Northern Plains RC&D Council and FARRMS Offer Farmer Education in Northeast ND

Staff Report

Farmer-led sustainable business planning course helps launch new farmers

CANDO, N.D. – The Northern Plains Resource Conservation and Development Council has partnered with the Foundation for Agriculture, Rural Resources Management and Sustainability (FARRMS) to offer the Farm Beginnings® course for northeastern ND. The sustainable farm business course for beginning and transitioning farmers will be held online from late January through early April 2021. Participants will learn goal setting, whole farm planning, business plan development, financial management, marketing practices, and natural resource stewardship. Registration is $25 per student, and tuition is $500 per farm. Scholarships are available. For more information and to register, visit www.farrms.org/succeed.

Farm Beginnings® is a unique farmer-led, community-based program rooted in sustainable farming. Students connect with experienced North Dakota growers who are implementing the sustainable practices taught throughout the course. The course includes videos, business planning tools, live online class discussions, virtual farm tours and connections to local resources such as financing, service providers, and peer networks. Students will complete a sustainable business plan for their own farm enterprise by the end of the course. Farm Beginnings® is a certified borrower training course for USDA Farm Service Agency and graduates are eligible for FSA loans.

Northern Plains RC&D Council conducted a feasibility study in 2019, assessing the potential demand and economic impact of local foods in northeastern ND. They learned that the demand for locally produces food and ag products far exceeds what is available. “I see great opportunities for new producers of local food in our region,” said Paul Overby, President of Northern Plains RC&D Council. He added, “More people want to know that their food was grown locally and to know the person who grew it. For many that means starting their own farms and food businesses. We have partnered with FARRMS to provide the education and resources for these beginning farmers to succeed.”

The Northern Plains RC&D Council, founded in 1991, is a not-for-profit organization whose mission is to “Build partnerships which promote leadership development and the wise use of natural resources, resulting in a desirable quality of life for the residents of northeastern North Dakota.” The Council received funding from a USDA Rural Development grant to help pay for the Farm Beginnings classes.

FARRMS provides educational programs and support to grow sustainable agriculture and local food systems in North Dakota. They work to enhance the sustainability of farms and ranches in their communities and currently operate from the Tuttle Rural Innovation Center in the Tuttle School in Tuttle, ND. Learn more about Farm Beginnings® and all of FARRMS’ programs at www.farrms.org

K. William Boyer is the Managing Editor of the Devils Lake News Journal. He can be reached at kboyer@gannett.com, or by phone at (701) 662-2127.  Follow him on Twitter, @KWBOYER_DLJ.