Providing help to beginner farmers is goal on National Agriculture Day

A Connecticut senator is urging Congress to fund the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program at the highest levels possible.

U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy, in an announcement made on National Agriculture Day on March 18, said fully funding the program would strengthen opportunities for Connecticut’s beginning farmers and ranchers through access to enhanced training and capital.

The program provides grants to community organizations, educational institutions, federal and state agencies, and other organizations to help educate and train new farmers across the country.

Many 'beginner farms' in state

In Connecticut, nearly one-third of farms are considered “beginning farms,” and are operated by one or more individuals who have 10 years or less of experience operating a farm or ranch.

Shelton is home is working farms of various sizes. They produce vegetables, fruit, Christmas trees, beef- and poultry-related products, and other items.

Boost to the state economy

“Connecticut’s farmers contribute a whopping $2 billion to the state’s economy each year, employing our friends and neighbors and driving economic growth,” said Murphy, a Democrat in his first Senate term.

“But for new and aspiring farmers, it can be particularly challenging to get started,” he said. “Beginning farmers often need a little extra help to get off the ground, and the USDA’s Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program has been proven to give them the tools and resources they need to break into the industry.

“Fully funding this program is the smartest investment we can make in the future of Connecticut’s agricultural industry, and I look forward to working with my colleagues to make it happen,” Murphy said.