U.S. Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan earlier this week awarded grants to 40 organizations throughout the country to provide training and assistance to beginning farmers and ranchers that will help them run successful and sustainable farms.
Fiscal Year 2010 awards include $147,542 to Mitchell Technical Institute, Mitchell, S.D. MTI is home to the newly named South Dakota Center for Farm/Ranch Management which provides two levels of training for South Dakota farmers and ranchers: a Level 1 Beginner Farmer and Rancher / FSA Borrower training course and a full Level 2 Farm Business Management program. As part of Level 1, participants are given a brief overview of farm financial business planning during 20 hours of traditional classroom contact. In the Level 2 program, the participants work one-on-one with an instructor to keep records of their own business, to use in developing a comprehensive farm business plan and receive cost comparison figures to determine factors that can improve profitability. The program helps farmers understand the business aspects of managing a farm so they can increase profitability and productivity.
"Beginning farmers and ranchers face unique challenges, and these efforts will help provide the training needed to ensure these producers become profitable and sustainable," said Merrigan. "As the average age of farmers today is 57 and continues to rise, we must do everything we can to recruit a new generation of people to produce our food. They will continue to play an important part of American agriculture as they feed people in their local communities and, in some cases, throughout the world."
USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) awarded the grants through its Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP). BFRDP is an education, training, technical assistance and outreach program designed to help U.S. farmers and ranchers, specifically those who have been farming or ranching for 10 years or fewer. Under the program, which was established through the 2008 Farm Bill, NIFA will make grants to organizations that will implement programs to help beginning farmers and ranchers. BFRDP provided $18 million in funding this year.
The Farm/Ranch Business Management program has been offered at MTI since 1982. Each year the program assists more than 90 area farmers and ranchers with financial planning and analysis. According to the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service, the nationwide annual net income of an average farming operation in the U.S. is $71,000. Students in the FRBM program have an average annual net income of more than $96,000. This grant will help expand the program statewide bringing these critical educational tools to a new generation of young farmers and ranchers.
For more information on this project, contact the South Dakota Center for Farm/Ranch Management at [email protected]