland, developing credit and securing capital.
Online tools also will deliver information and provide networking opportunities for farmers.
“Helping beginning farmers share ideas and stay connected is important to their success,” said Mary Hendrickson, MU Extension rural sociologist.
Focus will be on 49 of Missouri’s 144 counties in four regions with the best opportunities for direct marketing into urban or small-city markets: West Central (Kansas City), Southwest (Joplin and Springfield), Central (Columbia and Jefferson City) and East Central (St. Louis). Missouri has the second-highest number of farms of any state. More than a quarter of its 107,000 farms meet the USDA definition of a beginning farm, which is one run by operators with 10 years or less of experience operating a farm or ranch.
The Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program is administered by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (formerly known as the Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service).
A blog has already been created to provide beginning farmers (as well as experienced farmers) information on upcoming events, workshops, tidbits of information that can be useful such as grants, financial assistance and lots more information. The blog can be found at http://missouribeginningfarming.blogspot.com
Originally from: Dec 2009 Ag Opportunities e-newsletter, now available online at http://agebb.missouri.edu/mac/agopp/index.htm