COLUMBIA — 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.

Participants in the South Carolina New and Beginning Farmer Program learn about irrigation.

Participants in the South Carolina New and Beginning Farmer Program learn about irrigation.
Image Credit: Clemson Public Service and Agriculture

The South Carolina New and Beginning Farmer Program (SCNBFP) is accepting applications for the 2018-2019 statewide program. Deadline to apply is July 15. An online application is available at www.scnewfarmer.org.

This program is focused on enabling new and beginning farmers to be successful, productive and innovative members of their local agricultural communities. Participants will gain 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 Clemson University Cooperative Extension, under the direction of agribusiness professor R. David Lamie. More than 300 farmers have participated in the program, which is entering its seventh year. Any legal resident of South Carolina who is at least 18 years old and just beginning to farm or who has actively farmed for less than 10 consecutive years is eligible to apply for the program.

The 2018-2019 South Carolina New and Beginning Farmer Program will offer two levels of instruction. The first level, Exploring Farming as a Business, is for emerging farmers with less than three years’ experience. The second level, Taking Your Farm Business to the Next Level, is for people who have been farming three to nine years.

Core agribusiness workshops will be held centrally in Columbia and will focus on farm business management. Topics will 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 offer opportunities for local peer and resource networking and provide additional instruction on production and advanced agribusiness topics tailored for each region. Regional workshops are a collaborative effort between Clemson Agribusiness, Clemson Cooperative Extension, the Clemson Sustainable Agriculture Program, the Catawba Farm and Food Coalition, the Richland Soil and Water Conservation District and the South Carolina Coastal Conservation League.

Participants will also benefit from guided farm tours, access to on-farm internships and participation in the South Carolina New and Beginning Farmer Program Alumni Association.

The South Carolina New and Beginning Farmer Program fills a critical need to train emerging farmers in South Carolina, Lamie said.

“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,” he 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.”

For more information, go to www.scnewfarmer.org.

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The South Carolina New and Beginning Farmer Program is supported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture under grant award number 2016-70017-25351.

Clemson University Cooperative Extension Service offers its programs to people of all ages, regardless of race, color, sex, religion, national origin, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, marital or family status and is an equal opportunity employer.