Aspiring and beginning women farmers in Iowa and Nebraska will get support and training over the next three years from Women, Food and Agriculture Network as they turn their farming dreams into reality.
WFAN is one of 40 organizations that received a 2012 USDA Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Grant (BFRDP), announced Thursday, Aug. 30 by USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack at the Farm Progress Show in Boone, IA. WFAN is the only new recipient in Iowa.
The grant of $401,802 will support beginning and aspiring women farmers in IA and NE over the next three years by providing them with business planning assistance, networking them with other beginners, and providing them with mentoring relationships with established women farmers in the region.
The grant will also take the mentoring program one step farther, by providing mentor farmers with training in risk management and best practices in educating mentees.
“WFAN has been working with women farmers for 15 years, and we’ve witnessed an enormous surge in numbers over the past decade,” says Adcock. “We’re thrilled to be able to help new and aspiring women farmers in Iowa and Nebraska reach their farm business goals with the help of this grant.”
The BFRDP is one of the most important programs of the Food, Farm and Jobs Act (farm bill), and WFAN members all across the US have benefited from prior and current projects. “I urge WFAN members to contact your members of Congress today and tell them you want to see BFRDP preserved and expanded in the next farm bill,” Adcock said.
BFRDP is targeted especially to collaborative local, state, and regionally based networks and partnerships to support financial and entrepreneurial training, risk management education, marketing strategies, mentoring and apprenticeship programs, “land link” programs, innovative farm transfer and transition practices, and education and outreach activities to assist beginning farmers and ranchers across the country.
The program was originally developed by the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) and its member organizations and included in the 2002 and 2008 federal farm bills. It was championed by Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), Representative Tim Walz (D-MN) and many other members of Congress.
Over the past four years, BFRDP has invested over $70 million in new farmer training programs across the country, and has funded 145 projects in 46 states.
For fiscal year 2012, $18 million was awarded to support new projects in 27 states across the country, including projects in Alabama, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Iowa, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin.
For information about the WFAN project, call executive director Leigh Adcock at 515.460.2477, or click here to email her.
Women, Food and Agriculture Network is a non-profit, educational organization formed in 1997 to provide networking, information and leadership development opportunities to women involved in all aspects of sustainable agriculture.