Getting started in any business is tough these days, but beginning a farming enterprise can seem almost insurmountable. Thankfully, there are programs like Farm Beginnings that can provide educational training and support to help people who want to strategically plan their farming ventures.
As part of a U.S. Department of Agriculture Farmer and Rancher Grant, University of Nebraska Extension is facilitating the Farm Beginnings program. The first Farm Beginnings is scheduled at the Lincoln-Logan-McPherson Extension office meeting room in North Platte on May 25. Program participants engage in a mentorship experience and network with a variety of successful, innovative farmers and attend practical, high quality seminars, field days and conferences.
There have been other Farm Beginnings programs in the state, but this is the first time at the North Platte location. New farmers will have the opportunity to listen to people who have had success in various enterprises, so they can share the things they have done well, and the things they would have done differently. In-depth session on marketing new products, developing marketing plans and identifying financing could be crucial for the success of farmers beginning new enterprises.
The Farm Beginnings program consists of a series of 10 sessions from May to October that cover a variety of other topics including: building networks, goal setting, whole farm planning, building your business plan, business and farm management and financial management. While the class participants will learn first-hand from the farmers, they will also work on developing their own business plan as they progress through the course. There is a tour of a greenhouse and hoop house in May and the group also tours several farms in the summer to see how producers are operating. If interested, participants have the opportunity to have a farmer mentor.
The program is unique in that several successful farmers participate in the program as presenters, explaining first-hand the nuts and bolts of their operation. While any beginning farmer would benefit from attending these training sessions, most of the farmers that present come from small to medium-sized farming operations that produce and market different diversified and value-added products. Many of these farmers direct market their products.
The cost of the total program is $500, but scholarships are available. For more information about the program contact Randy Saner at firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-800-200-1381. A brochure and application are available for download here.