Colorado Tourism Office Welcomes Grant Award to Cultivate the State’s Next Generation of Farmers and Ranchers
DENVER, CO – Tues., Sept. 13, 2016 – The Colorado Tourism Office (CTO) announced today that it received a $239,970 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP) to support and enhance the success of the next generation of farmers and ranchers in southern Colorado. Through a collaboration between CTO, the Rocky Mountain Farmers Union (RMFU), Guidestone Colorado and three regional food hubs, this three-year initiative will develop a coordinated education and mentorship program to help train early farmers and prepare them to enter emerging wholesale and agritourism markets.
“This exciting initiative is not only an investment in the next generation of farmers and ranchers but in the future of our State’s agricultural and agritourism economy too,” said Elizabeth O’Rear, Manager of CTO’s Heritage & Agritourism Program. “The Colorado Tourism Office is proud to partner with the Rocky Mountain Farmers Union, Guidestone Colorado and these local food hubs to build on the success of existing programs in the State by increasing resources and enhancing opportunities to help Colorado’s newest producers expand their work and more quickly achieve success.”
The project entails three main integrated activities that will take place over three years: 1) Visioning courses to help plan the future for these new businesses and ongoing coaching provided by Guidestone; 2) business scaling workshops orchestrated by the Rocky Mountain Farmers Union Cooperative Development Center in concert with the food hubs; and 3) expansion of a mentorship program for beginning producers.
“Guidestone is excited to work collaboratively with partners to support aspiring producers in creating their vision and a plan of support for launching their agricultural businesses,” said Jennifer Visitacion, Executive Director at Guidestone.
The food hub partners helping in the implementation of this grant include the Southwest Farm Fresh in the Four corners region, the Valley Roots Food Hub in the San Luis Valley, and the Excelsior Food Hub in Pueblo County.
“Beginning producers in rural and remote areas often have limited marketing options available to them,” said Dan Hobbs, Cooperative Specialist at the Rocky Mountain Farmers Union. “That’s why this multi-year cooperative project is so important, to facilitate new choices, opportunities and resources for family farmers throughout southern Colorado.”
Colorado is a four-season destination offering unparalleled adventure and recreational pursuits, a thriving arts scene, a rich cultural heritage, flavorful cuisine, and 25 renowned ski areas and resorts. The state’s breathtaking scenic landscape boasts natural hot springs, the headwaters of seven major rivers, many peaceful lakes and reservoirs, 12 national parks and monuments, over 850 farms and ranches that are open to visitors, and 58 mountain peaks that top 14,000 feet.
For more information or a copy of the 2016 Colorado Official State Vacation Guide, visitwww.COLORADO.com or call 1-800 COLORADO.
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About the USDA’s Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP)
The Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program provides grants to organizations for education, mentoring, and technical assistance initiatives for beginning farmers or ranchers. According to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service’s most recent Ag Census data, the number of young people entering farming continues to decline, but the number of new farmers and ranchers over the age of 35 rises, as does the number of smaller farms and ranches nationwide. Ensuring there will be a “new generation” of beginning farmers and ranchers-regardless of age or production choice-is especially important to the continuation of agricultural production in the United States. For more information visit https://nifa.usda.gov/program/beginning-farmer-and-rancher-development-program-bfrdp