Delta Farming Start: A Beginning Farmer & Rancher Program

This week, our staff participated in the Beginning Farmers and Ranchers Development Program (BFRDP) Project Directors Meeting, hosted by USDA and Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service (MOSES). We had a chance to present a few highlights from year one of our BFRDP project, Delta Farming Start.

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In this three-year project, we provide basic business training (including a requirement to develop a business plan for leveraging a $500 dollar investment into increased revenue), technical assistance on farming and enterprise, mini-grants ($500 to start farming or increase income), and access to land and capital (IDAs and micro-loans). Our objective is to support 75 participants in this selective program. We have 45 participants in two cohorts so far.

Here’s why we believe this work matters: in the short-term, these efforts create opportunities for individuals to increase their incomes and in the long-term, we are building a stronger local economy rooted in community assets and traditions.

Delta Farming Start 2016 Panel Slide Deck

Our efforts are linked to the efforts of a mix of community partners. We need each other and support each other’s work. Just some of these partners include

  • Alcorn State U processing facility
  • Southern Rural Black Women’s Initiative
  • Tougaloo College extension, FarmAid program
  • AARP MS
  • local businesses, churches
  • USDA programs, such as National Institute for Food and Agriculture, Agricultural Marketing Service, and Rural Development
  • school food service departments
  • agricultural & technical high schools
  • and more…

Over the next two years, we are looking forward to

  • New cohorts
  • Maybe: more donated land for participants to use
  • Participants to utilize fully the special 3-to-1 matched savings-for-business accounts and apply for financing
  • Expanded youth programming

The USDA NIFA funding award supporting this project is helping us deliver on vision and mission for limited resource farmers, beginning farmers and ranchers, and farm workers.

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