Helpful Resources for New Farmers
The Start2Farm site and program are a project of the National Agricultural Library in partnership with the American Farm Bureau Federation. Start2Farm is funded through a USDA, National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), Beginning Farming and Ranching Development Program grant and was developed to assist people new to farming or ranching and those who have less than 10 years’ experience. Also offer: Grants for new farmers; Sample leases and contract; Federal funding programs for new farmers
Conservation 2.0: How Land Trusts Can Save America’s Working Farms
The National Young Farmers Coalition released a report that reveals how current farmland conservation practices are failing working farmers. Farmland Conservation 2.0: How Land Trusts Can Protect America’s Working Farms surveyed 200 land trust leaders from across the United States and found that one-quarter of land trusts have seen protected farmland move out of production.
Getting Started in Farming: An Introduction to Farm Business Planning
The eight lessons in this course will guide you through the process of imagining and planning a successful farming enterprise. You’ll also hear from several farmers who have made their dreams a reality.
6 Beginning Farmer Tips for Securing Farm Funding
In this piece from HobbyFarms.com, Lisa Kivirist shares tips for unearthing funds to help you start your farm.
Tools for Transition Project
The Tools for Transition Project provided by eOrganic offers insights about the economics of organic transition.
Six Ways to Secure Farmland
This publication provided by ATTRA highlights some common ways to lease or own land. It outlines important considerations about each of these leasing options and paths to ownership.
Farm Business Start-Up Checklist (PDF)
This is a checklist of tasks suggested by established farmers offering important to-dos before opening for business on “Day One.”
Agrarian Trust helps sustainable next-generation farmers access land.
Starting a business information lists
Agricultural Marketing Resource Center’s webpage lists many tools for beginning a business.
Formal Beginning Farmer Training Programs
- Angelic Organics Learning Center
Led by experienced farmers from the Collaborative Regional Alliance for Farmer Training (CRAFT), the center offers business planning (Stateline Farm Beginnings®), on-farm training, and mentoring throughout Illinois and southern Wisconsin.
- Annie’s Project
Extension-led program “dedicated to strengthening women’s roles in the modern farm enterprise.” Six educational sessions. Currently offered in 19 states, including throughout the Midwest: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin.
- Central Illinois Farm Beginnings
A year-long, farmer-led program for those with a strong commitment to creating a sustainable farm business, but with limited on-farm production or farm management experience.
- Dairy Grazing Apprenticeship
A dairy grazier is a farmer who uses managed grazing: cows are rotated through paddocks of high quality grasses that are allowed to rest and regrow. Using this cost-effective method, dairy graziers are able to restore natural resources, produce high quality milk, and remain profitable in both conventional and value-added markets. The program has 22 active Master-Apprentice pairs, 8 Journey Dairy Graziers, and more than 40 Apprentice Candidates awaiting placement.
- Farm Beginnings
A Land Stewardship project initiative, for farmers to “to learn firsthand about values clarification and goal setting, whole farm planning, business plan development, and low-cost, sustainable farming methods.” 36 training hours. Currently offered in 7 states including Midwest: Illinois, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin.
FARRMS, a nonprofit based in Medina, N.D. focused on sustainable and organic farming, local food and farm to school, is now accepting applications for an opportunity to learn hands-on farming and ranching skills with the FARRMS Intern Program. Farm owners and operators are also encouraged to apply to become a host farm. FARRMS combines hands-on training, classroom learning and farm-based education on a diverse network of family farms in North Dakota, providing a quality internship experience.
- ISLAND Farmer Residency Program
A three-year farm incubator project in Northwest Lower Michigan that gives beginning farmers land, access to equipment, and a supportive environment to get started. This is not an internship opportunity—it is a chance for experienced but landless farmers to manage their own business on the Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy’s Maple Bay Farm, just south of Elk Rapids, Mich. Applications will be accepted each fall to bring new residents to the farm. For more information, or to apply to the program, go the ISLAND Farmer Residency Program website, or contact Larry Dyer at email@example.com.
- Michigan State University Organic Farmer Training Program
A nine-month intensive training program in year-round organic farming focusing on diversified production of vegetables, livestock, flowers, fruits and herbs for local markets. The program emphasizes student learning in hands-on farm management and decision-making as well as development of necessary farming and business skills and knowledge.
- Triton College
Find degrees in horticulture with a focus on urban and sustainable agriculture.
- UVM Farming Training Program
A 6-month intensive program for aspiring farmers and food systems advocates that provides a hands-on, skills-based education in sustainable agriculture. This full-time program offers participants the unique opportunity to manage their own growing site, take classes from professors and expert farmers, and rotate as workers and learners on successful, diverse farms in the Burlington area. This program will provide an intense, supportive experience where participants leave with a Certificate in Sustainable Farming, a deeper understanding of agricultural management and small-scale farming, and the entrepreneurial skills to start their own operation.
- Whole Farm Management Course for Beginning Farmers
Oregon State University Small Farms Program’s course Growing Farms: Successful Whole Farm Management is now available nationally online. The course is intended for people who are considering starting a farm business, those within their first five years of farming, and others who may be considering major changes to their farm business. 2016 is now finished; check back for the 2017 date.
- Wolfe’s Neck Farm Organic Dairy Farmer Training Program
This hands-on, residential program allows apprentices to learn all aspects of operation and management, preparing them to run their own organic dairy farm. Trainees are provided with export support in training, business planning, securing financing, locating land, and continued guidance through first few years of independent production. The two-year program is a National Apprenticeship under the Department of Labor, in partnership with the Wisconsin-based Dairy Grazing Apprenticeship.