A recently developed beginning farmer training program has officially been approved by the California State Division of Apprenticeship Standards. The California Farm Academy Beginning Farm and Ranch Manager Apprenticeship Program has been established by the Center for Land-Based Learning (CLBL) as a means to increase the number of young people who are prepared to take on managerial roles on the farm.
There is an increasing need to further develop the next generation of farmers and ranchers to become skilled farming professionals. As older farmers begin contemplating retirement, those management positions will need someone to step in and take over. There have also been other efforts in recent years aimed at enabling young and beginning farmers to start their own operations.
“Having an accredited apprenticeship like this for agriculture in California is a big milestone,” said CLBL Executive Director Mary Kimball. “California is facing a shortage of qualified farm managers and operators, as an entire generation is on the cusp of retirement. This is also incredibly helpful to beginning farmers in the state, who finally have a legal, formal apprenticeship program approved by the State that trains to one standard,” Kimball noted.
The Beginning Farm and Ranch Manager Apprenticeship provides professional training for producing specialty crops. The program requires 250 hours of coursework and another 3,000 hours of paid on-the-job training on a farming operation. Participants will receive hands-on experience under the mentorship of a seasoned farmer. After completing the program, apprentices will have the necessary education and business management skills to advance their professional agricultural career.
The effort to get the beginning farmer training program approved was a collaboration between CLBL, Soil Born Farms and the Division of Apprenticeship Standards. the California Department of Food and Agriculture was also integral to the two-year process with grant funding provided by their Specialty Crop Block Grants Program.