Farm groups have started beginning farmer programs to deal with this concern. From the Minnesota Farmers Union:
National Farmers Union (NFU) and Minnesota Farmers Union (MFU) are encouraging individuals who are contemplating beginning a career in farming or ranching to apply for the Beginning Farmer Institute. The annual program, now accepting its third class of students, is open to individuals who are new to farming, are in the process of transferring an operation from a relative or non-relative to themselves, or are contemplating a career in farming or ranching.
“Programs like the Beginning Farmers Institute are integral to the future of farming in Minnesota and across the nation,” said MFU President Doug Peterson. “The Beginning Farmers Institute helps new and transitioning farmers navigate the path to successful farm ownership, and we encourage anyone interested to apply for this great opportunity.”
The BFI program helps students gain insight and practical skills needed by beginning farmers and ranchers, including business plan writing, financial planning, and researching available programs to help starting up and sustaining a successful operation.
Applicants accepted into the 2013 program will attend three separate education sessions, to be held in the spring and fall of 2013, in Washington, D.C., and Minneapolis, MN, respectively, with a final session culminating at NFU’s annual convention in March 2014 in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Program topics at the education sessions will include business planning, U.S. Department of Agriculture programs, tax and record keeping, estate transfer and marketing.
The Beginning Farmers Institute is supported by the NFU Foundation, Farm Credit and the CHS Foundation.
Interested applicants can download the 2013 application on the NFU website, as well as visit NFU’s education Facebook page for updates and further information on NFU’s youth and young adult education programs. Applications must be postmarked on or before February 11, 2013.
Disclosure: I'm an active member of the Minnesota Farmers Union.
Photo: During their second session, the 2012/2013 NFU Beginning Farmer Institute class toured farms in the Twin Cities area including a stop at the Eichtens Cheese and Bison. Here the brother-sister team of Ed and Eileen Eitchen gave the group a tour of the family farm where they make their own European style cheese and raise bison.
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