Since 1996, the USDA’s Community Food Project Grant Program (CFP) has been supporting the alleviation of food insecurity in low-income communities through projects which:

  • Promote community self-reliance in meeting their own food needs;
  • Encourage comprehensive responses to local food, farm, and nutrition issues;
  • Meet food needs through food distribution, community outreach to assist in participation in Federally assisted nutrition programs, or improving access to food as part of a comprehensive service; and
  • Meet specific state, local or neighborhood food and agricultural needs including needs relating to equipment necessary for the efficient operation of a project, planning for long-term solutions, or the creation of innovative marketing activities that mutually benefit agricultural producers and low-income consumers.

Earlier this week the USDA’s National Institute for Food and Agriculture (NIFA) posted a Request for Applications (RFA) for the next round of CFP funding. $8.64 million dollars of funds are available. The turnaround time to submit an application is very tight, with applications due no later than 5:00 pm EST on November 30, 2015.

The application process often takes more than two weeks to complete, which is why we need your help!

Do you know of organizations or efforts in your community with experience in:

Community food work, particularly concerning small and mid-sized farms, including the provision of food to low-income communities and the development of new markets in low income communities for agricultural producers;

Job training and business development for food related activities in low-income communities or;

Efforts to reduce food insecurity in the their community, including food distribution, improving access to services, or coordinating services and programs?

If so, please forward this post and make them aware of this great opportunity!

For this round of funding, three types of grants are available:

Community Food Projects, examples of which include community gardens with market stands, value chain projects, food hubs, farmers’ markets, farm-to-institutions projects, and marketing and consumer cooperatives. All projects must involve low-income participants. The maximum Community Food Project award in a single year is $125,000 and the maximum award over four years is $400,000.

Planning Projects, examples of which include community food assessments’ coordination of collaboration development, GIS analysis, food sovereignty study, and farm-to-institution exploration.  All projects must involve low-income participants. The maximum Planning Project award is $35,000 for the total project period.  The maximum grant period is three years.

Training & Technical Assistance Projects, examples of which include workshop training, peer-to-peer interaction, one-on-one training, assistance with evaluation, webinars, and/or video-conferencing. All projects must involve low-income participants. The maximum Training & Technical Assistance Project award in a single year is $250,000. The maximum award over a two-to-four year period is $500,000.

Farm Aid is collaborating with New Entry Sustainable Farming Project and additional partners to provide free one-on-one technical assistance and resources to applicants. If you are interested in receiving assistance, please fill out this intake form.

There are three upcoming webinars available to help prepare applicants:

General CFP Information(Hosted by USDA): Thursday, October 22 at 2:00 pm EST – Go here to join for CFP Applicants (Hosted by New Entry): Monday, October 26 at 1:00 pm EST – This webinar will review the process of getting set up in for the first time. This webinar is geared towards those who have never submitted an application on Grants.govor would like a refresher. For new users to, the registration process can take as long as 2 weeks to complete, making it critical to begin the registration process as soon as possible. Register here

Evaluation component of CFP Application (Hosted by New Entry): Wednesday, October 28at 1:00 pm EST – We will review the requirements for the evaluation component of the CFP application. We will review logic models and talk about Whole Measures and Indicators of Success. This webinar is geared towards those with less experience in evaluation or those who would like to learn more about CFP specific evaluation. Register here

Only electronic applications will be accepted via For new users to, the registration process can take as long as 2 weeks to complete, making it critical to begin the registration process as soon as possible.

To learn more about inspiring Community Food Project grants, past and present, check out this great Digital Storytelling site.

Grant opportunity for farmers focused on animal welfare issues

The Food Animal Concerns Trust (FACT), a nonprofit organization that promotes humane production of meat, milk and eggs, is now accepting applications for its Fund-a-Farmer grant program.

Fund-a-Farmer grants award eligible farmers with up to $2,500 to execute projects that will improve the welfare of their farm animals. This year FACT is especially interested in granting to independent, animal-welfare-oriented farmers wanting to transition to pasture-based systems or improve animal access to pasture.

Click here to learn more about Fund-a-Farmer grants and download the application form.

Applications are due by November 3, 2015.

Now accepting applications: Bricmont Hardship Assistance Fund

The California-based CCOF Foundation is now accepting applications from certified organic producers for its Bricmont Hardship Assistance Fund.

The fund provides direct financial assistance to certified organic producers and processors/handlers who have suffered losses in 2015 due to extreme hardship.

Eligibility criteria:

  • Certified organic operation currently in good standing (valid organic certificate required for consideration)
  • Have not received CCOF disaster or hardship funding in the last three years
  • Have experienced severe economic loss in the 2015 calendar year
  • Can submit documentation or supporting evidence of economic loss resulting from the hardship (required for consideration)
  • Can submit a copy of receipt for organic certification fees paid in 2015 (by any accredited certifier)
  • Have not received federal assistance for the same loss

Click here to download the application.

Applications are due to CCOF Foundation by October 23, 2015.

“QuickBooks for Farmers” online course starting October 5th

Image courtesy of AgBiz Assist

Image courtesy of AgBiz Assist

Do you ever wish that your farm’s financial information was better organized and easier to use to make business decisions? If so, then the Northeast Beginning Farmer Project’s new online course, BF 204: QuickBooks for Farmers, might be for you!

