A Graduate Defense Seminar will be presented by Stacy Haught, MS student in Rural Sociology. She will present An Examination of Contemporary Initiatives to Facilitate Sustainable Agriculture Experiences in 245 Kottman Hall.
Recent reports suggest the number of farmers exiting the profession is increasing while at the same time the number of individuals entering farming is steadily declining. This information has led to questions among researchers, policymakers, and practitioners as to who will grow our food in the future, where the next generation of farmers will come from, and how the viability of new farming operations can be supported. Situated in the beginning farmer experience, on-farm apprenticeships, internships, and volunteer positions have been gaining federal government support and public participation over the past three decades.
This study added to the limited body of literature on the topics of sustainable agriculture organizations and on-farm work experiences. Data collected from a national survey of sustainable agriculture organizations (n=65) was analyzed to answer research questions about the extent of facilitation of on-farm work experiences, values that the organizations hold related to facilitation, challenges to facilitation, organizational characteristics associated with facilitation, and differences in sustainable agriculture activities and motivations depending on facilitation activities. A framework for organizational practice was used to develop a model of on-farm work experience facilitation, and the community capitals framework was used to examine perceived values and challenges of facilitation.
Findings from this study indicated that 58% of sustainable agriculture organizations facilitate on-farm work experiences. On average, organizations that facilitate were found to participate in more activities related to sustainable agriculture than those that do not facilitated. An association between sourcing government funding and facilitating was also found. Results indicate that while most facilitators perceive value in helping to lower barriers to entry for aspiring farmers, train new farmers, and connect older farmers with potential successors, uncertain availability of funding and lack of pay for farm interns present challenges. The results of this study may be used to inform considerations for beginning farmer policy and development of beginning farmer training programs.
Kristi Lekies, advisor