• 28Jan

    Earlier this month the National Institute for Food and Agriculture (NIFA) released a Request for Applications (RFA) for the 2015 Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP).

    The deadline for applications is 5:00 pm EST on Friday, March 13.

    The RFA is posted on NIFA’s website: http://www.nifa.usda.gov/funding/rfas/pdfs/15_bfrdp.pdf

    NIFA will host a webinar to answer questions about the RFA on Wednesday, February 11th at 4:00pm EST. Here is the link to the webinar:  http://nifa-connect.nifa.usda.gov/bfrdp15rfa/

    Additional resources, including an FAQ, is available on the NIFA website: http://www.nifa.usda.gov/funding/bfrdp/bfrdp.html

  • 21Jan

    Young Farmer PictureRookie Farmers Get the Dirt on How to Make It Work: Getting Schooled on How to Sprout a Farm Business

    By Nancy Matsumoto, Wall Street Journal

    At a two-day conference last week in New York’s Hudson Valley, Tyler Dennis was among the 250 attendees picking up pointers on how to make a living from the land.

    The agenda covered agricultural practices ranging from soil science, crop rotation and open-source tool sharing to rabbit husbandry and “farming with empathy.” A whole-pig butchering demonstration and lavish farm-to-table meals offered ample proof of concept at the event, which took place at Stone Barns Center for Food & Agriculture in Pocantico Hills, N.Y.

    The goal is to help young newcomers such as Mr. Dennis, 25 years old and a recent Cornell University graduate, to sprout a farm business.

    Mr. Dennis hadn’t attended college with a vision of weather watching and dirty fingernails; he had majored in film…

    Read the full article at: http://www.wsj.com/articles/rookie-farmers-get-the-dirt-on-how-to-make-it-work-1418004362

    Also check out these articles about young and beginning farmers:

    Journal News: Young Farmers: the New Face of the Local Food Movement

    Innovation Trail: Teaching Sustainable Business to Young Farmers

    Huffington Post: Where Agriculture and Climate Change Meet

    New York Times, Dot Earth: On Smaller Farms, Including Organic Farms, Technology and Tradition Meet

    New York Times: Satisfying the Need for Dirty Fingernails

    National Public Radio: Who are the Young Farmers of ‘Generation Organic’

  • 19Jan

    Beginning farmers on-line training offered by Michigan State University Extension

    Attention beginning farmers! The MSU Extension 2015 Beginning Farmer Webinar Series is available for you to gain knowledge needed to plan your start-up farming operation, or add a new enterprise to an existing farm.  A series of twenty, 2-hour evening webinars covering a wide variety of farm- related topics is available, including:

    “Getting started with….”

    …Small Grain Production, Jan. 26  

    …Cover Crops in Organic Vegetable Crop Rotations, Feb. 2

    …Integrated Pest Management, Feb. 4

    …Manure Storage, Handling and Mortality Management on Small Farms, Feb. 11

    …Beekeeping for Pollination and Honey, Feb 13

    …Value-Added Agriculture, Feb. 18

    …Farm Food Safety, Feb 23

    …Sheep and Goat Management, March 2

    …USDA Organic Certification, March 9

    …Hop Production, March 11

    …Season Extension, March 16

    …Marketing, March 18

    …Small Fruit Production, March 23

    …Beef Cow-Calf Production, March 25

    …Direct Marketing, March 30

    …Managing Soil, Irrigation and Fertilization Interactions, April 1

    …Cover Crops in Field Crop Rotations, April 6

    …Poultry Production, April 20

    …Small Farm Equipment, April 27

    …Beef Feedlot Management, April 29

    A fee of $10 per webinar is required, or you can register for the entire series for $100.  Webinar recordings will be provided to all registered participants.  Participate from the comfort and convenience of your own home or office.  Registration, a brochure containing details on each individual program, and on-line or mailed payment options can be found at http://events.anr.msu.edu/beginningfarmerwebinars/

    Each program begins at 7pm eastern time and will last about 2 hours.  A  high-speed internet connection is required.  You will receive webinar connection information after you register.

