13 Free Farm Commons Legal Webinars

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Photo © Patty O’Brien | www.summercrowphotos.com

Farm Commons announced free registration is open for 13 different law webinars that span from December through March. Farm Commons is an organization working to empower farmers and local communities by connecting them with specialized attorneys. The organization’s webinars are intended to provide individuals with a deeper knowledge of applicable farm law.

Want to learn how to build a legally sound CSA business? How about hosting legally secure farm events? Farm Commons’ webinars have everything you need to know about all this and more. The first eight webinars cover the basics of farm law before the last five delve into more advanced topics. Register now before it’s too late:

1. The Beginning Farmer’s Introduction to Farm Law

Monday, December 8

1 pm Eastern Standard Time

Register here

2. Put Your CSA On Strong Legal Footing

Tuesday, December 9

1 pm Eastern Standard Time

Register here

3. Hosting Safe, Legally Secure Farm Events

Monday, January 5

1 pm Eastern Standard Time

Register here

4. Adding Value without Adding Legal Liability to Farm Products

Tuesday, January 6

1 pm Eastern Standard Time

Register here

5. Farmland Leases Built to Last: Content and Legal Context

Monday, January 19

1 pm Eastern Standard Time

Register here

6. Food Safety Liability and Regulations for the Farm

Tuesday, January 20

1 pm Eastern Standard Time

Register here

7. Sales Contracts for Farm Produce: Why and How

Monday, February 2

1 pm Eastern Standard Time

Register here

8. Making Employment Law Work for Your Farm

Tuesday, February 3

1 pm Eastern Standard Time

Register here

9. Farm Sole Proprietorships, LLCs, S Corps, C Corps, and Coops: Which? Why? How? (Advanced)

Monday, February 23

1 pm Eastern Standard Time

Register here

10. Going In-Depth With CSA Farm Law (Advanced)

Tuesday, February 24

1 pm Eastern Standard Time

Register here

11. Getting Farm Work Done Legally With Interns, Apprentices and Volunteers (Advanced)

Monday, March 2

1 pm Eastern Standard Time

Register here

12. Financing a Farmland Purchase: Legal Basics for Traditional and Non-Traditional Farmland Purchases (Advanced)

Monday, March 23

1 pm Eastern Standard Time

Register here

13. Efficiently Manage Your Farm’s Risks with Insurance (Advanced)

Tuesday, March 24

1 pm Eastern Standard Time

Register here

Want to learn more about webinars? Check out this Spotlight Roundup from earlier this year that highlights 7 organizations producing incredibly helpful webinars on food and farming issues.

Food Tank’s Featured Organizations Helping Veterans

Photo © Patty O’Brien | www.summercrowphotos.com

Photo © Patty O’Brien | www.summercrowphotos.com

Veteran’s Day has come and gone, but we support our nation’s veterans all year long. To celebrate the recent holiday, Food Tank posted an article featuring 21 organizations around the world that are dedicated to cultivating a community of veterans working in farming and agriculture. The list was just too good not to share, highlighting many organizations that are already featured in Farm Aid’s Farmer Resource Network.

The following was taken directly from Food Tank’s “21 Projects Helping Vets Through Food and Agriculture:”

Armed to Farm (ATF) is a National Center for Appropriate Technology program that provides training on sustainable agriculture to veterans. ATF is a combination of farm tours and classroom instruction that focuses on business planning, livestock production, and fruit and vegetable production.

Combat Boots to Cowboy Boots is a University of Nebraska-Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture program that prepares veterans to work in the agricultural field through education and training. The program helps match the participants with farm and ranch owners.

Community Youth Network Program (CYNP) was founded by former Liberian soldier, Junior Toe, to give purpose to ex-combatants trying to reintegrate into society. Toe teaches former soldiers to raise poultry, grow produce, and earn money through farming to support their families. CYNP also runs a Young Farmers Forum to create a community for its members.

