Apprenticeships could help young and beginning farmers

A farm manager from Wisconsin says he has seen the challenges facing young and beginning farmers firsthand.

Matthew Keesling said he had difficulty securing a beginning farmer loan.  

“With all of the areas that I thought I had qualifications in— veteran status, being a beginning farmer, years of management experience in the military, and education from both a university and through an apprenticeship program— nothing translated to agriculture and dairy so I would have to go find a job and work in a management position for three years before I could be seen as an acceptable risk to the FSA,” he says.

Keesling testified during a hearing by the House Small Business Subcommittee on Rural Development, Agriculture, Trade, and Entrepreneurship.

He said young and beginning farmers would benefit from more investments in apprenticeships.

“Protect the grants that are currently available and allocate them to better serving nonprofits,” he says. “Universities study but apprenticeships do.”

Keesling says trainers and mentors should also be given incentives for helping the next generation of farmers.

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