COLUMBUS, Ind. — A new online course offered by Ivy Tech Community College will help farmers who want to diversify into livestock, poultry or aquaculture.
The deadline for fall registration is Friday, Sept. 12.
A comprehensive overview, covering a wide range of topics and tools, will be given in 21 weeks, said Matt John, ag program chair at Ivy Tech in Columbus, Ind.
Developed in partnership with Indiana Soybean Alliance (ISA) and Indiana Corn Marketing Council, the certificate program will be offered twice a year.
Topics covered will include animal rights and welfare, the regulatory environment, nutrition, equipment, legal aspects and a business plan, John said.
Though the course is online, the last session will be face to face with farmers who are experienced in animal agriculture. "We will divide the groups up according to their interests, and they will visit the facilities they are interested in and talk to someone already doing it. The location will depend on where the students live," John said.
John said he believes both established farmers and novices would benefit from the course, as well as employees and managers of large ag businesses.
"They could be established farmers, with a grain operation and not enough land to expand for their children, who want to diversify into livestock, or those with an interest in meeting the demand for aquaculture," John said.
John said the class is a response to growing interest and demand for animal agriculture.
"In Indiana, animal agriculture is expanding as the number of consumers of meat is going up worldwide. Farmers are converting cropland as the potential for more (meat) exports is going up. The consumption of aquaculture in this country is also increasing," John said.
"The content is designed to be immediately useful for beginning a livestock, poultry or aquaculture business or for increasing your value as an employee in such a business," John said.
"Farmers that are interested in beginning or improving their livestock operations will gain access to valuable information directly designed to provide a broad picture of all the segments of business planning, operations, waste management, production and public relations," John added.
John said aquaculture’s biggest obstacle is obtaining loans from banks.
"In aquaculture, we have found the biggest problems have been the difficulty in getting funding. There’s more risk than with other livestock. By completing the certificate, the farmer has more viability, stability and training to understand risk. He or she will have training for a business plan," John said.
John said the course also will cover the basics of grant writing.
"The class will be user oriented, answer questions the students have, and change as new information comes out," John said.
The idea for this course and partnership sprang from a meeting with Indiana Soybean Alliance (ISA) and Indiana Corn Marketing Council a few years ago, John said.
ISA, which is funding and publicizing the course, said its interest in this training is twofold.
"ISA is always interested in ways to help farmers learn about diversifying their operations to bring the next generation back to the farm," said Carl Kissell, chairman of ISA’s demand committee. "This new program offers farmers an opportunity to increase their knowledge of animal agriculture and see how they might incorporate livestock into their operation."
Secondarily, Kissell said livestock is the biggest user of soybeans, while aquaculture is a growing market. Promoting the use of soybeans is what the organization does.
Participants will earn three credit hours within Ivy Tech’s agriculture program. Applicants can register through Ivy Tech’s website at www.ivytech.edu/corporatecollege/agriculture
Visit ISA’s website at www.indianasoybean.com/livestock to learn about six scholarships to help cover the registration cost.