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 / www.summercrowphotos.com

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

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 / www.summercrowphotos.com
An organic spring bounty! Photo: © Patty O’Brien / www.summercrowphotos.com

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.

KY, PA, and LA Communities: Grow your farm to school program with a Seed Change mini grant!

Seed Change, an initiative by the National Farm to School Network, is providing one hundred $5,000 mini grants to programs in Kentucky, Louisiana and Pennsylvania. These grants will help schools and districts start new farm to school activities or ramp up existing programs. Eligible programs include: nonprofit schools, preschools, Head Start programs or school districts in these states. Grants can be used for local food for tastings, new processing equipment, hosting events, building school gardens and more.

The deadline for applications is coming up! Apply by Monday, June 15th at midnight ET. Click here for more information and to apply for a mini grant.

Managing Farm Risk Workshop Series

Farmers at a meeting learning about available resources. Photo: USDA, Flickr Creative Commons

Farmers at a meeting learning about available resources. Photo: USDA, Flickr Creative Commons

The Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project (ASAP), along with the Rural Advancement Foundation International-USA (RAFI), North Carolina Cooperative Extension, and Farm Service Agency (FSA) have created a series of webinars to help farmers manage risk. The series, which kicks off June 10th and will continue on Wednesdays throughout the month, will cover topics such as crop insurance, accessing capital, and selling at local markets. Though the webinars are geared towards North Carolina farmers, anyone can benefit from the information provided.

  • June 10th, 8-9 am: Should Crop Insurance Be Part of Your Farm Risk Management Plan?
    Join James Robinson from RAFI to learn how new crop insurance programs can increase the competitiveness of highly diversified and organic farms. Specifically, this webinar will examine the Whole Farm Revenue Protection policy, new organic crop price elections for organically produced crops, and new Non-insured Disaster Assistance Program (NAP) buy-up options.
  • June 17th, 8-9 am: How to Pay for it: Grant, Loan and Cost Share Options for Farms
    This webinar will cover options for accessing capital, and services and resources available through local FSA chapters. Experts like Rob Hawk II, the County Extension Director for Jackson and Swain Counties, Molly Nicholie, Program Director at ASAP, and Becky Williamson, the County Executive Director for Swain/Jackson/Macon FSA will talk about eligibility for loans and grant or cost share opportunities for farms in the region.
  • June 24th, 8-9 am: Sell What You Grow: Diversifying Your Market Opportunities
    Molly Nicholie, ASAP’s Program Director, will go over the pros and cons of selling to farmers markets, restaurants, grocery stores, and wholesalers, and how to determine which options are the best match for your operation.

Click here for more information and to register for this webinar series. Local farmers can attend the live workshop at the Swain County Technology and Training Center.

Women Caring for the Land Workshop on Farm Transition Planning

Sarah Woutat founder of Uproot Farm in MN. Photo: USDA Flickr Creative Commons

Sarah Woutat founder of Uproot Farm in MN. Photo: USDA Flickr Creative Commons

The Land Stewardship Project’s Women Caring for the Land program brings together women in Minnesota who both own and rent farmland and who are interested in learning more about conservation techniques like grassed waterways, field windbreaks, strip tillage, grazing, and cover crops.

The upcoming Women Caring for the Land workshop will focus on Farm Transition Planning–a concern held by many landowners. The workshop will provide information about smooth transitions from generation to generation, and most importantly a network of woman-to-woman support.

Details: Farm Transition Planning workshop, Thursday, May 28th from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m., in Morris, MN. Click here to learn more and RSVP for this event.

Not over by a long shot! The Texas Drought Summit Webinar

Photo: USDA, Flickr Creative Commons

Farming in a climate of persistent drought has become the norm for many in Texas. This slow-moving disaster, which is currently impacting 41 percent of the state, is raising production costs for many and putting some farmers and ranchers out of business.

In an effort to connect farmers and ranchers with disaster-related services, Farm Aid held the Texas Drought Summit on January 29th in San Antonio with 100 attendees. Working alongside the Texas Organic Farmers & Gardeners Association (TOFGA) and other partner organizations, the summit: connected producers with disaster-assistance services; strengthened the network of disaster-assistance service providers; provided a space for those impacted to share experiences and lessons from the ongoing drought; and identified disaster-related service gaps and inefficiencies as well as steps to correct them.

In early April, the National Center for Appropriate Technology hosted a webinar to address the ongoing drought and follow up on the Summit. The webinar featured experts from TOFGA, the Farm Service Agency, Farmers Legal Action Group, and Rural Advancement Foundation International.

The webinar was recorded and is available online. Click here to learn about financial and technical drought recovery for farmers and ranchers.

Webinar: Assessing carbon footprints on the farm

Photo: Flickr Creative Commons,  Carl Wycoff.

Photo: Flickr Creative Commons, Carl Wycoff.

Agriculture is both vulnerable to the effects of climate change and a major contributor of greenhouse gases. Practical strategies that allow farmers to adapt to and mitigate climate change are key. The Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy’s (IATP) upcoming webinar will address both of these challenges.

The webinar will be lead by Gijs Kuneman from the Centre for Agriculture and Environment (CLM) in the Netherlands. He’ll cover: recent developments in agriculture and climate change; and innovative ways to monitor a farm’s carbon footprint (including an introduction to CLM’s Climate Yardstick and the Cool Farm Tool).

The webinar will take place on Tuesday, April 14th at 10:00am Central Time. Register now!

The Mortgage Lifter Lift for Small Farms

The Mortgage Lifter Pasta Sauce

The Mortgage Lifter Pasta Sauce

We’re excited to announce that this year we’ll again be helping the Beekman Boys give away the profits from their Mortgage Lifter Pasta Sauce to strengthen family farmers! If you’re a farmer in need of a lift, apply now!

Can a jar of pasta sauce help save small farms in America? When it’s an heirloom tomato sauce that returns 25% of its profits to farmers, it just might. Josh Kilmer-Purcell and Brent Ridge – best known as The Fabulous Beekman Boys from their television reality show – launched their “Beekman 1802 Mortgage Lifter Pasta Sauce” back in 2013. The sauce’s name was inspired by a Great Depression-era heirloom tomato variety named “Mortgage Lifter” because its bountiful harvest helped farmers pay off their mortgages!

The idea was to create a delicious food product that gives back. Last year, Josh and Brent give away more than $15,000 to four farms, and this year they’ll be giving away more than $18,000!

Josh Kilmer-Purcell & Brent Ridge

Josh Kilmer-Purcell & Brent Ridge

On May 1st, one lucky small farm will net a $15,000 check, which the pair calls the “Grand Prize Lift.” Three other farms will also receive $1049 “mini-lifts.” Small farms can learn more and apply for the “lifts” on beekmanmortgagelifter.com.

An expert panel of agricultural judges (Farm Aid among them!) reward the farms based on their innovative approach to small agriculture, their overall business plan, and their current growth pattern. These awards are designed to give vibrant small farms the ‘lift’ they need to take their business to the next level.

Mortgage Lifter Pasta Sauce is produced locally, in Schenectady, using tomatoes grown at Denison Farms in Schaghticoke, NY. Denison Farms is set to grow the next crop of Mortgage Lifter heirloom tomatoes this summer (and, incidentally, supplied farm-fresh produce to Farm Aid for our HOMEGROWN Concessions at Farm Aid 2013 in Saratoga Springs, NY).