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About Start Farming - Supporting the Next Generation of Farmers

Start Farming is a state-wide initiative to support new and next generation producers.

A team of extension educators works with partnering organizations to support successful farm start-up. This program supports beginning producers exploring, planning and establishing their farms as well as new women farmers, young next generation producers and next generation Hispanic producers.

The Program aims to enhance the success of beginning farmers by providing education and hands-on training in: production, marketing, financial management, land acquisition, and other resource acquisition.

This project serves those:

  • Exploring farming, not yet sure if it’s right for you. You may (or may not) own land, but have not yet taken any steps to develop an agricultural business.
  • Planning: Committed to starting a farm in the next two years but haven’t yet begun production.
  • Start-up: Already farming for 1 to 2 years, still exploring and learning what is and isn’t going to work for your particular operation.
  • Young Next Generation: If you are taking over the family operation, developing your new enterprise and innovating production practices.
  • Next Generation Hispanic: If you want to develop your agricultural career toward skilled labor, management and ownership. La mayoría de los oportunidades aquí son en Español y en Ingles.
  • Establishing: Farming for 3-7 years.
  • New Women Farmers: In addition to courses and workshops for all new farmers these opportunities are designed specifically for women farmers.
  • Innovating: Are you considering transitioning your farm to a new enterprise? For example from dairy to beef. Are you considered adding a value added enterprise?

The Penn State University, College of Agricultural Sciences, Cooperative Extension; and the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, USDA, provide funding for the Penn State Start Farming Program.

Two grants support Penn State's Extension programs for a next generation of farmers.

Penn State reached 857 new farmers through workshops and 73,000 through online content in the 2012-2013 programming year.

Penn State Extension’s Start Farming program supports beginning and aspiring farmers. Courses, online resources, farmer-to-farmer networking opportunities, and hands-on training help aspiring farmers decide if farming is for them and successfully start farming for profit.