Search for Excellence in Young, Beginning, or Small Farmers/Ranchers

Karla K Kean
Extension Agent III
Tennessee State University

Kean, K.K.*1, , Cui, Xiurui2, , Dugger3, , Goodrich, Jennifer4, , Hughes, David5, , Jordan, Charley6, , Legault, Eileen7, , Prather, Tim8, , Stribling, Finis9, , Waterman, Jo Anne10, , White, Joetta11,
1 Extension Agent III, Tennessee State University, Clarksville, TN, 37040
2 Ext. Area Specialist I Farm Management, University of Tennessee Extension, Clarksville, TN, 37040
3 Troy, Program Coordinator II; UT Center for Profitable Agriculture, Columbia, TN, 38401
4 TSU-Extension Agent II & Co. Director, Tennessee State University Cooperative Extension, Wartburg, TN, 37887
5 Professor and Greever Chair in Agribusiness Development, University of Tennessee Extension, Knoxville, TN, 37919
6 Beginning Farmer Outreach Liaison to Ft. Campbell, Veteran Farmer, Clarksville, TN, 37040
7 Area Specialist II- Eastern Region TN AgrAbility Project | TN Beginning Farmer Outreach Program, University of Tennessee Extension, Knoxville, TN, 37919
8 Extension Specialist-retired, University of Tennessee Extension Biosystems Engineering & Soil Science Department, Knoxville, TN, 37996
9 Area Farm Management Specialist, Tennessee State University Cooperative Extension, Columbia, TN, 38402
10 TSU-Extension Agent I (TSU), Tennessee State University Cooperative Extension, Memphis, TN, 38120
11 UT Extension area specialists-AgrAbility Project, TN AgrAbility, Trenton, TN, 37040

In 2018, the Tennessee Beginning Farmer Outreach Program (BFOP), launched in Middle Tennessee near Fort Campbell, the largest military  installation in Tennessee and highest concentration of military personnel, including active duty, discharged and retired. The program expanded into East and West Tennessee in years two and three.  Beginning farmers and ranchers, whether intending to farm full-time or for supplemental income, face many important and interrelated decisions that affect their success. This program builds upon successes of education and assistance programs of Tennessee's 1862 and 1890 Land Grant Extension programs, state and federal agricultural agencies, Farm Bureau, NGOs and others to address needs of a growing cadre of beginning farmers by providing appropriate research-based information, assistance developing a farm business plan, helping new farmers navigate numerous marketing and financial assistance programs, and mentorship from successful farmers. The project helps new farmers avoid common pitfalls and increase their probability of success.  BFOP is a collaborative program of state, federal, local organizations, is available to any individuals interested in beginning farming, and eligible for programs by Extension; however, special emphasis will be on military personnel and veterans, and farmers with disabilities in partnership with the AgrAbility Project. Current and former military personnel with or without a disability have learned about starting, developing and funding an agriculture-based business.  Programs implemented include:  The Slow Your Roll Workshop Series, TSU New Farmer Academy (expanded to statewide with TBFOP in 3 regions), The ‘7 $ecrets of Effective Farmers’ Webinar Series.  Other activities included the Milan No-Till Veterans Appreciation event, the Lunch and Learn veteran farmer seminars during the Pick TN Conferences (2017-2019), Boots to AgriBusiness workshop, in-person and virtual presentations, field tours, and on-farm demonstrations.  Through a partnership with the Farmer Veteran Coalition (FVC) , Tennessee established their own FVC chapter; thus, building a network with the TN membership of over 1000 members and Tennessee veteran network.  This program connects veterans, active duty military, and their families in Tennessee to our state’s many agriculture and veteran resources.