College of Agriculture, Forestry and Life Sciences; Public Service and Agriculture

Helping growers grow: Extension effort to develop farmers enters 14th year


SC New and Beginning Farmer Program accepting applications for 2024

Columbia, S.C. — With over 500 farmers who call themselves graduates, the South Carolina New and Beginning Farmer Program (SCNBFP) enters its 14th year of supporting the state’s No. 1 industry by giving agricultural producers the tools they need to succeed.

South Carolinians looking to launch or grow a farm business have access to comprehensive entrepreneurial education and business training thanks in part to a $600,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture (USDA-NIFA) that runs through this year.

The SCNBFP is a Clemson University Cooperative Extension Agribusiness public education program focused on enabling new and beginning farmers to be successful, productive and innovative members of their local agricultural community.

“Our program helps participants accelerate the development of their farm business so they can accomplish their goals faster while helping to improve access to healthy, locally produced food for South Carolina consumers,” SCNBFP Director and Clemson Extension Agribusiness Agent Ben Boyles said.

The SCNBFP works to accomplish this by providing farmers with the tools, knowledge and skills necessary to be successful entrepreneurs, sound business managers, exemplary stewards of the natural environment and successful marketers of the unique products they create.

Most importantly, the SCNBFP seeks to develop individuals who have a sense of pride and enjoy a quality of life because of their investment and participation in South Carolina’s No. 1 industry — agriculture.

Entering its 14th year, this is the third time the SCNBFP has operated under a significant USDA-NIFA grant, graduating over 500 new and aspiring farmers from the cohort program and reaching many more through additional training programs.

The SCNBFP continues to extend its reach through collaborations with additional agricultural support organizations such as the Farmer Veteran Coalition of South Carolina, S.C. Agricultural Council, Annie’s Project and the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association.

“One in four South Carolina producers are considered new and beginning farmers with less than 10 years of experience. These emerging farmers need targeted training and technical assistance to ensure they have the skills to sustain and grow their new farm businesses.”


The SCNBFP Class of 2024 cohort program will run from May through December and include 10 core agribusiness workshops focused on farm business management. Topics include business concept/plan development, financial and risk management, legal and regulatory issues, marketing strategies, soil health and pest management and an introduction to federal, state, and local agriculture resources.

While open to any qualified farmer applicant, the SCNBFP typically serves small, family farms focusing on environmental stewardship and local food systems. Core cohort programming will be complemented by advanced workshops developed by Clemson Extension staff throughout the state.

These workshops will offer meaningful opportunities for local peer and resource networking and provide additional instruction on advanced agribusiness and production topics. All advanced workshops will run from September through November and are open to members of the cohort program and the public.

The SCNBFP will offer a hybrid program, with half of the scheduled training events hosted in person at the Lexington County Extension office and the other half provided online.

“There is great value in the peer-to-peer networking that occurs during in-person workshops,” Assistant Program Director Diana Vossbrinck said. “At the same time, we appreciate that the SCNBFP can be more inclusive when travel requirements are limited.”

Any legal resident of South Carolina who is at least 18 years of age, is just beginning to farm, or has actively farmed for less than 10 consecutive years is eligible to apply for the SCNBFP cohort program. As many as 50 applicants will be accepted for the 2024 cohort program.

Additional information, including program outline, workshop schedule, fee structure and an online application, can be found at The deadline to apply is March 3, 2024.

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