Campus News

UGA, partners to create training for young farmers

Starting in October, a new training program will offer beginning and young farmers crash courses in business planning, vegetable and fruit production and goat husbandry to provide them with a strong foundation to help grow their new businesses.

The UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, the UGA Small Business Development Center, Georgia Organics, Fort Valley State University and AgSouth Farm Credit, along with other partners, are developing the training and mentoring program to help beginning farmers become successful and sustainable farmers.

The partnership will provide training to 70 new farmers, focusing on minority farmers and farmers with limited means.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture announced Feb. 2 that the partnership would receive a Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Grant of $652,000 to establish an innovative training program that can be presented throughout the state.

“Many of the young people interested in farming don’t come from a farming background,” said Julia Gaskin, director of UGA’s Sustainable Agriculture Program. “We have been very interested in developing a comprehensive training program to help this group and those currently farming who want to improve their operations.”

The statewide partnership also includes UGA Extension’s county agents, the Department of Agriculture and the Georgia Fruit & Vegetable Growers Association.

“We think this collaborative approach will give us a good foundation for a strong program for the state’s beginning farmers,” Gaskin said.

This grant is part of more than $18 million in NIFA funding to support beginning farmers.

The core of the training program is business planning. The Small Business Development Center, a unit of the Office of Public Service and Outreach, and AgSouth Farm Credit will provide business planning and financing workshops to the farmers.