The nation’s Land-grant Colleges and Universities work through their Extension programs to ensure the nation has a secure and stable food supply and to educate and support farmers and ranchers. The 1890 Land-grant Universities (LGUs) stand as a crucial link to minority farmers as well as to new and beginning farmers who may not have a background in agriculture. USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) supports these efforts in a variety of ways, including both capacity funding and competitive grants.
This piece was adapted from a piece in the Extension Administrators Newsletter.
Kentucky State University (KSU), which is an 1890 LGU, has multiple programs working to improve both farming and farmers in the state. Susan Miller, a third-generation farmer with 4.5 acres in Lincoln County, Kentucky, is one example of the successes at Kentucky State.
Miller runs the farm with her husband and daughters. The Millers sell their produce and honey produced by their bees at farmers markets and area restaurants.
Miller began working with Kentucky State University in 2012. With a Kentucky State grant, she and her husband purchased a walk-in freezer to use for their farming operations. Miller has attended multiple Kentucky State events to improve her farming skills, and she collaborates with KSU to support her local community and involve young people.
When Miller started farming about 20 years ago, “farming was a man’s world.”
“Most of the time, you didn’t see women working on the farm,” she said. “Over the last 10 years, I’ve noticed that there are more and more women who are getting into vegetables, into farming in general.”
Miller says that Kentucky State programs, as well as other educational events and conferences, are a great opportunity to see and learn from what other people are doing, including other women and, in particular, minority women.
Miller has a key piece of advice for young women farmers: Follow your dreams.