• 14Aug

    Practical Farmers of Iowa Beginning Farmer Update August, 2014 - We are taking applications for our Savings Incentive Program!

    Practical Farmers of Iowa is excited to announce we are once again taking applications for our Savings Incentive Program.

    Applications will be accepted now through October 3, 2014. Get an application here. Up to 25 beginning farmers will be admitted to this fifth round of programming.

    The Savings Incentive Program works by encouraging you to save up to $100 per month for two years. After 24 months and completion of all program requirements, you earn a dollar-for-dollar match on money saved up to $2,400, for a possible $4,800 to use toward the purchase of a farm asset.

    Requirements: As part of the program, participants will be paired with a mentor, with whom they must meet in-person at least three times in the first year. Participants also:
    Open and manage a savings account with Practical Farmers’ partner bank
    Create or fine-tune a business or whole-farm plan
    Attend at least four PFI events per year. PFI events include online trainings, field days, conferences, workshops and more
    Conduct quarterly reviews via email, phone or in-person with PFI staff to check on progress toward goals and program requirements
    Complete all forms and requested information on time
    Eligibility: To be eligible for the Savings Incentive Program, you must either be farming on your own now and have farmed for five or fewer years, or have some experience working for a farm business. This includes, but is not limited to: internships, apprenticeships, working as an hourly or salaried employee or working on the family farm.

    You must also reside in Iowa or farm in the state (out-of-state residents are eligible, so long as they are farming in Iowa), and be members of Practical Farmers of Iowa.

  • 13Aug

    Aspiring Illinois farmers, new growers with less than five years’ experience, commodity farmers interested in diversifying to include fruit or vegetable production, and high school and community college agriculture teachers are invited to apply now for the next session of a free training program offered through the University of Illinois crop sciences department.

    “Preparing a New Generation of Illinois Fruit and Vegetable Farmers” opened the application process for its third session on July 1. The application period will be open through October 24, 2014, or until capacity is reached. There is no fee for participants who complete the program.  Participants can apply for the program at http://www.newillinoisfarmers.org/new_generation_app.php.
    More information here: http://tinyurl.com/lxsnzlr

    Now Recruiting for program beginning December 2014! http://newillinoisfarmers.org/ and https://www.facebook.com/NewIllinoisFarmers

    Here is a link to a story that was recently published: http://www.illinoisfarmertoday.com/news/crop/diversity-provides-unique-opportunity/article_ef26ffca-e117-11e3-bff1-001a4bcf887a.html

    This program was also featured in the New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/05/dining/the-seeds-of-a-new-generation.html

  • 29Jul

    Minnesota Beginning Farmers Chosen as White House ‘Champions of Change’: Presidential Ceremony for Land Stewardship Project Members Ryan & Tiffany Batalden

    Southwestern Minnesota beginning farmers Ryan and Tiffany Batalden will be honored as “Champions of Change” by President Barack Obama during a White House ceremony today, beginning at 9 a.m. CDT. The Bataldens are Land Stewardship Project (LSP) members and fifth generation beginning farmers in Lamberton, Minn. Along with their three young children — Finn, Lilly and Stella — they grow certified organic corn, soybeans, oilseeds and small grains on 380 acres, raise livestock, and have a direct-market popcorn business called Patriot Pops.

    “It’s an honor for us to be selected White House Future of American Agriculture Champions of Change. It’s particularly appropriate that the White House is recognizing people out in the countryside who are thinking long and hard about the future of American agriculture,” said Ryan Batalden, who serves on the Land Stewardship Project’s Land Access Committee, which is investigating the obstacles beginning farmers face when trying to get agricultural operations established. “There are many of us who see great opportunities in agriculture, but also recognize some of the significant barriers beginning farmers face if they are to get established successfully on the land.”

    Read the full article at: http://landstewardshipproject.org/posts/628

  • 14Jul

    Events Aid Vets Considering Sustainable-Ag Career

    Veterans and their spouses who are considering farming as a viable career can apply to spend several days in September learning about sustainable, small-scale farming at “Armed to Farm” (ATF) events in Arkansas and Mississippi.

    The National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) is organizing the ATF events, which are supported by USDA Rural Development and NCAT’s ATTRA program.

    Two ATF events will be held:

       September 14-19 in Fayetteville, Arkansas

       September 22-26 in Jackson, Mississippi

    ATF will be a dynamic blend of farm tours and hands-on experience with classroom instruction. Participants will learn about business planning, budgeting, recordkeeping, marketing, livestock production, fruit and vegetable production, and more. Participants will leave the training with a strong foundation in the basic principles of operating a sustainable farming enterprise.

    The number of participants will be limited. Applications are due August 1, 2014. Selected participants will be notified no later than August 8, 2014.

    The event will be free for participants, and lodging and most meals will be provided. Veterans selected to attend will be responsible for travel costs to and from the event.