This course will teach you the basics of using QuickBooks, a popular accounting software, from a farmer’s perspective. All farmers are welcome to participate, beginning and experienced alike. The only prerequisite is a desire to start using QuickBooks for your farm’s recordkeeping.

The course last six weeks, running from October 5 through November 9, 2015. It involves participating in one weekly webinar each Monday night from 7:00 to 8:00 p.m. Eastern, plus additional readings and homework assignments.

The cost is $200 per person. Visit the course’s webpage to register and to learn more about the specific topics covered.

New “Cultivating Change” grant program for local farmers — applications due October 31

The national produce distributor, Pro*Act, recently launched a new grant program (“Cultivating Change”) for local farmers through its Greener Fields Together initiative.

Farmers may apply for Cultivating Change grants ranging from $3,000 to $10,000. Grants may be used to cover farmers’ expenses in four key areas:

  • Obtaining Certifications: Organic, Non-GMO, Biodynamic, Fair Trade, Food Safety

  • Strengthening Infrastructure: Reusable Plastic Containers(RPCs), Delivery Vans, Refrigerated Trucks, Equipment

  • Building Capacity: Food Safety/GAP Improvements, Continuing Education

  • Marketing / Communications: Upgrade Labels/Cartons, Marketing Materials, Website/Social Media Support

Applications will be accepted from September 1 through October 31, 2015. Visit Cultivating Change’s webpage for more information on eligibility requirements and how to apply.

New publication: Legal Guide on Contract Farming

Image courtesy of UNIDROIT

Image courtesy of UNIDROIT

The International Institute for the Unification of Private Law (UNIDROIT), United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) just released an important new publication, Legal Guide on Contract Farming.

Divided into seven sections, the 250-page guide provides in-depth legal guidance on all aspects of the contract process, based on internationally accepted standards of practice. Sections include:

  • The legal framework for contract farming
  • Defining the parties in a contract
  • Setting the contractual obligations of each party
  • Clarifying excuses for non-performance of contract duties
  • Addressing outright breaches of a contract
  • Establishing the duration, renewal and termination of a contract
  • Resolving contract disputes

By sharing this information, the guide ultimately hopes to cultivate a contract farming environment that is equitable and sustainable for everyone involved. Download the guide here.

Upcoming webinar: Opportunities for Conservation in Organic Livestock Systems

Photo: Flickr Creative Commons, Pamzpix

Photo: Flickr Creative Commons, Pamzpix

Next Tuesday, August 4th at 3:00 p.m. Eastern the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) is hosting Opportunities for Conservation in Organic Livestock Systems, a free webinar to highlight organic livestock systems and their conservation benefits.

USDA staff will begin the webinar by describing organic management practices and regulations relevant to livestock, focusing on pasture and outdoor access, feed management, and pasture management. Next they’ll highlight conservation practices that can work well with organic livestock systems, such as rotational grazing, fencing, and pasture management.

During the webinar, New Hampshire farmer Steve Normanton will talk about his grass-fed beef farm and how he put NRCS conservation practices into action.

Pre-registration for the webinar is not required. Click here for more information and instructions on how to join.

OFRF 2015 National Survey of Organic Farmers

Photo © Patty O'Brien /

Photo © Patty O’Brien /

The Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF) is now conducting a national survey of organic farmers. OFRF will contact more than 13,000 certified organic farmers via email or postcard asking for their participation. (Or you can access the survey here.)

The survey is confidential and will ask organic farmers to list data such as their farm size, production methods, and — most importantly — information about organic farming opportunities and challenges. Results from the survey will identify critical issues for organic farmers, and will inform OFRF’s National Organic Research Agenda, which recommends research priorities for the USDA and other policymakers.

For more information, contact OFRF at (831) 426-6606 or visit their website.

Water Conservation & Livestock Workshop

This farmer's conservation plan includes tire tank watering facilities in each of his pastures. Photo: USDA Flickr Creative Commons

This farmer’s conservation plan includes tire tank watering facilities in each of his pastures. Photo: USDA Flickr Creative Commons

Join the Kerr Center for Sustainable Agriculture in Oklahoma for a Saturday afternoon and evening workshop that will cover ranch watering systems and stream and pond conservation. Specifically, the workshop will address riparian area management, stabilized stream crossings, and livestock watering systems such as: gravity flow from ponds, tractor-tire watering tanks and portable watering systems.

The workshop runs from 3:00 pm – 8:00 pm on July 11th and costs $15 (includes sandwiches and drinks). The registration deadline is July 7th. Click here for more information and to register for this workshop.

Two Upcoming Organic Labeling Webinars

An organic spring bounty! Photo: © Patty O'Brien /
An organic spring bounty! Photo: © Patty O’Brien /

Navigating label claims and getting an organic certification can be both confusing and costly for producers. That’s why CCOF and Oregon Tilth have stepped in offering webinars that will cover the basics. Read below to find out about upcoming July webinars.

Details: July 07, 2015 12:00 PM PDT / 3:00 PM ET; Free; Register here.

  • CCOF’s webinar will cover how to develop labels that comply with the USDA’s National Organic Program and how to avoid costly mistakes and delays in product roll-out. Organic Education Solutions LLC — an educational company that helps processors, distributors, retailers and others with organic certification — will lead the webinar with discussion of product composition and percentage calculations, the correct use of CCOF and USDA “Organic” seals, ingredient listing, and the CCOF label approval process.

Details: July 16, 2015, 1:00pm – 3:00pm; $20; Register here.