• 07Apr

    Penn State Extension  – Extension Assistant – Model Plot Project Coordinator job opening  with beginning farmer training program  for 2015

    Join Penn State Extension to support a new project as part of our Start Farming beginning and next generation farmer training programs. This project will work with new farmers to establish “Models of the Future” on-farm demonstration sites at five farms across the state. These plots will implement a set of best management practices and latest innovations giving new farmers an opportunity to observe scientifically based practices in the context of the working farms of their peers. Study circles hosted at farm demonstration sites will provide an opportunity for new farmers to learn from researchers and each-other as well as provide a support network.

    Major responsibilities will include planning, implementing, conducting and evaluating a broad range of educational program for adults who are starting a farm.  The extension assistant will coordinate an on farm demonstration project for new farmers in years 3-7 under direction of the project leader.  He or she willassist in the coordination, promotion and evaluation of study circle meetings designed to help new farmers learn from one another and assist in grant management.

    To apply visit https://psu.jobs/job/56684  search for position # 56684

  • 02Apr


    Peer Reviewer Details
    USDA’s National Institute for Food and Agriculture (NIFA) evaluates proposals for BFRDP, and a number of competitive grant programs, through peer-review panels.  In the past NIFA has established a couple of panels each year for the BFRDP which are comprised of farmers and ranchers, practitioners, CBO/NGO representatives, academic personnel, agency staff as well as others.

    Why serve on a BFRDP review panel?  It is vitally important to provide a good selection of potential review panel members — these are the people who will read and evaluate proposals with guidance from NIFA.  It is also a fantastic way to get a better understanding of what makes for good proposals.

    What’s the time commitment and travel requirements? Panelists will need to review between 15-20 proposals.  It will take about one hour to two hours to review each proposal/application.  Members of the review panel will be required to attend a training webinar (approx. 1 hour) and travel to Washington D.C. to attend a panel meeting (3-4 days long) either late May or early June of 2015.  All travel including lodging and a per diem for meals will be provided by USDA.  USDA also provides an honorarium of $225/day for days the panel meets in Washington D.C.

    Can I serve on the review panel if I’ve also submitted a proposal? Yes, as long as you are not directly involved in the project.  BFRDP will have two review panels, so if chosen for the panel, you would either leave the room when your organization’s proposal was discussed or it would be addressed by the other panel.

    How to nominate yourself to serve on the BFRDP review panel
    1.  Send an email to bfrdp@nifa.usda.gov with “reviewer” in the subject line.  In the e-mail, include your contact information (organization, address, email, phone); a brief description of your areas of expertise or experience related to beginning farmers and ranchers; and whether or not you plan to be a participant on a proposal this round.

    2.  Your email will be followed up with a response from BFRDP program staff with further instructions on how to register.  Instructions will likely include registering in the NIFA Peer Review System (PRS) by going to this website: https://prs.nifa.usda.gov/preLogin.do;jsessionid=70445A576DA8A526155DB0203A573A98?page=create

    3.  You can also email the BFRDP National Program Leader, Jill Auburn, atjauburn@nifa.usda.gov, for more information on what is required of peer reviewers before volunteering to serve on the panel.

    * Note, just because you register doesn’t mean you’ll necessarily be a on the review panel.  NIFA will determine the number of reviews needed once the Request for Applications is released.

    Deadline to nominate yourself as a BFRDP review panel member is next Friday, April 3rd.

  • 24Mar

    Beginning Farmer Education Program Manager Job Posting – Michigan

    The MSU Student Organic Farm (SOF) is hiring a Beginning Farmer Education Program Manager. The position is three-quarters time (30 hrs/wk) and is part of a recently awarded USDA grant titled “Michigan’s Emerging Farmers – Strategies and Tools to Enhance Success,” a collaboration among the MSU SOF, Michigan Food and Farming Systems (MIFFS), and the MSU Center for Regional Food Systems (CRFS). The Beginning Farmer Education Program Manager will work closely with and report to the SOF Organic Farmer Training Program Director and work closely with the MIFFS and CRFS members of the project team. This position has secure funding through November 2017.

    The overall goal of the grant is to increase new farm success in Michigan by developing networks and resources for land and capital access while providing increased access to education and training. Project-supported resources will be adapted as appropriate for specific groups of beginning farmers with differing needs and perspectives in an attempt to help all of them move toward business viability.