    Veterans from Arkansas and Mississippi as well as Operation Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan) and Operation Iraqi Freedom (OEF & OIF) veterans and their spouses will receive first priority. National Guardsmen/women and Reservists also are encouraged to apply.

    Secondary focus will be on all other veterans. Spouses are encouraged to attend, not only if they are interested, but because running a farm will impact their lives even if they are not directly involved.

    Go online at http://www.ncat.org/armedtofarm/  for complete application details.  For more information, please contact Margo Hale at margoh@ncat.org or (479) 442-9824.

  • 04Jul

    USDA Announces New Support for Beginning Farmers and Ranchers

    Department Implementing New Farm Bill Programs, Unveiling New Centralized Online Resource to Support Next Generation of Farmers
    U.S. Agriculture

    Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden has announced the implementation of new Farm Bill measures and other policy changes to improve the financial security of new and beginning farmers and ranchers. Harden also unveiled www.usda.gov/newfarmers, a new website that will provide a centralized, one-stop resource where beginning farmers and ranchers can explore the variety of USDA initiatives designed to help them succeed.

    “New and beginning farmers are the future of American agriculture,” said Deputy Secretary Harden. “The average age of an American farmer is 58 and rising, so we must help new farmers get started if America is going to continue feeding the world and maintain a strong agriculture economy. The new policies announced today will help give beginning farmers the financial security they need to succeed. Our new online tool will provide one-stop shopping for beginning farmers to learn more about accessing USDA services that can help their operations thrive.”

    USDA’s New Farmers website has in depth information for new farmers and ranchers, including: how to increase access to land and capital; build new market opportunities; participate in conservation opportunities; select and use the right risk management tools; and access USDA education, and technical support programs. These issues have been identified as top priorities by new farmers. The website will also feature instructive case studies about beginning farmers who have successfully utilized USDA resources to start or expand their business operations.

    Today’s policy announcements in support of beginning farmers and ranchers include:

    • Waiving service fees for new and beginning farmers or ranchers to enroll in the Non-Insured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP) for the 2014 crop year. NAP provides risk management tools tofarmers who grow crops for which there is no crop insurance product. Under this waiver, announced via an official notice (PDF, 171KB) to Farm Service Agency offices, farmers and ranchers whom already enrolled in NAP for the 2014 crop year are eligible for a service fee refund.

    • Eliminating payment reductions under the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) for new and beginning farmers which will allow routine, prescribed, and emergency grazing outside the primary nesting season on enrolled land consistent with approved conservation plans. Previously, farmers and ranchers grazing on CRP land were subject to a reduction in CRP payments of up to 25 percent. Waiving these reductions for new and beginning farmerswill provide extra financial support during times of emergency like drought and other natural disasters.

    • Increasing payment rates to beginning farmers and ranchers under Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees and Farm-Raised Fish Program (ELAP) (PDF, 288KB). Under this provision,beginning and farmers can claim up 90 percent of losses for lost livestock, such as bees, under ELAP. This is a fifty percent increase over previously available payment amounts to new and beginning farmers.

    In the near future, USDA will also announce additional crop insurance program changes for beginning farmers and ranchers – including discounted premiums, waiver of administrative fees, and other benefits.

    These policy announcements are made possible through the 2014 Farm Bill, which builds on historic economic gains in rural America over the past five years, while achieving meaningful reform and billions of dollars in savings for the taxpayer. Since enactment, USDA has made significant progress to implement each provision of this critical legislation, including providing disaster relief to farmers and ranchers; strengthening risk management tools; expanding access to rural credit; funding critical research; establishing innovative public-private conservation partnerships; developing new markets for rural-made products; and investing in infrastructure, housing and community facilities to help improve quality of life in rural America. For more information, visit www.usda.gov/farmbill.

    The Deputy Secretary made these announcements at the inaugural meeting of the reconvened Beginning Farmer and Rancher Advisory Committee held at the University of California Davis, California. This Advisory Committee, composed of 20 members, including Extension agents, lenders, farmers, ranchers and academics will meet through 2015 to learn, discuss, and formulate recommendations to USDA on how to support new and beginning farmers.

    A fact sheet outlining significant USDA efforts to support beginning farmers and ranchers, and other Department-wide accomplishments, are available on www.usda.gov/results.

  • 03Jul

    A new blog post has been published by the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition on the implementation of  several crop insurance provisions in the 2014 Farm Bill.  The interim rule, filed by RMA yesterday, touches on beginning farmers and conservation.

    • It waives the administrative fee for beginning farmers for catastrophic coverage, which compensates farmers who lose more than 50 percent of their yield in any given year.

    • It reduces out of pocket premium expenses for beginning farmers during their first 5 years of farming by providing a 10 percent premium subsidy bonus.

    • It allows beginning farmers who experience an insured loss on new cropland to be compensated at 80 percent of the proven yield of existing parcels that are currently in production (this “substitute yield adjustment” was previously set at 60 percent for all farmers).

