Overview of Course
2012 BFRP Class
Fifty-five beginning ag producers attended the first workshop of the Kerr Center's 2013 Beginning Farmer and Rancher Program, Saturday, Jan. 19, at Kiamichi Vo-tech in Poteau, Oklahoma.
Kerr Center President Jim Horne greeted the class and introduced the center's partners: the Oklahoma Farmer and Rancher Association (OFRA), the Rural Smallholder Association (RSA), and the Mvskoke Food Sovereignty Initiative (MFSI). OSU Cooperative Extension Service is also a partner.
Participants then introduced themselves and described their farms. The diverse group ranged from those fresh out of school to those starting a new career. Most are from Oklahoma, with a sprinkling from surrounding states.
Jim Horne said that he and Kerr staff are inspired by “the goals and dreams” of the new agriculturists.
“Your enthusiasm is very contagious and we just love to help people that are appreciative and want to learn,” he added.
In the fall of 2011, the center and its partners received a grant from the USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program to conduct training programs.
Jim Horne, who marked his 40th year with the center in 2012, remarked on the changes he has seen over the years, from large numbers leaving agriculture to people coming back, often as a second career. He also noted the value of getting "back to basics" in these uncertain times.
The need for new farmers is great. When she announced the 2011 grant recipients, Deputy Agriculture Secretary Kathleen Merrigan said that now is a critical time to train the next generation of American producers.
“American agriculture supports one in twelve jobs in America,” she said. “But our farmers are aging, and more of our young people are looking outside of farming for their careers.”
Applications for next year’s class will be available later this year.