Tester Secures Over $500,000 to Help Young Farmers Start and Grow their Businesses

Senator Supports Next Generation of Ag Producers

(U.S. Senate) – U.S. Senator Jon Tester has secured $523,355 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture to teach young Montana farmers how to start and grow their operations.

The Community Food and Agriculture Coalition in Missoula will use the money to provide education and mentoring programs to help young farmers and ranchers build and manage successful farms.

“Montana farmers and ranchers are the backbone of our economy, and some of the best in the world,” said Tester. “As a farmer myself, I know how much hard work and training it takes to yield a crop. I look forward to seeing what all the young farmers will do after learning valuable skills.”

The Community Food and Agriculture Coalition in Missoula will use the money to connect farmers to both classroom trainings where they can learn budgeting and finance management as well as hands on farm training. In addition, they plan to use the funds to expand their programming to reach farmers across state, beyond western Montana where they currently operate.

“In the next decade most farms will be transferred to the next generation because the average farmer is currently retirement age, so we’re excited to offer services to the next generation of farmers, they’re such a vital part of our future,” said Bonnie Buckingham, the Executive Director and co-Founder of The Community Food and Agriculture Coalition. “We want to extend a huge thank you to Senator Tester for being such a strong proponent of farming for our nation, he is a leader in the agriculture world.”

The grant is funded through the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program, which aims to attract veterans, women and disadvantaged farmers and ranchers by providing training, education and technical assistance. The Beginning Farmer and Rancher Program was established through the Farm Bill, which expires in 2018.

Tester has held numerous Farm Bill listening sessions gathering input from Montanans about what they want to see in the next Farm Bill.