ARECA eyes new farm training program

The results of its survey on the need for training in agriculture have an Alberta ag research and extension group planning training opportunities for new and “transitioning” farmers.

The Agricultural Research and Extension Council of Alberta (ARECA) will now explore the ways and means to deliver such training, under the tentative name “FarmCraft.”

“Now that we know that there is an appetite for this kind of program, we are going to craft potential delivery models, and work on partnerships between ourselves and other agencies and organizations involved in sustainable agriculture in Alberta,” ARECA executive director Ty Faechner said in a release Friday.

“Once we have those pieces in place, we can apply for funding and put the program into practice.”

ARECA said, however, that it and its member associations throughout Alberta would deliver such programming via the internet, conferences and workshops, as well as mentoring and apprenticeships.

ARECA said it anticipates offering courses on topics such as tools for getting a farm business started; what’s involved in owning and managing different types of farming operations; marketing opportunities; alternative practices; farm business management; and production management.

“Clearly, there are those who are seriously considering making farming their career of choice,” Faechner said. “If we can help make sure that those same people have the education and tools they need, it is our hope that we can keep current operations sustainable and help new farmers get off on the right foot.”

ARECA, a non-profit body representing 17 member associations focused on applied research, demonstrations and extension in annual crop, livestock and forage production, said it ran the survey both to gauge public interest in “returning to the land” and to assess “what kinds of training, skills and background information people would require to do just that.”

Among its findings in the survey, ARECA said 89.7 per cent of respondents saw a need for farm training for new entrants in farming; 93.2 per cent saw such a need for farmers who want to “transition” into a different aspect of farming; 75.7 per cent saw “insufficient resources” for new or transitioning farmers to begin the process; and 89 per cent said they would attend if new training opportunities were available on such matters.

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