Young Farmers and VDACS unveil Farm Seekers program

Have you ever wanted to break into farming, but didn’t have the resources to begin? Or maybe you already have farming experience, but are looking for land to expand your operation? Agriculture remains a diverse and challenging industry, and farmers exist at all different experience levels. As older farmers retire and look to transition their farms, steps must to be taken in order to preserve Virginia’s number one industry. This principle paved the way for the Certified Farm Seekers program.

The Certified Farm Seekers program is a collaboration between Virginia Farm Bureau Young Farmers and Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, funded by the Virginia Beginning Farmers and Ranchers Coalition Project. It is a self-guided program that strives to provide individuals seeking farming opportunities with the tools needed to successfully demonstrate their farming commitment and vision to interested landowners. After completion, participants will be expected to produce a resume, business plan, and demonstrate on-farm experience. Five modules are available as resources to assist in accomplishing these goals: Introduction to Whole Farm Planning, Business Management, Land Acquisition and Tenure, Marketing, and On-Farm Experience. This is NOT a course to teach people how to farm, but is designed for all farmers, including beginning, transitioning, and established.

The benefits for beginning farmers are apparent, but as a transitioning or established farmer, you may wonder if you have any need for this program. The answer is a resounding “Yes.” One of the most exciting incentives is elevation in the Virginia Farm Link Database. Farm Link is an online database designed to bring those landowners interested in passing land on to the next generation together with those interested in gaining access to farmland and farming operations in Virginia. Those who are dubbed “certified” will receive special designation in the database, thereby increasing their chances of being contacted by a landowner. Other incentives include a one- time professional business plan review, social/networking opportunities with other farmers/landowners, and possibly cost-share in time with a transition mediator or attorney.

For more information, visit http://www.vdacs.virginia.gov/preservation/seeker.shtml or contact:

Stefanie Kitchen
certifiedfarmseekers@gmail.com
(804) 290-1030

Ron Saacke
ron.saacke@vafb.com
(804) 514-4202

Kevin Schmidt
kevin.schmidt@vdacs.virginia.gov
(804) 786-1346

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