• 19Feb

    Webinars on Cooperative Models for Farmers Now Available from the National Young Farmers Coalition (NYFC)

    NYFC teamed up with the Democracy at Work Institute back in November and January to host two webinars introducing young farmers to cooperative farm models. Tune in to hear successful cooperative stories from Fifth Season Cooperative Growers, Little City Growers Cooperative, Our Table Cooperative Farm, Valley Green Feast, Tourne-Sol Cooperative Farm and Diggers Mirth Farm.

    Click below to stream the videos online!

    An Introduction to Worker Cooperatives for Farmers and Start-Ups

    How Young Farmers Are Using Cooperatives to Build Successful Farms

  • 01Jan

    Wherever You’re Farming, Learning about Farming, or Dreaming about Farming, Wishing You a Healthy and Fruitful 2014!



    These maps are produced by Benjamin Hennig, an academic geographer at the University of Oxford. The maps are featured in a blog post by Hennig on the global spaces of food production, here.



  • 23Dec

    The 2014 Conservation Stewardship Program Deadline is January 17, 2014

    See Below for how ATTRA Can Help You Meet the Deadline

    Excerpt: Farmers who want to sign up for the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service’s Conservation Stewardship Program in fiscal year 2014 have only a short time to get their applications in.

    And ATTRA specialists can help them. …

    Applications for CSP are taken throughout the year, but applications from famers who don’t meet the January 17 deadline won’t be considered until early 2015.

    The Conservation Stewardship Program is a working lands conservation program administered by NRCS and available on a nationwide basis. CSP offers technical and financial assistance to farmers for adopting and maintaining high standards of resource conservation and environmental stewardship on eligible lands. Assistance is geared toward both the active management of existing conservation systems and the implementation of new conservation activities on land in agricultural production.

    The ATTRA website now has links both to a guide to applying for CSP generated by the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition and helpful details from the NRCS. To find those links, go on line at https://attra.ncat.org/csp/. 

    Also, farmers who need assistance with their applications can call the ATTRA sustainable agriculture helpline at 800-346-9140 or go to the Ask an Ag Expert feature on the ATTRA website to email questions. The ATTRA website is www.attra.ncat.org.

  • 20Dec

    Farming Events This Winter

    Hundreds of Learning and Networking Opportunities Available to Farmers

    The winter months are often jam-packed with conferences, workshops, events, gatherings, learning opportunities, etc., for farmers. This winter is no different. Here’s a small sampling of upcoming opportunities for learning and networking off the farm. Be sure to visit ATTRA’s events calendar for an up-to-date listing, with details, links, and more.

    Connecting Sustainable Farmers to Emerging Health Care Markets – A Hospital-Focused Presentation

    December 19, 2013 – Online

    Farm Food Safety Training with GAPs

    January 6-7, 2014 – Canandaigua, New York

    Kentucky Fruit and Vegetable Growers Conference and Tradeshow

    January 7-8, 2014 – Lexington, Kentucky

    Four-Week Grow Biointensive Sustainable Farmer Training and Crop Production Course

    January 7-31, 2014 – Willits, California

    Indiana Vegetable Growers Symposium

    January 7, 2014 – Schererville, Indiana

    Illinois Specialty Crops, Agritourism and Organic Conference

    January 8-12, 2014 – Springfield, Illinois

    And many, many more! There are well over 50 events in January alone listed on ATTRA’s events page. Be sure to scroll through and see if any of these events are near you, or if any of the online conferences are of interest.

  • 25Sep

    The “Feeding the World” Trope

    What do farmers think? What do consumers think?

    National Public Radio’s The Salt ran a story online this week, which also appeared on the widely listened to Morning Edition entitled “American Farmers Say They Feed The World, But Do They?”

    I was irked by the title, because of course, not all farmers make this claim. Nevertheless, the fallacious hook drew me right in. Unfortunately, the author continued to use the term “farmer” monolithically throughout, though it was clear he was referring to farmers who advocate a high-tech, industrial style agriculture (which is still problematic – it’s not necessarily true all such advocates claim to be feeding the world).

    The loose use of “farmer” aside, the issue of whether farmers in the U.S. are actually “feeding the world” or not, is indeed taken up in an interesting way. The debate is framed perhaps too narrowly as that between advocates of industrial agriculture and those who claim industrial agriculture is damaging the environment; the author concludes that both sides are right and wrong. Consumer opinion is also considered; apparently only 13 percent of consumers think U.S. farmers have the responsibility to “feed the world” (this according to a study conducted by the Center for Food Integrity). Though, that’s the only consumer-related statistic we’re offered.

    Interested in the details? Read the entire article here. What do you think? Have you heard friends or colleagues use the language “feed the world”? Do you have an opinion on the debate?

