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The Virginia Beginning Farmer and Rancher Coalition (VBFRC) is collaborative in nature to adequately address the start-up needs of farmers and ranchers in Virginia. Coalition partners have a strong record of providing training and resource services to farmers and ranchers in Virginia.  For organizational resources specific to Virginia through Coalition members, please visit the Coalition page and our VBFRCP Technical Assistance and Resource Directory. The VBFRC is not the only source of information, however, and we have compiled a list of online resources that include:


Virginia-Specific Online Resources for Beginning Farmers & Ranchers 

Knowledge Center, The Farm Credit of the Virginias is a component of the newly created Knowledge Center with the Farm Credit of the Virginias.  The purpose of this resource is to help share information for all types of farmers, including young, beginning, small, second profession and commercial producers.

Virginia Agriculture Teacher Directory, 2013-2014.  This directory helps you connect to your local agriculture teachers as a resource for new and beginning farmer training and education.

Virginia FAIRS:  Virginia Foundation for Agriculture, Innovation and Rural Sustainability

Virtual Business Center.  To assist rural Virginians in developing and advancing their agricultural, economic, and social interests to enhance their quality of life.

Virginia Farm to Table Plan:  Healthy Farms and Healthy Food for the Common Wealth and Common Good.

The goal of the initiative was to strengthen Virginia’s food system and economic future through the development of a comprehensive Virginia Farm to Table Plan that informs and integrates assessment, education, development of programs and infrastructure, policy and funding recommendations to address key issues facing farmers, food entrepreneurs, and communities.

Planning the Future of Your Farm:  A Workbook Supporting Farm Transfer Decisions, Virginia Edition (2017)

This workbook is primarily used by farm families looking to transition their agriculture operation.  Families can use the workbook by themselves or under the guidance of a trusted outside party.  This workbook is a needed resource for any agriculture producer looking to transfer their operation to future generations, family and non-family members alike.  

Virginia Farm Bureau

For Decades, Virginia Farm Bureau has been helping farmers by promoting the Commonwealth's agriculture industry and working with policymakers to create an environment where agriculture can prosper to improve the lives of all Virginians.  

Farm Credit University --- AG Business Planner

FCU is a blended eLearning program for agricultural lenders and producers nationwide, combining the best of many training mediums. By utilizing high tech and high touch components, the training provides a state-of-the-art learning experience.

Southside Virginia Community College Agribusiness Program

Agribusiness includes not only farm production, but also the many businesses and organizations that support and provide inputs to farmers. Southside Community College offers degrees in Agribusiness.  Students may obtain a Career Studies Certificate in Agribusiness (20 credit hours of coursework) or pursue an Associates Degree with an emphasis in Agribusiness.

Virginia Community College System --- All Programs

A listing of all programs offered within the Virginia Community College System and location of the community college where programs are available in Virginia.  

Virginia Cooperative Extension (VCE)

VCE offers educational resources for many farmers, including beginning farmers.  For example, the Virginia Beginning Farmer and Rancher Coalition Program is a state-wide coalition-model Extension program.  Visit the VCE website  to locate your nearest Extension agent or specialists for more information about programming and technical assistance on a variety of start-up topics.  Local offices and research centers can also be located by visiting local office websites.

Virginia Produce Safety Website

This website is intended to provide information about the efforts of the Virginia Fresh Produce Food Safety Team, as well as timely and science-based resources geared to reducing fresh producecontamination risks, beginning at the farm level, progressing through the market-place to the final end-user, the consumer. 

Virginia Handbook for Small Food Manufacturers

This handbook has been designed with the small food processor in mind. This guide has been produced to provide one-stop shopping for the important information and resources that producers need to ensure that their small food business protects consumers’ health and complies with Virginia’s food safety regulations. The goal of this handbook is to ensure that producers have all the information they need to produce a safe, wholesome and unadulterated product. 



National & Regional Online Resources for Beginning Farmers & Ranchers

American Farmland Trust

The mission of the American Farmland Trust is to protect farmland, promote sound farming practices, and keep farmers on the land. Two publications to note are Cultivating the Next Generation: Resources and Policies to Help Beginning Farmers Succeed in Agriculture Report and their Access to Land resources.

Alternative Farming Systems Information Center (AFSIC)

The Alternative Farming Systems Information Center (AFSIC) specializes in identifying resources about sustainable food systems and practices in support of USDA's effort to ensure a sustainable future for agriculture and farmers worldwide.


This site offers a comprehensive and up to date compilation of information resources for new, experienced, and potential farmers, as well as educators, activists, and policy makers interested in the development of new farm enterprises.


This site features an online application designed specifically for small-scale farms with simple, clean digital record-keeping, crop and sales channels reports, QuickBooks integration, CSA tracking, and a pricing tool.

Center for Rural Affairs:  Beginning Farmer and Rancher Opportunities program

The Center for Rural Affairs is a longstanding organization that helps beginning farmers and ranchers gain access to the land, financing, knowledge and skills that they need to make a successful start.

