Virginia State University has received a $600,000 federal grant to train farmers and ranchers in more than 50 counties throughout Virginia, with a specific emphasis on veterans and residents from socially disadvantaged areas.
The VSU Cooperative Extension Small Farm Outreach Program will help residents to develop agribusiness planning, farming methods and networking to help boost the number of farmers within the state’s largest industry.
According to statistics, the average age of farming professionals is rising nationwide. In Virginia, the average farmer is 60 years old, and more than a third of the state’s agriculturalists are over the age of 65.
“Agriculture is the number one industry in the commonwealth,” said William Crutchfield, SFOP Director. “But high barriers to entry make farming and ranching one of the hardest careers to pursue, and the number of people entering into farming has been slowly declining each year.