Greetings all. The following is an activism update so you know how contributions to www.beginningfarmers.org help to promote beginning farmers, small farms, and agricultural sustainability. Please consider supporting www.beginningfarmers.org so that we can continue to provide these kinds of activities and actions:
1) We are sponsoring a beginning farmer who will fly to D.C. later this month to lobby Senators, Representatives, and USDA about the importance of maintaining and improving Beginning Farmer Programs in the next Farm Bill. Organized by the Land Stewardship Project, National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition and others, the Beginning Farmer Fly In is an important part of the political process for promoting Farm Bill programs such as the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program, ; FSA Loans for Beginning Farmers, and Beginning Farmer Conservation Set Asides, to name but a few. The Fly In will include over a dozen beginning farmers from politically important ag. States. Beginning Farmers will be sponsoring Denae Friedheim, who currently farms in Lansing, Michigan. She owns a business growing transplants for local farmers and microgreens for local restaurants. She also provides consulting services to farmers and organizations. In addition to running her business, Denae trains beginning farmers enrolled in the Michigan State University Organic Farmer Training Program, an intensive year-round farming program that provides hands-on farming and management experience to those invested in a career in sustainable agriculture.
2) Taylor Reid continues to represent www.beginningfarmers.org as a Member of the ANSI Sustainable Agriculture Standards Development Committee. The objective of the sustainable agriculture standard-setting initiative is to establish a comprehensive, continuous improvement framework and common set of economic, environmental and social metrics by which to determine whether an agricultural crop has been produced and handled in a sustainable manner. A national standard for sustainable agriculture has the potential to address a range of stakeholder needs, including supporting producer efforts to adopt sustainable production practices, establishing a framework for continuous improvement along the agricultural supply chain, providing a means of clear communication of sustainability achievements and harmonizing the myriad of sustainable agriculture standards that are currently in place or in development.
3) Last fall, www.beginningfarmers.org had a booth at the 25th Annual Farm Aid concert in Milwaukee, WI in order to educate concertgoers about the need for beginning farmers, the availability of beginning farmer programs, and to promote beginning farmer development. Please see our Post From The Farm Aid Concert to learn more about this initiative.
4) Beginning Farmers, represented by Taylor Reid, attended the First Public Hearing on the 2012 Farm Bill hosted by Ag. Committee Chair Sen. Debbie Stabenow, and Ranking Minority Member Sen. Pat Roberts. We submitted questions related to the importance of Beginning Farmer Programs in the Farm Bill – and Sen. Stabenow’s first question to panelists was related to this issue! Beginning Farmers has also submitted Testimony on the importance of Beginning Farmer Programs as part of our participation at the hearing.
5) Beginning Farmers presented it’s First Annual Farming Organization of the Year Award, along with a cash donation to the Farmer Veteran Coalition which helps military veterans participate in farmer training and rehabilitation programs. We are also working to promote a Beginning Farmer GI Bill which will allow GI Bill funds to be used for participation in beginning farmer training programs that are not for college credit, and establish a competitive grants program for the development and promotion of farmer veteran training and rehabilitation programs.
6) Beginning Farmers also continues to provide advice and answers to questions about starting a farm, beginning farmer programs and funding, and anything else that readers ask. We get at least 3 or 4 serious inquiries each week, and do whatever we can to provide sound advice and up to date information to anyone who asks. We have also provided radio interviews, podcast interviews, and have had our information featured in articles from CNBC and others.
We will continue to advocate for beginning farmers, continue to bring you the most up to date information about funding, business planning, jobs, events, and more. But we need your help. So please consider donating. Although the site features a couple of ads, and has occasionally hired people to help with posting and technical issues, I have never personally profited from the site, or paid myself for any of the considerable time I spend working on it. Thanks in advance for considering a donation to www.beginningfarmers.org.
-Taylor Reid, Founder/Administrator