USDA provides support to beginning ranchers in Colorado
USDA last week announced $30,000 in funding for the Colorado Cattlemen’s Association (CCA) to enhance its Young Producer Programs, which train beginning ranchers to help them gain the knowledge and skills needed to succeed in today’s highly diverse agricultural industry.
“Beginning farmers and ranchers are an important part of American agriculture as they play a big role in feeding people in their local communities and throughout the world,” said Roger Beachy, director of USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). “However, they face unique challenges, and this grant will provide the training needed to ensure these producers become profitable and sustainable.”
The award will help sustain and enhance the partnerships and collaboration needed to create the innovative stewardship, conservation and leadership curriculum of CCA’s Young Producer Programs. “CCA recognizes the important role that young producers and collegiate members play in our association, so we are excited to receive funding from the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program,” said Robbie LeValley, president of CCA. “This funding will allow CCA to expand our current young producer leadership programs through enhancement of our outreach and educational efforts.”
One of the programs, the Cattlemen’s Leadership College, focuses on providing educational tools and information to individuals who are seeking to become active leaders in Colorado’s beef industry. The Cattlemen’s Leadership College broadens participants’ understanding of the beef industry and helps them become further engaged at the local, state, and national levels.
The purpose of the Cattlemen’s Leadership College has always been to provide leadership and spokesperson training, as well as an educational overview of Colorado’s beef industry and its proponents. These are very important components because participants become advocates for Colorado’s beef industry in their communities, and become increasingly active in the grassroots leadership of CCA.
Another program, the Colorado Ranching Legacy Program, is designed to equip young and beginning ranchers to be innovative leaders in land management and conservation. CCA has partnered with The Nature Conservancy and the Western Center for Integrated Resource Management at Colorado State University (CSU) to assist in the development of the next generation of stewards.
“Supporting the next generation of ranchers is essential when protecting healthy, intact landscapes,” said Frogard Ryan, eastern Colorado program director for The Nature Conservancy. “Partnering with the CCA and the Western Center for Integrated Resource Management (IRM) at Colorado State University provides a practical three-tiered partnership between industry, education and conservation.”
“The Western Center for Integrated Resource Management at Colorado State University has been privileged to partner with Colorado Cattlemen’s Association and The Nature Conservancy on the Ranching Legacy Fellowship Program,” said Kraig Peel, professor for CSU. “The inaugural class for this program featured four talented individuals who have given as much as they have taken with the program. These students have participated in class and brought a fresh perspective from the real world into the academic environment. The program has enriched the IRM curriculum, and we are hopeful that it continues well into the future.”
CCA is also active with the Colorado Collegiate Cattlemen’s Association. CCA works closely with academic institutions such as CSU to develop opportunities for young producers looking to stay involved in the agriculture and beef industries. CCA firmly believes that these bright students are the future of our industry. The association continues to build this relationship by encouraging collegiate participation at CCA events throughout the year, as well as providing them with access to information via our membership and various industry contacts.
USDA’s NIFA awarded the grant through its Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP). BFRDP is an education, training, technical assistance and outreach program designed to help U.S. farmers and ranchers, specifically those who have been farming or ranching for 10 years or fewer. Under the program, which was established through the 2008 Farm Bill, NIFA will make grants to organizations that will implement programs to help beginning farmers and ranchers. For more information on this project, contact the CCA office at 303/431- 6422, info@coloradocattle. org, or visit www.colorado cattle.org. — WLJ