    The goal for the SOF-led portion of the grant is to increase access to beginning farmer training across Michigan through co-development and delivery of hands-on workshops and educational materials. Project strategy encompasses three sites:

    • The MSU Student Organic Farm, with an eight year history of beginning farmer training and focus on generalized statewide beginning farmers;
    • Farmers on the Move, already established as a Hispanic farmer cooperative in need of training development in a variety of areas as well as site development; and
    • Women in Agriculture, a newly-developed site for women focused on cooperative farming.

    The project focuses on developing site and people-appropriate training programs that both utilize the lessons learned in previous trainings in Michigan and ensure that they are useful and engaging for the particular audiences intended at the three sites. Read more »

  • 16Mar

    My childhood was spent helping out around the house. From a very early age, I knew how to do things such as wash dishes and launder clothes. I also cut grass, gave the animals baths, ran the vacuum, swept and mopped floors. If I slacked off on my duties, I found my privileges to be greatly lacking, which was usually enough to get my motivation back in line. In my case, the chores of my youth were mainly household chores, but who’s to say kids can’t help with the farm chores as well? No one, that’s who!

    Having a little helper on the farm is good on multiple levels. For starters, if the farm is a family endeavor that you wish to pass down to future generations, it is important to train those future generations right. There is no better learning than hands-on learning, so having kids help out jump starts that process. Starting at an early age also establishes a way of life in which time spent working on the farm is the healthy norm as opposed to unhealthy time spent hovering over video games and being inactive.

    All told, having kids help out on the farm seems like a wonderful idea, but when and how do you get them started? What your kids are able to do will in large part depend on what you have on your farm for them to do. Chores will vary with age, experience, and the comfort level of both you and your children. While it is perfectly reasonable to have a certain set of expectations, it is important to keep kids safe at all times and respect any reservations they might have. If a child is afraid to deal with certain animals, for example, allow them the time to get comfortable as a lack of confidence around farm animals can often lead to injury regardless of age. Even then, be watchful of these interactions and activities at all times as well; give your child the vote of confidence to get the job done but maintain vigilance to ensure safety.

    Photo: Central Livestock Association

    Photo: Central Livestock Association

    A good starting point for small children is feeding and watering small animals such as chickens. Much of this can be done from the other side of a fence while a comfort level is established. That child can then graduate to collecting eggs and milking goats. With age these chores can be advanced to include cleaning stalls and pens as well as bathing and grooming animals that need it. Yard work can eventually be incorporated as well once children are of sufficient age to safely operate the equipment needed to do so. While these are all good starting points, some other age appropriate chores include:

    Age 5 and under:

    • Collect eggs
    • Feed and water small animals
    • Plant seeds and water gardens
    • Groom small animals

    Age 5 to 10:

    • Pull garden weeds
    • Collect and take out trash
    • Clean pens
    • Milk goats
    • Bottle feeding animals
    • Bathe animals
    • Harvest vegetables

    Age 10 and older:

    • Mow grass
    • Build/repair fences
    • Build/repair pens
    • Feed and water large animals
    • Bathe large animals
    • Milk cows
    • Clean troughs and feeders

    These are just some rough estimates based on the average child faced with the average set of farm chores. Each family and children will differ and some individuals may advance quickly on their own whereas others may need some firm but gentle encouragement to participate in the family farming effort. One thing, however, is certain, which is that time spent immersed in farm chores builds character, creates a solid work ethic, and reduces opportunities for kids to get into trouble, all of which are good for every farm family as a whole for the new beginning farmers we create are sure to pave the way to a bright future.

  • 11Mar

    The Sustainable Small Farm Summit is a Free Online Summit for New Farmers.

    This event is dedicated to new farmers starting their first farm; WWOOFers & apprentices transitioning to become Farm Managers; visionaries contemplating changing their career to farming; and families of farmers who want to understand the business more.  NOTE: A small farm is any business that grows and sells at least $1000 in agricultural products in a year, not exceeding $250,000 in sales. Whatever end of the spectrum you are on, you need tools to understand what parts of your farm are the keys to your long term prosperity.

