Training the next generation of farmers
The Beginning Farmer Webinar Series is a response to ongoing inquiries from those with little to no experience in farming.
In 2012, Michigan State University Extension developed the Beginning Farmer Webinar Series as a response to ongoing inquiries from those with little to no experience in farming, but who had an interest in engaging in agriculture in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.
As interest increased, the webinar series expanded into a statewide effort. Over the past five years, MSU Extension presented 73 Beginning Farmer webinars with 960 total participants.
Webinar topics cover a large variety of topics, including expanding a farm business, making farm operation choices, creating new jobs and developing or changing a farm business plan that includes marketing, finances, operation size and commodities produced.
To determine long-range impacts, online surveys were sent to all people who participated in the program over a five-year period. Of the survey responses:
- 57% indicated the webinar series contributed to starting a farming business.
- 45% expanded their current business as a result of the program.
- 70% indicated the webinar series contributed to making changes to their farming operation.
- For 12% of respondents, the webinar series contributed to creating new jobs