New & Young Farmers
We are at a critical juncture for transferring our agricultural land, infrastructure, traditions, knowledge and skills. Thousands of new and young farmers, and their families, are needed to steward the land, produce nutritious food and regenerate rural communities- in Oregon and across the Nation. The good news is that we have no shortage of people ready to get their hands dirty and take on this task. Below you will find tools, resources and reading to help them do just that.
ON THIS PAGE: Assessment tools, articles, stories and documentaries on the next generation of farmers.
So You Want to Be a Farmer?
Assessment tools and reading to help guide you through the process
Oregon Department of Agriculture’s Resource Guide: including resources on business plans, loan programs, grants, risk management/insurance, business education, and succession planning.
Start2Farm is the USDA’s National Agricultural Library’s new resource for young and beginning farmers and ranchers, including financial, training and technical resources.
Farm and Food Jobs is a user-friendly, national resource for finding jobs, or finding employees.
The Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture has developed a workbook on Building a sustainable business: A guide to developing a business plan for farms and rural businesses. Download worksheets, sections or the entire guide here.
Cornell University’s Guide to farming: What every agricultural entrepreneur needs to know. This is an essential resource for new and existing farmers alike, providing answers to questions about taxes, business planning, labor law, zoning, regulations, marketing and many other topics that farmers need to know.
The Washington State Housing Finance Commission’s Beginning Farmer/ Rancher Loan Program has released Cultivate the Soil: Resources for Beginning and Small-Scale Farmers and Ranchers in Washington State. The 74-page reference directs beginning and small-scale farmers and ranchers to resources which support agricultural enterprises in Washington State and beyond. Fourteen chapters cover topics such as Business Planning, Marketing, Insurance, Education, Sustainable Agriculture and Energy Efficiency. Cultivate the Soil is available online in PDF (161K).
Growing New Farmers- A community of Northeast new farmers and service providers has a great section full of tools and resources for new farmers, including case studies and a self-guided workbook on Exploring the small farm dream: Is starting an agricultural business right for you? You can also download their small scale “sustainable” farmer skill self-assessment tool and occupational profile they have developed to see if your characteristics match up.
Andy Griffin, a 50-year old farmer in California offers advice to new and young farmers in his blog entitled “Apocalypse Deferred” on the Ladybug Letter. Our Family Farmer Resource Page also has blogs from farmers around Oregon.
New York’s Beginning Farmer Project has put together Voices of Experience Videos: Good Advice for New Farmers. Topics include financing, markets, assessing land and much more.
The Oregon Department of Agriculture publishes the Oregon Agripedia, a guide to regulations and laws that apply to agriculture.
Beginning Farmers is a website and blog that provides a large clearinghouse of information and resources on Financing (loans/grants), Finding Land, Business Planning, Production, Marketing, Events, Publications, and much more…
Farmer Veteran Coalition assists returning military veterans in using their many relevant skills to create a new generation of innovative, ecological, and financially successful young farmers. It has unique resources available to help military veterans start businesses, buy land, or overcome disabilities.
The Greenhorns have a whole host of publications and reading recommendations for new farmers, including their Guide for Beginning Farmers. You can check it all out here.
Generation Pitchfork in the Media
Articles, stories and documentaries on the next generation of farmers
After reviewing the 2007 agricultural census data, Katy Coba, director of the Oregon Department of Agriculture says “We still need to keep an eye on a few numbers of concern, including the increasing age of our farmers and ranchers, and if the number of farms and total farm acreage continues to decrease in Oregon.” Read the rest of the Oregon Department of Agriculture’s Story of the Week (02/04/09).
Read about some of Oregon’s own young farmers who have returned home to the Southcoast to go into farming. Sisters Abby and Zoe Bradbury, as well as Joe Pestana are featured in Farming the Next Generation.
Find out more about Oregon Farmers from their blogs in our Family Farmers Resources section.
An Agricultural Mystery: Why aren’t there more farmers like David Knaus? If full-time farming has a future, local farm advocates say, it’s with young people like Knaus: Multitalented believers willing to bend their spines into rubber and work the land for years in something close to poverty for the sake of a career they love and a product that’s second to none. Why are there so few farmers like this? The Columbian breaks down the answer into four parts– land, water, know-how and labor…
The Greenhorns, is a documentary film that explores the lives of America’s young farming community—its spirit, practices, and needs. As the nation experiences a groundswell of interest in sustainable lifestyles, we see the promising beginnings of an agricultural revival. They also have a weekly radio show and plenty of other resources to support young farmers across America.
The cast of farmers in the documentary GROW! have something in common: a desire to grow clean, fair food on their own terms.
An editorial from the Capital Press that actually makes some sense- read their opinion on how the U.S. must cultivate new farmers.
Civil Eats promotes critical thought about sustainable agriculture and food systems as part of building economically and socially just communities, and they run a regular column aimed at uniting young farmers.
The Des Moines Register has called for a New Farmer Corps: “Here is a big plan the [new] president could embrace: Launch a New Farmer Corps and set a 10-year goal of establishing one-half million new farms in the United States.” The New Farmer Corps would link his advocacy for public service with an initiative to plant the next generation of America’s farm families. The program would assist current owners to transfer land and offer new farmers training, capital and markets to make their farms thrive.
More to Come…
Please check back soon as we are continuing to develop this section every day, and make sure to visit our iFarm section for more resources!