Editors observe: story up to date Sept. 22, 2022.

The Enterprise, Agriculture, and Rural Growth (BARD) technical help coaching program within the Maine Enterprise College on the College of Maine has acquired a $292,000 award from the Small Enterprise Administration that was requested by Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King by way of the FY22 Congressionally Directed Spending course of, generally known as earmarks.

The BARD program was based by Maine Enterprise College’s Stephanie Welcomer, professor of administration, and Erin Percival Carter, assistant professor of selling, to fill a niche between up to date enterprise schooling and agriculture within the area. 

This system begins by recruiting college students concerned with enterprise and sustainable agriculture by way of a aggressive utility course of, and offers them with coaching to develop the abilities and data crucial to start careers working with agricultural producers and processors. College students full a semester-long coaching and analysis program centered on working immediately with small-scale, sustainable, agricultural companies to offer enterprise consulting providers tailor-made to the sector, together with data-management, price-setting, monetary and strategic forecasting, market segmentation, product growth, market intelligence and client analysis. 

The primary spherical of the BARD program, accomplished in 2020, labored immediately with Maine’s artisan cheese trade in partnership with the Maine Cheese Guild and the Maine Farmland Belief. 

“Even if COVID hit in the course of the semester, the outcomes have been actually unbelievable,” Percival Carter says. “These college students labored carefully with their farmer purchasers and with the unbelievable help of our trade advisors developed and offered full analyses and proposals on the finish of the semester that have been fairly distinctive. The necessity for that type of advising exists throughout a lot of agricultural industries in Maine and college students are hungry for alternatives to work on one thing tangible and significant.”

This yr, this system will give attention to the fiber trade — together with wool, alpaca, linen, hemp, and different plant and animal derived fibers — and the producers and value-added processors of fiber within the state and area. Fiber producers and processors in Maine acknowledge the overall market and curiosity for his or her merchandise, however battle with a lack of knowledge and steerage about learn how to handle manufacturing, worth merchandise to make sure profitability and place merchandise to distinguish choices within the minds of customers successfully. 

The BARD program will carry keen college students along with fiber farmers, mills, dyehouses, retailers, designers and artists — together with specialists in local weather sustainability, enterprise and sustainable agriculture — to make sure that Maine’s fiber trade is optimally located to benefit from market tendencies in the direction of extra sustainable textile manufacturing.

The SBA funding secured for UMaine by Sens. Collins and King will assist the BARD program lengthen and scale processes for growing a sustainable pipeline of agricultural service suppliers within the state with the schooling and expertise essential to successfully assist the agricultural sector and foster rural growth with high quality enterprise advising providers, significantly for agricultural producers working at a smaller scale or centered on producing extra area of interest merchandise.

“There’s a romance to farming that I do know attracts college students in however over the course of the semester, they start to understand not solely the less-romantic aspect however the crucial want for assist managing the complexities of a enterprise in an extremely difficult trade,” says Percival Carter. 

“On the finish of the expertise, we actually hope that now we have extra college students who take into account future profession alternatives in agriculture, and particularly agriculture in Maine. However even when they resolve to work on one thing else, we all know they’ll have had this expertise the place they used what they’ve discovered to assist reinforce one thing that actually issues,” she mentioned.

Contact: Sam Schipani, [email protected]