Cultivating Master Farmers Program Offers Opportunities

John DavisAg Group, Growmark

Learning from someone who has “been there and done that” can be some of the most valuable lessons of all. That’s why GROWMARK, along with the other sponsors, including 1st Farm Credit Services, Farm Credit Illinois, Illinois Farm Bureau, Monsanto, and Prairie Farmer are looking for applicants for the Cultivating Master Farmers (CMF) program for the class of 2017.

Now in its tenth year, the Cultivating Master Farmer program has provided expert farm and family guidance from folks who have walked the walk. This unique mentoring program links young farmers with a wealth of information from Prairie Farmer’s Master Farmers.

cultivatingmasterfarmersClasses of approximately 10 young farmers (21 to 35 years old) and 10 Master Farmers are selected for the two-year program, which features six ag-related events. The Class of 2015, which graduates in July, toured the Chicago Farmer’s Market, the Federal Reserve, and the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. They also heard from acclaimed speakers on estate/succession planning, diversification on the farm, marketing strategies, how to give back, and managing working relationships with family members.

Like previous classes, incoming CMF members will have plenty of opportunity to hear from a top-notch slate of speakers. However, the real backbone of the program is the round-table discussion, where young farmers learn from Master Farmers and vice versa. Upon the completion of the two-year program, most participants have developed lasting relationships that continue to yield solid farm advice even after the program’s conclusion.

Young farmers need to get their applications in by March 31, 2015. They must be residents of Illinois, be between the ages of 21 to 35 as of Dec. 31, 2014, and actively engaged in production agriculture. They also must be willing to actively participate in the two-year program. Couples are encouraged to apply.

More information is on the GROWMARK website.