COLUMBIA, S.C. — 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 2020 statewide program.
The program is a public education effort focused on enabling new and beginning farmers to be successful, productive and innovative members of their local agricultural community by providing them with the tools, knowledge and skills they need.
Most important, the program seeks to develop people who have a sense of pride and enjoy a quality of life as a result of their investment and participation in the industry of South Carolina agriculture.
The program is managed by Clemson University Cooperative Extension, Department of Agribusiness, under the direction of Ben Boyles. The program is entering its 10th year and has guided more than 300 emerging farmers with an average graduation rate of 92%.
The cohort program includes a series of 12 core agribusiness workshops to be held centrally at the Lexington County Extension office and focused on farm business management. 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 and advanced agribusiness topics tailored for each region. All regional workshops are included in the program and are also open to the public. A calendar of regional events will be posted on the program’s website later this spring.
The 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’,” program director Boyles 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 S.C. New & Beginning Farmer Program is supported by a USDA-Rural Development, Rural Business Development grant.
Any legal resident of South Carolina at least 18 years of age who is just beginning to farm or who has actively farmed for less than 10 consecutive years is eligible to apply for the program. As many as 50 applicants will be accepted for the 2020 program. Additional information, including program details, FAQs, workshop schedule, fee structure, and an online application form, can be found at scnewfarmer.org.