Small Farm Program Coordinators
Small farm programs at many land-grant colleges and universities provide a wide range of programs and services for small scale farmers and ranchers across the United States. State small farm coordinators are land-grant specialists who identify and promote research on key and emerging issues, and work closely with county extension staff to support education and outreach related to small-scale production. At the national level, State small farm coordinators provide an informal national network, sharing information and programming ideas adapted to the needs of local populations.
Financial support for small farm programs comes from many sources and varies by state. The National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) administers annual formula grants for small farm related agricultural extension activities, and many small farm coordinators also obtain a significant portion of their operating budgets from competitively awarded grants through NIFA.
The NIFA Small Farm Program has partnered with state small farm coordinators for over 25 years. It is a source of current and emerging technical and economic information relevant to small-scale production, as well as highlighting upcoming events and relevant policy highlights from the federal government. The NIFA Small Farm Program also plays the lead role in developing the National Small Farm Conference, the most comprehensive train-the-trainer educational event for those who work with small scale producers.
ALABAMA A& M UNIVERSITY’S SMALL FARMS RESEARCH CENTER – Education and technical assistance for small and limited resource farmers and ranchers, particularly in the northern part of the state. Many of the outreach activities are supported by grants (e.g., 2501 project and the Food Safety Education Project, funded by USDA/NIFA and the Food Safety Inspection Service.)
- an annual state-wide community outreach conference;
- many training workshops, regular group meetings, seminars, and one-on-one interactions with small scale producers; and
- “Biodiesel Classroom on Wheels” a mobile demonstration system that shows farmers how to produce high quality biodiesel on a small scale. This project is part of an AAMU biofuel research project conducted by Ernst Cebert, supported in part by the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries.
Selected outcomes include
- an increase of over 8.7 percent in average farm income for most farmer participants;
- the development of several fact sheets and their translation into Spanish;
- an 81 percent success rate for small farmers securing farm loans between 2005 and 2008; and
- beginning farmers receiving technical assistance through an MOU with the Echota Cherokee Tribe.
ALABAMA COOPERATIVE EXTENSION SYSTEM – Supported by Alabama A&M and Auburn universities. Local extension staff work with all small producers in Alabama, from full-time farmers to backyard homeowners, on a wide range of activities.
- workshops and demonstrations on a range of horticulture crops (grapes, tomatoes, etc.). Agents provide information on a variety selection, soils, irrigation, and cultural practices along with assistance in farmers market participation;
- information and advice on alternative sheep and goat production systems to address the needs of small and underserved farmers . For more information and details, contact Julio E. Correa, extension state specialist, at 256–372–4173; and
- access to eXtension and a wide selection of publications.
- Kerry Smith
Alabama Cooperative Extension, Auburn University
101 Funchess Hall
Auburn, AL 36849
Phone: 334-844-3036; E-mail: email@example.com
TUSKEGEE UNIVERSITY – Research and extension activities targeting small scale and limited resource farms, farm families, and rural communities.
OTHER PARTNERSHIPS AND PROGRAMS
The Federation of Southern Cooperatives/Land Assistance Fund has been the source of outreach training and technical assistance for small and limited resource farmers and land owners for over 40 years.
The Alabama Farmers Market Authority – An estimated 90 Farmers Markets provide small farmers with a valuable outlet for their produce. Farmer Connect connects farmers with local chefs, restaurants, other farmers, and other potential consumers who want Alabama-grown produce.
COOPERATIVE EXTENSION – As the cost of importing food into Alaska grows, commercial agriculture becomes more viable for local producers, most of whom are considered small by USDA standards. Extension programs provide educational support and expertise to help producers improve their economic viability and overcome constraints, such as a short growing season, isolation from other producers and markets, and high transportation costs.
- a variety of workshops, conferences, and events (e.g., the Sustainable Agriculture Conference and Organic Growers School, the Alaska Greenhouse and Nursery Conference, and the Delta Farm Forum) that provide the latest information on farm research, general crop production, and farm management;
- a series of livestock workshops offered in five communities, on topics such as animal nutrition, animal breeding, and reproductive and lactation physiology;
- on the district level, agents answer questions on the phone, by email, from customer walk-ins, and field visits;
- monthly or quarterly newsletters, including the Master Gardener, Sustainable Agriculture, and Anchorage District newsletters; and
- opportunities for stakeholder participation on advisory and planning committees.
Selected outcomes include
- conference attendance by nearly 380 producers;
- the production of peonies by more than two dozen producers. Peonies are a high-valued export crop that matures in Alaska while unavailable elsewhere;
- Extension’s response to high fertilizer and fuel costs. Extension is offering information on precision agriculture—seven farmers began using precision agriculture and one estimates annual savings of about $10,000; and
- in Anchorage, an extension agent helped three Hmong refugees grow and sell vegetables and herbs at an Anchorage farmers market. The farmers learned gardening skills and improved their marketing and business skills. USDA recognized the project and the agent and one of the participants were invited to Washington, DC, in 2008 to present the results of their project to disadvantaged and new farmers and ranchers.
- Milan Shipka
University of Alaska
347 O'Neill, PO Box 757200
Fairbanks, AK 99775
Phone: 907–474–7429; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
OTHER PARTNERSHIPS AND PROGRAMS
Master Gardener programs across the state and the district Farmers Union, Grange, and Alaska Farm Bureau chapters act as ad hoc advisory groups for most of the extension agricultural agents and specialists.
- Tavita Elisara
American Samoa Community Collge
P.O. Box 5319
Pago Pago, AS 96799
Phone: 684-699-1575; E-mail: email@example.com
THE SMALL FARM PROGRAM, University of Arkansas, Pine Bluff, provides training and technical assistance to small and socially disadvantaged producers in Eastern and Southwest Arkansas.
- one-on-one assistance and educational workshops on row crop and livestock production, as well as financial planning, recordkeeping, and estate planning. Key focuses include addition of sweet potatoes and vegetables in traditional row crop farming to increase farm income and herd management in livestock production practices;
- use of a Pixal Pea Harvester and a 13,000 square foot semi-processing facility to help producers market their vegetables;
- an annual Rural Life Conference;
- two newsletters (Farm Sense), news articles, fact sheets, public service announcements, and two exhibits are used to disseminate information to producers; and
- help with USDA loan applications and developing financial plans.
Selected outcomes included
- approximately 40 vegetable producers increased their net come by an average of $300 per acre by including vegetables to their crop mix;
- ten producers obtained $300,000 through the Environmental Quality Incentive Program to precision-level their land (expected 10–25 percent yield increase and < 50 percent decrease in labor costs);
- twenty-two producers received approximately $2 million in loan funds from USDA;
- six producers obtained $800,000 in supplies from farm vendors;
- thirty-five producers used forward contracts at their local elevators to increase their income by 30 percent; and
- ranchers are now practicing rotational grazing, soil testing, and forage testing.
- Henry English, Small Farm Project Director
University of Arkanasas
1200 North University Drive, Mail Slot 4906
Pine Bluff, AR, 71601
Phone:870–575–7246; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
- David Hensley, Horticulture Department Chair
University of Arkansas
Horticulture-Extension PTSC Bldg. Rm. 316A
Fayetteville, AR 72701
Phone: 479-575-7319; E-mail: email@example.com
OTHER PARTNERSHIPS AND PROGRAMS
Small Farm Program partners include USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, Farm Service Agency, and Risk Management Agency, Cooperative Extension Service, Eastern Arkansas Enterprise Community, Silas H Hunt Community Development Corporation (SHHCDC) in Southwest Arkansas, and with Heifer Project International.
THE UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA’S SMALL FARM PROGRAM: its mission is to enhance the viability and profitability of California’s smaller producers by developing relevant production and marketing research and providing that information to farmers who are often not reached by traditional extension programs.
California’s smaller producers are very diverse and include limited-resource farmers, many of whom are immigrants, and others involved in agriculture as a second career, often returning to operations previously run by other family members. Many operations are highly diversified to maximize their direct marketing opportunities, and a large segment of smaller producers is highly entrepreneurial.
- Small Farm Center – An administrative headquarters and an information clearinghouse at University of California (UC)–Davis. Services include publications, such as a 3-volume Farmers Market Management series and handbooks on risk, liability, and food safety guidelines for markets; a Web site; a quarterly newsletter; and support for the California Small Farm Conference. Most small farm operations focus on non-commodity crops and the center seeks out grant funds to support research activities related to crops, such as blueberries and Asian vegetables;
- Small Farm advisors – Located in various counties as part of UC Cooperative Extension, advisors conduct research and interact with farmers directly, using a multidisciplinary approach. Efforts include workshops, field days, demonstration plots, radio broadcasts, and one-on-one consultation and collaboration with producers through on-farm field research. Topics include alternative and effective marketing and business management skills;
- Emerging specialty crops form the cornerstone of the research and outreach program. Other focuses include organic production, animal agriculture, food safety and postharvest handling, farm management, agritourism, farmers markets, adding value, and cooperatives.
