Beginning farmers

Growing Forward program gives young, beginning and small farmers a strong start

Farming is hard. Building a business as a small farmer, or starting from scratch as a young or beginning farmer? Even harder.

The barriers to entry – expensive capital investments like land and equipment – can make farming one of the most challenging industries to break into, but a new and growing generation of young, beginning and small farmers are necessary to ensure the future of Ohio’s vital agriculture industry. And it’s why Farm Credit Mid-America’s Growing Forward program – geared specifically toward this group – is so critical.

“It’s not easy to just go out and decide you’re going to buy a farm one day,” said Micah Mensing, the cooperative’s Growing Forward specialist in Ohio. “By partnering with our team, customers gain access to expertise that will guide them through the process from start to finish.”

Growing Forward, which is free to qualifying Farm Credit Mid-America customers, provides content, curriculum and training to help young, beginning and small farmers gain the financial acumen and business know-how necessary to run a successful operation. Specialists like Mensing work with growers on everything from the importance of balance sheets and how to fill them out, to understanding the ins and outs of the loan application process. They also help farmers create business plans, set goals and factor in non-farm-related expenses – like car purchases and school loans – to ensure they reach those goals.

“We’re not here to show you how to plant the seed; we teach you how to do everything else before that seed is planted,” Mensing explained. “Sometimes the difference between making money and not is in the bookwork. It’s understanding your expenses and revenues, and managing them to make sure you’re profitable.”

The program also provides sound and constructive credit for these farmers through individualized credit programs and products such as specialized underwriting standards and a Farm Service Agency loan guarantee reimbursement of 50% for young or beginning farmers.

In Farm Credit Mid-America’s four-state territory of Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee, there are more than 280,000 young, beginning and small farmers. In Ohio alone, Farm Credit Mid-America lent $3.9 billion to young and beginning farmers in 2020. With the older generation of farmers retiring, giving the next generation a solid foundation is key to success. And Farm Credit Mid-America is committed to not only getting these farmers started, but growing alongside them.

“It’s our mission to secure the future of rural communities and agriculture,” Mensing said, “and Growing Forward is how we do that.”

To learn more about Growing Forward, visit or call your local Farm Credit Mid-America loan office.

Labor has always been an issue, mainly because we are a seasonal operation. So that's a challenge finding somebody who only wants to work three months out of a year, sometimes up to six months.
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Mandy Way

Way Farms

Farm Labor Resources
I appreciate the benefit of having a strong voice in my corner. The extras that are included in membership are wonderful, but I'm a member because of the positive impact to my local and state agricultural communities.
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Ernie Welch

Van Wert County Farm Bureau

Strong communities
I see the value and need to be engaged in the community I live in, to be a part of the decision-making process and to volunteer with organizations that help make our community better.
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Matt Aultman

Darke County Farm Bureau

Leadership development
Farm Bureau involvement has taught me how to grow my professional and leadership experience outside of the workforce and how to do that in a community-centric way.
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Jaclyn De Candio

Clark County Farm Bureau

Young Ag Professionals program
With not growing up on a farm, I’d say I was a late bloomer to agriculture. I feel so fortunate that I found the agriculture industry. There are so many opportunities for growth.
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Jenna Gregorich

Coshocton County Farm Bureau

Growing our Generation
Knowing that horticulture is under the agriculture umbrella and having Farm Bureau supporting horticulture like it does the rest of ag is very important.
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Jared Hughes

Groovy Plants Ranch

Groovy Plants Ranch
If it wasn't for Farm Bureau, I personally, along with many others, would not have had the opportunity to meet with our representatives face to face in Washington.
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Austin Heil

Hardin County Farm Bureau

Washington, D.C. Leadership Experience
So many of the issues that OFBF and its members are advocating for are important to all Ohioans. I look at OFBF as an agricultural watchdog advocating for farmers and rural communities across Ohio.
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Mary Smallsreed

Trumbull County Farm Bureau

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