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San Juan County: Agricultural groups connecting new farmers to farmland

May 2nd, 2019 | Category: News

SAN JUAN – Through a new USDA Beginning Farmers and Ranchers Grant, several local and regional organizations are partnering to bring attention to the issues of aging farmers, rising land prices, and meeting the needs for new farmers in San Juan County.The goal of the program, Farmers to Farmland, is to connect new farmers to area resources and land options in San Juan County. In addition, this program seeks to connect farmland owners who wish to sell, lease or transfer their farmland to a farmer who will farm the land, as well as mentoring opportunities.

Funding from the grant supports San Juan Islands Agricultural Guild,  WSU San Juan County, and Northwest Agriculture Business Center. The San Juan Islands Agricultural Guild (sjiagguild.com) offers new farmers information about leasing or purchasing land, succession planning, and helping to link new farmers to available and appropriate farmland. WSU SJC (sanjuan.wsu.edu) connects new farmers to mentors with expertise in relevant crop production, and will also offer workshops on crop production, livestock, business planning and access to capital. The NABC (agbizcenter.org) can offer direct support for new farmers to develop a viable business plan, necessary for obtaining funding. Whidbey Island Conservation District (WICD) and the Organic Farm School (OFS), located on Whidbey Island are also partners in the grant, WICD by supporting access to farmland on Whidbey, and OFS through 9-month training programs for new farmers (organicfarmschool.org).

“There are many exciting opportunities for new farmers to start growing food for local or regional markets,” said Peggy Bill, Coordinator of the Ag Guild’s Farmers to Farmland Program, “and also for current farmland owners seeking to retire and transfer their land or provide a long-term lease to new farmers.  We want to hear from new farmers seeking support, and farmland owners seeking to retire or to lease their farmland.”

For the purposes of this grant, a “new farmer” is defined by the USDA as someone who has farmed for less than 10 years.Support is also available through this USDA grant to connect new farmers to mentors, business planning, access to capital, and technical assistance on crop production.

If you are a new farmer seeking access to land, a farmland owner seeking someone to farm your land, a farmer seeking mentoring from an experienced farmer, or a new farmer interested in a 9-month training program, contact farmer@sjiagguild.com or call 360-378-0095. An application and other information is available online at https://sjiagguild.com; click on Farmers-to-Farmland under the Programs sidebar.

 

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