    Sign up now at http://www.smallfarmsummit.org/

    Chris Wayne: Stealing Market Savvy – Standing Out at the Farmers Market
    Rachel Armstrong & Laura Fisher: Farm Risk Management
    Crystal Stewart: Holistic Management Decision Making
    Tradd Cotter: Mushroom Cultivation & Production

    THURSDAY, MARCH 19TH, 2015
    Richard Wiswall: Farming Smarter, Not Harder
    Mark Smallwood: Can Small Farm Organic Production Feed the World?
    Nannett Cepero: Five Uncommon Crops in Cold Urban Areas
    Tammy Hinman: Goal Setting for New Farmers

    FRIDAY, MARCH 20TH, 2015
    Lindsey Shute: How You Can Help National Young Farmers’ Coalition Help You
    Zach Wolf: Your Relationship to Soil Fertility Management
    Kevin Egolf: Farmland Access Strategies for Aspiring Farmers
    Curtis Stone: Small Plot Farming >> on Borrowed Land

    SATURDAY, MARCH 21ST, 2015
    HOST Stacey Murphy: Understanding Your Finances – Tips & Strategies
    Dennis Derryck: Growing the Local Movement with Food Hubs
    Connor Stedman: Five Research & Development Opportunities for Regenerative Agriculture
    Dru Rivers: Production Flower Farming
    Joel Salatin: Farm Strategies from Polyface Farms

    Sign up now at http://www.smallfarmsummit.org/

  • 10Mar

    Winners Announced for the 4th Annual John Kinsman Beginning Farmer Food Sovereignty Prize! - Recipients to be Honored at Family Farm Defenders Dinner and Award Ceremony on Sat. March 14th from 5-9 pm at the UW-Madison Pyle Center

    Family Farm Defenders is pleased to announce the two winners of this year’s John Kinsman Beginning Farmer Food Sovereignty Prize.  They are Carsten Thomas from Moorhead, MN and Emmet Fisher and Cella Langer from Mt. Horeb, WI.  Carsten operates a diverse organic farm in the Red River Valley, honoring Native food heritage, and also offers many hands-on environmental education programs.  Cella and Emmet own Oxheart Farm producing food for farmers markets and a community supported agriculture (CSA) program.  Cella & Emmet also manage the Farley Center’s Farm Incubator and Land Link program outside Verona, WI.

    Each prize winner will be receiving a $2000 cash prize, as well as a local food fair trade gift basket, at an award dinner to be held on Sat. March 14th from 5-9pm at the UW-Madison Pyle Center (702 Langdon St. in Madison).  They keynote speaker for this year’s ceremony is Marty Strange, co-founder of the Center for Rural Affairs and author of the book, Family Farming: a New Economic Vision.  The title of his talk will be:  Family Farming – From Deep Roots the Remnant Restores.  Mr. Strange will be introduced by UW Prof. Jack Kloppenburg who will also be giving an update of the Open Source Seed Initiative (OSSI) which he helped officially launch last year. Read more »

  • 04Mar

    National Farmers Union’s (NFU’s) Beginning Farmer Institute is a risk management, business, financial and leadership development program for Beginning Farmers. All beginning farmers are welcome to apply regardless of production technique or geographic region. This program does not offer technical agricultural instruction, but instead focuses on other key skills in agriculture, particularly in the areas of risk management. Participants will attend weekend sessions that focus on various topics such as writing a business plan, agricultural accounting, direct-marketing, public speaking etc. These sessions will also feature experiential learning through field trips and interaction with other beginning farmers and ranchers.

    The program takes place over 3 sessions throughout the US. The first session is in Washington, DC while the second and third rotate throughout the country. All costs of participating (airfare, meals, materials etc.) in the program are covered. Participants pay a $100 enrollment/registration fee upon acceptance into the program—this is the only fee associated with participation.

    This program is a wonderful opportunity to further develop the skills necessary to succeed and grow a farm business as well as meet other beginning farmers from around the country.

    For more information please visit: http://nfu.org/education/beginning-farmer-institute

    To apply please visit: http://nfu.org/images/2015BFIApplication.pdf

  • 17Feb

    The latest ag census showed that a significant number of American farms are considered “beginning farms” 25.8% in total. The image below, from Farm Credit show where the numbers are highest and lowest.

    Check out the full blog post from Farm Credit and see more images like this at http://www.fccouncil.com/young-beginning/the-agrophile/census-operators-beginning-farms.html

    Beginning Farms

  • 05Feb

    USDA Invests $18 Million to Train Beginning Farmers and Ranchers: Emphasis on Veterans and Limited

    New Orleans, LA – Feb. 2, 2015 – Today, U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden (USDA) announced more than $18 million in grants to educate, mentor, and enhance the sustainability of the next generation of farmers. The grants are available through the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP) administered by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), which was authorized by the Agricultural Act of 2014 (Farm Bill).

