Planting Seeds - Food & Farming News from CDFA

Tackling the Ag labor shortage – California Farm Academy strives to create a new labor pipeline

Farmers have been struggling with not only a labor shortage on one end, but long-term supervisors, farm managers and farm owners starting to age-out of the business. The Center for Land-Based Learning, a non-profit organization located in Winters, recently created the California Farm Academy (CFA) Apprenticeship Program to help address this need. The planning and creation of this apprenticeship was through a CDFA Specialty Crop Block Grant in 2015, and was developed with the help of Soil Born Farms in Sacramento.

This is first registered apprenticeship program in agriculture in Northern California. Farmers can send current employees through the program to gain skills and knowledge that will help them move into new management positions, or look for new potential employees through a ranked and filtered applicant pool.

Apprentices gain on-the-job training by working on the farm, and at the same time enroll in classes at the CFA. The position requires at least 3000 hours of paid work over two years, and apprentices complete 250 hours of coursework. Apprentices gain exposure to various aspects of the farm, from office work to irrigation – giving them a more well-rounded experience.

Applications opened October 1st for potential 2019 apprentices. Potential applicants can get more information about the program at Also, check out this YouTube video to hear one apprentice’s experience. Those interested may also get in touch with CFA Apprenticeship Program staff at, or call the office at 530-795-4146.

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