Linda Geist

ELDON, Mo. – Openings remain for a free Jan. 24 workshop to help beginning farmers and ranchers, including military veterans, learn about resources offered by state and federal agencies.

University of Missouri Extension sponsors the workshop.

“Understanding the ABCs of USDA Programs” will be held 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 24, at the Eldon Community Center, 309 E. Second St., Eldon, said Patricia Barrett, MU Extension ag business specialist. A session designed for military veterans will be held 2:30-4 p.m.

Representatives of Farm Service Agency, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Rural Development, MU Extension and the Missouri AgrAbility Project will provide information on how to access their services.

A free lunch is served. Register by Jan. 22. Contact Barrett at 573-369-2394 or to register. You may also register at the MU Extension Center in Miller County, 134 Second St., P.O. Box 20, Tuscumbia, MO 65082.

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. Patricia Barrett serves as co-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,” Funkenbusch says. Latinos also represent one of the fastest-growing populations of new farm operators.

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. “Understanding the ABCs of USDA Programs” is offered near military bases and areas identified by USDA as “StrikeForce” and “Promise Zone” initiatives as part of the grant.

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