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New Project to Enhance Beginning Farmer Programs in Southeast U.S.

Training programs for beginning farmers and ranchers in the South and Southeast will receive special attention from a new project being launched by The Farm Credit Council in partnership with the Wallace Center of Winrock International.

Southern SAWG will help this project interact with training programs in the region, and collect information about training tools and techniques that are working well. A kick-off project meeting will be held on January 19th in conjunction with the Southern SAWG annual conference in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Funded through a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the project is designed to evaluate and improve the efffectiveness of the training programs, looking especially at their ability to build financial planning and management skills. One outcome from the project will be the development of a "Community of Practice" among training programs to allow them to learn from each other and document best practices of training techniques and practices.

As part of its historic mission of service to U.S. agriculture and rural America, the farmer-owned lending institutions of Farm Credit System are leading providers of credit to young, beginning and small farmers and ranchers. Each of the Farm Credit System lenders nationwide has programs specifically focused on meeting the needs of these young, beginning and small producers.

“More effective financial skills training will enable beginning farmers to analyze their economic conditions, consider their personal goals and abilities, gauge the risk capacity of their farm businesses, improve their access to credit, and thereby increase the overall growth and economic sustainability of agriculture in America,” said Gary Matteson, The Farm Credit Council’s Vice President—Young, Beginning, Small Farmer Programs and Outreach.

USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) funded this project through its Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP). Under BFRDP, which was established through the 2008 Farm Bill, NIFA makes grants to organizations that implement education, training, technical assistance and outreach programs to help beginning farmers and ranchers, specifically those who have been farming or ranching for 10 years or fewer.

If your training program for beginning farmers and ranchers is interested in becoming involved in the Community of Practice that will emerge through this new project, you may contact Jim Lukens at Southern SAWG.