National Meeting of Farm Advocates – Farm Aid

Please see the attached for information about and a tentative agenda for the meeting

A message from Joel Morton of Farm Aid.
As many of you know, this year’s concert, Farm Aid 2011, will occur at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kansas, on August 13.  Immediately prior, on August 11 & 12 at the National Ag Hall of Fame (just a few miles from the concert venue), Farm Aid and RAFI-USA will be hosting an unprecedented event: A National Meeting of Farm Advocates.  Please see the attached for information about and a tentative agenda for the meeting.  I ask you to share this announcement with your networks and membership.  We are creating an email list for those interested in attending, so please don’t hesitate to contact me ( or Scott Marlow of RAFI-USA ( for more information.  PLEASE SEE BELOW for MORE INFORMATION.

A National Meeting of Farm Advocates

Thursday, August 11 & Friday, August 12

At the National Agricultural Hall of Fame, Bonner Springs, Kansas

Organized by Farm Aid and RAFI-USA

Every day, Farm Aid refers farmers in need to Farm Advocates across the country—the unsung heroes who help farmers access credit, navigate farm programs and support folks struggling to start or stay on the farm. Immediately preceding Farm Aid 2011 on August 13th in Kansas City, Kansas, Farm Aid is partnering with the Rural Advancement Foundation International – USA (RAFI-USA) to gather farm advocates from around the country. This unprecedented event will allow farm advocates to learn from each other about the art and science of farm advocacy and to hear from experts about new developments in agricultural credit and finance.

The goal of the gathering is to bring together veteran Farm Advocates and other financial, legal and farm policy experts from around the country to share lessons learned, assess the cutting edge of farm advocacy and create new forms of cooperation, support, and ongoing training for Farm Advocates. This is a unique opportunity for both individuals and organizations to develop their skills in assisting farmers.

Day 1 of the gathering will include a slate of three workshops, featuring brief presentations by invited panelists and extended open discussion time.  Day 1 will also include an evening dinner and Networking and Working Groups time to assess the need for support, training, and collaboration among Farm Advocates across the country.  Day 2 will provide a fourth workshop, “Keeping Up with Regulations,” addressing the latest regulations and developments in ag financing and law, and include time for Working Groups to re-convene and report back to the larger group of attendees.

Though new or prospective Advocates are most welcome and encouraged to attend, the meeting will be geared primarily toward lay and legal Advocates who provide direct advising for farmers on financial and legal issues.  We anticipate that participants will come with some working knowledge of agricultural credit and financing and farm financial management, and/or working knowledge of federal and state law as it pertains to the rights and legal responsibilities of those who farm.

Please see the tentative meeting agenda (below).  To receive additional information or to be added to the email list for the National Meeting for Farm Advocates, please contact either Farm Aid’s Joel Morton at & 1/800/FARMAID or RAFI-USA’s Scott Marlow at & 919/542-1396 x210.

Meeting Agenda (tentative!)

Thursday, August 11th

10:00-10:30 a.m. Welcome & Introduction

10:45 a.m.-12:15 p.m. Workshop One: Lessons Learned for the Next Generation of Farm Advocates – Farm credit advisors who have assisted thousands of family farms will share the lessons that they have learned since the 1980’s, and what today’s advisors assisting beginning farmers need to understand.

12:15-1:15 p.m.  Lunch & Conversation

1:15-2:45 p.m. Workshop Two: What Does Discrimination Look Like Today? – A recent USDA-sponsored study documented how discrimination still exists within the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Still today’s discrimination is very different from the blatant cases that led to the Pigford v. Veneman ruling. A panel of experienced farm credit advisors will discuss specific warning signs of discrimination and abuse by local loan officers, and how to address them.

3:00-4:30 p.m. Workshop Three: Innovative Farm Finance Strategies – A series of innovative organizations across the country have developed new models for lending to entrepreneurial farmers that aren’t served by conventional financing structures. This panel will discuss these strategies, including the use of philanthropy funds to leverage public and private lending.

4:30-6:00 p.m. This is time tentatively reserved for formation of Breakout Groups and initial conversation about concepts for ongoing networking for Advocates.

6:00- ~9:00 p.m. Dinner: Networking Ideas & Breakout Groups – Scott Marlow of RAFI-USA and Joel Morton of Farm Aid will lead the evening Networking and Breakout Group session. Dinner tables will be prepared for each Breakout Group to encourage small group discussion of selected topics.  Participants will be free to move from one table (or Breakout Group) to another.

Friday, August 12th

8:45-10:00 a.m. Workshop Four: Resources for Keeping Up with Regulations and Developments in Ag Financing – An expert team of farm policy and credit advisors will lead a discussion of resources available to advocates for staying current with the latest developments, regulations and programs in ag financing.

10:15 a.m.-12:15 p.m. Wrapping Up: Re-Convene Breakout Groups, Report Back, and Next Steps – For the meeting’s closing session, Breakout Groups will briefly re-convene to draw up main points on their topic areas, and then report back to the larger assembly.  Lastly, we will make decisions about next steps needed.

For further information or to be added to the email list on the upcoming

National Meeting of Farm Advocates, please contact:

Joel Morton at or Scott Marlow at

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