Service Provider Training

Supporting relationships for farm success includes the relationships between service providers and farmers.

We offer professional development trainings for service providers to better understand communication skills and to support a farmer through conversation and helpful referrals. Service providers are encouraged to think of themselves as “guides” rather than “experts.”

Training topics:

  • How to Develop a Farm Coaching Program. Incorporates the recently published Guide for Farm Coaching covers the approach, curriculum, and methods for a four-session coaching program with farms and farm families.
  • Honing the Skills to Communicate Well. For providers in your work with farmers and others. Features the Communication Toolkit for Agricultural Service Providers
  • Network Formation to Serve Farmers. For groups interested in working together better with increased collaboration, streamlined communication, and a common vision for outreach and service to farmers.
  • Mediation. In partnership with Family and Community Mediation and the Maine Agricultural Mediation Program, 40-hour trainings and 16-hour trainings specific to agricultural mediation are offered annually.

Useful Links:

  • This resource page has excellent examples and worksheets for immediate action and improved communication practice.
  • An archived webinar (YouTube) was held in December 2017

If you are interested in a training for service providers please contact leslie.forstadt@maine.edu.

The Roots of this Work

Farmers call upon agricultural service providers for their technical acumen. In a one-on-one consultation, providers offer expertise related to production skills, business planning, soil health, land acquisition, financing, and more. But other areas like communication and interpersonal relationships are rarely addressed. Although it may not be expected that providers can address these areas, they often come up in consultations.

There is also a lack of understanding of the specific needs of beginning farmers at different stages of the “beginning,” defined by the USDA as the first ten years. This work goes beyond topics like production, marketing, financing, and land access to include interpersonal skills acquisition.

How can we approach a solution?

Providers can receive training, access resources, and find opportunities to practice with the Toolkit to assist farmers with the interpersonal needs that may be arising on the farm. By focusing on interpersonal relationships, farms will be more viable as service providers support farmers on issues like decision making, communication skills, goal setting, and time management.

This material is based upon work supported by USDA/NIFA under Award Number 2018-70027-28588

Northeast Extension Risk Management logo    USDA logo