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Shelli Mader: Road to Ranching 9-17-12

Shelli Mader
Hays, Kan.

When it comes to starting up a farm or ranch, the old saying is true — it’s often who you know that’s more important than what you know.

The Kansas Farmer’s Union (KFU) recognizes how important connections in agriculture are, so this week they are launching a program to help link want-to-be farmers with farmers who are retiring. KFU hopes that they can help a new generation of people start ranching and keep more family farms operating.

“We know that there’s a lot of people out there who want to farm and ranch, but with the wild dynamics in agriculture right now — things like high land and equipment prices — it’s hard to get started,” said Donn Teske, President of the KFU Board of Directors. “And we also know that there are producers out there who are passionate about agriculture and their farms, but they don’t have anyone in their family who wants to continue the tradition. Getting these two groups together is our goal.”

KFU applied for and received a small grant from Farmaid to help connect beginners with established farmers. Part of the grant money will go towards putting on their first free Beginning Farmer Workshop this Wednesday, September 19 in the Northwest Kansas town of Atwood.

“We know that there’s a lot of people out there who want to farm and ranch, but with the wild dynamics in agriculture right now — things like high land and equipment prices — it’s hard to get started.”

The event will have five speakers from Kansas and Nebraska speaking about things like the financial aspect of farm transition, bridging the gap between beginning and retiring farmers, the Kansas Ranch Institute’s internship program and the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture’s 100 Cow Program.

“We don’t have the funds to help beginners get started, but we do want to provide a place where beginners and veterans can connect and get all kinds of advice about how to go about the process of transition,” Teske said.

KFU hopes that the Atwood meeting is just one of many that they can host across the state.

Even if you don’t live in Kansas, your state farmers union may be starting a similar program or already have something in place. According to Nick Levendofsky, KFU Special Projects Coordinator, the National Farmers Union is currently putting a “big focus” on beginning farmers and ranchers. It would worth the effort to call and see if they have any leads in your area.

So far, KFU doesn’t know of any retiring farmers near Scott City, but I’m glad I called and got my name out there. The more contacts a person can get the better!

For more information about the event in Atwood, please visit KansasFarmersUnion.org or call Levendofsky at (785) 527-0941. You can also find info about National Farmers Union at NFU.org or (202) 554-1600. ❖


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