- Water quality education to underserved farmers – In 2005, California began an agricultural waiver program for water discharge and growers were required to complete water management courses to earn the waiver. Courses were available in English and Spanish, but ethnic Chinese also operate a large number of small-scale farms. The Small Farm Program spearheaded a cooperative effort to ensure their access to the courses, offering workshops in Cantonese with print materials in Chinese characters. Approximately 63 farmers participated and about 60 percent of them earned the waiver. Thus, a potentially punitive approach to water quality became an educational opportunity;
- A new niche industry – The UC Small Farm Program has been integrally involved in the creation and expansion of blueberries as a specialty crop industry in California ever since farm advisors began limited blueberry field trials a decade ago. Today, every Small Farm Program advisor in the state works with some aspect of this high-value crop. Since 2005, harvested acreage has increased from 2,000 to 2,700, and production from 9.1 to 16.5 million pounds
- Helping family farms avoid thousands of dollars in fines – Many immigrant farmers in California rely on help from family members but don’t know that they are classed by the state as employees, requiring a workers’ compensation policy and compliance with labor regulations. Some $14,000–$26,000 fines levied against small farms raised fear among the Hispanic and Hmong farming communities. The UC Small Farm Program provided outreach and educational materials in English, Spanish, Lao, and Hmong—via meetings, radio and television, and print media. As a result, over 1,000 farmers are better informed about labor law compliance and can avoid costly fines. For as little as $460, they can purchase a simple workers' compensation policy to forestall the $1,000 per worker fine for not having a policy in place;
- Supporting agritourism as an economic alternative – In 2001, the program created an online database of statewide agritourism operations, which today includes 670 tourism locations and several multi-farm trails. The program also provided leadership in creating the UC Agriculture and Nature Tourism workgroup, which produces grower-oriented publications. In 2009, the UC Small Farm Program has partnered with workgroup academics to conduct California’s first extensive statewide economic survey of agritourism operations.
OTHER PARTNERSHIPS AND PROGRAMS
Collaborative efforts are key for the UC Small Farm Program. To capitalize on the program’s limited resources, advisors collaborate closely with each other and frequently engage cooperating clients to aid in research. The program works closely with various USDA agencies. Small Farm Program advisors also collaborate with outside organizations such as Woodlake Pride, the Hmong-American Association of Fresno, California Rare Fruit Growers Association, CalPoly San Luis Obispo, and UC Santa Cruz’s Center for Agroecology & Sustainable Food Systems to strengthen their outreach efforts.
The California Small Farm Conference was founded with leadership from the UC Small Farm Program, which continues to serve on the executive and planning boards, provide presenters at workshops and short courses/tours, and coordinates the extensive organizational and educational support from UC farm advisors and specialists affiliated with the Small Farm Program.
According to the 2007 Census of Agriculture, there are just over 37,000 farms and ranches in Colorado, an increase of 18 percent from the 2002 Census. Over 92 percent of all enterprises are classified as small in terms of gross annual sales, and 40 percent of all primary operators identify farming or ranching as their primary occupation. Total market value of products is a little over $6 billion, an increase of 34 percent from the 2002 Census. Cattle and calves are by far the most important commodity group.
Despite the increase in the number of farms, land in farms has only grown by 2 percent, and the average size of holding has dropped. In particular, the number of agricultural operations between 2 and 100 acres has been growing rapidly in recent years, primarily along the Front Range of the Rockies from Fort Collins to Pueblo. Boulder County, for example, has more than 5,000 properties under 100 acres.
Small acreage landowners are a diverse group including long-established farmers and ranchers, some of whom are retired; new or beginning farmers, and lifestyle landowners working primarily outside the home.
Whatever their background and interests, Colorado State University and Colorado Cooperative Extension help these small acreage landowners manage their natural resources for a sustainable agricultural future. Specialists and county Educators offer a range of services supporting livestock production, alternative horticulture crops, and natural resource management.
Results and Impacts:
New Farmer Direct Market Success in ColoradoThanks to Boulder county Extension program, Market Farm Track, and with help from a FSA loan, new farmer Mark Guttridge has tripled his annual sales in under two years.
- Colorado Cooperative Extension has worked closely with the National Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program for many years on all areas of agriculture, including organic and other alternative agricultural production approaches relevant to small acreage farmers and ranchers. The program, part of USDA’s National Institute for Food and Agriculture, funds projects and conducts outreach designed to improve agricultural systems
- The Country Acres Resource Team, sponsored by the Colorado Association of Soil Conservation Districts, coordinates communication between small acreage landowners, Cooperative Extension and natural resources agencies
The Colorado Organic Producers Association presents an annual Farm Tour
- Albert Essel, Associate Dean for Cooperative Extension
Delaware State University
1200 N. Dupont Highway, Dover, DE 19901
Phone: 302-857-6425; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
- David Jefferson
University of District of Columbia, Cooperative Extension
4200 Connecticut Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20008
Phone: 202- 274-7122; E-mail: email@example.com
According to the 2007 Census of Agriculture, there are 47,463 farms in Florida, 94 percent of which are small. The total number of farms has increased by 8 percent from the 2002 Census, while the land in farms has decreased by 11 percent.
Small Farms Program, University of Florida and Florida A&M University
Small farmers and allied organizations have identified critical issues facing small farms. In addition, a small farms focus team, with a core group of 50 faculty and staff from the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) and Florida A&M University, has recently increased efforts to meet the educational needs of the state’s small farmers.
- Small Farm Web site: developed and maintained by Cooperative Extension Service faculty , provides commonly needed information from "getting started," to "evaluating an alternative enterprise," to "finding a market."
- Small Farms Conference: the first conference was held in August 2009 at Osceola Heritage Park, Kissimmee, FL, and included 30 sessions, over 80 exhibitors, plus a multi-species live animal exhibit. Nearly 100 speakers, from all facets of Florida agriculture, discussed a range of topics related to alternative energy, food policy and regulations, livestock, business and marketing, organic and sustainable farming, and horticulture.
- 2010 Annie’s Project: a 6-week course developed to empower farm and ranch women to be better business partners. The program will be held in five different counties throughout 2010.
- EDIS Publications: over 7,000 free, online publications from the University of Florida, many within the Small Farms Topic Area.
- Master Goat and Sheep Producer’s Certification Program: established in 2007, the program provides up-to-date information on raising healthy and productive animals. This program is a joint initiative between Florida A&M University, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Southeastern Small Farmer’s Network, and the University of Florida.
Selected results and impacts
- The small farm Web site receives over 70,000 hits a month.
- Almost 800 farmers and agriculture professionals participated in the 2009 Florida Small Farms Conference.
- Small Farms Academy: Florida’s two land-grant universities, Cooperative Extension, state and federal agencies, industries, and farmers in Florida are involved in the design and implementation of advanced educational programming to support the small farm industry statewide.
- Recent awards from USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture’s Beginning Farmer and Rancher Competitive Grants program will increases Florida’s focus on beginning farmers and ranchers; one project will focus on small family vegetable farms, particularly in Central and Southwest Florida, while a second will serve new and beginning farmers who are less than 25 years of age and/or African-American.
- Bob Hochmuth, Multi County Extension Agent
University of Florida
7580 County Road 136, Live Oak FL 32060
phone: 386-362-1725 ext. 103; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Danielle D. Treadwell, Extension Specialist
Organic and Sustainable Vegetable Production
University of Florida
PO Box 110690, Gainesville, FL 32611
Phone: 352-392-1928 # 210; E-mail: email@example.com
According to the 2007 Census of Agriculture, there are over 25,300 farms and ranches in Idaho, a slight increase from the 2002 Census. 45 percent of all primary operators identify farming or ranching as their principal occupation. The market value of products sold is over $5.6 billion, an increase of 46 percent from the previous census. 90 percent of all enterprises are small in terms of gross annual sales.
Extension Small Acreage Programs help Idaho producers and landowners protect their natural resources while optimizing their farm related businesses. The Small Farm Acreage Team provides up-to-date information and resources on sustainable production techniques, direct marketing, and value-added opportunities for a vast array of specialty crops and livestock.
- Small Farms web site : provides information on current activities, educational events, publications and links for small, sustainable and organic producers
- Annual Small Farm Conferences in southern and northern Idaho
- Farm tours, workshops and short courses on small-farm related topics in many county locations
- Living on the Land: small acreage landowners acquire in-depth knowledge and skills to care for their land sustainably
- Cultivating Success: a series of courses for academic and farmer students on topics related to small, sustainable farms and ranches
- A variety of extension publications, on-line documents and a series of small farm case study videos
- Idaho Small Farm News and Views: an annual newsletter available through Idaho county extension offices, on the web and at conferences and events
- Networks of farmers and partnerships with organizations and agencies
Selected Results and Impacts
- More than 230 producers have participated in Living on the Land between 2002 and 2008. Three months after the 2008 class, a post-evaluation study noted that 128 best management practices were being implemented
According to the 2007 Census of Agriculture, there are 76,860 farm enterprises in Illinois, an increase of 5 percent from the 2002 census. Of these, 82 percent are classified as small in terms of gross annual sales. 48 percent of all principal operators identify farming as their primary occupation.
The University of Illinois Extension Small Farm Program provides information, resources and technical support to small farmers, educators, university personnel, state and federal agency personnel, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs.)
- Illinois Small Farm News, sent electronically every quarter, and providing commercial small farmers and small acreage landowners with information on small farm programs and activities in Illinois and the Midwest
- Illinois Small Farm website: information on events, resources (including the North Central Region SARE program), grants and loans, and beginning farmer training
- Sustainable Agriculture Tours provide farmers, Extension, other farm educators and the general public with first-hand experience of small farms across the state. Enterprises showcased included fruits and vegetables, CSAs and various livestock enterprises
- Field days and workshops: small farmers and educators receive information on a wide range of topics including hoop houses, marketing and Integrated Pest Management
- Resources and technical assistance for beginning farmers and ranchers, e.g.
