The National Farmers Union (NFU) encourages individuals who are contemplating starting a career in farming or ranching to apply for the Beginning Farmer Institute. The program is also open to those across the nation who have just begun farming or are in the process of transferring an operation from a parent, relative, or non-relative.

Beginning farmers and ranchers face a seemingly unlimited number of decisions to make, from drawing up a business plan and arranging financing to learning what programs are available to make it easier to start up and sustain a successful operation.

“This program will answer the questions new farmers have, and more importantly share our expertise to answer questions that people do not always think of asking when they begin farming,” said NFU President Roger Johnson. "The Beginning Farmer Institute underscores our commitment to growing family agriculture."

Applicants accepted into the 2012 program will attend three separate education sessions, to be held in April in Washington, D.C., November in Minneapolis, Minn., and at the NFU Convention in March 2013 in Springfield, Mass. Program topics will cover business planning, understanding USDA programs, tax and record keeping, and marketing.

A $25 registration fee is required for accepted candidates. The NFU Foundation will cover the costs of materials, transportation, and lodging. This program is supported by the NFU Foundation, Farm Credit and CHS Foundation.

To apply, visit www.nfu.org/education, fill out the form and return it by the March 14, 2012, deadline.