Farm Commons

Farm Commons fosters the discussions and connections between farmers and attorneys that build a strong legal backbone for the agricultural community


Farmers' Legal Action Group, Inc. (FLAG) is a nonprofit law center dedicated to providing legal services and support to family farmers and their communities in order to help keep family farmers on the land.


The Greenhorns is a grassroots non-profit organization made up of young farmers and many collaborators.   Their aim is to recruit, promote and support the new generation of young farmers in the 21st century America.   Online resources and social networking opportunities.

Land For Good

Farm For Good aims to ensure the future of farming in New England by putting more farmers more securely on more land. Their resources are helpful to farmers nationwide. Their Land Access Toolboxes and Land Access Case Studies are great resources that address farmland access, tenure and transfer issues.

Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service (MOSES)

MOSES resources are for the beginning farmer.  They are based in the Midwest, but they still are applicable for gathering information and resources.

National Young Farmers' Coalition

The National Young Farmers' Coalition surveyed 1,000 young and beginning farmer's across the United States.  This report outlines the challenges of beginning farmers.  

National Young Farmers' Coalition Farm Service Agency Loans Publication

The guidebook is written specifically to help beginning farmers and ranchers navigate the credit options offered by the Farm Service Agency, and was made possible by a cooperative agreement with FSA. 

New England Small Farm Institute, Growing New Farmers Project

The GNF Project was the first of its kind to provide a comprehensive website of resources for beginning farmers as well as service provides who work with beginning farmers.  The website includes online program materials, research reports, practical and tools created by GNF Project partners. All of these resources can now be found in the “for new farmers and service provider sections” of the website.  The New England Small Farm Institute is the home organization of the project.

New England Small Farm Institute, Exploring the Small Farm Dream Program

Organization helping people to start small-scale commercial farming (farming as a business with intent to make a profit, rather than as a hobby or pastime), learn what it will take to start and manage a farm business, and decide whether that is something they really want to pursue.  

The Northeast Beginning Farmer Project

The NE BF Project is housed at the Cornell Small Farms Program and funded by the USDA’s Beginning Farmers and Ranchers Development Program.   Similar to the NY Beginning Farmer Project, this larger program offers online courses taught by experienced Extension educators

Rodale Institute Next Generation

A section of the Rodale website that features news and resources for beginning farmers and ranchers, the next generation of agriculture. 

Small Farm Digest

Several USDA Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Programs are featured, including the Virginia Beginning Farmer and Rancher Coalition Project.  See Page 78.  

Southern (SARE) Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education

The Southern Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program is a USDA competitive grants program supporting agriculture that is profitable, environmentally sound, and good for communities.  Southern Region SARE is administered by a host consortium consisting of the University of Georgia and Fort Valley State University with staff located at the University of Georgia-Griffin Campus, Fort Valley State University, and the Kerr Center for Sustainable Agriculture in Oklahoma.

SARE Farmers' Guide to Business Structures

Farmers’ Guide to Business Structures describes the fundamentals of sole proprietorships, general partnerships, limited liability companies and C, S and B corporations in straightforward language. The pros and cons of nonprofit and cooperative business models are addressed, and the guide includes checklists, sample operating agreements and bylaws to help farmers draft organizing documents. A hard copy can also be ordered online.

Tuft University: New Entry Sustainable Farming Project

New Entry Sustainable Farming Project began in 1998. New Entry is one of the first initiatives nationwide to assist immigrants and refugees to develop commercial farming opportunities.

Veggie Compass: Whole-Farm Profit Management

Veggie Compass is an ongoing project at the University of Wisconsin-Madison that involves the development of whole farm profit management tools and workshops. Their tools are designed to help growers improve on-farm decision making and financial farm planning in order to maximize profitability and ensure the continuation of sustainable farms.


Federal Government Resources

USDA one-stop website to connect new farmers and ranchers with USDA resources, programs and support

USDA, National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service (ATTRA)

ATTRA offers resources for beginning farmers and ranchers and people who work with them.   You can learn about running a farm, transitioning to organic, business management, and marketing.  There are also links to other resources outside of ATTRA under each topic.                                          

USDA, Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS)

AMS provides information on organic certification, market news, transportation of goods, and local food marketing.

USDA, Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP)

A federal program to address the needs of the changing agriculture generation, Section 7410 of the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 (Pub .L. No. 110-234) amended Section 7405 of the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002 and made available in FY 2009, $17.2 million to fund a Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP). According to these legislations, a beginning farm is considered to be one that is operated by one or more operators who have 10 years or less of experience operating a farm or ranch.

USDA, FarmAnswers.org

FarmAnswers.org is the USDA-NIFA beginning farmer and rancher (BFRDP) clearinghouse, providing resources to help you get started farming, as well as tools to help more seasoned producers succeed. Here, 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. 

USDA, Farm Service Agency (FSA)

FSA focuses on price support loans and payments, conservation programs, incentive, indemnity, and disaster payments for commodities, and other farm disaster assistance.   FSA now provides a new online Tool to Assist Beginning and Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers.