  • 04Jul

    Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Proposed Rules (and Exemptions) For Farmers, an Easy to Understand Guide; And How to Comment on the Rules*

    The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) is the federal food safety law that applies to farms growing fruits and vegetables that may be eaten raw. FSMA is intended to reduce the risk of microbial contamination of fresh produce. It will be administered by the federal Food & Drug Administration (FDA). The law was passed two years ago, but proposed regulations were released in January 2013 for public comment (due by September 16, 2013). The Following is an “easy to understand” guide to the proposed rules, regulations, and exemptions. It is presented here to help farmers understand what impact these rules could have on their farm business and share their comments with FDA (learn how to comment on the proposed rules). This guide presents a basic overview of the lengthy and complicated proposed FSMA rules presented by FDA and should not be considered a legal document or a substitute for official FDA rules.

    There are Two Parts to FSMA: 1) The Produce Safety Rule applies to “farms” or those who grow, harvest, pack or hold covered produce. The rules apply to produce generally eaten raw, i.e. greens, melons, tomatoes, apples, etc. (aka “covered produce” or raw agricultural commodities “RAC’s”). They do NOT apply to produce not eaten raw, i.e. sweet corn, potatoes, pumpkins, etc. Also NOT covered is produce grown for personal consumption, on farm consumption, or on another farm under the same ownership. 2) The Preventive Controls Rule applies to “facilities” that manufacture, process, pack or hold human food and to operations that buy and resell products grown on other farms. These facilities will need to register with the federal government and comply with regulations outlined in the preventive controls portion of the rule. Facilities are defined in the rules and cover operations that modify or process produce from its original state.

    There are Exemptions to the Act that May Apply to Farmers. (To Continue Reading this Guide Click “Read More”) Read more »

  • 02Jul

    Immigration Reform and Agriculture: Farmer Organizations Praise Legislation

    Press releases from the National Farmers Union and United Fresh (the nation’s largest produce grower’s Association) follow. Both applaud passage of immigration reform in the Senate.

    Beginningfarmers.org does not take political positions on issues that are not specific to the promotion of beginning farmers. We do, however, strongly encourage comments and opinions from readers about the immigration reform legislation, and specifically about the way in which it is related to agriculture.

    National Farmers Union Press Release: NFU Pleased by Senate Approval of Immigration Reform 

     National Farmers Union (NFU) President Roger Johnson issued the following statement in response to the Senate’s 68-32 vote in favor of S. 744, the Border Security Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act:

    “I am very pleased by the Senate’s action on immigration reform today. S. 744 includes important provisions that will bring greater stability to the farm workforce and provide a practical, legal means for immigrants to work in agriculture. It also allows for peace of mind for all parties in agriculture to know that a more easy-to-use and effective system will be enacted. I look forward to continuing to work with the House of Representatives to pass immigration legislation that achieves many of these same ends.”

    United Fresh Press Release: Landmark legislation will provide access to stable workforce for agriculture industry

    United Fresh congratulates the Senate today on the final vote of 68-32 to pass the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act. The comprehensive immigration reform bill includes agricultural labor provisions that secure access to a stable, legal workforce.

    “We applaud the Senate for seizing the opportunity to enact immigration reform that is desperately needed in the fresh produce industry and many other sectors of agriculture,” said Tom Stenzel, United Fresh CEO. “This bill will ease the burden on agricultural employers, create more jobs along the entire supply chain, and boost the economy. We appreciate the efforts of our allies in the Agriculture Workforce Coalition and United Farm Workers with whom we worked to advance provisions that will provide a legal and stable workforce for fruit and vegetable growers.”

    There are several key agricultural labor provisions included in the immigration reform bill passed by the Senate: Read more »

  • 08May

    USDA Announces May 31, 2013 as 2012 Census of Agriculture Due Date

    If you’re a beginning farmer or rancher right now, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) wants you to know that the window to respond to the 2012 Census of Agriculture is officially closing on May 31, 2013. If you need to respond to the Census, you will have received a postcard in the mail from the USDA instructing you to do so.

    How does the USDA define a farm for Census purposes? A farm is any place from which $1,000 or more of agricultural products were produced and sold, or normally would have been sold, during the Census year. The USDA has already received two million completed Census forms. The Census is conducted every five years and is “the only source of consistent and comprehensive agricultural data for every state and county in the nation.”

    See the press release for this announcement here, and also for more information about the US Census of Agriculture. Happy Census(ing)!


  • 17Apr

    Farmers: The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition has just released a 6-page guide for farmers and ranchers interested in signing up for the Conservation Stewardship Program.

    Download the full guide here – and read on for more information!
    USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is currently gearing up to announce the cut-off date for farmer applications to the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) for enrollment in the program for 2013.  CSP is a working lands conservation program administered by NRCS and available on a nationwide basis.  CSP offers technical and financial assistance to farmers for adopting and maintaining high standards of resource conservation and environmental stewardship.  Assistance is geared to both the active management of existing conservation systems and for implementing new conservation activities on land in agricultural production.

    That means farmers and ranchers can apply for assistance to implement important practices on their land – like using cover crops to reduce soil erosion or creating habitat for bees and other beneficial insects. But you need to act soon. Read more »

  • 22Jan


    ATHENS, GA, (Jan. 15, 2013)–James E. Tillman, Sr., State Conservationist for the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Georgia today announced a sign-up for specific initiatives under the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) – applications are due by Feb. 15, 2013. Read more »

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