- Farm Beginnings® - programs to help new producers develop business plans, learn critical financial and marketing skills, aand develop mentoring and networking opportunities. Currently two programs available: Central Illinois Farm Beginnings,® with The Land Connection, serves farmers south of I-80; and The Stateline Farm Beginnings,® with the Angelic Organic Learning Center, serves the northern region
- Is Entrepreneurial Farming for You? - a four-hour overview of entrepreneurial farming options and marketing strategies; readiness self-assessment , and resources and referrals
- Living on the Land - nine training sessions on basic land stewardship and entrepreneurial farming
Selected results and outcomes:
The University of Illinois Extension Small Farm Program partners successfully with a wide range of private and public organizations. Exmples include significant grant support from the Illinois Sustainable Agriculture Grant, and the North Central Region Sare programs, and program support from a variety of organizations, such as the Illinois Stewardship Alliance, Peoria County Initiative for the Development of Entrepreneurs in Agriculture, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, the Western Illinois Sustainable Agriculture Society
Small Farms Program at Purdue University: The number of small farms in Indiana is increasing, according to the 2002 and 2007 Agricultural Censuses, and extension professionals with the North Central Region Small Farm Task Force have identified two types of small farms in this rapidly growing audience: entrepreneurial operations having or seeking to add enterprises which generate primary or additional income for the farmer/family; and lifestyle operations, where farmers are motivated less by economics and more by quality of life advantages of country living. Many of these small farms are looking for reliable sources of information that can help them accomplish their goals.
According to a 2003 NC SARE Survey, very few Extension Educators in Indiana were involved in small farm and sustainable agriculture educational programs, although many believed that sustainable practices could be implemented in their areas. The Purdue Small Farms and Sustainable Agriculture Team was established in 2005 in part to address this disconnect. The team has developed a mission statement and plan of work, and an Advisory Council helps the team determine educational and research priorities and assists in selection of recipients of mini-grants.
- Organic Farming, e.g.
- Beginning Organic Farming IP Video Conference
- Organic Farms in Action tours
- Tri-State Organic IP Video Series
- Beginning Aquaculture Workshop series: topics include Conversion of Livestock Barns into Fish Production Facilities, and Freshwater Prawn Production and Marketing
- Indiana Farm Sustainability Tours: conducted in partnership with the Indiana State Department of Agriculture
- Farmer/Rancher Grant Workshops in conjunction with the Purdue New Ventures Team
- Indiana Farm Sustainability Tours
- Agritourism Training workshop: teaching producers and educators about public relations, grassroots marketing, producer partnerships, liability issues, and signage regulations.
- High Tunnels video series: Selecting and Implementing a Hoop House/ High Tunnel and Focusing on Fruit, Flower and Vegetable Production in High Tunnels
Selected Results and Impacts:
- 191 people attended the Beginning Organic Farming IP Video Conference, February 1, 2006
- 356 people attended the Tri-State Organic IP Video Series; attendees included 117 educators, most of whom said that they increased their knowledge, and many said that they would include the information learned in Extension programs. Over 2700 DVDs of the presentations have been distributed
- 125 people attended the Beginning Acquaculture workshop series
- More than 60 people attended a Farmer/Rancher Grant writing workshop. 16 Grants were submitted from Indiana, ranking second in the SARE North Central Region
- In 2008, three Educators helped to organize the Indiana Meat Goat Association
- The Small Farms Program at Purdue University works closely with the North Central Region Small Farm Task Force and with North Central SARE
- Indiana Farm Sustainability Tours were conducted in partnership with the Indiana State Department of Agriculture (ISDA)
- The Agritourism Training workshop was held in cooperation with the Indiana Office of Tourism Development and the ISDA
- Part of the High Tunnels video series was done in conjunction with Michigan State University, University of Illinois, University of West Virginia, and Virginia State University
- Steve Engleking, Extension Educator,
Agriculture & Natural Resources
114 West Michigan Street, #10, LaGrange, IN 46761
Phone: 260-499-6334: E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Jana Beckman
Kansas State University
Kansas Center for Sustainable Agriculture and Alternative Crops
2021 Throckmorton Hall, Manhattan, KS 66506
Phone: 785-532-1440; E-mail: email@example.com
KENTUCKY STATE UNIVERSITY SMALL FARM PROGRAM – Small farmers make up approximately 97 percent of the state’s 82,300 farms. The Small Farm Program is a one-on-one, on-farm educational outreach program that reaches 500-600 farm families annually, with a particular emphasis on limited resource producers. The program works closely with Animal Science, Aquaculture, and other focus areas at Kentucky State. Farmers are taught production, marketing, and management skills on their own farms by professionals and paraprofessionals. With the loss of the federal support programs for tobacco, a major program focus is helping farmers convert to new enterprises. The Small Farm Program is supported by federal funds including competitively-awarded grants, in particular Outreach and Assistance to Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers.
- “The Third Thursday Thing” monthly workshops on sustainable agriculture that cover a wide range of topics, such as farm safety, farm financial management, and livestock production;
- the Small, Limited-Resource/Minority Farmers Conference, which, in 2008, gave information to over 200 participants. Information topics included risk management, USDA and state agency programs, and forages and weed management;
- the Good Agricultural Practices program, started in 2009, focuses on vegetable production and processing for small farmers;
- a Symposium in October 2008 that presented goats as an alternative enterprise for small farms with emphasis on forage-based systems. Over 120 farmers studied business planning, business records, accounting, and goat production and marketing issues;
- the Organic and Sustainable Agriculture initiative, which includes field tests on sustainable vegetables suitable for small farms. Farmers are involved in project planning; and
- the Aquaculture Program, which emphasizes small farm acquaculture and includes an aquaculture mobile teaching laboratory and a mobile processing unit for fish, shrimp, and poultry that can be rented by small farmers.
Selected outcomes – The table below shows some impacts of the Small Farm Program between 1999 and 2008.
- The number of small farm families serviced rose steadily from 433 to 613
- Minority/underserved farm families served rose steadily from 303 to 478
- African American farm families served rose steadily from 190 to 376
- Average increases in annual farm income were just under $4,600
- Average increases in minority farm income were just over $43,000
- 70–90 percent of participants in Third Thursday Thing workshops use the information gained in their farming activities
- Gary Palmer
University of Kentucky
N-122 Agricultural Science, North
Lexington, KY 40546
Phone: 859-257-1846; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
OTHER PARTNERSHIPS AND PROGRAMS
Kentucky State University, in cooperation with Purdue University, maintains a Web site for retiring farmers, “Estate and Retirement Planning for Farm Families.” This Web site covers many topics of interest to retired farmers, farm families, and farmers who are planning for retirement.
THE SOUTHERN UNIVERSITY COOPERATIVE EXTENSION PROGRAM is the outreach arm of the Southern University Research and Extension Center. Field agents provide small-scale farmers and ranchers with the opportunity to develop and maintain viable farming operations in harmony with the environment. The program is supported in part by grants from USDA, NIFA, and involves 1890 land-grant universities and community-based organizations throughout the South.
- Small Farmer Agricultural Leadership Institute – Helping small, socially disadvantaged, limited-resource and/or minority producers, including white females, become better leaders while enhancing their management skills. Participants receive approximately 200 hours of leadership development and business management instruction;
- Multi-Species Grazing Project – Cow calf production is the major source of income for small farmers in Louisiana and goat production has great potential to be an additional source of income for these farmers. An ongoing study, duplicated on small farms, evaluates the effect of mixed species grazing;
- Pesticide Certification and Farm Safety – Faculty and staff help farmers acquire pesticide re/certification through workshops, farm visits, demonstrations and seminars;
- E-Business for Small Farmers – Producers receive instruction on how all aspects of their business can be strengthened via e-business strategies;
- Pastured Poultry Project – Ongoing research has found this to be a very profitable form of production, particularly for broilers, especially those marketed as naturally grown. A series of fact sheets explaining all three steps—production, processing, and marketing—has been produced;
- Production to Packaging Initiative – Annual training for beef cattle producers explains the entire process from birth, through care and maintenance, to preparation for marketing and harvesting.
- Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack presided over the Washington, DC, graduation ceremony of 26 minority farmers from the 2009 Small Farmer Agricultural Leadership Training Institute. Graduates are now serving on local, state, and regional advisory boards, task forces, and in other decisionmaking positions,
OTHER PARTNERSHIPS AND PROGRAMS
Goat Give-a-way Project: Ten small farm families received 25 does and 1 buck to begin their goat herd, and agreed to have their farms serve as demonstration farms for other small farmers. This approach uses a model similar to the Heifer Project International model in that each recipient family was encouraged to share the offspring of their herd other families.
Most farms in Maine are small. The 2007 census reports an average size farm of 166 acres with an average market value of products per farm of $75,859. Between 2002 and 2007, the number of farms in the state increased by 13 percent and the value of agricultural products increased 33 percent. Increasingly, these farms are diversified operations focused on non-commodity crops marketed directly through alternative methods such as Community supported Agriculture programs. In 2007, over 6.5 percent of the farms were certified organic, and nearly 20 percent of farm operators are women.
