Farmers getting their feet wet in agribusiness have access to comprehensive entrepreneurial education and business training through a public service program offered by Clemson University.
The South Carolina New and Beginning Farmer Program is accepting applications for the 2016-2017 statewide program that begins in October. The deadline to apply is Aug. 15.
The South Carolina New and Beginning Farmer program is a public education program focused on enabling new and beginning farmers 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.
Most importantly, the program seeks to develop individuals who have a sense of pride and enjoy a quality of life as a result of their investments and participation in South Carolina agriculture.
The South Carolina New and Beginning Farmer program is managed by the Clemson University Cooperative Extension Service department of Agribusiness under the direction of R. David Lamie. It is entering its fifth year and has guided more than 200 emerging farmers through the program.
The 2016-2017 South Carolina New and Beginning Farmer program will offer two levels of instruction: Level I, “Exploring Farming as a Business,” for emerging farmers with less than three years’ experience and Level II, “Taking Your Farm Business to the Next Level,” for those who have been farming three to nine years.
Core agribusiness workshops will be held centrally in Columbia and will focus on farm business management. Level-appropriate topics include business concept/plan development; financial and risk management; legal and regulatory issues; marketing strategies; personal assessment; and an introduction to federal, state and local agriculture resources.
Core programming will be complemented by regional workshops to be held throughout the state.
These workshops will offer important opportunities for local peer and resource networking, as well as provide additional instruction on production topics tailored for each region. Regional workshops are a collaborative effort between Clemson Agribusiness, Clemson Cooperative Extension, the Clemson Sustainable Agriculture Program, the S.C. Coastal Conservation League, the Catawba Farm & Food Coalition and the Richland Soil & Water Conservation District.
The South Carolina New and Beginning Farmer program fills a critical need to train emerging farmers in South Carolina.
“With the average age of S.C. 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.”
Any legal resident of South Carolina who is at least 18 years of age and is just beginning to farm or who has actively farmed for less than 10 consecutive years is eligible to apply for the program.
Additional information, including program details, workshop schedule, fee structure, scholarship opportunities and an online application can be found at www.scnewfarmer.org. Both Level I and Level II programming is scheduled to begin in October.