Cornell's Small Farms Program (SFP) can broaden its support for new farmers in the Northeast, thanks to a new three-year, $750,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Beginning Farmers and Ranchers Development Program.
"Demand for local foods has created new market opportunities for farmers with both large and small operations," says Erica Frenay, project coordinator of SFP's N.Y. Beginning Farmer Project. "Many new farmers with little or no agricultural experience want to tap this growing market but face daunting barriers. Our team is here to help."
The new funding will allow the team to:
Beginning and aspiring farmers face limited access to training, capital and land. To help train such farmers, SFP and Cornell Cooperative Extension established the N.Y. Beginning Farmer Project in 2006. Over three years, the project trained 362 new or aspiring farmers in basic farm planning and business management.
"We've collected dozens of farm success stories from this effort, including new farms started, market channels expanded and people who have quit their off-farm jobs to work on the farm," says Anu Rangarajan, senior extension associate and director of the Cornell Small Farms Program.
The project has developed such new resources as the Guide to Farming in New York, a set of fact sheets on the legal and regulatory aspects of farming. The project also has established a Beginning Farmer contact in every Cornell Cooperative Extension office to help new farmers.