A Little Help Can Produce Big Hope for Beginners

It can be daunting for aspiring farmers and ranchers to enter into the business. There are, however, things that can be done to help.
The Center for Rural Affairs has proposed that 2007 farm bill include a Beginning Farmer and Rancher Initiative.  And the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program, a key element of the initiative, should be reauthorized to help give beginning farmers and ranchers a leg up in starting their operations.

The Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program is targeted especially to collaborative local, state, and regionally based networks and partnerships to support financial and entrepreneurial training, mentoring apprenticeship programs, “land link” programs that connect retiring and new farmers, innovative farm transfer and transition practices, and education and outreach activities to assist beginning farmers and ranchers.  This competitive grants program will fund education, extension, outreach and technical assistance initiatives directed at new farming opportunities.

Education can help create an agricultural environment that nurtures conservation.  If programs are available that allow farmers to gain information on sustainable farming practices and network with those with similar operations, many young farmers would be more likely to start operations that do not require them to farm the entire countryside to make ends meet, are friendlier to the environment, and are able to access more profitable niche markets.

Technical assistance is crucial when developing a farm or ranch plan, especially when considering a capital transfer or “land linking” program.

View the full Center for Rural Affairs’ report “Giving a Beginner a Chance in the 2007 Farm Bill”, at http://www.cfra.org/policy/2007/beginningfarmer.

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