USDA, Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS)

NRCS works with landowners through conservation planning and assistance designed to benefit the soil, water, air, plants, and animals that result in productive lands and healthy ecosystems.
(State Offices)

USDA, Office of Advocacy and Outreach (OAO)

Through coordination and collaboration, the Office of Advocacy and Outreach works across USDA to enhance access to services for the communities we serve.  

USDA, Rural Development (RD)

RD is committed to helping improve the economy and quality of life in rural America by supporting loans to businesses through banks , credit unions and community-managed lending pools. (State Offices)

USDA, NIFA Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education (SARE) Learning Center

SARE's Learning Center is a treasure trove of sustainable agriculture information--searchable by type of product and topic.  Supported by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, and the United States Department of Agriculture.

USDA, Local Food Systems Concepts, Impacts, and Issues

This comprehensive overview of local food systems explores alternative definitions of local
food, estimates market size and reach, describes the characteristics of local consumers and
producers, and examines early indications of the economic and health impacts of local food


Mentoring Guidebooks

The On-Farm Mentor's Guide: practical approaches to teaching on the farm

Smith, M. (2005).  The On-Farm Mentor's Guide: Practical Approaches to Teaching on the Farm.  New England Small Farm Institute.  Belchertown, MA

Cultivating a New Crop of Farmers: Is On-Farm Mentoring Right for You and Your farm?

Hayes, K. (2005).  Cultivating a New Crop of Farmers: Is On-Farm Mentoring Right for You and your Farm?  A Decision-Making Workbook.  New England Small Farm Institute.  Belchertown, MA.


Research Literature

Expanding the Boundaries of Beginning Farmer Training and Program Development: A Review of Contemporary Initiatives To Cultivate a New Generation of American Farmers

Niewolny, K., & Lillard, P. (2010). Expanding the boundaries of beginning farmer training and program development: A review of contemporary initiatives to cultivate a new generation of American farmers. Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development, 1(1), 65-88.  

Success in Farm Start-ups in the Northeastern United States

Gillespie, G. W. Jr., & Johnson, S. E. (2010). Success in farm start-ups in the northeastern United States. Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development, 1(1), 31-48.

Farm Succession and Retirement: Some International Comparisons

Lobley, M., & Baker, J. R., & Whitehead, I. (2010). Farm succession and retirement: Some international comparisons. Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development, 1(1), 49-64.    

Creating Access to Land Grant Resources for Multicultural and Disadvantaged Farmers

Ostrom, M., & Cha, B., & Flores, M. (2010). Creating access to land grant resources for multicultural and disadvantaged farmers.Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development, 1(1), 89-105.

Theme Overview: Innovations to Support Beginning Farmers and Ranchers

McFadden, D. T., & Sureshwaran, S. (2011). Theme Overview: Innovations to support beginning farmers and ranchers. Choices Magazine Online, 2nd quarter. 

Potential Challenges for Beginning Farmers and Ranchers

Ahearn, M.C. (2011).  Potential challenges for beginning farmers and ranchers. Choices Magazine Online, 2nd quarter.  

U.S. Farm Bill Resources and Programs for Beginning Farmers

Sureshwaran, S., & Ritchie, S. (2011).  U. S. Farm Bill resources and programs for beginning farmers. Choices Magazine Online,2nd quarter.  

A Representative Farm Approach to Outreach with Beginning Farmers and Ranchers

Zimmel, P., & Wilcox, L. (2011). A representative farm approach to outreach with beginning farmers and ranchers. Choices Magazine Online, 2nd quarter.

Approaching Beginning Farmers as a New Stakeholder for Extension

Meyer, L., & Hunter, J., & Katchova, A., & Lovett, S., & Thilmany, D., & Sullins, M., & Card, A., Approaching beginning farmers as a new stakeholder for extension. Choices Magazine Online, 2nd quarter.

America's New Agrarians:  Policy Opportunities and Legal Innovations to Support New Farmers

Hamilton, Neil D. (2011). America's new agrarians:  policy opportunities and legal innovations to support new farmers.HeinOnline.

Preserving Farmland, Creating Farms, and Feeding Communities

Hamilton, Neil D.(1999). Preserving Farmland, Creating Farms, and Feeding Communities. HeinOnline.    

Evaluating Financial and Economic Factors Contributing to the Sustainability of Beginning Farms: Evidence from Five Farms in Tennessee and Virginia

Velandia, M., Trejo-Pech, C. O., Morris, D., Wszelaki, A., Niewolny, K., MacAuley, L. (2017). Institute of Agriculture, University of Tennessee. 



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The Virginia Beginning Farmer & Rancher Coalition is a state-wide and coalition-based Extension program, housed in Virginia Tech’s Department of Agricultural, Leadership, and Community Education. Funding was sponsored by the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP) of the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) Award #2017-70011-26861, and the Southern Risk Management Education Center Grant #545015. For more information about the program, contact Katie Trozzo, Program Coordinator, at vabeginningfarmer@vt.edu or 540-231-4582.   For other questions, contact Kim Niewolny, Program Director, at niewolny@vt.edu.

For website updates, such as broken links, please contact vabeginningfarmer@vt.edu