What is the Certified Farm Startup Program?


The Community Food & Agriculture Coalition’s (CFAC) Certified Farm Startup Program (CFS) is a certification program for aspiring farmers that utilizes performance-based teaching methods to deliver the skills and tools needed to access farmland and start a farm business.

This Program begins in the late winter of 2024 and runs through the summer of 2024. Exact start date will be announced soon!

The Certified Farm Startup curriculum covers many topics, including:

    • Livestock and crop farming practices
    • Innovative production techniques
    • Land lease and purchase strategies
    • Business planning
    • Grant writing
    • Creating a farm business plan
    • Financial and risk management
    • Diversification and marketing strategies
    • Connections in the Montana farming community

All classes and trainings are FREE and participants work with local farmer mentors, CFAC staff, and MSU Extension staff dedicated to teaching you how to become a successful farmer. CFAC is committed to making the CFS program accessible to all aspiring farmers. 



What does CFS offer aspiring farmers?


  • In-depth Online workshops accessible to beginning farmers across the state covering farm business start-up topics
  • Hands-on learning at local farms led by Farmer Mentors, where participants will gain experience in diverse tasks like weed management, seed starting, greenhouse organization, transplanting, property maintenance, and irrigation set-up.
  • Training in diverse operation models including vegetables, fruit, cut flowers, herbs, livestock, and value-added production.
  • One-on-one support with CFAC staff aimed at helping you create your own unique farm business plan.
  • Creation of a farm business plan that will help secure land lease options by showing land-owners you’re confident and dedicated to running a successful farm. If you decide to post a Land Seeker listing on the Farm Link Montana site, your listing will carry a Certified Farm Startup stamp, as proof you have completed the required curriculum.
  • A diverse, inclusive network of new and experienced farmers! We’re committed to building a safe, supportive network for all trainees, free from discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, disability, religion, veteran status, military obligations, or marital status.
  • Facilitated, in-depth Cohort Meetings with other beginning farmers who are at similar stages in their farming journey.
  • Note: Even for those not interested in running their own farm, this program will help you gain knowledge in farming practices applicable to any agriculture related field. Talk to us or your academic institution to see if this will qualify for independent study or internship credits you may need.


Program Eligibility Requirements*: 


  • Live (or plan to live) in Montana during the majority of the program (Spring and Summer 2024).
  • Have at least two years of experience working on a farm or ranch or gaining equivalent education through a college degree (this can be completed before or during your enrollment in CFS).
  • Plans to start a farm or ranch business
  • Complete the CFS Application. Applications for CFS 2024 are now closed. Please check back in the Fall for announcements about CFS 2025. 


*We are happy to chat with you if you are unsure if you can fulfill any of the above requirements. Email britta@cfacmontana.org with any questions.


How to sign up: 

  • Apply by filling out the Certified Farm Startup Application.
  • Complete the CFS Application. Applications for CFS 2024 are now closed. Please check back in the Fall for announcements about CFS 2025. 
  • Contact britta@cfacmontana.org with any questions or concerns

CFS 2024 participants:

Click below to access the Certified Farm Startup Program 2024 Toolshed, where you’ll find all the information about this year’s program including: zoom links to workshops, dates and locations for Field Days and trainings, resources, our list of speakers, helpful resources, and more! Please email britta@cfacmontana.org if you need to password sent to you again.

CFS 2024 Toolshed          

Past year 2023 Participants:

Click this button to get to the CFS 2023 Toolshed where you’ll find the links to our zoom recordings, resources that were shared during the program, and contact information for our presenters. If you’ve forgotten the password, you can email britta@cfacmontana.org to get a reminder.

CFS 2023 Participants Click Here!