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Farmer to Farmer resources needed to increase conservation practices

American Farmland Trust says more access to farmer-to-farmer education resources in the next farm bill could help increase participation in conservation programs.

Alissa White says conversations between farmers who trust each other help break down barriers associated with implementing new conservation practices.

“71% of almost 700 farmers that were surveyed in Iowa reported that they adopted conservation practices because they participated in a farmer network.”

New Mexico farmer Navona Gallegos says farmer to farmer education has been crucial in her farming journey, but could have come sooner.

“I think that if we had had more access to peer-to-peer support and education in adopting regenerative grazing practices, that we might have been able to keep our cattle operation going and that would have been a really pivotal and life changing opportunity.”

She says another challenge is that current resources available through the USDA aren’t developed with the area’s cultural practices in mind.

Shara Trierweiler with Agape Organic Farms in Michigan says farmer to farmer education will play an important role in diversifying the future of farming. 

“I’m the only black-owned livestock farmer in the state of Michigan and I would not be here without farmer-to-farmer education.”

White, Gallegos and Trierweiler spoke during a recent AFT webinar highlighting the Farmer-to-Farmer Education Act introduced in July that would allow USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service to enter cooperative agreements that support farmer to farmer education.

Through the proposed legislation agreement holders would facilitate mentor and mentee matching, coordinate training, resources and networking events and provide assistance in the native language of the communities served.

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