    • It allows beginning farmers to use the production history of a farming operation they have been involved in through physical labor and in decision making in the event they do not have a production history or historical yields of their own.

    • It Implements the 2014 Farm Bill’s Sodsaver provision to discourage farmers from converting native prairie into cropland.

    • It links basic soil and wetland conservation requirements—known as “conservation compliance”—to federal crop insurance subsidies.

    The full blog post can be accessed here: http://sustainableagriculture.net/blog/new-crop-insurance-changes/

  • 01Jul

    WASHINGTON (July 1, 2014) – In celebration of the United Nations’ 2014 International Year of Family Farming, this month National Farmers Union (NFU) is highlighting opportunities for interested individuals to get into farming. According to the U.S. Census the average age of a farmer in the United States is 57. This is up from 54 in 1997. The percentage of farmers over 65 has increased by about 10 percent since 1969.

    “With an aging farm workforce, there is a real need for new, beginning and transitioning farmers and ranchers to enter the agriculture sector,” said NFU President Roger Johnson. “At the same time, as soldiers return home from tours abroad, they are looking for new employment opportunities. Farming is an excellent way for these men and women to transition back into the workforce.”

    “NFU supports programs for beginning farmers and ranchers, as well as veterans, in order to ensure the future of our industry,” said Johnson.

    National Farmers Union’s Beginning Farmers Institute (BFI) develops and encourages agricultural leaders from all backgrounds. Leadership training and farm management skills are taught to promising individuals eager to enter or expand their agricultural knowledge. According to the Farmer Veteran Coalition, as of 2009 there were 21.9 million veterans in the United States, including 1.5 million female veterans.

  • 26Jun

    Farmshare Austin’s (Texas) pilot program, Farmer Starter, is designed to provide aspiring farmers with the essential skills and training needed to run a sustainable farming business. Using a blend of hands-on in-field training and formal classroom education, students will gain practical knowledge and experience in sustainable organic growing methods as well as the business and financial planning skills necessary to establish a successful market farm.

    Students will live and work on a three acre organic farm in an intensive six month immersion learning experience. Students will be exposed to all aspects of a working farm and will develop in-depth skills through this multi-seasonal program. Daily activities may include bed preparation, planting, weeding, irrigation, harvest, and packing.

    Students will also receive 300 hours of formal educational time. Students will participate in bi-weekly classes, along with farm walks, discussions, workshops, and monthly local area farm tours with opportunities to work with and learn from agricultural professionals and expert farmers. Students will benefit from individual attention, small class size, and evaluations for educational and training goals. Read more »

  • 22Jun

    The National Incubator Farm Training Initiative (NIFTI) provides training, technical assistance and professional development resources to over 100 land-based beginning farmer training programs – both urban and rural – across  North America. We offer one-on-one technical assistance, a comprehensive resource library, toolkits, and an annual field school, as well as a dedicated list serve with over 200 subscribers. Our 3rd Annual NIFTI Field School will take place this year in Portland, OR – Oct 1st – 3rd.

    Visit the website: http://nesfp.org/nifti to find out more, fill out an intake form for a personalized referral to the best resources for your organization: http://nesfp.org/nifti/intake and/or get in touch with me directly to find out more about how we can support your work.

  • 21Jun

    Stateline Farm Beginnings Farmer Training: Applications Now Accepted!

    In 2014 Angelic Organics Learning Center (Illinois) is celebrating ten years of offering Stateline Farm Beginnings! Stateline Farm Beginnings is a farmer-led training and support program designed to help people plan and launch sustainable farm businesses. Since 2005 Angelic Organics Learning Center has led the way in strategic farm business planning education, and we hope you will join us in class this fall.

    Aside from a time-tested curriculum, there are several benefits to choosing Stateline Farm Beginnings:

    Join a vibrant farmer alliance - Get a jump-start on building the region-wide community that your farm business will need to thrive. By enrolling in Stateline Farm Beginnings, your tuition includes a yearlong membership to Upper Midwest C.R.A.F.T (Collaborative Regional Alliance for Farmer Training)—the most robust network of sustainable farms in the region.

    Learn farm business planning from real farmers - Get real-world, practical, and specialized knowledge from the farmers leading the local food movement in the Upper Midwest.

    Focus exclusively on sustainable agriculture - Examples used in class materials are solely from Biodynamic, organic and sustainable farm operations.

    Leverage knowledge from across the country - Classes are facilitated by staff that leverage expertise from ten other Farm Beginnings programs across the country; Gain access to advanced farmer training programs

    Graduates that start or continue farm businesses can apply for additional farmer-training resources offered by the Learning Center.

    I hope you will join us to build a solid plan for realizing your farm dream. Feel free to email statelinefarmbeginnings@learngrowconnect.org or go to http://www.learngrowconnect.org/stateline-farm-beginnings for more information.

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