    “As new farmers and ranchers get started, they are really looking to their community for support. The Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program empowers these farmers and ranchers to bring innovative ideas to the table when it comes to addressing food security, creating economic enterprises, and building communities,” said Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden. “As we celebrate the first anniversary of the 2014 Farm Bill, programs like these are evidence that an investment in beginning farmers and ranchers is an investment in our future”.

    The grant announcement was made at Recirculating Farms Coalition in New Orleans. Recirculating Farms received a BFRDP grant to develop training sessions focusing on soil-based production and aquaculture for new and beginning farmers in New Orleans.

    The BFRDP program, first established by the 2008 Farm Bill, aims to support those who have farmed or ranched less than 10 years with workshops, educational teams, training, and technical assistance throughout the United States. NIFA awards grants to organizations that implement programs to train beginning farmers and ranchers. Today’s announcement was funded by the 2014 Farm Bill, which continued authorization of this program.

    The 2014 Farm Bill mandated at least five percent of BFRDP funding support veterans and socially disadvantaged farmers. Among today’s announcement, more than 15 percent of the funded projects have a substantial component that supports veterans and farming, while about 50 percent of the projects focus mainly on socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers. A fact sheet with a complete list of awardees and project descriptions is available on the USDA website.

    • Since 2009, 184 awards have been made for more than $90 million through the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program. These awards are part of USDA’s deep commitment to beginning farmers and ranchers. Additional USDA investment in beginning farmers and ranchers include:
    • Since 2009, FSA has issued more than 8895,000 direct and guaranteed farm operating and farm ownership loans to beginning farmers and ranchers.
    • FSA’s microloan program, an important access point to credit for some new farmers and ranchers, has issued more than 9,600 microloans totaling $188 million. Seventy percent of these loans have gone to beginning farmers. Recently, USDA raised the ceiling for microloan from $35,000 to $50,000, giving new farmers access to more credit.
    • The 2014 Farm Bill also strengthens the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program for new producers by reducing the premiums on buy-up level coverage by 50 percent for new farmers and waiving their application fee. USDA announced this new tool for farmers and ranchers in 2015.
    • USDA’s Value-Added Producer Grants program gives priority to beginning farmers and ranchers to help them increase revenues through value-added agriculture, marketing, and new product development. Since 2009, more than 25 percent of 853 awarded Value Added Producer Grants went to beginning farmers and ranchers. Read more »
  • 05Feb

    The Cornell Small Farms Program is excited to announce that they have been awarded a 3-year grant from the USDA’s Beginning Farmers and Ranchers Development Program (BFRDP) that will enable them to provide new support services for military veterans seeking to farm, and for “advanced beginning” farmers who have 3-9 years of farming experience. Matching funds are provided by their collaborators at the NY Farm Viability Institute and the Local Economies Project.

    Since 2009 they have operated the Northeast Beginning Farmer Project, a vibrant educational and social network that delivers mentoring, information resources, and training to beginning farmers and service providers who support new farm viability. Their long-term goal is to ensure access to resources, education and supportive networks to all who are interested in farming in the Northeast.

    With these new funds they will create training programs and farmer-to-farmer networks to address the needs of two under-served farmer groups: military/veteran farmers and individuals who have been farming for 3-9 years. Our team of collaborators includes: Cornell Cooperative Extension, National Center for Appropriate Technology, NY Farm Viability Institute, Farmer Veteran Coalition, NY FarmNet, NY Dept of Veterans Affairs, Local Economies Project, Institute for Veterans and Military Families, and Heroic Food Farm School.

    Together they will:

    • Connect farm and veteran service providers to create the Farmer Veteran Coalition of NY
    • Offer annual 5-day intensive entrepreneurial “boot camps” to military veterans seeking to farm
    • Develop approved on-the-job training opportunities on farms, allowing military vets to use GI benefits to get hands-on farm experience
    • Create regional farmer veteran networking groups
    • Provide 40 advanced beginning farmers with intensive support from a “New Farmer Profit Team” of advisers
    • Develop 8 new online courses geared toward advanced beginners seeking to diversify with new enterprises
    • Design intensive trainings on scaling up, including wholesale marketing and equipment decision-making

    For questions or further details, please contact Anu Rangarajan or Erica Frenay by email, or call 607-255-9911.

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