Extension hosts workshop for beginning farmers

By Haley Mitchell Godwin

Crenshaw County Extension hosted a Beginning Farmer/Rancher Resources workshop June 27 at the Tom Harbin Ag Center in Luverne. The event, made possible through the Alabama Beginning Farmer Program (BFRD), aimed to provide new farmers with vital information about available resources. The workshop featured presentations from various agencies as well as an open table discussion. Registered attendees enjoyed lunch catered by Chick-fil-A.

Agency representatives covered topics such as loans, rebates, farm insurance, land requirements and much more with numerous publications provided to attendees.

United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) – Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Soil Conservationist Garrett Lloyd discussed NRCS programs and funding opportunities available through the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) and the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). He emphasized the importance of understanding various program requirements, building relationships with local representatives and navigating the competitive nature of CSP due to farm rankings established based on applicant eligibility and the NRCS ranking process.

“We want to ensure that farmers understand the technical assistance and resource concerns-based approach of NRCS,” Lloyd said. “Establishing relationships with local representatives is crucial for success in these programs.”

The USDA defines anyone who has operated a farm or ranch for less than 10 years as a beginning farmer or rancher and offers dedicated help through a variety of programs and services, including farm loans, conservation programs and more.

Crenshaw County Farm Service Agency Executive Director Susan Tranum highlighted various agricultural programs, including the CRP grasslands program. Tranum discussed the eligibility requirements and the application ranking process for the resources available, encouraging farmers to inquire about future sign-ups and eligibility details.

“If you’re interested, definitely talk to us about it,” Tranum said. “Find out more about it. We have fact sheets for almost every program and if something interests you, we can discuss it one-on-one to see if you qualify.”

According to Tranum, the first step is to obtain a farm and track number through her office and then establish eligibility.
Additional resources available include monthly webinars, distance education series, online courses and a Farming Basics mobile app made available by the USDA.

Special attention was given to resources available for historically underserved farmers and ranchers, including minorities, women and veterans. The workshop also addressed loan options for beginning farmers and ranchers.

The NRCS works with farmers, ranchers, landowners, tribes and other individuals interested in conserving soil, water and other natural resources. The service helps landowners identify natural resource concerns and develop conservation plans. Funding is available to help offset the cost of implementing these plans, with rebates for livestock and grazing practices, including watering facilities and fencing, starting Oct. 1.

For more information about USDA programs and assistance, contact the Crenshaw County Farm Service Agency at (334) 335-6507 or visit their office at 1686 South Forest Avenue in Luverne.