Developing the Next Generation of California Farmers

Brian German Industry

Farm training is successfully preparing the next generation of farmers for agricultural careers, according to the report titled “Cultivating the Next Generation” from the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC). The report evaluates the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP) that was funded in the 2008 Farm Bill.  The USDA has invested nearly $150 million in over 250 training projects for new farmers since the BFRDP was established.Next Generation

As many of the nation’s farmers and ranchers continue to retire or reduce workloads because of their age, investment in the future becomes even more important.  The BFRDP now has 10 years of data that is available for review and it illustrates the progress made in priming the next generation for future success in agriculture.

The University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE) program has also been a key figure in training young farmers and ranchers to thrive in the agriculture industry.  In Placer and Nevada counties, 72 percent of respondents to a 2016 agriculture survey had taken one or more business classes from UCCE.  Workshops offered by UCCE in Sonoma County bring together experienced agriculturalists to impart knowledge to the next generation of farmers and ranchers.

As legislators continue to work on developing the policy for the 2018 Farm Bill, NSAC is hopeful that it will include consideration for furthering the BFRDP.