USDA’s Beginning Farmer Rancher Program next month

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The Louisville area extension services will be offering the USDA Beginning Farmer Rancher Program starting in January of 2012.  This program will be open to individuals who currently farm 20 acres or more, and who have been farming on their own for less than 10 years.   The program is meant to be a very in depth farm management program, so some basic farming knowledge is required.   The schedule of classes has been planned to hopefully minimize classes during busy times of the year.  

The University of Kentucky and Kentucky State University launched a comprehensive beginning farmer effort in January, 2010.  KyFarmStart is funded through the USDA Beginning Farmer Rancher Program.  This intensive education program is targeting those individuals who have ten years or less farming experience.  The program is designed as a whole farm management education program for beginning farmers, providing a basic foundation of production, marketing, management, and networking which are necessary for beginning farmers to succeed in today’s dynamic agriculture environment.  

KyFarmStart is designed as a two-year producer education program.  In year 1, producers will participate in a series of 12 face to face education programs, including nine traditional county extension meetings and three on-farm demonstrations/farm field day experiences. In year 2, producers will be matched with a successful farmer mentor.   

The mentorship program will work with beginning farmers to connect them with experienced farmers with a similar enterprise interest, so that they will have a mentor that understands the challenges, both production and financial, that the operation will face.  This will assist producers in translating the knowledge gained in the classroom to on-farm practical experiences.  

The beginning Farmer Rancher Program is scheduled tentatively for the following dates in 2012: January 20 & 27; February 3, 10, 17 & 24; and March 2, 2012.  Each meeting will be on Fridays from 9:00 a.m. to noon with lunch provided.  Registration fee s is $75.00 for individual and $125 for couples.

Call (502) 255-7188 for more detailed information and to sign up for the Beginning Farmer Rancher Program.

Educational programs of the Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service serve all people regardless of race, color, age, sex, religion, disability, or national origin.

Michael Pyles is Trimble County’s Cooperative Extension agent for agriculture.