The Small Farms Research Center in the College of Agricultural, Life and Natural Sciences at Alabama A&M University is proud to announce the award and launching of a USDA/National Institute of Food and Agriculture grant for beginning farmers’ and ranchers’ education and training in Alabama. AAMU experts from the Small Farms Research Center, Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences, and Alabama Cooperative Extension System will implement this Beginning Farmer and Rancher Project with the goal of establishing targeted and specialized training, education, outreach and technical assistance initiatives addressing the needs of beginning farmers. The education will be offered through the farm incubator training and web-based resource center approach. The project’s long-term goal is to grow the next generation of farmers, ranchers and entrepreneurs who will use the experience, skills and land stewardship to improve and enhance sustainability and productive capacity of farms and ranches.
The Farm Incubator and Web-based Resource Center projectbuilds on AAMU-SFRC’s existing resources, successes and effective partnerships with nonprofits, community-based agricultural organizations and experienced farmers to provide beginning farmers and ranchers with easily accessible tools and practical, experience-based training in farm production, marketing, land management, business planning and financial resources. Through this project, beginning farmers and ranchers will be able to:
1. Establisha web-based resource center at AAMU to develop and implement effective training programs and disseminate educational materials;
2. Explorefarming options, understand the components of a successful farm operation and make decisions about what enterprises best fit their interests;
3. Refineparticipants’ farm interests, understand the requirements and strategies of different, new or alternative farm enterprises, and begin developing plans for assessing resources needed to implement a farm plan;
4.Developspecific farm production and business plans, and obtain needed resources to begin a farm enterprise;
5. Providetargeted technical assistance and outreach training to expand production and access niche markets for specialty crops and small ruminants; and
6. Implementfarm plans, start new or alternative agricultural enterprises and continue as successful beginning farmers, ranchers or entrepreneurs.
Project partners include Tri-State Rabbit Growers Association, Alabama Agricultural Marketing A+ Association, Tune Farm, Rosita’s Farm, Federation of Southern Cooperatives, and Alabama Cooperative Extension Service and the Small Farms Research Centerwithin the College of Agricultural, Life and Natural Sciences at Alabama A&M University. For more information about the grant visit: http://www.nifa.usda.gov/fo/beginningfarmerandrancher.cfm.
The project is currently looking for new or beginning farmers and ranchers throughout the state of Alabama who are interested in gaining a better appreciation of the art and science of farming before they start their own farming operations. A beginning farmer, by definition, refers to an individual who has been engaged in production agriculture or agribusiness for less than 10 years.