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Beginning Farmer Institute Inspires Next Generation

Danielle Endvick WFU Communications Director

Apply by December 1st to be considered for the National Farmers Union's next Beginning Farmer Institute cohort.


Since 2011, the Beginning Farmer Institute has been empowering the success of America’s next generation of farmers by providing mentorship, technical training and leadership development. The free year-long program is organized by National Farmers Union and addresses challenges new farmers face, like access to capital and land, marketing, and business planning.


Wisconsin Farmers Union has had strong representation in the program in past years and encourages those interested in the next round of the program to apply by December 1st.


My husband and I were on the cusp of re-imagining my family's former dairy farm around the time that I nonchalantly suggested we apply for the program. Our participation in the 2018-2019 BFI cohort created lifelong friendships and opened our eyes to the diversity of American agriculture, as we learned alongside farmers from many types of farms, including dairy, grain, hemp, vegetables, and more.


BFI class
Our 2018-2019 Beginning Farmers Union Institute cohort. (Photos courtesy of National Farmers Union)

Sometimes as beginning famers, we can get the cart before the horse as we charge onward in trying to establish a farm business. BFI helped us take a much-needed step back to identify what we’re really trying to accomplish, and then connected us with resources to make it achievable.


The program also empowers new farmers to find their voice and leverage it through National Farmers Union. The organization recognizes the larger systemic challenges that beginning farmers face and is doing a great deal of work to encourage fair and competitive markets, antitrust enforcement, and investment in rural infrastructure.


BFI participants on a farm tour in Salinas Valley, California.
Our BFI class toured farms in the Salinas Valley in California. The program introduces beginning farmers to the diversity of American agriculture.

Each gathering with our BFI class left us feeling inspired to do more on our farm and be the change we want to see in our rural communities. There was a hopefulness and passion in our group to not only excel at what we're doing on our farms but also to think beyond the farm gate to thriving local food networks and a strong future for family farm agriculture in our regions and across the country.


Our class learned from inspiring farmers who had overcome labor and land access struggles and carved out successful businesses.

About the Program

Three BFI trainings will be hosted virtually and another will be held in-person in St. Louis, Missouri. Each virtual training will be four hours spread over two days. The in-person training will span one weekend and will include a farm tour, shared meals, and social activities.


Participants who are making satisfactory progress will receive support to attend to their state or regional Farmers Union convention and the National Farmers Union Anniversary Convention at the conclusion of the program.


NFU covers costs associated with participation, including travel, lodging, and most meals during in-person programming. Applicants must be 18 years or older and should be currently farming or planning to start within the next year. Learn more and apply by Dec. 1st at nfu.org/beginning-farmer-institute/

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