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Conference Name Farm Business Training for Aspiring Farmers and Undergraduate Students

Tori Jackson

Summary

The So, You Want to Farm in Maine (SYWTFIM) short-course has been offered as a workshop series through UMaine Cooperative Extension for many years. Usually offered regionally and in-person, this is now the third year it was available online only as a synchronous Zoom course. SYWTFIM is designed to introduce farm business management topics such as enterprise budgeting, cash flow projections, recordkeeping, business planning, insurance, taxes, and regulations to those who are starting farms in Maine. Each class is designed to be interactive and features many guest speakers, including agriculture service providers from an array of sectors and those who are currently farming successfully. The 2022 series offered a different approach as participants included 44 aspiring farmers as well as 13 UMaine undergrads, providing the opportunity for richer discussions and connections between those interested in starting Maine farms imminently, as well as students, with a variety of backgrounds and experience. The undergraduates were teamed with aspiring farmers to create draft business plans and enterprise budgets over the course of five weeks. All participants had the opportunity to receive USDA Farm Service Agency borrower training credit, and undergraduates receive one credit for successful completion. This model is new to UMaine and is seen as an innovative way to create deeper connections between Cooperative Extension and the School of Food and Agriculture as undergraduates do not always know what Cooperative is and does, and the aspiring farmers may not have any previous connection to campus.

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