Blog for Rural America

The Center for Rural Affairs, a private, non-profit organization, is working to strengthen small businesses, family farms and ranches, and rural communities. Permission to reprint items from this web log is hereby granted, on the condition that clear credit is given to the original source of the material. If the blog provides information for a story, please let us know by sending an email to

Friday, May 27, 2005

Program to Aid Beginning Farmers Coming to Nebraska!

-- from the desk of Russ Gifford, Director Communications/Development
Center for Rural Affairs

May 27, 2005

The Farm Beginnings™ program is coming to Nebraska.
This program unites many groups and organizations in Nebraska to create all the tools necessary to support and foster new farmers. During the first eight years of the Minnesota version of this project, 222 people have completed the Farm Beginnings™ coursework. Over 60 percent of those graduates are farming. Nearly 20 percent of Farm Beginnings™ graduates have moved from urban to rural areas.

“Since the mid-90’s the Center for Rural Affairs has been telling folks that in 10 years many farmers are going to retire,” said Martin Kleinschmit. “Well, here we are. Farmers are retiring. What now?”

With a smile, Kleinschmit, who is the Center’s Sustainable Agriculture Specialist adds, “Now is a good time for beginners to get started in the business of farming.”

To help the next generation of farmers make the connection with success, the Center for Rural Affairs (CFRA) has joined with some powerful partners to bring together the people, the financial tools, and the mindset needed to overcome this challenge. Those partners include the Nebraska Sustainable Agriculture Society (NSAS), the Land Stewardship Project (LSP), UNL Extension, 5 Rivers RC&D and the Nebraska Department of Agriculture.

All of these groups will gather in the Capital Rotunda to kick off the new program, on June 7, at 2 p.m. State Senators Roger Wehrbein of District 2, Plattsmouth, and Lavon Heidemann of District 1, Elk Creek, as well as other honored guests, will be present for the event. Chuck Hassebrook, Executive Director for the Center for Rural Affairs will speak, among others.

Farm Beginnings™ started in the mid-1990s in southeast Minnesota as a means to provide participants the opportunity to learn firsthand about low-cost, sustainable methods of farming. A grant from the USDA’s North Central Region Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program has provided for the expansion to Nebraska, Illinois and Missouri.

"If you don’t have farmers on the land, you don’t have a base for economic development,” said Kleinschmit. “The program provides beginners with the ‘How To’ for a successful career in agriculture while the existing programs provide the tools for reaching that goal.”

Farm Beginnings™ is the link that connects beginning farmers with success.
If you are interested in learning more about Farm Beginnings™, contact Martin Kleinschmit, Center for Rural Affairs,, at 402-254-6893.


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