Beginning Farmer Sustainable Agriculture Project

Project Overview

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 1993: $109,000.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/1995
Matching Federal Funds: $10,000.00
Matching Non-Federal Funds: $244,160.00
Region: North Central
State: Nebraska
Project Coordinator:
Wyatt Fraas
Center for Rural Affairs

Annual Reports

Information Products


  • Agronomic: corn, cotton, potatoes, soybeans, wheat
  • Animals: bovine, poultry, sheep, swine


  • Animal Production: manure management
  • Crop Production: cover crops
  • Education and Training: farmer to farmer, focus group, study circle, workshop
  • Farm Business Management: whole farm planning
  • Natural Resources/Environment: biodiversity, wildlife
  • Pest Management: row covers (for pests)


    The Beginning Farmer Sustainable Agriculture Project seeks to create a more sustainable future for agriculture by enhancing opportunities for beginning farmers to start farming using sustainable farming methods. Sustainable agriculture and beginning farmers are a natural fit. Beginning farmers are generally more open to sustainable farming than established farmers who have already made emotional, intellectual and financial commitments to conventional methods. The sustainable agricultural strategy of substituting hands-on management and skilled labor for capital and other purchased inputs offers opportunities for beginning farmers, who lack finances but have time and management ability, to build the equity needed to get started farming. This project is a cooperative effort between beginning farm families, local community leadership, the Center for Rural Affairs, the Center for Holistic Resource Management, the University of Nebraska Agricultural Economics Department and the Nebraska Sustainable Agriculture Society.

    The project has organized beginning farm families into mutual-help networks in eastern Nebraska. A special advisory committee of beginning farm families has helped shape and guide the project. The project has supported and cooperated with beginning farm families as they practiced holistic farm management and applied sustainable agricultural practices in whole-farm strategies to get started farming. Specific support network activities included group meetings, short courses, informational workshops, construction workshops, farm tours, on-farm research and on-farm consultation with farm families. The project has gathered information for descriptive case studies of participating farm families who agreed to keep whole-farm records including finances, energy and chemical use, and other environmental measures.

    Project objectives:

    1. Provide educational support to mutual-help groups of beginning farmers.

    2. Collect and analyze data from cooperating farm families on their start-up strategies.

    3. Publish whole-farm case studies of farm-entry strategies for cooperating farm families and publish decision case studies of critical decisions in the farm entry process.

    4. Disseminate the process and results of this project.

    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.