The Small Farm Program, University of Maine Cooperative Extension, has a long history of working successfully with individuals interested in a wide range of agricultural ventures. Small Farm Program activities are delivered primarily through county Extension offices and commodity specialists.
Programs and outcomes include:
- Master Gardener Program: almost every county in Maine offers a comprehensive Master Gardener program that focuses on either ornamental horticulture of vegetable and fruit production. This intensive 12 week course trains hundreds of volunteers each year. Many of these graduates establish some sort of agricultural business as a result of their training.
- Maine Compost School: the University of Maine Cooperative Extension (UMCE), Maine Department of Agriculture, Food and Rural Resources (DAF&RR), and Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), and Maine State Planning Office (SPO) offer a regularly scheduled award winning international Maine Compost School. The objective of the Maine Compost School is to provide training to people interested and/or involved with medium and large-scale composting operations. This course is offered as a certificate program and will train personnel to be qualified compost site operators.
- Sustainable Agriculture: Maine has focused on providing sustainable Agriculture programs since the 1990’s. We currently have a Sustainable Agriculture Specialist on staff and conduct research at the University of Maine’s Rogers farm. This farm hosts a sustainable agriculture field day each year, drawing in professionals and farmers to learn and observe alternative agriculture practices. This program recently received a large grant focused on the production and development of an organic bread wheat industry in New England. Maine participates in the Northeast SARE professional development program and is a leader in successful farmer/grower grants to Maine producers.
- Fruit and Vegetable Programs: this University of Maine experiment station farm and Extension office hosts research on tree fruits, small fruits and vegetable production. Recent developments include new research using high tunnels and other season extension tools. Extension faculty host field days here in the summer and help coordinate a winter vegetable and fruit production school each winter.
- Organic Dairy: Maine has one of the highest percentages of organic dairy farms with 20% of dairies shipping certified organic milk. Programs include annual organic forage and grain conferences along with summer field days. Maine has received several large research and extension grants focused on improving the profitability of organic dairy farms. In addition, Cooperative Extension helps to facilitate the development of the Maine Grass Farmers Network and participates in the Northeast Pasture Consortium.
- Maine Farms for the Future: Extension participates in this highly successful program administered by the Maine Department of Agriculture that provides teams of advisors to farms that are in transition. Most of these farms are small diversified farms that are in the process of developing an investment grades business plan. Farms are eligible to apply for up to $25,000 in matching funds to implement their business plan.
- Maine Agriculture Center (MAC): a clearing house for information on extension and agricultural related research in Maine. The mission of the center is to integrate the research and extension education activities of the University of Maine to support priority issues facing Maine Agriculture. An expertise directory is available in print and on-line for citizens.
- Commodity Specialists:-State specialists are very accessible through the county office to answer client questions. Specialist support is available in pest management, water quality, vegetable production and marketing, potato production, blueberries and other small fruits, apples, aquaculture, greenhouse management and woody ornamentals, dairy and livestock production, farm management, field crops, composting, and forestry. Many county educators also provide commodity specific training and in Maine have developed a very active small ruminant program, focused on the growing sheep and goat industry.
Other Partnerships and Programs
The Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association is a very active participant and collaborator in Maine’s small farm programming efforts. Two collaborative programs in include the annual Farmer to Farmer conference and Small Farm field day. These programs offer a diversity of educational events and draw hundreds of participants from Maine and surrounding states.
THE UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND – EASTERN SHORE (UMES) SMALL FARMS PROGRAM – The number of very small farms (those with sales < $100,000) is increasing significantly in Maryland. The Small Farm Outreach Initiative’s mission is to promote and sustain small farm ownership, and improve the economic and social condition among limited-resource, socially disadvantaged farmers and other underserved audiences through education, training, and outreach.
The initiative coordinates a variety of educational programs and activities that provide farmers with current information and strategies to help them own and operate their farm businesses successfully. The program works closely with local, state, and federal government agencies, and non-profit organizations in Maryland and neighboring states to provide information and assistance on topics such as alternative crop selection; innovative farming practices; direct marketing; financial assistance; conservation practices; farm safety, and USDA agriculture programs and services.
- Each year the program develops and distributes educational brochures, quarterly newsletters, fact sheets, and public announcements via mail, email, and Web sites. Through these outreach methods, UMES reaches over 1,500 persons each year;
- The Annual Small Farm Conference is planned and hosted on Maryland’s Eastern Shore to provide information about profitable alternative enterprises, new direct marketing opportunities, and other strategies to increase farm income and sustain small-scale agriculture;
- Small Farm Outreach reaches approximately 300 clients a year through individual farm visits, informational meetings, workshops, field tours, and other educational program activities. About 10 percent of these clients are new or beginning farmers/landowners and approximately 35 percent can be classed as socially disadvantaged;
- Direct Marketing Education –New and beginning, limited-resource, and minority producers receive training and information on how to increase farm profits by taking advantage of innovative direct marketing strategies;
- The Sheep and Goat Workshop Series is designed for veteran and novice shepherds. Topics included preparing for lambing and kidding, breeding for better results, lamb and kid care, and pasture grazing techniques.
- In the past 5 years, over 400 small-scale producers and farm landowners from southern Maryland and along the Delmarva Peninsula received training and assistance on how to take advantage of strategies to improve agriculture productivity, increase farm profitability, and sustain small-farm agriculture;
- About 75 percent of participants in the sheep and goat workshop increased their knowledge of general lamb and kidding care, and 95 percent increased their knowledge of the identification and treatment of common diseases among small ruminants. This could in turn save producers on animal veterinary costs by as much as 25 percent or $500 per year;
- About 25 percent of the participants in the Direct Marketing series plan to adopt some the direct marketing strategies. It is estimated that producers could increase farm sales by 15 percent ($3,000–$6,000) through marketing strategies.
- Berran Rogers, Project Director
University of Maryland Eastern Shore
1890 Extension Program/Small Farms
2122 Richard A. Henson Center, Princess Anne, MD 21853
Phone: 410–651–6206; E-mail: email@example.com
OTHER PARTNERSHIPS AND PROGRAMS
Small Landowner Forestry and Conservation Tour – UMES partnered with regional and state government agencies to host a Small Landowner Forestry and Conservation Tour tour on Maryland’s lower Eastern Shore to increase participation among limited-resource and small-farm landowners in government cost-share/conservation programs.
- Veronica Van Sloten, President
Bay Mills Community College
12214 W. Lakeshore Drive, Brimley, MI 49715
- Timothy J. Arlt
Minnesota Cooperative Extension
Program Leader, EFANS South Local
620 woodglen Place NE
Owatonna MN 55060-1972
Phone: 507-774-0748; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
According to the 2007 Census of Agriculture, there are nearly 42,000 farms in Mississippi, a slight decrease from the 2002 Census. The market value of all products sold is over $4.8 billion, up 56 percent from 2002. By sales, poultry and eggs are by far the largest commodity group, followed by grains, oilseeds and dry beans and peas. 92 percent of all farms in the state are small, as classified by gross annual sales, and nearly 38 percent of all principal operators identified farming as their principal occupation.
Small Farm Outreach Training & Technical Assistance Project: Alcorn State University Extension provides a range of services to promote sustainable small farms and self-reliant communities in Mississippi, with a focus on socially disadvantaged producers.
- Financial management, including debt restructuring, record-keeping and loan application procedures; formal classroom training to borrowers as a part of a Farm Service Agency loan requirement
- Small Farm Incubator Program; production and marketing of traditional, alternative and value-added crops
- The Computer Adoption Project, providing computers, recordkeeping and accounting training in classrooms and through one-on-one options to small and limited-resource farmers
- Workshops and seminars to increase management skills of small forest landowners
- The Small Farmers and Women Business Conference on new marketing strategies and business opportunities for starting or enhancing new agricultural enterprises
- Pastured Poultry Production: reducing costs, maximizing productivity as well as bird health and welfare and other societal concerns
Selected results and outputs
- Farm & Financial Management: Published material includes Brochures, Record Books (paper and CD, ) Curricula on Farm and Financial Management, and on Small Farmer Legal Risk
- Between 2008 and 2009, over 100 farmers increased their financial skills and qualified for USDA loans, adding $2.5 million into the Mississippi economy
- Between 2008 and 2009, over 500 farmers received training in profitable alternative enterprises
- Pre- and Post-test evaluations of the Computer Adoption Program showed that all participants gained knowledge from 50 to 75%
- AgrAbility Project: Alcorn works with Mississippi State University and three other main entities, to provide services to farmers with disabilities. Services include technical assistance to modify equipment and exploration of farming alternatives
- A partnership between Alcorn Extension Outreach and USDA-NRCS Small Farm Initiative offers training to small and limited-resource farmers on accurate record-keeping techniques; participants may qualify for government services and gain a better picture of their enterprise financial position throughout the year.
Mississippi Small Farm and Agribusiness Center (formerly Small Farm Development Center) assists small-scale farmers and ranchers, and farm families operate viable and sustainable farms and agribusinesses. The Center focuses on farms with gross annual revenue of $50,000 or less.
- Natural Products Program: offers farmers production skills for medicinal plants
- Meat Goat Program: helps farmers raise and sell quality meat goats
- Marketing Program: marketing, food safety and farm business management skills for limited resource, small and part-time farmers
- Small Farm Loan Program: credit and technical assistance to small farmers and farm organizations unable to obtain credit from traditional financial institutions.
