Next Generation Initiative | Bulletin

September 2016

We are pleased to announce that our Next Generation Initiative partner, New Entry Sustainable Farming Project (New Entry) at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University, was recently awarded a grant by USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) to launch a nationwide network of farm and ranch apprenticeship programs. A press release describing the effort is available here. Co-Chair Jim Moseley reflects on the importance of this work in an AGree blog.

The concept for the network was developed through deliberations among the AGree Advisors and other thought leaders. We are proud to partner with New Entry and confident that with their technical skills and know-how they will put this idea into action in a stellar fashion.

The nationwide network will coordinate more than 30 farm organizations to:

  1. Raise the Bar – strengthen existing training programs to provide higher quality services to a larger number of farmer/rancher trainees and graduates, including certification of apprenticeship programs;
  2. Create a Strong Unified Voice – form a cohesive platform for advocacy at the state, regional, and national levels to achieve needed structural and institutional change;
  3. Promote Careers in Agriculture – develop a national communications campaign to attract prospective new farmers and ranchers to the industry;
  4. Support “Graduates” in Transition – provide support services and resources to independent operators and managers who have graduated from existing beginning farmer and rancher programs as they work to establish and scale their operations; and
  5. Connect and Engage Diverse Industry Sectors to Support New Entrants – build connections to better link graduates to food producers and companies.

To learn more about AGree’s Next Generation Initiative, please contact Mil Duncan (MDuncan@merid.org).

April 2016

Through the Next Generation Initiative, AGree is partnering with the New Entry Sustainable Farming Project to develop a learning network to support beginning farmer and rancher training programs across the United States. New Entry, an 18 year old program at Tufts University's Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, works locally, regionally in the North East, and across the country to strengthen local food systems by supporting new farmers. New Entry will manage the network once it is established.

Since a July 2015 meeting with dozens of new and beginning farmer and rancher organizations, New Entry and AGree have been working to get the network up and running. In December 2015 and January 2016, New Entry led the development of a proposal to USDA's National Institute for Food and Agriculture (NIFA) for support for the network’s apprenticeship work. The proposal included 31 groups who will offer their expertise and in-kind support to the effort.

New Entry and AGree are actively fundraising to secure resources for network members to reconvene in 2016 and begin work on five major areas:

  1. Raise the Bar – strengthen existing training programs to provide higher quality services to a larger number of farmer/rancher trainees and graduates, including certification of apprenticeship programs;
  2. Create a Strong Unified Voice – form a cohesive platform for advocacy at the state, regional, and national levels to achieve needed structural and institutional change;
  3. Promote Careers in Agriculture – develop a national communications campaign to attract prospective new farmers and ranchers to the industry;
  4. Support "Graduates" in Transition – provide support services and resources to independent operators and managers who have graduated from existing beginning farmer and rancher programs as they work to establish and scale their operations; and
  5. Connect and Engage Diverse Industry Sectors to Support New Entrants – build connections to better link graduates to food producers/companies.

To learn more about AGree’s Next Generation Initiative, please contact Mil Duncan (MDuncan@merid.org).

July 2015

AGree’s Next Generation Initiative recently released a groundbreaking paper that comprehensively examines the status and evolution of K-12 food and ag education in the U.S. In addition, a diverse group of beginning farmer and rancher programs across the country is coalescing around a joint strategy to better support new entrants.

AGree is partnering with New Entry Sustainable Farming Project at Tufts University's Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy to strengthen, coordinate, and expand programs that attract new farmers and ranchers to agriculture and provide them the experience, mentoring, and resources necessary to be successful operators and managers. Following a mid-July convening of diverse beginning farmer and rancher program, AGree is working closely with New Entry to define and vet the actions that emerged in the discussions. AGree and New Entry will explore creating national and regional partnerships of beginning farmer and rancher programs and work with them to strengthen and professionalize existing groups and develop a unified voice and communications plan. To learn more about the Next Generation Farmers and Ranchers project, please contact Mil Duncan (MDuncan@merid.org).

In mid-July, AGree released a background paper, Food and Agricultural Education in the United States, authored by Stephanie Mercier, former Chief Economist of the U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee and currently with the Farm Journal Foundation. This paper is the most comprehensive summary to date of the current state of play in K-12 food and agriculture education, its evolution, and ideas that could help to focus and modernize instruction. The paper outlines five recommendations to strengthen food and ag education, laying the foundation for the U.S. food and ag sector to meet the challenges facing the global food and ag system in the 21st century.

 

January 2015

AGree’s Next Generation Initiative worked with Tufts University on developing a FarmerCorps pilot and continued work on a landscape analysis of youth agriculture education programs.

AGree’s Next Generation Initiative has engaged New Entry at Tufts University's Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy to plan a pilot phase of FarmerCorps in 2015. New Entry is exploring partnerships with diverse new farmer programs across the country to help develop a national program that can train and support new farmers as they prepare to manage or own their own operation. AGree will work to raise funds for this research and development phase in 2015. To learn more about the FarmerCorps project, please contact Mil Duncan (MDuncan@merid.org).

In May 2014, key partners in AGree’s Next Generation Initiative encouraged the AGree team to begin an analysis of the agriculture education landscape. Throughout much of the fall, AGree staff conducted interviews and discussions with advisors, funders, and partners to learn more about the landscape and opportunities to engage young people in agriculture, food, health, and natural resource topics. Research and interviews are ongoing; if you would like to share your background, programs, or organizations, please contact Chris Chopyak (CChopyak@merid.org). AGree looks forward to sharing the connections and findings in a "Point of View” paper in early 2015.

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