More than 50 beginning farmers and ranchers have completed risk management and leadership training through the National Farmers Union’s Beginning Farmers Institute (BFI). The organization will be seeking candidates for its newest class and the next generation of leaders.
Farmers of all production types who are new to farming or are contemplating a career in farming or ranching can apply for the 2017 BFI class this spring.
“Managing a farm today requires a wide range of skills and proper training,” explained NFU President Roger Johnson. “Farmers and ranchers must be good businesspeople, bookkeepers, market analysts, salespeople, mechanics, environmentalists, and the list goes on and on. The BFI program was designed to provide tomorrow’s agricultural leaders with the precise skill set they will need to succeed on the farming operations they will soon be running.”
BFI was created – with support from CHS Foundation, Farm Credit and the FUI Foundation – as a way to support talented young people in agriculture and combat the rapidly aging farmer population by giving beginning farmers educational tools for success. Programs like BFI, which is in its sixth year of operation, are responding to both a need for more farmers to enter the profession and demographic trends.
While 57 percent of the nation’s 3.2 million farmers are within 10 years of retirement age or older, according to the 2012 Ag Census, the number of young farmers is trending upwards. In fact, the number of young people who said farming was their primary occupation increased by 11 percent between 2007 and 2012.
“The influx of new farmers is a welcome sign in an occupation as critical as food, feed and fuel production,” said Johnson. “Now we just need to make sure that they have the tools needed to succeed in today’s fast-paced business environment.”
BFI participants receive hands-on training by experts from across the U.S. The training includes critical skills needed by beginning farmers and ranchers, including business plan writing, financial planning, and leadership development. The program also includes tours of local farms and cooperatives. Throughout the training there are many opportunities for program participants to network with successful producers as well.
“In the end, we are confident that graduates will enter their role as principal farm operators with the training they need to succeed while also building an invaluable network of peers from coast to coast,” Johnson concluded.