Selected results and outputs
- Launched the Mississippi Natural Products Association; in 2009 this producer cooperative sold $65,000 of shiitake mushrooms
- approximately 300 loans ($3 million) to small farmers through the Small Farm Center loan program between 1996 and 2009
- database of Mississippi farmers and farmers’ markets
- the Natural Products program is a joint efforts between the Center and the university of Mississippi
- in its Marketing Program, the Center works closely with Wal-Mart, C.H. Robinson and other major buyers
- Carolyn BanksInterim Project Director, Small Farm Outreach
Alcorn State University Extension
1000 ASU Drive #479, Alcorn State, MS 39096
Phone: 601-877-6260; E-mail: email@example.com
- Magid Dagher, Director
MS Small Farm Development Center
Phone: 601-877-6449; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
According to the 2007 Census of Agriculture, there are 107,825 farms in Missouri with over 94 percent of them classified as small in terms of gross annual sales. 41 percent of primary operators identified farming as their principal occupation.
The core objectives of the University of Missouri Extension’s Small Farm Agriculture and Natural Resource Program are to improve the quality of life, enhance economic viability, and protect the environment and the state’s natural resources for all Missourians through research-based education and applied research. Programmatic efforts are developed and delivered by interdisciplinary teams of state and regional specialists.
- Grow Your Farm: a new program that helps new or beginning landowners/farmers develop a business-like approach to their operation, including goal setting, farm planning, record keeping, marketing, and legal issues
- Annie’s Project : an interactive risk education course for farm women focused on production management, financial management, marketing, legal issues, and human resources
- Forage Production and Management: grazing schools across the state help producers increase their economic return from forage production while protecting the environment
- Missouri Grown: educational programs for small farm families, focusing on production and marketing of high value horticultural crops
- Show-Me-Select: –Improved heifer production adds value and increases marketing opportunities for Missouri’s many cow-calf operations
- The Missouri Alternative Center: provides small farmers with timely information about sustainable alternative agricultural opportunities including goats, rabbits, organic farming and certification, and alternative row crops.
- 95 percent of the participants in Annie’s Project reported using the course information to select record keeping software, change market plans, share information with other family members, use more farm-related websites, create spreadsheets, and to improve communication with all farm partners
- Annually, more than 450 producers attended grazing schools throughout the state, and about half of them implemented pasture management changes, even without cost-share assistance
- The effect of the Show-Me-Select heifer program on Missouri’s economy exceeds $35 million
- Since 1998, the Missouri Alternatives Center has responded to over 67,000 requests for information; the Center’s website use has grown from 100,000 in 1998 to over 2,000,000 in 2007, and nearly 1000 people subscribe to the Ag Opportunities newsletter
- David Baker, Program Director
Agriculture & Natural Resource Extension Program
University of Missouri
2-70 Agriculture Building, Columbia, MO 65211
Phone: 573-882-6385; E-mail: email@example.com
- James Hafer
Chief Dull Knife Memorial College
One College Drive, P.O. Box 98, Lame Deer, MT 59043
Phone: 406-477-6215; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Jodi Smith
Fort Peck Community College
PO Box 398, Poplar, MT 59255
Phone: 406- 768-6321
According to the 2007 Census of Agriculture, there are over 47,700 farms and ranches in Nebraska, a decrease of 3 percent from the 2002 Census. The total market value of all products sold in 2007 was just over $15.5 billion, an increase of 60 percent from 2002. Cattle and calves, and grains, oilseeds and dry peas and beans are by far the most important commodity groups in terms of value of sales. Measured by gross annual sales, 75 percent of all operations are classified as small, and 60 percent of all primary operators identify farming and ranching as their principal occupation.
The University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension helps large-scale agricultural producers and small farm owners to produce safe and wholesome food that is environmentally friendly and profitable, and to protect and manage their water resources and rural living environment.
The Center for Applied Rural Innovation : a research and extension center at the University of Nebraska, focuses on the economic and social interdependence of farming, communities and families.
- Market Journal: an online program providing a range of information including: current grain/livestock market commentary and analysis; risk management strategies, and access to the resources of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension
- Community Crops Program: vegetable production and marketing for ethnic markets in Lincoln
- Acreage Insights: an on-line source of information for new and established acreage owners, to help them manage their rural living environment
- Acreage E-News – free monthly e-mail newsletter, addressing seasonal issues and common concerns of rural property owners
- Nebraska Edge: - supports entrepreneurial training programs in rural an urban communities across the state for over 15 years
- Farm Beginnings® Program: training, mentoring and hands-on experiences for new and transitioning farmers
Selected results and impacts:
- The first class of the Farm Beginnings® Program graduated 12 families. Participants comments included: "This program had a huge impact on my business. I improved by business plan and it allowed me to do things I did not think were possible" and "Farm BeginningsTM helped me organize my business and understand what the important tasks are that need to be accomplished"
The Nebraska Edge program helped the development of an on-farm artisan cheese operation
According to the 2007 Census of Agriculture, over 9,600 (93 percent) of New Jersey farms are small. Nursery, greenhouse, floriculture, and sod are by far the largest as well as the fastest growing commodity group, by gross annual sales, and many small farmers focus on these crops. Approximately 45 percent of principal farm operators identify farming as their primary occupation; others are retired from farming or working off-farm to support their farming operation, and increasing numbers have made farming a life style choice.
Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station has developed research, extension, and education programs to support these diverse enterprises and populations. Cooperative Extension’s Agricultural and Resource Management Agents offer education and outreach programs in the area of Economic growth and agricultural sustainability to farmers and other residents in all counties through bulletins, newsletters, testing and consulting services, and other avenues.
- animal husbandry and crop production information, including horticultural and non-food crops, and small scale animal enterprises
- Farm Management/Marketing Training: topics include Labor Management, Financial Management and Estate Planning, through in-depth accounting courses , short courses , and one day programs, an on-farm consulting upon demand
- On-Line Market Information Database and Hot-Line Information: an automated fax hot-line and expanded telephone information service, and a computerized on-line information database
- The Rutgers Farm Management Website includes management information on topics such as: Niche Marketing, crop production and management, risk management, and Retirement planning as well as Farm Management News and Views, a ‘business survival’ newsletter
Selected results and impacts:
- Rutgers developed the Greenhouse Cost Accounting program to help floricultural and nursery producers analyze various production, financial, and marketing strategies. This tool has been requested by producers and educators all over the U.S. as well as in several foreign countries
- Results of a comprehensive New Jersey greenhouse survey provides recent, accurate and detailed information on this important agricultural sector in the state
- A Farm Management/Marketing Training program advisory committee is made up of a wide range of stakeholders including farmers, county and state extension staff, and representatives from Farm Bureau, USDA-Rural Economic and Community Development, the New Jersey Department of Agriculture and Farm Credit
- The workbook, “To Market, To Market,” was developed in conjunction with the New England Small Farms Institute through a USDA- NIFA grant
According to the 2007 Census of Agriculture, there are 20,930 farms in New Mexico. This number shows an increase of 38% from the 2002 Census, in part because of a change in the way the 2007 Census counted farm operators on reservations. About 21 percent of all operators identified themselves as Native American. The vast majority ( 96 percent ) of the farms and ranches in New Mexico are small, but nearly half of all principal operators list farming as their primary occupation.
New Mexico State University develops practical, innovative teaching, research, and extension programs to enhance the economic viability of small and limited-resource farmers and ranchers in New Mexico.
- New Mexico Cooperative Extension Service: objective, research-based information to farmers and ranchers on a wide range of topics, through a network of state and county services. The Extension Website has links to publications, pod-casts, upcoming events and other information relevant to small producers.
- Rural Agricultural Improvement and Public Affairs Project (RAIPAP) and the Northern New Mexico Outreach Project(NNMOP:) supported by the New Mexico Extension Service, both projects focus on 14 northern New Mexico counties that include 18 Native American Pueblos and the Eastern Navajo Nation. The projects promote economic development and outreach among socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers, primarily of Native American and Hispanic ancestry. Extension educators provide education and research-based outreach on small-business development and a wide range of sustainable practices and value-added agriculture, including Beef Herd Health and Vaccination, forest products and alternative high value cash crops.
- Small Farm Institute (SFI): a relatively new initiative, supported by the state legislature, the Institute undertakes education, applied research outreach and extension to help the state’s small farmers and ranchers create sustainable agriculture systems and improve their profitability. Based in Las Cruces, the Institute focuses primarily on the Rio Grande valley corridor, the Alcalde Sustainable Agriculture Center and the Agricultural Science Center at Los Lunas, and complements Cooperative Extension programs in Northern NM with a plan to branch out to all corners of the state as well as regionally. Key themes include ecologically practical & systems based agricultural research, educational venues to develop & train the next generation of small farmers, improve niche market profitability, specialty crops, value-added integration, organic production , soil management and irrigation technology, food handling systems.
Selected results and outcomes:
- Outreach efforts in all of the Native American Pueblos and many isolated Hispanic communities in northern New Mexico have given producers the opportunity to participate in USDA programs. For example, development of a minority public land permittee directory for the Carson and Santa Fe National Forests has identified over 2,400 permittees, and most have applied for USDA drought relief programs.