Delaware Valley College Organic Farming Program for Military and Vets is a one-year certification program offered through Delaware Valley College and Rodale Institute that trains veterans in organic farming in order to transition them back to civilian life. Students take courses in subjects such as commercial vegetable production, sustainable agriculture, and plant health management.

Eat the Yard, in Dallas, Texas, was founded by Iraq War veterans, James Jeffers and Steve Smith, to cultivate fresh produce in community gardens. Jeffers and Smith first began organic farming in their own backyards for both therapeutic and financial reasons, then slowly began to build more gardens in their community. They now sell the produce from these gardens to local restaurants and businesses.

Farmer Field Schools (FFS) was developed in post-conflict northern Uganda, by the International Institute of Rural Reconstruction (IIRR) in partnership with the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). The program teaches modern agricultural skills to Ugandan refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs). The training emphasizes practice-oriented learning and small group meetings based on similar interests. Upon graduation, smallholder farmers are awarded a grant to start their own agricultural enterprise.

The Farmer Veteran Coalition (FVC) is working with veterans across the U.S. to transition into agriculture. The Coalition partners veterans with mentors who are experienced in farming and business, matches them with job opportunities in agriculture, and organizes equipment donations in Iowa and California. FVC is helping former members of the armed forces in 48 states.

Goat Peak Ranch is a ranch in New Mexico that offers a Veterans Internship Program. The Program offers weekend and weeklong educational sessions and accepts veterans to assist on the ranch year-round.

Heroic Food is a tuition-free farmer-training program for military veterans in partnership with the FVC. Heroic Food places veterans in paid on-farm apprenticeships and teaches them about sustainable farming, agricultural trade, and food crafting.

Lucky Nickel Ranch, owned by a Marine Corps veteran, serves as both an organic farm and a classroom for veterans. The program partners with the University of Arizona College of Life Sciences and Extension in order to provide both training and classroom time, where participants learn about the science of farming and how to write a business plan.

Roots to Road is a program operated by the Vancouver-based job training agency Partners in Careers. The program employs veterans to farm a one-acre plot; the produce is then donated to local charities.

Semper Fresh Farms is run by two U.S. Marine Corps veterans. The farm works in conjunction with veterans’ organizations such as the FVC in order to train and employ veterans.

Vets to Ag is a program at Michigan State University that trains homeless U.S. veterans to work in the field of agriculture. Participants are trained in areas such as plant and soil science, equipment operation, and integrated pest management. Job development and employer outreach is included in the Vets to Ag program.

Veterans Agricultural Center of Connecticut (VACC) provides both training and therapy to veterans. VACC provides hands-on instruction in farming skills for participants as well as full-service handicap accessible lodging and employment services.

Veterans to Farmers (VTF) strives to bring family farming back to the forefront of the American landscape. VTF was founded by U.S. Marine Corps Veteran Buck Adams in 2011 after overwhelming veteran interest in his organic greenhouse program. Veterans complete a 12-week program, then VTF provides employment support. Several of the VTF graduates now own their own greenhouses, including Evan Premer who describes the greenhouse as a “decompression zone.”

Veteran Farmers of America (VFA) helps veterans make a transition back to civilian life by introducing them to farming. VFA provides veterans with paid internships and places them at a vegan-operated farm.

Veteran Farmers Project is a Center for Rural Affairs program that gives veterans, almost a million of whom come from rural communities, an opportunity to return to their agricultural roots and reinvigorate America’s small farms. The Project provides veterans with agricultural education to help them succeed as farmers.

Veterans Farm Veterans Training Program is partnered with the Veteran Network on Farming and Success to train veterans in all aspects of agriculture. Students in this program learn how to improve irrigation and produce quality organic crops. Veteran farmers receive training in operations management, organic certification, and management skills.

