Building Institutional Support to Increase Farm Viability of Indiana’s Beginning Farmers

Project Overview

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2021: $89,046.00
Projected End Date: 09/30/2024
Grant Recipient: Purdue University
Region: North Central
State: Indiana
Project Coordinator:
Amy Thompson
Purdue Extension


  • Animals: poultry, swine
  • Animal Products: eggs, meat


  • Education and Training: extension, mentoring, networking
  • Sustainable Communities: partnerships

    Proposal abstract:

    In Indiana, more than 23,000 farmers self-identified as being a beginning farmer, having less than 10 years experience producing food, feed, fuel and/or fiber. These farmers are found in rural and urban areas, can be young or old, and often use a myriad of production systems. Because beginning farmers come from diverse backgrounds and oftentimes farm in non-traditional ways, it has been challenging for them to find resources from national, state, and local organizations. Also, available resources are often non-existent since few farmers were entering the field prior to 10 years ago and most resources were developed to meet the needs of traditional corn and soybean growers. As such, many beginning farmers lack the necessary production and financial tools to be able to maintain viable farming businesses. The intended target audience for this project will be agriculture professionals from local, state and national organizations that are working to increase farm viability of Indiana beginning farmers. The outcomes from this project will be to develop a robust and dynamic cross agency program that will increase the capacity of beginning farmers to be successful. Specific outcomes are a beginning farmer certification program, improved farm viability metrics on participating beginning farms and increased networking among all stakeholders. Activities will include diversity, equity and inclusion workshops, a workbook with checklist to support organizations supporting beginning farmers, webpage updates, video content for the certification program, farm tours to participating beginning farms, out of state field trip, and regular meetings with local, state and national organizations.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    Outputs include a Beginning Farmer Certification Program aimed at increasing the capacity of agriculture professionals. Within this program, materials will be developed such as videos, flow charts, checklists, and a workbook. These materials will be specific for agriculture professionals and included in the onboarding process of new hires. A coordinated webpage will also be an output with links to external agencies and other content that is beneficial to BFRs and agriculture professionals working with BFRs. A video library will be produced based on videos that have already been taken and new footage to complement previous recordings. These videos will be useful to agriculture professionals working with BFRs and in particular new hires who are learning about how to support BFRs. Information and knowledge will be generated and utilized by agriculture professionals to improve outreach to BFR stakeholders and increase the viability of their farms. Additionally, collaboration will be increased between local, state, and national agencies, with a renewed understanding of how each organization serves BFRs in the state.


    Specific target outputs:

    • At least 40 agriculture professionals will participate in the certification program
    • At least 40 agriculture professionals will participate in the DEI workshop
    • More than 100 agriculture professionals will attend the farm tours
    • More than 10 BFRs will participate in the out of state field trip
    • More than 10 agriculture professionals will participate in the out of state field trip
    • BFR materials, such as checklists and flow charts, will be available in local, state, and national offices
    • Webpages among the key partners will be linked and coordinated with information on how each organization supports BFRs
    • Video library will be available to all newly hired employees of key partners and they will be made aware of them during their onboarding process
    • 6 biannual meetings will be conducted between the key partners and BFRs
    • 10 in state BFR farm tours will be conducted
    • 10 BFR farmer panels will be delivered
    • One out of state multi-day field trip will be conducted to BFR farms and successful programs
    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.