- The Acoma Pueblo, Laguna Pueblo, Jicarilla Apache and the Eastern Navajo Wool Growers Associations were assisted in marketing their wool as a cooperative resulting in an economic boost of several thousand dollars for the groups. Previously, ranchers had received 10 to 19 cents/pound for wool, but by 2006, they average price rose to 75 cents/pound.
- The first organically certified research acres at New Mexico State University were established in 2004 at the Alcalde Sustainable Agriculture Science Center. Several local growers have begun to grow and sell organic strawberries grossing the equivalent of up to $40,000 per acre.
- A grower in north-central NM planted an acre of peaches in 2002 and an acre of apples in 2003. Following Extension recommendations resulted in harvests of 13,000 lbs of peaches and 5000 lbs of apples in 2005, with an income over $20,000 from the 2 acres.
- NNMOP has been supported for several years by the Outreach and Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers program, administered for several years by USDA, NIFA.
- NNMOP’s Beef Herd Health program for Pueblo producers is supported by USDA Risk Management funding.
- Dr. Edmund Gomez, Director of the RAIPAP and NNMOP Projects
New Mexico State University Cooperative Extension
371 Alcalde St, County Rd 40, Alcalde, NM 87511
Phone: 505-852-2668; E-mail: email@example.com
- Dr. Jon Boren, Associate Dean and Director
Cooperative Extension Service;
According to the 2007 Census of Agriculture, there are over 36,300 farms in New York State, responsible for over $4.5 billion in the market value of products sold. Over the same period, and despite a 2 percent drop in the number of farms, the market value of products increased 42 percent. Milk and other dairy products are by far the largest commodity group, followed by forage. Over 90 percent of the state’s farms are classified as small in terms of gross annual sales, and 53 percent of all principal farm operators selected farming as their primary occupation.
Cornell Universitys Small Farms Program supports sustainable, diverse, thriving small farms that contribute to food security, healthy rural communities, and the environment. The team fosters small farms focused research, extension programs and networking/collaboration among Cornell University staff, Extension Educators, and small farm advocates and farmers; and is committed to linking small farmers in NY with needed resources and knowledge for success.
- Small Farm Quarterly: this magazine serves farm and rural families across the Northeast, and is a collaborative effort among farmers, Extension educators, other service providers and Lee Publications
- Small Farms Website: a clearinghouse for small farms information, and a gateway to many other Cornell programs and online resources
- Small Farms Update: a monthly electronic newsletter sharing news, resources, events, grants and other announcements relevant to small scale producers in the Northeast
- Grant Program for Innovative Small Farm Education: Cornell Cooperative Extension encourages innovation in programs that target small farm businesses and families
- Beginning Farmers Project: a team of Extension educators enhance and coordinate training and resources for beginning farmers across the state
- The Cornell Cooperative Extension Grant Program for Innovative Small Farm Education awarded about $15,000 in 2007-8 to eight county-based projects, and $5000 each to three new Statewide Work Teams. Project reports are posted online
- The Small Farm Quarterly readership is 27,000 across the Northeast
- The Beginning Farmers Project was recently awarded $75,000 from USDA’s National Institute for Food and Agriculture’s Beginning Farmers and Ranchers Program. This award will broaden support for new farmers in the Northeast
Other Partners include:
- Small Farm Clusters Project: the Northeast Regional Center for Rural Development and universities in six Northeastern states examine the notion of supporting “Small Farm Clusters” to improve profitability, productivity, and innovation. The work is supported by an NRI grant from the USDA National Institute for Food and Agriculture
- The Organic Dairy Initiativeworks with the newly formed New York State Organic Dairy Task Force to address the needs of this important and growing segment of the state’s dairy industry.
- Dan Lyons
North Carolina A&T State University
P.O. Box 21928, Greensboro, NC 27420
Phone: 336-334-7734; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Ron Reum
Fort Berthold Community College
PO Box 490, 220 8th Ave N - Rm. 266, New Town, ND 58763
Phone: 701-627-4738 ext. 276; E-mail: Rreum@fbcc.bia.edu
- Ray S. MacDuff
Northern Marianas College
P.O. Box 1250, Saipan, MP 96950
According to the 2007 Census of Agriculture, approximately 93 percent of Oregon’s 38, 553 farms are small, and 46 percent of the principal operators identify farming as their primary occupation.
The Small Farms Program at Oregon State University (OSU) is a unique configuration of six county-based extension small farms faculty, coordinated by a campus-based statewide extension small farms specialist. The program is strengthened by a team approach to programming as the group collaborates on projects with local and statewide application. In addition, other extension faculty works with the small farms team and contribute to applied research and educational programs for small farmers.
The Small Farms Program targets a continuum of farmers and landowners from non-commercial small acreages to full-time commercial small farms, including part-time farms and clientele who aspire to become farmers. The approach to education and applied research integrates food production, marketing, and communities. Topic areas include small farm production systems, farm direct marketing, livestock and water quality, and farm and food policy. The program has special emphases on biological farming systems, farmers’ markets, beginning farmers, and non-commercial small acreage stewardship. The program addresses limited resource and socially disadvantaged farmers through its educational programs and/or partnerships with specialized organizations.
- Women’s Agriculture Networks: “League of Women Farmers,” in southern Oregon; “Willamette Women’s Ag Network,” in the south Willamette Valley.
- Oregon Farmers Market List: E-mail discussion list for Oregon farmers’ market managers, board members, community advocates, and related government agencies.
Selected results and impacts
- The organic fertilizer calculator received over 10,000 page views from 2006–2008 and was one of the most popular sections of the Oregon Small Farms Web site. Using conservative assumptions, the current economic benefit of the calculator to farmers in reduced fertilizer costs alone is $275,000 per year.
- A mail survey 9 months after the Oregon Small Farms Conference showed that 23 percent of conference participants began new farm direct marketing businesses; 81 percent were planning to begin or further expand a farm direct marketing business; and 89 percent of farmers using a direct marketing strategy made improvements to their approach.
- Evaluation of the Growing Farms workshop series showed that 80 percent of participants created mission statements or written goals; 54 percent created production plans; 49 percent created new or improved business plans, and 46 percent created marketing plans.
- Surveys of participants in programs for Small Acreage Horse Farms showed high adoption of management practices (e.g., 92 percent of participants implemented one or more management practices, and over 50 percent adopted integrated pasture management strategy).
The Oregon State University Small Farms Program has partnerships and collaborative relationships with a number of local and regional non-government and community-based organizations including:
The 2002 Census of Agriculture shows that most Pennsylvania farms are small, with gross annual sales between $1,000 and $9,999. Farm acreage is also small; 79 percent of farms in the state are under 139 acres and 38 percent are under 50 acres. Farming is often not the primary source of family income in such small-scale operations; over 80 percent of Pennsylvania enterprises with part-time operators are less than 139 acres. Nevertheless, farming can be an important secondary source of income.
- Income Opportunities in Agriculture is a 3-part series of workshops held across the state. Topics include marketing, risk management, livestock information, and horticultural production.
- Agricultural Alternatives is an extensive set of publications (hard copy and online) covering a wide range of topics pertaining to small-scale and part-time farming, with a focus on both traditional and nontraditional enterprises.
- A web site links to all the publications and other resources and programs targeting small-scale farms. There is also a link to a survey on the usefulness of the publications and how far the program is reaching the intended audience.
- The Beginning Farmer Course provides on-line interaction with individual instructors on a wide range of topics related to a new farming operation.
- Two recent grants from USDA’s National Institute for Food and Agriculture’s Beginning Farmer and Rancher Competitive Grants program will focus on Pennsylvania’s new and beginning farmers. One effort will offer training in the production, marketing, financial management, and land acquisition skills to new and beginning farmers in the Southeast. A second will focus on new and beginning women farmers and will draw on research and experience with the Pennsylvania Women’s Agricultural Network.
Selected results and impacts:
- Income Opportunities in Agriculture program. Over 55 percent of the attendees at every session considered them as being helpful for the future of their operations.
- Agricultural Alternatives Publications. From July 2005 to June 2009, over 54,200 printed publications have been distributed through Penn State’s College of Agriculture. In 1 year, over 11,200 publications were downloaded from the Web site, and 66 percent of Web site survey responders rated the publications’ usefulness between 5 and 7 (with 7 being very useful).
- Lynn F. Kime
Pennsylvania State University
Senior Extension Associate
P.O. Box 330, 290 University Drive, Biglerville, PA 17307
Phone 717–677–6116 Ext. 227; E-mail: email@example.com
- Jayson Harper
Pennsylvania State University
214A Armsby Bldg., University Park, PA 16802
Phone 814– 863–8638; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
The 2007 Census of Agriculture shows that 98 percent of farms in Puerto Rico are small. The main crops are coffee, plantains & bananas, vegetables, fruits and ornamentals, and livestock enterprises are dairy & beef cattle, swine, poultry, sheep, goats, aquaculture and rabbits.
The Puerto Rico Agricultural Extension Service reaches small scale producers through training meetings, field demonstrations, radio and TV, agricultural fairs, farm visits and field days.
Key issues addressed include:
- marketing of products
- new pests in coffee & plantain
- increasing production costs
- competition with the construction developers for the use of available land
- use of internet in agricultural enterprises
- A webpage is available with information on commodities, publications, pest control programs and pesticide training quarterly calendar.
