The UW Extension Small Farms Team supports programming for beginning farmers, rural lifestyle farmers, and other small farm operators whose needs are not already met by other Extension teams.
The Small Farms Team will bridge gaps between existing programming efforts while avoiding overlap and duplication of efforts. In addition, the Small Farm Team will look to partner with outside agencies and related industry groups whose work is focused on the small farm landowner or operator.
According to a 2003 study by USDA’s Economic Research Service, small-scale enterprises make up 91 percent of all farms and ranches in the United States. These small farms and ranches hold 70 percent of total farm and ranchland, and produce 27 percent of our food and fiber. In addition, more than half the hay and tobacco, and more than 30 percent of cash grains, dairy products and beef cattle come from small farms and ranches. According to the Wisconsin Ag. Statistics service, in 2008 forty-seven percent of the farms in Wisconsin had gross sales of $1,000-$9,999. Many small farm operators come from non-farm and non-rural backgrounds. They often have different educational needs from traditional farm audiences, both in terms of needing different or scale-appropriate production and business information and in terms of integrating into rural and farm communities.
- Team members, other Extension colleagues, and other professionals will gain knowledge they need to develop outreach programs and provide technical assistance to clients looking to start and sustainably manage small farm enterprises
- Landowners and farmers will gain knowledge to help them start and sustainably manage small farm enterprises
- Team members will share resources and expertise