Training for Success: Resources and Tools for Working with Beginning Farmers and Ranchers

In partnership with Farm Credit Council, Farm Foundation hosted the Resources and Tools for Working with Beginning Farmers and Ranchers Conference, December 10 – 11, 2020. This conference brought together organizations and practitioners to showcase resources, tools and success stories for supporting beginning farmers and ranchers.

All session recordings are now available! Check out the session descriptions below and head over to our YouTube page to watch the recordings.

Session One
Recognizing the Range of Financial Skills Training Methods
There is huge variation in the financial skills component of training programs for beginning farmers and ranchers (BFRs), reflecting the multitude of farm business types as well as the diversity of BFRs themselves. This session identified the characteristics of teaching methods that achieve educational impact. Principles of effective instruction were mined from the knowledge of presenters who have successfully used experiential training, benchmarking, direct incentives and other approaches to make financial skills education stick.

Session Two
Creating Training Communities: Leveraging Partnerships from Local to National
If it takes a village to raise a successful farmer, why do BFR training programs often try to do it all themselves? This session examined how creating, leveraging, and nurturing effective collaboration among BFR training programs brings exponential benefits to BFR trainees. Panelists described how partnering increases BFR exposure to different types and scales of farm businesses, subject matter training expertise, USDA resources, and helps each BFR build their own network of suppliers, advisers, and markets. 

Session Three
New Tools for Practitioners
No matter the job at hand, a tool that is easy to pick up, obvious in its use, and effective in its performance is what we are all looking for.  This session showed where to find lists of resources as well as specific tools for training BFRs, where to get them, how to use them, and what benefit the tools will provide for your BFR trainees. The tools address farmland cost calculations, baseline knowledge survey of BFR trainee business skills, and farm business succession and transition. Panelists described how they have integrated these tools into their existing training curricula, and what tools they would like to see next.

Session Four
Entrance Strategy Success Stories
What contributes to BFR farm business success may depend on your viewpoint. This panel offered different perspectives on the same success story by pairing BFRs with their loan officers. The whole process of farm start-up, planning, financing, mentoring, management, and assessment was told with an ear towards what training, tools, decision points, and strokes of luck came together to achieve farm business success—and how some of that story can be told on a spreadsheet.

Session Five
Supporting Generational Transfers
There may be no farm business situation that is more complicated than succession planning and implementation, and no more rewarding outcome for those who work with BFRs. So, is there a viable farm business that can be transferred, or is this a farmland real estate transaction? That is the starting point for this clear-eyed examination of farm succession planning and implementation. Panelists explained farm succession planning, the implementation process, impact on the family and farm business, and success rate from different perspectives.