Program FAQs


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Will there be any changes to the 2021 SC New & Beginning Farmer Program in light of the continued Coronavirus pandemic?

Yes.  From the very beginning, we have been taking this situation very seriously, and the health and well-being of the communities we serve are of foremost importance to all of us at Clemson University.  While recent news regarding vaccine development is indeed promising, there is no way to know for certain exactly when it may be safe to meet in person.  Because the SC New & Beginning Farmer Program involves so many people and has so many parts, it would be difficult (if not impossible) for us to ‘kick the can’ repeatedly.  Therefore, in an abundance of caution, we have decided to deliver the entirety of the 2021 program remotely, via Zoom.  We hope to resume in-person programming in 2022, but these plans remain uncertain.

What is included in the program?

  • Series of 11 full-day online ‘core’ Agribusiness training workshops including a graduation event featuring business plan presentations
  • Specialized ‘regional’ training events (15+ available; many production-related; most online)
  • Graduation certificate (upon successful program completion)
  • Private participant-only webpage with access to all available program materials

What will I learn in this program? 

The SCNBFP is fundamentally an AGRIBUSINESS program, focused on providing new and beginning farmers the knowledge and tools necessary for developing a successful business enterprise.  Some of the key core topics of the SCNBFP include:

  • Legal Issues & Risk Management
  • Land Access & Financing
  • Developing a Business Model & Writing a Business Plan
  • Understanding & Navigating Regulatory Issues
  • Fundamentals of Farm Financial Management
  • Engaging State & Local Resource Providers
  • Marketing, Branding, & Communication
  • Agritourism
  • Direct and Mediated Market Channels

Will you teach me how to farm? NO. While our regional programming may include some terrific production-related workshops, the SCNBFP, at its core, is about the business of farming.

Who may apply? In order to apply, you must meet the following criteria:

  • Resident of South Carolina
  • Age 18+
  • Maximum Farming Experience: Actively farming for no more than 9 consecutive years
  • Minimum Farming Experience:   You do NOT need to have current access to land or be actively farming to apply!  You should, however, have a strong desire to develop a professional commercial (or non-profit) farming enterprise.  The SCNBFP is not suitable for those simply exploring the idea of farming, or who are interested in hobby-farming or homesteading only.
  • Due to the remote delivery of the 2021 program, you must have reliable internet access and the ability to connect through Zoom well enough to fully participate, including enabling video (with or without Zoom virtual backgrounds) and audio. This includes equipment (computer or tablet with a webcam) with a display large enough to view presentations and class materials.

May I apply with a partner? While we absolutely encourage more than one person from your farm enterprise to apply, each person should submit their own application, and each will be evaluated on its own merit.

What are program costs? Each accepted applicant is subsidized by approximately $3000 in grant funding – this is why the application process is competitive.  This enables us to reduce participant fees to $350 per person.  Payment will only be accepted online – debit cards and all major credit cards accepted.

Payment will only be accepted online – debit cards and all major credit cards accepted.

Are additional scholarships available? Unfortunately, additional scholarships beyond the grant subsidy are not available. We have endeavored to make program fees as affordable as possible while delivering tremendous value.

What are the 2021 program dates? Dates for the full-day online ‘core’ agribusiness workshops are listed below.  Regional programming runs June 2021 through September 2021.  Topics and dates for regional programming are not pre-determined and will be posted/announced throughout the program.

  • Friday, May 7, 2021 (Welcome & Orientation)
  • Friday, May 21, 2021
  • Friday, June 4, 2021
  • Friday, June 18, 2021
  • Friday, July 9, 2021
  • Friday, July 23, 2021
  • Friday, August 6, 2021
  • Friday, August 20, 2021
  • Friday, September 10, 2021
  • Friday, September 24, 2021
  • Friday, October 8, 2021 (Graduation & Class Presentations)

What are the workshop times & location?

  • Core workshops listed above are all on Fridays, from 9:00 am – 4:00 pm. These will all be delivered remotely, through Zoom.  Times will include morning & afternoon breaks, as well as a one-hour lunch break.
  • Days, times, and duration of regional programming will vary.  We will plan to deliver all regional programming remotely, but MAY include some outdoor, on-farm events as appropriate and safe.

What are attendance requirements? 

Only those who meet or exceed attendance requirements will receive a certificate of completion for the program.  While we encourage you to attend all core workshops and as many regional trainings as you like, minimum requirements are:

  • Core Workshops = Eight (8) minimum plus
  • Regional Workshops = Three (3) of your choice, minimum

(Think of the Core workshops as required courses, while the Regional workshops are electives.  Much like you may have experienced in high school or college.)

Note that continued grant funding for the SCNBFP is largely dependent on maintaining high graduation rates.  We expect all participants to make every effort to successfully complete the program.

How do I apply? Applications are only available online here.

Here are some things you should know:

  • You must apply online – paper applications are not available.
  • Only a limited number of applications will be accepted. Because this is a competitive process, we encourage you to give your best effort.
  • The application is long. Please give yourself at least an hour to complete the application. Do not “submit” until you are satisfied and all sections have been completed. Please do not submit more than one application per person.

What are some basic things you look for in an applicant?

  • A complete application. Those that are not complete will not be considered.
  • Internet access and basic computer skills – email, internet, & word-processing proficiency.
  • Expressed commitment to meeting attendance requirements and completing the program.
  • Reliable Zoom access, as well as an appropriate connection device. Appropriate devices should be large enough to clearly view presentations and must include audio & video. 
  • Demonstration of passion, clear goals, and determination to pursue farming as a commercial or legal non-profit enterprise and not just a hobby.
  • Indication that your learning goals are compatible with program content.

When will I find out if I have been accepted?

  • Notifications will be emailed to everyone sometime the week of March 8, 2021. We will tell you if your application has been accepted or
  • You will also be given instructions on confirming your acceptance and making payment. FOLLOW THESE INSTRUCTIONS CAREFULLY!

HINT:  You will receive emails from the assistant program director, Diana Vossbrinck.  Please enter the address into your address book so you do not miss any correspondence.  The SCNBFP is not responsible for emails that are delivered to your junk/spam folders, so please monitor carefully.

What deadlines should I be aware of?

  • Deadline to apply – February 21, 2021
  • Deadline to confirm your participation and pay in full (if accepted) – April 4, 2021
  • Deadline to request refund – April 30, 2021

Should I apply now or wait until 2022? That depends.  There are certain advantages to applying for the 2021 program.  These include:

  • Normally SCNBFP core workshops are hosted in-person, in Columbia, SC, while regional workshops are delivered throughout the state. If traveling to these various locations might be inconvenient or a hardship for you, then DO take advantage of all-remote learning in 2021!
  • The 2021 program is a sure thing. The SCNBFP is a grant-funded program, and while there are several grants we are applying for, funding for 2022 has not yet been secured.
  • That being said, if you feel that online learning is just not for you, or you are uncertain of your access to a reliable connection device and/or internet, the 2021 program may not be a good fit for you at this time.

What if I have additional questions about the program?

  1. First, please review the complete 2021 Program Outline.
  2. If your question is not answered in the provided online documents, please email the assistant program director, Diana Vossbrinck, at

This program is supported by U.S. Department of Agriculture – Rural Development, Rural Business Development Grant, as well as generous donations from SC Farm Credit agencies.