    Contact the Alger County MSU Extension office at 906-387-2530 or isleibj@anr.msu.edu for more information.

  • 19Jan

    Virginia Beginning Farmer and Rancher Coalition Program Associate Job

    The Virginia Beginning Farmer & Rancher Coalition Program (VBFRCP) is a state-wide and coalition-based Extension program that aims to support beginning farmers and ranchers in establishing and sustaining viable agricultural operations and communities in Virginia.  Following a community-based and participatory development approach, the VBFRCP formed as a way to more effectively and comprehensively address the complex start-up needs of Virginia’s beginning farmers and ranchers.

    We are now seeking a full-time program associate to work closely with the Program Director at Virginia Tech and state-wide Coalition members to coordinate, support, and report on all aspects of VBFRCP activities. Primary responsibilities include managing the communication, coordination, implementation, and documentation effort of the state-wide Coalition; regionalized whole farm planning programs; and local farm mentor networks. Other key responsibilities include: curricula and online resource development and editing; state-wide outreach and managing existing social networking platforms; and contributing to progress reports and maintaining positive relations with Coalition members and granting agency.  Read more »

  • 18Jan

    The Cornell Small Farms Program (in Ithaca New York) and Northeast Beginning Farmers Project are hiring a full-time Project Coordinator for two new beginning farmer initiatives in 2015. Please share this news far and wide so we can recruit a great pool of applicants!

    Click here to apply!

    The Cornell Small Farm Program (SFP) engages in research and extension projects and collaborations that support and enhance the viability of small farms in New York. This Coordinator will support the Northeast Beginning Farmer (NEBF) Project, a major SFP effort focused on beginning farmer training, their support networks, and informational resources.

    The department is currently searching for a Project Coordinator who will oversee all aspects of a USDA project designed to 1) facilitate military veterans entering into farming as a career, and 2) improve long-term viability of”advanced” beginning farmers (defined as farmers operating 3-10 years).  Facilitate the development and implementation of project work plans by collaborators for each component of the project, coordinate timelines, manage relationships, and synthesize evaluation data into reports.  Lead the outreach for the overall project, publicizing events and impacts of the project and collaborating with the SFP outreach staff to achieve these goals. Convene advisory groups for all aspects of the work. Read more »

  • 14Jan

    Our friends at the Cornell Small Farms Program offer a huge array of useful resources for beginning and established farmers. Check these out…

    Beginning Farmers Online Resource Center

    Find answers to common questions, register for a variety of online courses, watch production videos and interviews with farmers, work through planning tutorials, and much more.

    Small Farms Program E-newsletters

    These bi-monthly updates bring you the latest info on agricultural events, funding opportunities, resources, and small farm related job opportunities from around New York State and the Northeast.

    Small Farms Quarterly

    A quarterly magazine for the Northeast region, with articles that inspire and inform farm families and their supporters. Read online or subscribe to the print edition, delivered to your mailbox.

    Financing/Grants/Loans

    This section on the Small Farms Program website features a library of funding opportunities.

    Guide to Farming in New York State

    This Guide is an essential resource, providing answers to questions about taxes, business planning, labor law, zoning, regulations, marketing, funding opportunities and many other topics that farmers need to know.

  • 12Jan
    So you grow or raise everything on your farm using organic practices, but you’re not yet certified organic? At what point would it be worth the paperwork to become certified? Could your business benefit by being able to use the word “organic” in your marketing? Are you foregoing a price premium by not certifying? How hard is it, anyway? Dive into these questions in the 4-week online course BF 106: Organic Certification – What, How, and Why (or Why Not).  This course features presentations by certified organic farmers on what certification looks like on their farm and how they made the decision.

    The course is targeted to aspiring, beginner, and experienced farmers who are considering organic certification. 

    New this year! Participants who complete all requirements of one or more online courses are eligible to be endorsed for a 0% interest loan of up to $10,000 through

    BF 106: Organic Certification runs from Mon. Feb 2 – Mar 2 with Monday night webinars 6-7:30pm EDT. If you aren’t able to attend in real time, webinars are always recorded and posted for later viewing.

