Linda Geist

ST. PETERS, Mo. – Openings remain for free Feb. 13 and March 7 workshops to help beginning farmers and ranchers, including military veterans, learn about resources offered by state and federal agencies.

University of Missouri Extension sponsors the workshops.

“Understanding the ABCs of USDA Programs” for beginning farmers and ranchers will be held 6-9 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 13, and 6-9:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 7. The workshops take place at the MU Extension Center in St. Charles County, 260 Brown Road, St. Peters.

Representatives of the Farm Service Agency, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Rural Development, MU Extension and the Missouri AgrAbility Project will provide information on how to benefit from participating in their agencies’ services, said MU Extension specialist Debi Kelly.

A free light meal is served. Register by contacting Kelly at or 636-797-5391.

MU Extension, through a grant from the USDA Office of Advocacy and Outreach to help military veterans and socially disadvantaged persons who want to farm, offers the program to increase agribusinesses and enterprise development. Karen Funkenbusch serves as director.

The USDA 2501 grant helps beginning farmers and others evaluate and plan their farm enterprise. Participants attend a set of practical seminars and field days to learn from MU Extension specialists, farmers and agribusiness operators. The grant comes at a critical time, Funkenbusch says. More than 300,000 veterans are expected to return to their rural Missouri roots in the next decade. “Many of them will seek work in agriculture,” she says.

USDA helps fund this program as part of an $8.4 million set of grants to 24 states through the Outreach and Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged and Veteran Farmers and Ranchers Program, also known as the 2501 Program.

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