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

The Enterprise, Agriculture, and Rural Improvement (BARD) technical help coaching program within the Maine Enterprise College on the College of Maine has obtained a $292,000 award from the Small Enterprise Administration that was requested by Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King via 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 spot between up to date enterprise schooling and agriculture within the area. 

This system begins by recruiting college students thinking about enterprise and sustainable agriculture via a aggressive utility course of, and gives them with coaching to develop the talents and information essential to start careers working with agricultural producers and processors. College students full a semester-long coaching and analysis program centered on working straight 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 shopper analysis. 

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

“Even supposing COVID hit in the midst of the semester, the outcomes have been actually unimaginable,” Percival Carter says. “These college students labored intently with their farmer purchasers and with the unimaginable help of our business advisors developed and offered full analyses and proposals on the finish of the semester that have been fairly distinctive. The necessity for that form 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 12 months, this system will concentrate on the fiber business — 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 final market and curiosity for his or her merchandise, however wrestle with a lack of understanding and steerage about easy methods to handle manufacturing, worth merchandise to make sure profitability and place merchandise to distinguish choices within the minds of shoppers successfully. 

The BARD program will deliver keen college students along with fiber farmers, mills, dyehouses, retailers, designers and artists — together with consultants in local weather sustainability, enterprise and sustainable agriculture — to make sure that Maine’s fiber business is optimally located to benefit from market traits 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 important want for assist managing the complexities of a enterprise in an extremely difficult business,” says Percival Carter. 

“On the finish of the expertise, we definitely hope that we have now extra college students who contemplate 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 stated.

Contact: Sam Schipani, [email protected]