    All of our courses consist of weekly real-time webinars followed by homework, readings, and discussions on your own time in an online setting.

    This course costs $150, and up to 4 people from the same farm may participate without paying extra. See the course description page for more on the course learning objectives, instructors, and outline.

    These courses are part of the line-up of 14 online courses offered this Fall, Winter and Spring by the Cornell Small Farms Program. Learn which courses would be best for you, read about our team of experienced instructors, see answers to Frequently Asked Questions, and  view the calendar of course offerings for 2014-2015.

    Courses often fill very quickly, so don’t miss your chance to sign up today!

  • 05Jan

    Land Stewardship Project Outlines Major Reforms for Making the Nation’s Largest Ag Program an Accountable & Reliable Safety Net for All Producers

    LE SUEUR, Minn. — The nation’s largest federal agriculture program is a significant barrier to beginning farmers who are trying to get access to land and capital, according to a new white paper released by the Land Stewardship Project (LSP) today. Crop insurance has in recent years become a major publicly-funded mechanism for inflating land prices, concludes the “How Crop Insurance Hurts the Next Generation of Farmers” white paper, which is based on an analysis of government data and farmer interviews.

    “Crop insurance should be an effective safety net for all farmers, not just a select few raising a small number of favored crops,” said Tom Nuessmeier, who raises crops and livestock near Le Sueur and serves on LSP’s Federal Farm Policy Committee. “Unfortunately, it’s become a program that is biased against some of our most innovative farmers.”

    As two previous LSP white papers show, crop insurance cost the taxpayers over $58 billion between 2003 and 2012, and is projected to produce a $90 billion tax bill over the next decade. Launched in 1938 to provide a basic safety net for farmers facing severe weather catastrophes, public funding for crop insurance now mostly benefits 19 major insurance corporations and some of the largest crop producers in Minnesota and the U.S.

    Because the program subsidizes as much as 60 to 70 percent of the cost of premium subsidies and has no limits on how much an individual producer can qualify for, it provides a publicly-funded source of cash for bidding up rental and purchase prices, according to Mark Schultz, one of the authors of the LSP white papers.

    “Our interviews with farmers confirm that it has served to artificially inflate land prices by allowing the largest crop operators to lock in profits and aggressively purchase and rent farmland to expand their operations, driving up land costs beyond the reach of most farmers,” said Schultz, who is also LSP’s Policy Program director.

    Crop insurance also makes it difficult for beginning farmers to access capital since it limits coverage for producers who have little or no yield history or who choose to raise a diversity of crops. Emily Hanson, who along with Klaus Zimmermann has been searching the past few years for a farm to raise crops and livestock on, said even marginal acres are out of their price range because of the inflationary market. Read more »

  • 31Dec

    Wishing everyone successful and enjoyable farming adventures in 2015

    Happy New Year from Beginning Farmers

    Red Russian Kale

  • 29Dec

    Beginning Farmer Technical Assistance Program Coordinator with the Institute for Social and Economic Development in Boston, Massachusetts

    Organization Description: The Institute for Social and Economic Development (ISED), a 501(c) 3 non-profit organization, has provided training, evaluation and management activities worldwide since 1988. ISED believes that high quality technical assistance, program evaluation, and measurement improve long-term social and economic outcomes for vulnerable people and their communities.  Refugee farming and gardening is ISED’s prominent domestic emphasis at the current time.

    Job Summary:  The project is funded by USDA to set up a three-year collaboration with 24+ refugee-focused farming incubator projects (RFIPs) nationwide, to review beginning farmer curricula and programs for refugees, identify the gaps and develop, pilot test, and distribute specialized curricula and course workshop modules, and develop and test multiple instructional tools and manuals for instructors and technical assistance providers.  The Coordinator will work closely with the Project Director, interns, and partners to implement the program.  Major activities include coordination with partners; strengthening instructional and curriculum development skills among RFIPs; developing and pilot testing curricula and instructional methods; tracking and evaluating development and implementation efforts; and coordinating dissemination with USDA and project partners. Read more »

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