Here at CFAC, we understand that the road to success as a farmer can be a long and arduous one. Start-up costs are high, access to land can be a deal-breaker, and well, then, there are the hours! Of course, farming has plenty of benefits too - you get to work outside with your hands in the dirt and the sun, you work for yourself, and, as one of our past board members, Erin Turner, has said, "You never complain about not being able to sleep well!"
We believe that if our food system is to be strong and resilient, we need to support beginning farmers and ranchers, to help them over the hump of the first few years to build sustainable, successful business models. There are some key ways in which we can help, by providing:
- Assistance Accessing Land
- Education on Business and Production
- Assistance Accessing Financing
- Networking Opportunities
- Assistance Accessing Markets
In late 2014, the USDA awarded CFAC over $250k to expand our educational opportunities and resources for beginning farmers. Through this project, our support for farmers will take on several new forms. We will:
- Develop new, Montana-specific workshops on financial, legal, business planning and land access topics. These workshops will first be offered in Missoula and then in other parts of the state via partnership with MSU Extension.
- Offer on-farm, production-focused field days for interns and new farmers to give access to local farms and highlight some of the elements of farming that can only be seen in the summer.
- Research and build new local investing opportunities with a wide array of partners to offer new and enhanced financing opportunities for our region's farmers and food business owners.
- Enhance the Land Link program! Our Land Link program provides a forum for connecting people looking for farmland with those who are looking to have their land farmed. The redeveloped site will be statewide and will incorporate internship and mentorship opportunities.
We're also exploring ideas for providing networking opportunities. Some of the ideas we're tossing around include starting a National Young Farmers Coalition chapter, kickstarting a Grange-type social organization, or hosting speed dating sessions for Land Link members.
Interested in learning more about these projects and throwing your two cents in? Join our Beginning Farmer & Rancher Committee! Just want to stay posted? Join our newsletter or like us on Facebook! We post lots of resources and news for farmers on Facebook!
This work is supported by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture, under award number 2015-70017-22851.