The University of California’s Small Farm Program (SFP) will close at the end of December after 30 years of providing support to growers around the state.
The decision was the result of efforts to address a $9 million budget shortfall in the university’s division of Agriculture and Natural Resources in the coming year.
Advisers will continue to receive funding, but the program will lose support staff responsible for writing and managing grant proposals, according to program director Shermain Hardesty. “Since 2000, we have generated $2.2 million in grants, which is used to fund advisers’ research and most of our workshops,” she said. “The advisers will lose a lot of their support, which means they will be much more limited in their work and in communicating with farmers in their area.”
Most of the other programs received only a 20% funding cut, while SFP was cut completely. “We weren’t give a reason for why this decision was made,” Hardesty said.
More than 85% of the farms in California are classified as small, bringing in an annual revenue of less than $250,000. “Small farmers don’t have the resources to get the assistance they need,” Hardesty said. “They can’t afford to pay consultants for advice on pest control or putting together a business plan, and our program provides these resources.”