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New assistance for beginning farmers

First Posted: 6:49 pm - July 2nd, 2015

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COLUMBIA — Farmers getting their feet wet in agribusiness have access to entrepreneurial education and business consultation through workshops offered by Clemson University.

The South Carolina New and Beginning Farmer Program is accepting applications for the 2015-2016 statewide program through July 12. Any resident of South Carolina who is beginning to farm or who has actively farmed for less than 10 consecutive years is eligible to apply for the program.

New and Beginning Farmer Program focuses on enabling participants to be successful, productive and innovative members of their local agricultural communities by providing them with the tools, knowledge and skills necessary to be successful entrepreneurs, sound business managers, exemplary stewards of the natural environment and successful marketers of the unique products they create.

The program is managed by the Clemson Institute for Economic and Community Development under the direction of R. David Lamie.

“With the average age of South Carolina farmers now up to 59 years, we put our state’s largest industry at risk if we do not invest efforts into encouraging and training the next generation of successful agripreneurs,” Lamie said. “At a time when consumer demand for local, high quality, nutritious farm products is on the rise, there is tremendous opportunity for rural economic development through a thriving local farm and food system.”

The New and Beginning Farmer Program will offer two levels of instruction: “Exploring Farming as a Business” for emerging farmers with less than three years experience (Level I) and “Taking Your Farm Business to the Next Level” for those who have been farming three-nine years (Level II).

Core workshops will be held centrally in Columbia and focus on farm business management. Level-appropriate topics include business concept/plan development; financial and risk management; legal issues; marketing strategies; personal assessment; and an introduction to federal, state and local agriculture resources.

Central programming will be complemented by regional workshops throughout the state. They will provide opportunities for local peer and resource networking as well as additional instruction on production topics tailored for each region. Regional workshops are a collaborative effort between the Institute for Economic and Community Development, Clemson Cooperative Extension, the Clemson Sustainable Agriculture Program, the S.C. Coastal Conservation League, the Catawba Farm and Food Coalition and the Richland Soil and Water Conservation District.

Additional information, including program details, workshop schedules, fee structure, possible scholarships and an online application can be found at www.scnewfarmer.com. Level I programming is scheduled to begin in August; the schedule start for the Level II program is November. The deadline to apply is July 12.

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