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Program will help farmers in their career goals

By Sally Voth -- svoth@nvdaily.com

It's hard to be a farmer without adequate land and equipment, so a pair of state organizations have come up with a solution.

The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and the Virginia Farm Bureau's Young Farmers Committee is starting the Certified Farm Seeker (CFS) program, according to a news release from VDACS communications director Elaine Lidholm.

The release states there is a resurgence of young adults interested in farming, but lacking the land, machinery, animals and other expensive accoutrements of farming.

"A mid-size farm, if you can find one for sale, can run into hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars," the release states.

The CFS program, which is for the novice, experienced or transitioning farmer, lets landowners know that the seeker is serious about becoming a farmer, according to the release. It will be featured in the farm bureau's Young Farmers Summer Expo in Lynchburg next month.

"The program's goal is to provide individuals who want to farm with the tools needed to successfully demonstrate their farming commitment and vision to interested landowners," the release states. "Those who earn the title Certified Farm Seeker stand out from the crowd. Landowners know these individuals are serious about establishing a farm enterprise and have completed the planning necessary for long-term success."

The program will help the future farmers in developing a business plan and resume, and gain experience, according to the release. At the end of the program, they'll get their business plans reviewed for free or a discounted price, will be invited to farming networking and social events and possibly get to meet with a transition mediator or lawyer for free or reduced cost, it states.

"They receive priority in the Virginia Farm Link database, an online resource designed to link farm owners interested in exiting agriculture with those seeking farms and farm businesses, thereby increasing the farm seekers' chances of being contacted by a landowner," the release states.

To register for a free information session at the expo, call Ron Saacke at 804 514-4202, or email him at ron.saacke@vafb.com. For more information on the program, go to www.vdacs.virginia.gov/preservation/seeker.shtml.

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