- Two hundred small farmers took part in training sessions sponsored by Farm Service Agency
- The Extension Diagnostic Clinic Plant offers free identification and advice on pest management practices
- 800 farmers were trained in identification and integrated control of new pests affecting the coffee & plantain crops, in a joint activity with the Agricultural Experiment Station and the State Department of Agriculture
- 25 women took part in entrepreneurship training
Collaboration with state & federal agencies and the Farm Bureau promotes programs for small farmers. The technology is transferred to the farmers utilizing the research studies of the Experiment Station.
- Van Whiting
Sinte Gileska University
PO Box 490, Rosebud, SD 57570
Phone: 605- 856-5236
- John Christopherson
Sisseton Wahpeton Community College
PO Box 689, Sisseton, SD 57252
Phone: 605- 698-4025
According to the 2007 Census of Agriculture, 12,675 (76 percent) of Utah’s farms and ranches are under 180 acres. More than 14,000 of these are very small, earning less than $50,000 per year, and many farm operators (10,360) work off-farm. Utah’s small scale operations are extremely diverse: 14 percent are limited resource farms, 21 percent retirement farms, and 42 percent residential-lifestyle farms; 1,797 farms are operated by women and 336 are run by Latinos.
Small Farm Programming at Utah State University (USU) crosses several disciplines and colleges, and USU scientists, educators, and extension staff and volunteers serve small farms and ranches through a variety of field and laboratory research, adult education, and on-farm contacts. USU Cooperative Extension and agricultural research services promote communication between small scale producers, their support services, state, and federal government officials, and the university.
County-based extension educators throughout the state are the backbone of the numerous successful small farm programs. They work closely with local producers to identify local needs, conduct targeted research trials, and provide educational outreach relevant to small scale farming and ranching through Web sites, farms and farmer databases, and mailing lists; a range of publications related to farming activities; and regular conferences, field days, workshops, and symposia. In addition, numerous USU faculty offer individual guidance, program coordination and development for a range of programs, and promote diverse educational and advisory activities tailored to the needs of Utah’s small farms clientele.
- The Diversified Agriculture Conference : one of the initiatives commended by the Governor’s Rural Partnership for its efforts to take the meeting to the people of rural Utah. This 3-day conference has been held in late February at six different locations since 2005. It provides small farmers and ranchers with technology information, business and financial planning, alternative farming practices and approaches, and information sharing. Approximately 40 percent of the presentations are given by farmers and ranchers, and special efforts are made to include under-served groups in these meetings.
- Extension Agricultural Economist Ruby Ward and Extension Educator Gary Anderson offer business, financial, and production-oriented training oriented to women and limited resource farmers throughout the state.
- Hector Mendiola serves a variety of community, social, and agricultural needs for the large Hispanic community in Cache County.
- The Small Acreage team: Extension Educator Scott McKendrick helps the many retirement and lifestyle farms across the state better manage their lands and livestock, thus conserving limited resources and maintaining open spaces. A Small Pasture Management Guide and other publications dealing with irrigation requirements are available on the Web site. Small acreage pasture demonstration plots were established in 2008.
- Season extension technologies: Brent Black and Extension Educator Rick Heflebower help Utah’s fruit and vegetable producers capture more of the local market through practical, hands-on experience, field days, workshops, production guides, and enterprise budgets. An extension fact sheet on high tunnel construction was published in 2008 providing step-by-step instruction for building an inexpensive portable high tunnel.
- Turf, nursery, and green industries: Extension specialists and educators provided targeted research and educational programming, as well as the Annual Green Conference, to help Utah’s “green” enterprises remain viable and productive.
Selected results and impacts
- Since 2007, 100 farmers have attended field days, presentations, and workshops related to high tunnel production practices. Between 2005 and January 2009, the number of producers using one high tunnel for early and late-season production of vegetables grew from 10 to 40, and at least 20 growers had more than 3 tunnels. One grower reported a net annual profit of $10,000 from tomatoes.
- Since 2005, over 1,200 farmers, ranchers, industry representatives, and government officials have attended the Diversified Agriculture Conference. Approximately 35 percent of attendees each year are women. Assessment surveys in 2007 indicated a desire for more in-depth educational opportunities. Since then, half-day workshops have been held on topics ranging from organic agriculture to farm business plan development. In 2009, 40 farmers and ranchers spent 1 day working on their own Web site development, learning about e-commerce opportunities and exploring how to exploit internet sales and marketing.
- Approximately 80 percent of Utah’s tart cherry crop is dehydrated. Improved irrigation scheduling has reduced seasonal irrigation applications by 25 percent with no reduction in productivity and a small increase in fruit soluble solids, saving the cherry industry water, drying time, and fuel, while improving fruit quality.
- Iris yellow spot virus is a serious production disease in onion. Twenty of Utah’s 25 onion growers learned to identify the disease and of its relationship to the onion thrips. In 2008, one grower reported a major reduction in nitrogen and pesticide use, with combined annual cost savings of over $35,000.
- More than 600 owners attended 10 local small acreage workshops since 2007. Some 97 percent of the attendees indicated a strong desire for additional workshops, and 75 percent plan to implement something learned at the sessions they attended.
USU staff work with federal partners and small farms and ranches to serve a wide array of clients with the help of federal grants, including the Risk Management Agency’s Federal Crop Insurance Program.
According to the 2007 Census of Agriculture, nearly 96 percent of Virginia’s 47,300 farms are small, and 42 percent of all principal operators identify farming as their primary occupation.
The Small Farm Program at Virginia State University (VSU) provides outreach and technical assistance to small, limited resource, and socially disadvantaged farmers. To this end, agricultural specialists and other professionals in VSU’s School of Agriculture have developed a comprehensive and intensive research- based educational program applicable to resources of this target audience.
Areas of emphasis include:
- Alternative Enterprises: Aquaculture, organic production, alternative crops, specialty crops, greenhouse crops, high tunnel production, small ruminant production, and agri-tourism
- Production Practices: A focus on the efficient use of natural resources, farm risk management, cost-effective, and environmentally sound production practices
- Marketing Strategies: Helping small family farms link to new markets. Additionally, VSU provides technical assistance on value added products (e.g. the program recently bought equipment to train small farmers in canning technology)
- Financial Management: Outreach staff uses a mobile computer unit to train small farmers in basic computer skills applicable to farm business planning, financial management, record keeping, farm taxes, and legal issues.
- Cooperative Extension’s outreach and technical assistance programs use on-farm demonstrations, field days, workshops, conferences, tours, and one-on-one visits, as well as brochures, factsheets, publications, group meetings, Web sites, local radio, and television stations.
Annual Events held on the University’s research and demonstration farm or regional centers:
- Commercial Vegetable Production – training and marketing strategies for new crop varieties; use of plasticulture, irrigation practices, high tunnel, and greenhouse production techniques.
- Aquaculture Field Day – production, processing, and marketing of catfish, tilapia, and fresh water shrimp as alternative enterprises for small farms.
- Small Farm Family Conference – centers on production, risk management, financial and business management, and marketing issues.
- Agri-tourism Field Day – introduces agritourism as an alternative enterprise for small farmers, including information on trends, planning, and risk management.
- Agriculture Field Day – production and marketing of alternative agricultural enterprises pertaining to small farm settings. Farmers learn about various alternative enterprises, including necessary information in deciding what to produce.
- Meat Goat Field Day – farmers receive hands-on training on production and management of a meat goat enterprise, one of the fastest growing alternatives introduced to small farms by VSU.
- Virginia Biological Farming Conference – VSU Small Farm Program partners with the Virginia Association for Biological Farming to host a conference on organic production and marketing.
- USDA Small Farm Outreach Conference – VSU Small Farm Program collaborates with USDA agencies (National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Farm Service Agency, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Risk Management Agency, and Rural Development) to inform small farmers about the opportunities available for them through USDA.
- VSU Extension, Whole Foods Market, and Wegman’s Supermarket – collaboration to test market fresh produce harvested from VSU’s extension demonstration plots. Resulting marketing and food safety information will help farmers market their products directly to retail outlets. Revenues from local partnerships with Whole Foods Market will establish scholarships to support VSU agriculture majors.
Selected results and impacts:
- In 1 year alone, VSU’s Small Farm Outreach provided technical assistance to 396 limited-resource farmers to improve farm production and marketing, write business and marketing plans, and apply for USDA farm programs. In all, 182 Virginia farm businesses saved $139,150 and 175 earned a combined $151,400.
- After participating in VSU’s organic agriculture education programs, 80 small and limited resource landowners established fresh cut flower commercial production enterprises and 60 landowners established American ginseng and goldenseal commercial enterprises.
- VSU Extension helped farmers with high tunnel raspberry production extend their production season by 4 months and benefit from higher market prices. Farmers reported a 10-15 percent increase in farm income.
- VSU has taken the lead in providing information and technical assistance to small scale and limited resource farmers on meat goat production and marketing, one of the fastest growing agricultural enterprises in the United States. As a result, the number of meat goat farmers in Virginia has increased by 41 percent, inventory of meat goat increased by 35 percent since 2002, and farmers have increased their profit margin by 30 percent.
- In 1 year, farmers formerly dependent on tobacco used the Virginia Aqua-farmer Network and VSU Aquaculture Program to increase freshwater shrimp harvests and catfish fingerling production. Dollars earned increased from $96,424 in 2007 to $149,000 in 2008.
