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.

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.