October 31, 2023
Are you a young farmer who’s ever thought to yourself, “I could use some advice on this”? And you could fill in the blank with buying a new tractor or bidding on farmland or switching herbicide programs or talking to your parents about estate planning.
If so, Cultivating Master Farmers might be the answer for you.
CMF is a young-farmer mentoring program that started nearly 20 years ago, all to help young Illinois farmers learn a wealth of information from Prairie Farmer Master Farmers. The 18-month program gives young farmers the chance to sit down in a room with a group of Master Farmer mentors who have, quite literally, been there and done that.
Applications for the CMF Class of 2025 are now open, and are due Dec. 1. Classes of about 10 young farmers (21 to 35 years old) and 10 Master Farmers are selected for the 18-month program, which features four ag-related events, including a summer tour.
The Class of 2023, which graduated in July, toured the University of Illinois Research Park, Beef Farm, Energy Farm and the new Feed Technology Center. At other events, they heard from expert sources on estate and succession planning, diversification on the farm, marketing strategies, how to give back, and managing working relationships with family members.
But the real backbone of the program is the round-table discussion and relationship building, where young farmers learn from Master Farmers and vice versa. Upon the completion of the 18-month program, participants will have developed lasting relationships that continue to yield solid farm advice long after the program’s conclusion.
RELATIONSHIPS: Rosanne and Darell Sarff, 2018 Master Farmers, are shown here with Lena and Alex Head, young farmers from Christian County, Ill. “I had so many great conversations, but especially with Darell, on where to get involved and how I can best serve our industry,” Lena says. She took his advice and has since joined the IL Corn Marketing Board.
Young farmers have until Dec. 1 to apply for an opening in the Class of 2025. Individuals or couples may apply. Eligible applicants must meet the following criteria:
resident of Illinois
between the ages of 21 and 35 as of Jan. 1, 2024
actively engaged in production agriculture
committed to actively participating in the program
The Class of 2025 will be selected this winter, and the inaugural meeting will be held in February. The CMF application is available online. The program is sponsored by Compeer Financial, Farm Credit Illinois, Growmark, Illinois Farm Bureau, Bayer and Prairie Farmer.
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