New Organic Certification Guides from ATTRA

Earlier this year, USDA launched its new Organic Literacy Initiative, an effort to help connect current and prospective organic farmers, ranchers, and processors with the USDA resources available to them.

As part of this initiative, the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) has partnered with the National Organic Program (NOP) on four new guides with detailed information about organic certification.  They include information about organic requirements and best practices, and also further explain the certification process:

The guides can be downloaded for free or ordered as a paper publication for a small handling fee either at the links above or on the ATTRA website.

Hispanic & Women’s Discrimination Claims Process Now Open

The claims process for Hispanic & women farmers and ranchers claiming discriminatory FSA practices is now open. Farmers who faced discriminatory denials of farm loans or service assistance by the USDA between 1981 and 2000 can file their claims through March 25, 2013. This voluntary claims process offers an alternative to litigation and requires no fees or legal representation. At least $1.33 billion will be made available for awards and payments, and an additional $160 million will be available in farm debt relief to eligible farmers and ranchers. To register for a claims package, call 1-888-508-4429 or visit www.farmerclaims.gov.

Farm Aid’s partner, the Federation of Southern Cooperatives released Tips for Completing Claims Form for Hispanic and Women Farmers and Ranchers to assist farmers in the claims process. The guide provides in-depth explanations of each question on the USDA claims form and step-by-step instructions for how to answer and file properly. For direct assistance from the Federation of Southern Cooperatives, contact John Zippert, Director of Programs, at 205.652.9676 (johnzippert@federation.coop) or Mircha King, Lawsuit Legal Coordinator, at 800.503.5678 (mirchaking@federation.coop).

Another Farm Aid partner, the Women, Food and Agriculture Network (WFAN) will host a free webinar on January 8, 2013 at 11 AM EST/10 AM Central Time to address questions about eligibility and offer assistance in filing claims. Representatives from the Farmers Legal Action Group and Rural Coalition/Coalicion Rural will be presenting. The public is invited to log-in here, or access the archived webinar through WFAN after the event.

 

Text an ATTRA Ag Expert!

Catering to the increased use of smartphones and the convenience of texting, ATTRA is expanding its “Ask an Ag Expert” email service, which offers farmers free advice about sustainable agriculture practices and resources. Now farmers can reach a professional at any time of day, whether at a computer or out in the fields! Earlier this year, ATTRA also launched a mobile version of their website that makes it much more smartphone and tablet-friendly.

To reach an ATTRA expert, send a text to askanag@ncat.org and a staff member will respond directly to your phone.

Accepting Applications for The OEFFA Investment Fund

Ohio Ecological Food & Farm Association (OEFFA), in partnership with the Sustainable Agriculture Fund, LLC announces the establishment of The OEFFA Investment Fund, to “promote sustainable agriculture in Ohio by making flexible and affordable capital available to farmers and farm-related businesses.”

In its pilot phase, the Fund has made $500,00 available as loans, land leases and equity investments for organic OEFFA members in Ohio. Typical investments range from $5,000 to $50,000, but requests for other amounts between $2,500 and $250,000 will be considered. These funds may be used for:

  • Capital investments and expenses that improve efficiency, quality or expansion of business production and sales
  • Repairs necessary to maintain business operations
  • Short-term operating needs, such as inventory, supplies or labor for expansion
  • Emergency funds to deal with business interruptions due to fire, natural disasters or other unforeseeable events
  • Other uses subject to the Fund’s Investment Committee approval

Visit the OEFFA Investment Fund’s webpage for more information on loan terms and conditions and application process guidelines. For information about the Fund contact the OEFFA office at (614) 421-2022 ext. 202, or OIFinfo@oeffa.org.

 

 

“Field Journal: A Beginners Guide for Young Farmers,” Available for Free Download

The Northeast Beginning Farmer Project and The Greenhorns have released the beautifully illustrated, full-color Field Journal: A Beginners Guide for Young Farmers for free download. The guide details the history and future of American agriculture, information on learning to farm, starting a farm, going to market, and a multitude of resources from funding opportunities to land access to business education for aspiring farmers.

Field Journal is both a basic primer for the future farmer and detailed guide for the serious grower. Woven throughout the pragmatic resources and information are “Stories from the Field,” first-hand accounts and advice from young farmers across the country and a section for your own notes, inspiration, ideas and planning.

Download your copy and visit The Greenhorns and The Northeast Beginning Farmer Project for more resources.