I was in D.C. this week ant got to spend some time with some farmer leaders who were recognized as champions for sustainable agriculture. One of the topics of conversation throughout that nearly daylong event was beginning farmers.
Where do you find resources for people trying to get into agriculture?
USDA somewhat answered that question for us on Thursday with the announcement of a new website, www.usda.gov/newfarmers
According to the roll out of the website, it was designed based on feedback from new and beginning farmers from around the country. The site has links for new farmers, women in ag, youth and military veterans to detail some considerations farmers need to think about when going into farming. The site provides different topics or issues a person needs to consider when getting into farming. The website also has a discovery tool to help answer some questions for people just beginning to look at what it might take to go into farming in a particular state or sector. https://newfarmers.usda.gov/…
“Today’s announcement is symbolic of the evolution of USDA’s efforts to better serve the next generation of farmers and ranchers. What began seven years ago with the recognition that the rapid aging of the American farmer was an emerging challenge, has transformed into a robust, transparent, tech-based strategy to recruit the farmers of the future,” said Krysta Harden, USDA's deputy secretary. “No matter where you’re from, no matter what you look like, no matter your background, we want USDA to be the first stop for anyone who is looking to be a part of the story and legacy of American agriculture.”
In announcing the new website, USDA also stated that the department has a goal of increasing the percentage of enrollment for beginning farmer and ranchers across some key USDA programs. The goal is to boost participation by 6.6% to help those new and beginning farmers tap into roughly $5.6 billion over the next two years.
Harden made the announcement at the national Future Farmers of America convention in Louisville, Ky.
The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition praised the new website. Juli Obudzinksi, NSAC's senior policy specialist, said the website "should win an award for accessible, user-friendly assistance from what has sometimes been a difficult to access bureaucratic minefield for those seeking help in getting started in agriculture. As we as a nation try to promote increased economic opportunity in agriculture, this new tool is a most welcome addition and a great advance on anything USDA has offered heretofore."
Outside of USDA, another place to look for information is the National Young Farmers Coalition website. http://www.youngfarmers.org/…
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