FARMER MENTOR PROGRAM
History of the Farmer Mentor Program
In 2019, West Central Missouri Community Action Agency, The KC Food Hub, Cultivate KC, Kansas State University, KC Healthy Kids, and the University of Missouri set to implement a USDA Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP) titled “Supporting Beginning Farmers in Scaling-up into Wholesale Production.” The main objective of the project was to assist those beginning farmers who had a couple of years of experience under their belt and wanted to scale-up their operation into the wholesale market. This mentorship program was one of the tools being used to help these farmers achieve success.
Mentor Program now
Once the BFRDP grant finished in August of 2022, continued support for this farmer mentor program came from the NRCS Farm Conservation grant.
MENTORS: We are looking for farmers that can answer “yes” to all of the following statements:
- I have over eight years of experience farming.
- I can share what I have learned with others in a clear and understandable way.
- I believe in farming and want the next generation of farmers to succeed.
- I am able and willing to share the ins and outs of my farming business with another farmer to help them in their business.
Retired farmers are eligible to apply if they have retired within the last seven years. Click here for Mentor Application
MENTEES: We are looking for farmers that can answer “yes” to all of the following statements:
- I have been farming for less than ten years.
- I want to start selling or sell more products into the wholesale market.
- I would like one-on-one assistance from an experienced farmer.
If you answered yes, please read further and consider applying to the program. Click here for 2021/2022 Mentee Application
Expectations - All mentees in this mentorship program are beginning farmers. Mentors are expected to be as open as possible with their mentee about how their farming practice and business works and does not work. One of the goals of this relationship is to help beginning farmers gain confidence and be successful as they scale-up. We ask mentors to remember back to when they were entering the wholesale market and think about what they would have liked to know then and to share this kind of information with the mentee. All parties will be expected to reliably communicate (recommended at least once a month) with each other via phone, email, and/or other easy-to-access communication methods.
Evaluation - All program participants, mentor and mentee alike, must agree to participate in the evaluation for this program. This involves cooperating with the University of Missouri answering questions about the effectiveness of this program and how the participants may have or have not benefited from the relationship.
Time Commitment - Each mentee will be allowed 25 hours of consultation with their mentor(s). The mentor is allowed to continue the relationship after the 25 hours, but there will be no financial support after 25 hours has been reached. Mentors will be compensated at a rate of $60/hr for their time. In addition, there is a mileage stipend if the mentor would like to travel to the mentee’s farm. Travel time is not covered in the 25 hours of mentoring. In other words, if you live three hours from your mentee’s farm and you spend two hours on their farm, your mileage (@$0.41/mile, not exceeding $250) and two hours of mentoring will be covered, but not the six hours of travel.
The mentor/mentee relationship can last:
• as long as agreed to by them,
• until the 25 hours has been used, or
The application process:
1. Complete and submit the application form
2. Your application will be reviewed by our advisory panel within four weeks of your submission
3. Follow-up phone or in-person interview by an advisory board member(s)
4. A final decision on your application is made within two months of applying
5. We will select up to 10 mentees for 2023
Mentor-Mentee Process: Once a Mentor application is approved, they will be placed on the list of available mentors for the program. Mentees will then select their mentor(s) based on their needs. Mentees will be allowed to utilize more than one mentor. Mentors can provide an unlimited number of paid hours as long as the mentee they are working with has not exceeded 25 hours of mentorship. Mentors and mentees have a right of refusal if a conflict of interest exists.
Contact Food Value Chain Coordinator Cristina Jopling at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information and assistance.