About the Program

The goal of the South Carolina New and Beginning Farmer Program is to help new and beginning farmers be successful, productive and innovative members of their agricultural communities. The program will provide them with the tools, knowledge and skills necessary to be successful entrepreneurs.

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Program Objectives

  • Teach fundamentals of farm business management, and provide exposure to more advanced topics.
  • Increase participant awareness and familiarity with the SC Conservation Partnership (local, state and federal natural resource and agricultural agencies) and the technical and financial incentives that are available to help them improve and sustain their natural resources.
  • Help beginning farmers to better understand their personal and professional goals,   values, and motivations, to better “Know Thyself”.  
  • Encourage the development of thoughtful business plans, including selection of legal structure, development of land acquisition strategies, and multiple marketing strategies. 
  • Provide experiential learning through real-world application. 
  • Provide contact with willing and able mentors. 
  • Provide immersion experiences for some participants through on-farm internships.  

Program Management

The SCNBF Program is administered by the Clemson University Institute for Economic & Community Development, with Dr. Dave Lamie serving as program director. 

Who May Apply?

Any legal resident of South Carolina who is just beginning farming or who has actively farmed for less than 10 consecutive years is eligible to apply for the SCNBFP.  The class is limited to 80 participants who will be selected by senior program staff.  Two individuals from the same farm enterprise may apply jointly, but will only count as one towards the program limit.

Why Apply?

  • Learn best agri-business practices and develop a business plan
  • Network with peer farmers in your own area as well as throughout the state
  • Engage with state and federal government agencies in order to better leverage public resources and increase participation in their programs
  • Learn more about yourself and your business goals

Program Format

The SC New & Beginning Farmer Program will offer two levels of instruction:  Level I, Exploring Farming as a Business for emerging farmers with less than three years experience, and Level II, Taking Your Farm Business to the Next Level for those who have been farming 3-9 years.

The Level I program will be offered from August, 2015 through October, 2015 and is appropriate for those with 0-2 years farming experience.  The program includes five (5) farm business development workshops centrally located in Columbia, SC.  Space for the Level I program is limited to fifty (50) participants.

The intermediate, Level II program runs from November, 2015 through May, 2016.  The Level II program is well suited for those with 3-9 years of farming experience and includes Thirteen (13) advanced farm management workshops in Columbia, SC.  Space for the Level II program is limited to thirty (30) participants.

Core workshops will be held centrally in Columbia, SC at Clemson’s Sandhill REC facility and are focused on farm business management.  Level appropriate topics include business concept/plan development; financial and risk management; legal issues; marketing strategies; personal assessment; and an introduction to federal, state, and local agriculture resources.

Additional Program Activities

Core programming will be complemented by regional workshops to be held throughout five (5) regions of the state: Upstate, Catawba, Midlands, PeeDee, and Lowcountry.  These workshops will offer critical opportunities for local peer and resource networking, as well as provide additional instruction on production topics tailored for each region and managed by regional partners.  Regional programs for all participants run from September, 2015 through May, 2016. 

Three guided farm tours, planned for June 2016, are also included in both programs.  

Select program participants will have an opportunity to engage in experiential learning opportunities through paid, on-farm internships, scheduled for May-July of 2016. 

Finally, all participants will have the opportunity to develop a peer network through the SCNBFP Alumni Association.  The program will include an Alumni event for each program level, and a one-year membership to the Alumni Association is included in the program.

Refer to the SCNBFP Program Outline for contingencies and complete details, including program cost.