COLUMBIA, S.C. — Farmers getting their feet wet in agribusiness have access to comprehensive entrepreneurial education and business training through a public service program offered by Clemson University.
The South Carolina New and Beginning Farmer Program (SCNBFP) is now accepting applications for the 2021 statewide program. Programming is scheduled to run from May through October, and the deadline to apply is Feb. 21.
Managed by the Clemson Cooperative Extension Agribusiness team, under the direction of Ben Boyles, SCNBFP is a public education program focused on enabling new and beginning farmers to be successful, productive and innovative members of their local agricultural community by providing them 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 as a result of their investment and participation in the industry of South Carolina agriculture,” Boyles said.
The SCNBFP is entering its 11th year and has guided more than 350 emerging farmers through the program with an average graduation rate of over 90 percent. In response to the ongoing pandemic, the 2021 program will be delivered entirely online.
The cohort program includes a series of eleven core agribusiness workshops focused on farm business management. Topics include business concept/plan development; financial and risk management; legal and regulatory issues; marketing strategies; and an introduction to federal, state, and local agriculture resources.
“Core programming will be complemented by regional workshops developed by Clemson Extension staff throughout the state,” Boyles said. “These workshops will offer important opportunities for local peer and resource networking, as well as provide additional instruction on production and advanced agribusiness topics tailored for each region.”
All regional workshops are included in the program and are also open to the public. Regional programming will be delivered online, and a calendar of regional events will be posted on the SCNBFP website later this spring.
The program fills a critical need to train emerging farmers in South Carolina.
“With the average age of SC farmers now up to 59 years, we put our state’s largest industry at risk if we do not invest efforts into encouraging and training the next generation of successful agripreneurs,” Boyles said. “At a time when consumer demand for local, high quality, nutritious farm products is on the rise, there is tremendous opportunity for rural economic development through a thriving local farm and food system.”
SCNBFP is supported by a USDA-Rural Development, Rural Business Development Grant with additional funding provided by South Carolina Farm Credit. Any legal resident of South Carolina, at least 18 years of age, who is just beginning to farm or who has actively farmed for less than 10 consecutive years is eligible to apply for the SCNBFP.
As many as 50 applicants will be accepted for the 2021 program. Additional information, including program details, FAQs, workshop schedule, fee structure and an online application can be found at www.scnewfarmer.org.
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