MAC Logo

A Mentorship/Educational Program
Developed by Minnesota's Land Stewardship Project
Helping to Launch the Land's Next Generation

Transfer of the program sponsored by North Central SARE
with support from the University of Missouri Extension Service and others.

Farm Beginnings™ Brochure
Farm Beginnings™ Registration

Overview Class Schedule
Steering Committee

was born out of a group of Wabasha County, Minnesota farmers who in 1994 started asking questions about the future of farming. The group realized that if a new generation is expected to start farming, they will need some dedicated help and backing to get there. Determining realistic, low-cost ways to help people begin profitable family farming became and remains the goal of the program.
WHY START FARMING at a time of staggering start-up costs, plummeting commodity prices, declining farm numbers and increasing farm consolidation? Well, even in this difficult time, there are farmers who are making a go of it. And they aren't just surviving—they are thriving. These farms are economically and environmentally viable, and provide their families with a good quality of life.
One way is by learning how to use low cost methods and treat farming as a skill that requires top-notch management and an attention to the needs of the land and its people. By learning how to set goals and choose tools and methods of production based on those goals, participants learn how to adapt to changing conditions and markets. After taking Farm Beginnings, 110 participants are farming.
FARM BEGINNINGS™ IS AN EDUCATIONAL TRAINING AND SUPPORT PROGRAM designed to help people who want to evaluate and plan their farm enterprise. Farm Beginnings™ participants engage in a mentorship experience and network with a variety of successful, innovative farmers; attend practical, high quality seminars, field days and conferences, and receive resource materials.
FARM BEGINNINGS™ also helps beginning farmers create links with experienced farmers through farm partnerships, land and equipment use and/or rental.MENTORSHIPS allow participants to gain hands-on knowledge of farm operations and more in-depth knowledge of grazing and/or other low-cost systems. Mentorships are designed to be flexible, taking employment and family situations into account. Participants may or may not be paid, depending on the agreement between the mentor and mentee.

Farm Beginnings™ Participants will have the opportunity to:

  • Tap the knowledge of some of the most innovative and skilled farmers operating in the Midwest.
  • Develop lifelong friendships and networks with other beginning farmers.
  • Learn critical farm management skills such as creative financing and innovative marketing strategies.
  • Mentor with a farmer engaged in a similar enterprise.
  • See sustainable farming practices being used on real farms under a variety of conditions.
  • Learn to view a farm as an interconnected system and learn how goals determine farming practices.
  • Craft a tailor-made farming/business plan.

Farm Beginnings™ Class Schedule
Classes will be held in West Plains, Missouri and will begin in October 2005.

What will be covered in the classes?

Farm Beginnings Schedule 2005-2006

All sessions will be held at the Howell County Extension Center, 217 S Aid, West Plains, MO

Session 1:
Oct 22, 10:00 am-4:00 pm Building Networks Value Clarification and Goal Setting
Becky Day, direct marketing of vegetables and grass-fed beef
Scott McWilliams, pumpkin producer

Session 2:
Nov 12, 10:00 am to 4:00 pm Whole Farm Planning
Jerry Fry, markets certified organic beef and hay
Wilbur & Elsie Spreutels, Show-Me Select Heifer program

Session 3:
Nov, 15, 6:30 pm to 9:30 pm Plan for Profit
Pam Rosen, markets cattle and horses, certified accountant and tax preparer

Session 4:
Dec 8, 6:30 pm to 9:30 pm Creating the Plan-Nuts and Bolts
Pam Rosen, markets cattle and horses, certified accountant and tax preparer

Session 5:
Dec 13, 6:30 pm to 9:30 pm Building your Business Plan
Charlie Rymer, Show-Me Select Heifer Program, runs cattle on shares
Mick Gilliam, Ag Business Specialist, Univ. of MO Extension

Session 6:
Jan 12, 6:30 pm to 9:30 pm Marketing 101-Intro to Marketing
Al Vance, President South Ozarks Premier Beef Marketers
Vickie Kensinger, dairy producer direct marketing milk

Session 7:
Jan 26, 6:30 pm to 9:30 pm Marketing 201-Realities from the Field
Pam Murray, nursery production
Becky Day, direct markets vegetables and grass-fed beef
Bob Cunningham, markets timber
Richard Stricklin, producer, direct markets mushroom
Don Bush Sr, producer, direct markets meat goats
John Tidwell, producer, direct markets puppies
Mark Newman, direct markets pork, beef and lamb

Session 8:
Feb 9, 6:30 pm to 9:30 pm Connecting with Resources and Class Presentations
Dan Corman, Vice-President, First National Banks
Steve Robbins, NRCS
Dennis Johnson, Farm Service

Session 9:
Feb 23, 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm Connecting with Resources, Class Presentations and Identifying the Next Steps

March 9:
Snow Day (if needed)

March 23:
Mentor/Mentee Meeting

1)One-on-one mentorships
2) Farm Tours
  a. Jerry Fry-certified organic farm, organic beef organic hay and direct marketing
  b. Don Bush Sr.-production and marketing of meat goats
  c. Becky Day-vegetable production, grass-fed beef and direct marketing
  d. Pam Murray-nursery production
  e. Scott McWilliams-pumpkin production
  f. TBA-pastured poultry and direct marketing

August 5th
-Farm Beginnings Potluck Graduation Picnic


Program Specifics

WHO: Prospective farmers, beginners with experience on their own farm, experienced farmers wishing to make a "new beginning" with sustainable farming methods.

WHEN: There are approximately two seminars per month. Participants should expect a time commitment of at least six hours per month. On-farm educational field days will be held throughout the spring and summer. Individual assistance with business-plan completion and follow-through begins when participants are prepared to move forward. Participants will also be encouraged to develop mentor/mentee relationships with established farmers that are working with the Farm Beginnings™ program.

WHERE: The seminars will be located in West Plains, Missouri.

FEE: $500 — includes seminar materials; speakers; conference/field day fees and refreshments; and a one-year subscription to "Ag Opportunities" - a bi-monthly newsletter from the MAC Center.


For More Information Or To Sign Up

Randy Saner
Attn: Farm Beginnings, 217 S Aid Ave, West Plains, MO 65775
Call: (417) 256-2391
or e-mail Randy Saner:


Debi Kelly
Attn: Farm Beginnings, University of Missouri: 3 Whitten Hall, Columbia, MO 65211
Call: 800-433-3704 (Missouri Only); 573-882-1905 (In Columbia)
or e-mail Debi Kelly:


Jim Thompson
Attn: Farm Beginnings, 299 East Second Street, Lebanon, MO 65536
Call: (417) 532-7126
or e-mail Jim Thompson:


green line

College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources University Extension, University of Missouri-Columbia
University Extension does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, religion, age, disability or status as a Vietnam-era veteran in employment or programs.

Site maintained by people at AgEBB