November 13, 2009

‘Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food’

‘Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food’
USDA announces $614,356 grant to Fort Berthold Community College

New farmers and ranchers on the Fort Berthold Reservation will now have the tools they need to become successful in their labor of love.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has announced that Fort Berthold Community College is the recipient of a $614,356 grant designed to help train new farmers and ranchers.
FBCC’s share of $17 million is part of the 2008 farm bill that was earmarked to enhance the sustainability and competitiveness of agriculture in the United States.
The USDA library in Beltsville, Md., was awarded the largest amount at $1.5 million. Cornell University received $750,000 and the University of Tennessee received the smallest amount at $74,000. FBCC was the only Indian institution to receive funding out of 29 awards.
“This is a new initiative in the Farm Bill and it gives us an opportunity to do more training,” said Mary Fredericks, the land grant coordinator at FBCC. “This will help us pay for another position and help with outreach programs.”
Fredericks expects the first class of 10 new farmers and ranchers to get started next semester, which will begin in January. She said the grant will train 30 farmers and ranchers in the next through online classes, mentors, tribal elders and will take into consideration working with federal agencies to manage trust land.
FBCC will also provide DSL support so a lot of the course work that will be done for college credit, can be done at home.
“We will have trained 30 farmers and ranchers in three years,” Fredericks said. “It doesn’t sound like much but the ratio is right here on the reservation. People don’t realize how hard farming is. It’s complicated.”
According to Fredericks, most agricultural people on Fort Berthold work with cattle and small grains. But that doesn’t rule out a sheep rancher enrolling in the program or a vegetable farmer taking the classes.

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