- VSU’s fish processing facility cleans and processes fish five times as fast as an individual farmer, with higher fillet yield, resulting in a 20 percent increase in gross income potential. Using the VSU fish processing facility instead of a skilled catfish cleaner or a commercial processing facility saves 20–25 cents per pound of fish.
- The VSU Fish Health Diagnostic Laboratory helps fish farmers in obtaining fish health certificates, allowing the shipment of live stock fish to other states. Additionally, use of testing facilities at the laboratory saves fish farmers between $500 and $1,000 for each certificate.
According to the 2007 Census of Agriculture, over 89 percent of farms in Washington (35,269) are small and, of those, 85 percent (33,319) have sales under $100,000. This small farm sector is in transition. The types of operation are changing and principal operators are becoming more diverse; women, Latino, and Asian farmers have increased 44 percent, 43 percent, and 36 percent, respectively, between 2002 and 2007.
Research shows that farm income is critical to many of these households, and while sales appear low, small farms have historically constituted the foundation of many Washington communities. The viability of these farms is threatened, however, by intense development pressure, tightening environmental regulations, escalating input and land costs, and competitive global markets.
The Small Farms Program, Washington State University (WSU), was established in 2000 to develop research and educational programs targeted specifically to the needs of small-scale and underserved farmers. Its mission is to work with farmers and communities across the state to foster profitable and equitable farming systems, land and water stewardship, and widespread access to healthy foods.
The Small Farms Team is an interdisciplinary group of over 45 county and campus-based extension, research and teaching faculty, and key external partners. This team has developed a diverse array of educational opportunities, and provides direction for university-led research teams that address high priority topics identified by small farmer stakeholders. A statewide stakeholder advisory group provides feedback and guidance on program development.
- Educational Activities. Team members offer field days, farm tours, workshops, conference sessions, and educational exhibits on sustainable farming topics across the state. In the past 5 years, the program organized 10 multi-day conferences, 30 1-day workshops, and made 159 presentations, reaching an estimated 6,000 participants. A series of 10 Farm Walks featuring the state’s most successful sustainable small farms is held annually to provide advanced on-farm learning opportunities.
- “Cultivating Success” is an intensive training program, offered on campus and through county extension offices. The program consists of a series of weekly evening courses and short courses that can be taken for college or continuing education credits. A fall semester course, “Sustainable Small Farming and Ranching” focuses on whole farm planning and sustainable production techniques, while a spring course, “Agricultural Entrepreneurship,” focuses on farm business planning and marketing.
- Immigrant Farmer Programs. Bilingual Hmong and Latino specialists adapt educational programs and offer them to multilingual and immigrant farmers and farm worker audiences. A Spanish-language radio series, CDs, videos, and telephone hotlines augment bilingual Cultivating Success courses, workshops, and Farm Walks. Simultaneous translation equipment is being piloted to make additional programs and conferences accessible to multilingual audiences.
- The Small Farm Web site highlights current events and resources and includes an events calendar, links to ongoing programs and relevant publications, and a directory of team members. The Web site receives around 300 hits per day, including many return visitors.
- “Sustaining the Pacific Northwest,” a nationally recognized electronic newsletter, is downloaded around 16,000 times per year.
- The Washington Family Farmer Resource listserv reaches over 2,000 farmers around the state with biweekly announcements about new educational resources, programs, and events.
- Research on Sustainable Food and Farming Systems. Interdisciplinary research teams investigate innovative solutions to soil, water, and pest problems in farming systems, as well as community food systems, direct marketing systems, farm-to-cafeteria programs, and meat processing.
- The Puyallup Research and Extension Center is the site of long-term organic farming systems research for small farms.
- “Building Farmers in the West.” Recently funded through USDA’s National Institute for Food and Agriculture (NIFA), this educational program from Colorado will provide selected new farmers in Washington and other Western states with knowledge, planning skills, and directed technical assistance relevant to specialty produce and livestock markets.
Selected results and Impacts
Over 400 students have taken the Agricultural Entrepreneurship course. Most have become active users of the program’s electronic resources and are taking advantage of the other educational programs and resources offered through WSU. Surveys show that 97 percent had an increased awareness of other university resources on small and sustainable farming, and 80 percent had participated in further educational activities.
- Growing numbers of immigrant farmers are participating in programs. So far, over 250 Hmong farmers have attended programs in Puget Sound. “Cultivating Success” in Spanish was offered four times in Yakima and three times in Wenatchee between 2006-2009; 93 farm families completed the entire series and an additional 2,500 farmers participated in individual workshops or farm walks.
- New farm plans were used to qualify for Farm Service Agency (FSA) and other loan programs, organic certification, and Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) conservation programs. Approximately 25 Latino farmers obtained Environmental Quality Incentives Program contracts, 73 obtained FSA loans, 2 obtained Farm Credit Service loans, and 2 received organic certification. Over 20 have acquired new farms. Two Hmong farms received organic certification, one received an NRCS contract, and one received an FSA loan.
- The program’s market research instigated the formation of a Seattle-King County Food Policy Council, endorsed by the county executive and over 50 other organizations; spawned a state farm-to-school program; and launched ongoing efforts to improve farmers’ markets. As a result of our farmers’ market research, over 100 farmers' market managers and board members have been trained in participatory data collection and market analysis. Improvements to market management in Washington have contributed to a steady increase in numbers of markets and vendors, with last year’s sales totaling well over $65 million, representing a 20 percent increase per year since 2001.
- “Cultivating Success” was developed collaboratively with faculty from the University of Idaho and Rural Roots, a non-profit farm organization, and was made possible by funding from the Risk Management Agency, Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE), USDA Higher Education Challenge Grants, and the Western Center for Risk Management Education. “Cultivating Success” recently received increased funding from USDA’s National Institute for Food and Agriculture’s Beginning Farmer and Rancher Competitive Grant program.
- USDA Risk Management and SARE funding was secured to hire two bilingual staff members fluent in Hmong and Spanish.
- Marcy Ostrom, Small Farms Program Director
Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources, Washington State University
1100 N. Western Ave., Wenatchee, WA 98826
Phone, 509–663–8181 Ext. 263; E-mail: email@example.com
- Doug Collins, Small Farms Educator
Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources, Washington State University
2606 W. Pioneer, Puyallup, WA 98371
Phone, 253–445–4658.; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
According to the 2007 Census of Agriculture, there are just over 11,000 farms and ranches in Wyoming, up 17 percent from the 2002 Census. Almost 92 percent of these enterprises are classified as small, in terms of the gross annual sales. 49 percent of all principal operators identified farming as their primary occupation. The total market value of goods produced is over $1.1 billion, an increase of 34 percent from the 2002 Census. Cattle and Calves are by far the most important commodity, by value of sales.
The University of Cooperative Extension Service provides a range of services to small and limited-resource producers in Wyoming. Major themes include agriculture, natural resources, and horticulture.
- Ag Help Wanted: a guidebook on the management of human resources on farms, ranches, nurseries, dairies, and other agricultural operations
- Enterprising Rural Families, Making it WorkTM: an online self-paced 26 week course for rural family businesses. The primary focus of this course is the issues and challenges that face family-members in the family business
- Learning for Individuals and Families: online resources through Cooperative Extension. A section entitled “Personal Nature of Agriculture” provides information and resources on topics such as stress and recovering from natural disasters
- Managing for Today’s Cattle Market and Beyond : 36 outstanding papers for classroom and extension audiences. Topics include integrated management, marketing, and the future of the beef industry.
- Right Risk: an on-line simulation program helping producers explore and evaluate risk management strategies for their operations
- Risk and Resilience in Agriculture: a program that provides tools for agricultural managers and families to assess their risk or resilience within production, marketing, financial, legal and human resources
- Risk Management for Ag Families: 4 extension education classes help producers understand the risks they face and how to manage them.
- Western Integrated Resource Education (WIRE) provides practical tools for integrating physical, biological, financial and human resources in managing agricultural operations. Topics include setting goals, budgeting, keeping records and evaluation. The program began in Wyoming, but is rapidly spreading to other states
- Western Risk Management Library an on-line source containing hundreds of articles, fact sheets and presentations covering production, financial, market, legal, and human resource risks
- The Small Acreage Project: information on how to manage and conserve small holdings and enhance Wyoming’s natural resources
- Barnyards and Backyards: quarterly magazine for rural landowners
- Small acreage: 270 landowners participated in pilot projects in 2006. On average, landowner knowledge increased by 30% and participants rated the program very highly
- “Managing for Today's Cattle Market and Beyond” was conceived by the Western Extension Marketing Committee, and supported by the Livestock Marketing Information Center, National Beef Cattlemen's Association, the respective authors and the state Cooperative Extension Services of their institutions. Funding was supplied by from USDA-NIFA, Farm Foundation, and the universities of Wyoming, Utah State and Nebraska
- The Western Risk Management Library was developed through the Western Farm Management and Marketing Extension Committees, with support from the Farm Foundation
- The Small Acreage project is a combined program by Wyoming Cooperative Extension Service, Historic Trails and other Resource Conservation and Development Councils, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Audubon Wyoming and others.
- John Hewlett
Dept of Ag Economics
University of Wyoming
P.O. Box 3354, University Station, Laramie, WY 82071
Phone: 307-766-4377; E-mail: email@example.com