Veterans Sustainable Agriculture Training (VSAT) Program trains transitioning service men and women in all aspects of agriculture and food production, including hydroponics, environmental control, and greenhouse management during a six-week intensive course. The program also assists more than 200 graduates in job placement and business creation.

Warriors that Farm works with Texas A&M University in order to provide opportunities for veterans through sustainable agriculture. The university provides credit hours upon completion of the program.

317 Village in Chhuk District, Kampot Province is a Cambodian government-funded initiative that has committed US $3 million to provide 240 families of military veterans and disabled war victims with houses and plots of land to farm. Each plot measures approximately 1.5 acres. This project is providing new hope to families whose homes and livelihoods were destroyed by civil war.

USDA Announces New Whole-Farm Revenue Insurance Protection

pumpkins meet christmas trees

Photo © Patty O’Brien / www.summercrowphotos.com

Earlier this month the USDA’s Risk Management Agency announced a new insurance policy available for 2015. With the Whole-Farm Revenue Insurance policy, producers have the opportunity to insure between 50 to 85 percent of their revenue.

The new policy includes a variety of coverage including expanding operations, replanting, market readiness costs and more. In addition to insurance coverage, the Whole-Farm Revenue Insurance policy will provide premium subsidies to farms with two or more commodities.

“Whole-Farm Revenue Protection allows these growers to insure a variety of crops at once,” the USDA press release explained, “instead of one commodity at a time. That gives them the option of embracing more crop diversity and helps support the production of a wider variety of foods.”

For more information visit the RMA’s full press release or the USDA’s Farm Bill webpage.

High Tunnel Workshops in Iowa

Iowa State University Extension and Outreach is hosting a series of classes for growers producing crops in high tunnels. The “High Tunnel 101″ workshop will cover: high tunnel selection, construction, soil management, irrigation, pest management, bed design and cropping systems. The “Advance High Tunnel Tomato Production” workshop is offered to growers who already use high tunnel technology. Topics will include: environmental control, nutrient management, foliar sampling, hands-on grafting practice, production budgets and succession plantings for maximum efficiency. Participants will leave with a high tunnel manual for future reference. 

Fees: $55 per person or $90 per couple (or employees of the same farm), and includes a resource guide, lunch and refreshments. Pre-registration is required. Click here for more information.

High Tunnel 101

Heartland Acres Events Center, 2600 Swan Lake Blvd, Independence, Iowa
Oct. 27, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Call Buchanan County Extension by Oct. 23 to register at 319-334-7161

Annelise Winery, 15110 Hwy 92, Indianola, Iowa
Oct. 30, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Call Warren County Extension by Oct. 28 to register at 515-961-6237

Lee County Extension Office, 414 N Main St., Donnellson, Iowa
Nov. 7, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Call Lee County Extension by Nov. 5 to register at 319-835-5116

Advance High Tunnel Tomato Production

North Iowa Events Center, 4-H Learning Center, 3700 4th St. SW, Mason City, Iowa

Nov. 18, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Call Cerro Gordo County Extension by Nov. 14 to register at 641-423-0844
 

College Farms Revisited: West Coast Region

Now that we’re firmly in September and students are getting into the groove of a new school year, it’s time to revisit our post about college farms and gardens. In the programs listed below, students are actively involved in all aspects of farming from greenhouse management to field planting, and from harvesting to distributing farm-fresh products. College farms provide opportunities for both learning and research and can be a great way to earn credits and internship hours!

This week we’re focusing on college farms along the West Coast. We know that we’ve missed quite a few impressive student farms…so let us know about them in the comments below!

And be sure to visit Rodale Institute’s student farm list to learn about additional farms near you.

***

Stanford Community Farm – Stanford University

Stanford, California

The Stanford Community Farm dates back to 1885 when it was the Palo Alto Estate. 
Today the farm is run by a combination of faculty, staff and students. This organic farm keeps farming and agriculture front and center at the university—as exemplified by student farmers and an Earth Systems class taught on the farm. Spread over a one-acre lot, the farm has a fruit orchard and many different student and community plots.

