Small Farm Outreach Program


 
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Overview

The Small Farm Outreach Program (SFOP), a part of Cooperative Extension at Virginia State University, educates and empowers small, limited-resource, socially disadvantaged and veteran farmers and ranchers to own, operate and sustain farms and ranches independently with agricultural training programs that improve farm management skills and quality of life.

SFOP provides outreach and learning opportunities to small farmers for production management, financial and risk management, marketing, USDA assistance programs and more. These opportunities are designed to improve farm profitability and promote sustainability. Currently, SFOP provides educational programming in 74 Virginia counties, which have the highest concentrations of limited-resource, socially disadvantaged and veteran farmers in the state.

Participation

Participation in the program is voluntary and open to all. Most educational programs are offered free of charge. Farmers who participate in our programs also may be recruited through referrals from USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA), community leaders, other farmers, mailings, and farm-related meetings.

THE SMALL FARM OUTREACH PROGRAMS PROVIDES EDUCATION, RESOURCES AND TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE TO HELP FARMERS:

Establish, Manage and Sustain a Farm Business

SFOP offers introductory workshops to provide a foundation farmers need to get started. Training and technical assistance are available in all areas of farm business management, including record keeping, cost and production analysis, farm planning, enterprise budgeting, financial management, marketing, and the economics of alternative enterprises. Transition and estate planning are also included as part of a holistic approach to farm sustainability over generations.

Manage Risk

Learn effective management strategies to reduce or prevent financial loss or personal injury. Risk Management education and training covers five major areas: 1) crop/livestock production; 2) marketing; 3) financial; 4) legal and 5) human resources. Risk Management education is offered via workshops, one-on-one farm visits, newsletters, fact sheets, and field days.

Connect With USDA Resources

Get help from a SFOP agent or a USDA representative to prepare applications for USDA FSA direct and guaranteed loans.

Beginning, minority and veteran farmers can receive assistance to prepare applications for farm ownership and operating loans, and learn where to get the required borrower training for these types of loans.

SFOP also provides information and assistance to farmers who are applying for grants from USDA, including the Rural Development Renewable Energy for America (REAP) grant and loan guarantee program, Value-Added Producer Grant (VAPG) program, and Rural Business Enterprise Grant (RBEG) program. 

Access Expert Training and Services

Farmers receive information and technical assistance to ensure they have access to all services available through USDA, state, and local agencies. SFOP also helps introduce producers to a a variety of businesses and organizations that support agricultural enterprises—especially those that serve minority, limited-resource and veteran farmers..

Our Small Farm Outreach Agents serve 74 counties in Virginia and provide education, demonstrations, and hands-on training in their regional areas. They also conduct one-on-one farm visits throughout the year to keep farmers informed and engaged in improving their farm operations. Community connections that include religious organizations, community leaders, and farm and food advocates are also important partners in helping to expand our outreach.

 

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