U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue is visiting
Iowa on a tour to tout the importance of bringing more young people into farm-related professions.
Perdue stopped in Sheffield, Des Moines, Urbandale and Davenport over the weekend as part of a five-state tour. On Saturday, he delivered the keynote speech at the 2017 Iowa Ag Summit in Des Moines.
Perdue also announced a new mentoring program for farmers. He says he wants to make it easier for families to get into the industry. A new partnership between the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the nonprofit group SCORE will help aspiring farmers.
Perdue says future farmers need more access to capital, technology and information to join the industry, which he says will face greater demands in the next 30 years.
Perdue was joined by Steve Records, Vice-President of Field Operations for SCORE in signing a Memorandum of Understanding that will guide USDA and SCORE as they partner in the mentorship effort, which will soon expand to other states.
“SCORE’s mission to help people start and grow vibrant small businesses is boosted by this new partnership with USDA. America’s farmers, ranchers and agri-businesses will benefit from the business knowledge and expertise SCORE can offer,” said Records. “The partnership allows both SCORE and USDA to serve more people while providing America’s farmers added support to lead to more sound business operations, create profitable farms with sustainable growth and create new jobs. We are excited at the opportunity to extend SCORE’s impact to our farmers and the agriculture industry.”
SCORE mentors will partner with USDA and a wide array of groups already hard at work serving new and beginning farmers and ranchers, such as the FFA, 4-H, cooperative extension and land grant universities, nonprofits, legal aid groups, banks, technical and farm advisors. These partnerships will expand and integrate outreach and technical assistance between current and retired farmers and agri-business experts and new farmers.
This joint initiative leverages SCORE’s 10,000 existing volunteer mentors and USDA’s expertise and presence in agricultural communities to bring no-cost business mentoring to rural and agricultural entrepreneurs. This initiative will also be another tool to empower the work of many community-based organizations, cooperative extension and land grant universities working with beginning farmers in their communities. SCORE mentorship will also be available to current farmers and ranchers. Anyone interested in being a mentor can get more information and sign up on the USDA New Farmers’ website at https://newfarmers.usda.gov/mentorship.