Contact: Graduate, medical and postdoc students contact Jesse Bateman; Undergraduate students contact Patrick Archie.

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Organic Grower’s Club – Oregon State University

Corvallis, OR

The Organic Grower’s Club is a completely student-run, organic farm. The farm began in 2000 by a group of agriculture science students who wanted to add hands-on experiences into the curriculum. The farm spans two acres and now has over 300 students and 400 community members. Farm produce is sold to subsidize operational costs and summer student internships. Volunteer on the farm! Thursday Night Work Parities happen every week 4:30-dark—with free hot supper!

Contact: org_council@lists.oregonstate.edu
 or James Cassidy the Faculty Advisor; and click here to Join the Organic Growers Listserv.

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Organic Farm – Evergreen State College

Olympia, Washington

A five-acre area on the Evergreen campus accommodates a farmhouse, garden, biodiesel facility, compost facility, greenhouse and a 38,000 square foot, certified organic, crop production area. Students at the college enrolled in the Practice of Sustainable Agriculture Program become interns on the farm and grow, harvest and sell their bounty at both a campus farm-stand and through a CSA.

Contact: (360) 867-6160 or email the Farm.

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Agricultural Sustainability Institute – University of California Davis

Davis, California

The Agricultural Sustainability Institute started in 1977 and continues to serve UC Davis students, faculty, school children and community members. The program focuses on sustainable agriculture principles and practices, in-field experiential learning, and inspires students’ initiative, creativity and exploration. The university encourages students to participate on the farm and learn through internships, formal courses and research projects. Year-round crop production takes place on the 4.5-acre farm and produce is available through the university’s dining services and campus coffee houses. Fruit and vegetables are also available at the UC Davis Farmers’ Market and through a CSA. Visit the farm anytime from 8am – 5pm Monday through Friday.

Contact:Mark Van Horn or (530) 752-7645

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UW Farm – University of Washington

Seattle, WA

Several students and faculty members wishing to inform the UW community about the global food system started this urban farm in 2006. The farm serves as a classroom for many different university classes from ecology to anthropology—and the farm also hosts a quarterly sustainable farm internship. The farm is a registered student organization with over 600 members. Learn more about farm events by joining the listserve; and click here to learn how to volunteer and get involved.

 

Organic Farmers: Be heard through the Organic Seed Survey

It’s the peak of the growing season, with farmers out on their land plucking off tomatoes and digging up carrots. But come winter, these farmers will be tucked away in their offices planning next year’s crop. Will they use organic seeds? How will they source them?

Since 2008 the top eight global seed firms have gobbled up 70-plus smaller seed companies. Monsanto, DuPont, and Syngenta control over half of the market—a sharp increase from the mid 1990′s when the top three seed corporations controlled 22 percent of the industry.[1] (Check out this excellent infographic for more). That consolidation over seeds – the genetic source of all the food we eat – has had dramatic impact on family farmers, and organic farmers in particular.

The Organic Seed Alliance’s national seed survey aims to understand the impact of those most affected by this consolidation: organic farmers. Every five years, OSA’s survey results highlight the needs of organic farmers and the availability of organic seeds and seed quality to inform future policy and research. The findings are published in their State of Organic Seed report.  View the 2011 report here.

OSA’s last survey gathered responses from 1,027 organic farmers in 45 states and demonstrated a lack of availability and quantity of organic seeds. Nearly 80% of respondents said they were having some degree of difficulty sourcing organic seeds. Contributing factors included: concentration in the seed industry, cutbacks in plant breeding programs, and disagreement and confusion over how to implement the National Organic Program. Concentration in the industry is particularly problematic for organic farmers, as it leads to a dearth of organic seeds and varieties.

OSA’s national seed survey is vital in determining the barriers and the opportunities in the organic seed industry and in discovering how farmers are using, or not using, organic seeds.

