South Carolina residents looking to launch or grow their farm businesses have access to comprehensive entrepreneurial education and business training thanks in part to a $600,000 grant from USDA-NIFA.
The grant, from the United States Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture (USDA-NIFA), is for 3 years and will support the Clemson University Cooperative Extension Service South Carolina New and Beginning Farmer Program through 2024. The program is an agribusiness 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.
Entering its 12th year, this is the third time the SCNBFP has been awarded a significant USDA-NIFA grant. More than 400 new and aspiring farmers have graduated from the program since its inception. Program leaders expect to reach more than 2,000 farmers through training programs over the next three years. The SCNBFP will be extending its reach through strategic collaborations with additional agricultural support organizations such as South Carolina State University 1890 Research and Extension, the Farmer Veteran Coalition of South Carolina, South Carolina 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,” said Ben Boyles, SCNBFP director and Clemson Extension agribusiness agent. “These emerging farmers need targeted training and technical assistance to make sure they have the skills necessary to sustain and grow their new farm businesses. 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.”
The SCNBFP Class of 2022 cohort program will run from May – August 2022 and includes a series of 10 core agribusiness workshops focused on farm business management. Topics include business concept and 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 agricultural resources. While open to any qualified farmer applicant, the SCNBFP typically serves small, family farms with a focus 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 important opportunities for local peer and resource networking, as well as provide additional instruction on advanced agribusiness and production topics. All advanced workshops will run from September – November 2022 are open to members of the cohort program as well as the general public. A calendar of advanced programming workshops is posted on the SCNBFP website.
All program workshops are scheduled to be hosted in person, however, Diana Vossbrinck, assistant program director, said, “SCNBFP staff will continue to monitor the COVID-19 environment and are prepared to adjust program delivery methods as needed.”
Vossbrinck noted that the cohort programs in 2020 and 2021 “were delivered successfully online through Zoom out of concern for the health and well-being of participants and program staff and we are prepared to do so again as the need arises.”
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 cohort program. As many as 50 applicants will be accepted for the 2022 cohort program. Additional information, including program outline, workshop schedule, fee structure, and an online application can be found at www.scnewfarmer.org. Deadline to apply is Feb. 20, 2022.
This study is funded by USDA-NIFA Award No. 2021-70033-35707. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of USDA-NIFA.
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