New @GROWMARK Program to Help Young Farmers

Cindy Zimmerman

fps-gmk-heatherAs a young farmer herself with her husband, Heather Thompson knows first-hand some of the challenges facing the new generation of agriculture.

“My husband and I are just getting back to our own family farm operation,” says Thompson, who is Young Producer Programs Manager for GROWMARK. Some of the challenges new young farmers face include farming with multiple generations, financial concerns, and dealing with legislative and regulatory issues.

As a result, GROWMARK is developing a new program to help young farmers face those challenges, and the first step is reaching out to them to determine their needs. “So we’ll be doing focus groups with young farmers, our member cooperatives, and current board members,” she said. “We’ll spend some time over the winter months developing a year-long program of leadership development.”

While the program will be generally aimed at “young” farmers, Thompson says they have no age limit in mind. “Farming’s changing and the face of farming is changing,” “So, a lot of people in my generation were encouraged to get jobs off the farm right out of school … so a young farmer might really be a beginning farmer.”

The program officially kicked off last month with the program development phase and GROWMARK hopes to have it in place by next summer.

Learn more in this interview from Farm Progress Show: Interview with Heather Thompson, GROWMARK

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