Beginning Farmers and Ranchers Find One-Stop Shop in Farm Answers

FarmAnswers.org is a clearinghouse of information to help farmers and ranchers better manage their operations. Photo courtesy of Jeff Reisdorfer

The following guest blog from a web communications coordinator at the University of Minnesota’s Center for Farm Financial Management highlights the FarmAnswers.org information clearinghouse for new and beginning farmers and ranchers. Farm Answers is a vital element of the USDA-wide effort to make it easier for people to find USDA programs and services.

(The U.S. Department of Agriculture on April 11 opened a new information clearinghouse for new agriculture producers, FarmAnswers.org.)

Farmers and ranchers, like owners of other start-up companies, face serious challenges, including the need for easy to access, reliable information and technical assistance for getting their businesses started.

FarmAnswers.org is a website clearinghouse where farmers and ranchers can find online courses, videos, presentations, apps, and other materials – more than 3,175 at this time – to answer farming and ranching questions.  FarmAnswers is supported by a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) through its Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP).

"There is a lot of great info published by universities to help educate farmers and advance their businesses.  Sometimes it can be very hard to find, though," said Carl Lippert of Grass Ridge Farm in Pittsville, Wisc.  "FarmAnswers.org is the only place I know where you can find and search it all."

Farm Answers library items can easily be filtered to the specific information the user wants. Its programs section helps beginning farmers and ranchers find educational programs in their state or area on topics of particular interest to them. In addition, "toolboxes" give producers tools on topics like business planning, marketing products locally, and accessing land. Farm Answers was developed by the Center for Farm Financial Management at the University of Minnesota.

"Farm Answers is an essential hub of our large and growing portfolio of over 200 BFRDP projects providing education, mentoring, and assistance to new farmers and ranchers," said BFRDP National Program Leader Dr. Jill Auburn, NIFA's Institute of Food, Production and Sustainability.  "Not only does it help farmers find what they need, it helps educators share knowledge and tools to avoid "reinventing the wheel."

Farm Answers is a key partner of the USDA-wide effort to make it easier for people to find USDA programs and services for new farmers through a streamlined web site and discovery tool at usda.gov/newfarmers.  In addition to new farmers, the New Farmers website provides information specifically for women in agriculture, youth, and veterans.

NIFA invests in and advances agricultural research, education and extension and seeks to make transformative discoveries that solve societal challenges.

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