(08/04/21) BATON ROUGE, La. — The LSU AgCenter has received a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture through the Southern Extension Risk Management Education (SERME) to cater to the needs of beginning horticulture farm operators.
In a survey conducted by the Louisiana Young Farmers Coalition, members identified several marketing and financial topics of great need for beginning farmer training, including business management, marketing, enterprise diversification and record keeping.
This program will offer a series of webinars, hands-on workshops and farm tours to train new farmers, making them more resilient to risk, particularly in the areas of finance and marketing.
The financial component focuses on financial risk diversification through financial literacy, preparation of an accurate and informative system of financial statements and the use of enterprise budgets and partial budgets. Other topics include ag-lenders and nontraditional lenders, land leasing and access to land. In addition, in-person workshops on computer bookkeeping programs, grant writing and loan applications will be offered.
The marketing component focuses on market-diversification and horticultural crops.
“The need for a more sustainable local food system was demonstrated by COVID-19 and the pressure and impact on long-distance supply chains,” said Maria Bampasidou, assistant professor in the Department of Agricultural Economics & Agribusiness. “There was a great increase in demand for short supply chains underlying local markets. During the pandemic, however, farmers were challenged and were successful if they were adapting to the new market conditions and opportunities.”
This program will discuss direct marketing opportunities such as farmers markets, community-supported agriculture programs (CSAs), farm to restaurant and online platforms to increase awareness of local market opportunities.
Farm visits will also function as networking events to connect mentees in the program with mentors who have innovated their farm businesses because of COVID-19.
Project collaborators include local farmers Allison Guidroz of Fullness Farm and Madeline Yoste of Compostella Farm, state agency representatives from the Natural Resource Conservation Service and the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry, as well as First South Farm Credit, SPROUT NOLA and LSU AgCenter horticulture extension agents.
The LSU AgCenter and the LSU College of Agriculture