Workshop helps beginning farmers, ranchers, military veterans understand ABCs of USDA

Openings remain for a free workshop Feb. 16 that will help beginning farmers and ranchers, including military veterans, learn about resources offered by state and federal agencies.

“Understanding the ABCs of USDA Programs” for beginning farmers and ranchers will be from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Feb. 16, at Fiddlestiks restaurant, 8945 U.S. Highway 36, Hannibal, said Darla Campbell, MU Extension agriculture business specialist.

Representatives of the Farm Service Agency, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Rural Development, MU Extension and the Missouri AgrAbility Project will provide information on how to access their agencies’ services.

A free lunch will be served. Please register by Feb. 14. Contact Darla Campbell at 660-457-3469 or [email protected]. You may also register at the MU Extension Center in Schuyler County, which is in the county courthouse at 110 W. Washington St., Lancaster.

MU Extension, through a grant from the USDA Office of Advocacy and Outreach to help military veterans and socially disadvantaged persons who want to farm, offers the program to increase agribusinesses and enterprise development. Karen Funkenbusch serves as director.

The USDA 2501 grant helps beginning farmers and others evaluate and plan their farm enterprise. Participants attend a set of practical seminars and field days to learn from MU Extension specialists, farmers and agribusiness operators. The grant comes at a critical time, Funkenbusch says. More than 300,000 veterans are expected to return to their rural Missouri roots in the next decade. “Many of them will seek work in agriculture,” she says.

USDA helps fund this program as part of an $8.4 million set of grants to 24 states through the Outreach and Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged and Veteran Farmers and Ranchers Program, also known as the 2501 Program. The University of Missouri Extension is sponsoring the workshop.