If you are a certified organic crop producer, please consider taking this confidential survey.

The deadline for responding is October 3, 2014. Access the survey here.

Sources:

1. Wendy, Banks (2013). “Biotech Infographic Shows Global Consolidation Of Seed Industry.” The Sleuth Journal. October 15, 2013. Available:http://www.thesleuthjournal.com/biotech-infographic-shows-global-consolidation-seed-industry/

Ohio Manure Science Review Course

Spruce up your manure practices at an all-day program this Thursday. Workshops will include: Nutrient Variability of Liquid Manure in Storage, Winter Runoff: Do Setbacks Work?, Economic Value of Manure, and Subsurface Band Application of Poultry Litter, among others. There will also be field demonstrations on application methods.

The Manure Science Review program qualifies for the following continuing education credits:

  • ODA Certified Livestock Manager (CLM): 5.5 continuing education hours (CEU’s)
  • Certified Crop Advisor (CCA): 3.0 Soil & Water Management CEU’s, 2.5 Nutrient Management CEU’s
  • Professional Engineer (PE): 2.0 continuing professional development hours (CPD’s)

Details

Manure Science Review
Thursday, August 14, 2014
8:45 am to 3:30 pm
Rupp Vue Farm
14636 Seville Road, Sterling, Ohio

Click here to register or for more information.

 

Pest and Disease Management Workshop for Organic Growers

Join NOFA-NY and Cornell Cooperative Extension Organic Fruit and Vegetable Production Educator, Emily Cook, at a workshop that will help you improve your pest and disease management skills. The workshop, which is funded by the USDA Risk Management Association and The New World Foundation, will introduce insect and disease scouting techniques, scouting protocol, and insect and disease identification. They will also go over the latest ways to monitor for and trap pests. Additionally, the workshop will cover online resources for monitoring disease movement in the northeast.

Details:

August 12th at 4:00pm at the Groundswell Center, 430 W. State St, Ithaca, NY 14850

Contact Emily Cook to register: ekc68@cornell.edu or 845-340-3990

USDA Webinar for Small-Scale Livestock Producers

Coming up next week: the USDA’s Agriculture Marketing Service (AMS) will hold a webinar to discuss the Grass-Fed Program for Small and Very Small (SVS) Producers–a program that aims to create more opportunities for small-scale livestock produces.

The webinar will go over eligibility and how to market products as USDA Certified Grass Fed Beef in a way that is less costly and more in tune with the needs of small-scale producers. In order to get this certification, weaned animals must be fed only grass and forage and no grain or grain byproducts. Ruminants must also have access to pasture throughout the growing season.

AMS announced this new program for small grass-fed producers this past spring. Read more on the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition’s blog and on the USDA’s blog.

 

Who: Small-scale and niche market livestock producers (those marketing less than 49 head of cattle each year).

What: AMS webinar about the Grass-Fed Program for Small and Very Small Producers.

Where: Listen in via phone or computer: Phone: 866.740.1260, access code 72020000; Computerhttp://www.readytalk.com On the left side of the screen enter participant access code: 72020000.

When: Tuesday August 5th; 11:00 AM – 12:00 PM Eastern Time

**Send questions for the presenters to Jennifer.Turpin@ams.usda.gov

USDA Announces Funding for Organic Certification Costs

Getting certified by the USDA National Organic Program is expensive. That’s why the USDA recently shelled out nearly $13 million to help bring costs down. This is a win for small producers and handlers, many of whom have been growing organic products but haven’t been able to afford certification.

The money, which is made possible through the Farm Bill, covers up to 75 percent of certification costs, up to 750 dollars. These funds may be used for certification-related expenses spent between this past October and September 30, 2014.

Visit the NOP Cost Share Website for information on how to apply for these funds. Questions should be directed to Dana Stahl the USDA’s Organic Certification Cost Share Program Manager at Dana.Stahl@ams.usda.gov, (540) 361-1126.