A Southwest Virginia Perspective of Beginning Farmers’ Needs for Adult Agricultural Education: A Focus Group Approach
Byrd, Alexander Preston
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Beginning farmers are a very diverse population of people that play an important role in communities across the United States. Today’s beginning farmers are perhaps best understood as tomorrow’s sustainable producers by way of contributing to much need food production, viable economic development, and community well-being .Without beginning farmers to take the place of those farmers exiting or retiring, communities nationwide could see a decline in agriculture production, farmland preservation, and local economic opportunities. A beginning farmer striving to become a successful producer is likely to encounter numerous challenges in which they must overcome. Helping these new and beginning agriculturalists is a central focus for several adult agriculture education organizations. In its many forms, adult agriculture education provides information to help local farmers become successful by meeting expressed needs and overcoming the challenges they face. In Floyd County, Virginia, there several of these organizations available to the public such as: Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Young Farmers, Farm Bureau Young Farmers, and the Virginia Association of Biological Farmers. However, if you look at the members of these organizations you will not see many beginning farmers. With the importance of beginning farmers to the future of agriculture and food systems, what are these organizations currently doing to help ensure their success in getting established?