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.

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.

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.

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.

Texas Drought Webinar

Photo: USDA photo by Cynthia Mendoza / Flickr Creative Commons

Photo: USDA photo by Cynthia Mendoza / Flickr Creative Commons

In a follow-up to the January TOFGA/Farm Aid Texas drought summit, the National Center for Appropriate Technology is hosting a webinar about the ongoing Texas drought. Thousands of farmers and ranchers are still recovering and 156 counties in Texas have been designated disaster areas.

Experts from the Farm Service Agency, Farmers Legal Action Group, and Rural Advancement Foundation International will talk about ways farmers can get financial and technical resources to help with drought recovery.

The webinar will take place on Thursday, April 9 at 3-4 p.m. Central Time. Click here to register for the webinar. And contact: for more information.


California Climate & Agriculture Summit

The California Climate & Agriculture Network is sponsoring the 4th California Climate and Agriculture Summit at the UC Davis Conference Center next week. The Summit’s agenda will cover climate change and sustainable agriculture in California. The Summit kicks off with a farm tour and includes a full day of plenary, workshop, and poster presentations.

The program includes keynote addresses by Ken Alex, a Senior Policy Advisor to Governor Jerry Brown and Craig McNamara, of Sierra Orchards, a discussion with farmers about their perspectives on the ongoing drought, and workshops ranging from Growing Clean Energy on Farms to Conserving Working Lands as a Climate Protection Strategy. The Summit ends with a wine and cheese reception.

The California Climate & Agriculture Summit takes place March 24th and 25th at the UC Davis Conference Center. For more information and to register, visit CalCAN.

USDA Community Food Project Applications Available

The 2015 Request for Applications (RFA) for the USDA Community Food Projects Grant Program through the National Institute of Food and Agriculture has been released. Applications have a strict deadline of Tuesday, March 17, 2015 at 5 pm EST.

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 will be 2 upcoming webinars to help prepare applicants.

  • Overview of using and the application process on Monday, February 23 at 2 pm EST. *Pre-registration required – Registration link
  • Evaluation for Community Food Projects Applications on Thursday, February 26 at 2 pm EST. *Pre-registration required – Registration Link

For more information and to apply for technical assistance, please visit New Entry’s website or fill out the request for assistance form.

Small Ruminant Toolbox

ATTRA now offers a free guide to everything you need to know about producing small ruminant animals. The National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) developed the new Small Ruminant Toolbox full of information on the animals.

Tools included are a 978-page “Small Ruminant Resource Manual,” several informative presentations shared by Susan Schoenian of the University of Maryland Extension, the Tennessee Master Meat Goat Producer Program in its entirety, a section on “Frequently Asked Questions” about sheep and goat production and a list of other resources.

The Small Ruminant Toolbox is available for free on ATTRA’s Website. In the event that you will need the toolbox when you don’t have internet access, the toolbox is also available on a USB flash drive for $5 each and is also available for order on the website.

Crop Insurance Resource Roundup

Risk management is a crucial aspect of farming, particularly with the extreme weather conditions that are hitting the United States. A critical part of this is crop insurance. To get the basics, the United States Department of Agriculture’s Risk Management Agency developed a webpage with answers to common questions surrounding crop insurance. Below are some tools available for free online that can help farmers navigate how to effectively implement crop insurance.

Crop Insurance for Individuals

FLAG created a PDF intended as a training guide for the Federation of Southern Cooperatives that provides an in depth look into crop insurance for individuals. This document is available to anyone for free online. It covers everything there is to know behind the roles and rules of insuring crops through Federal Crop Insurance or a private insurer. The document also delves into what is covered under crop insurance, what to look for in a contract and much more.

Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program

This program is available for producers that were hit by a natural disaster without crop insurance.

Utah State University Extension developed a presentation explaining everything there is to know about the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program.

The United States Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency also offers an informative disaster assistance fact sheet focusing on the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program.

Organic Crop Insurance

The United States Department of Agriculture’s Risk Management Agency produced a fact sheet explaining the Contract Price Addendum, which now allows organic producers to insure crops at a set price specified in a contract. The addendum is applicable to 62 types of crops.

Corn and Soybean Crop Insurance

Iowa State’s Extension program offers two helpful PDF’s available through the Decision Tools section of its website. These free downloadable PDFs offer valuable insight into choosing crop insurance plans for corn and soybeans; the first of which provides a tool to compare different strategies for insurance on corn and soybeans, while the second compares the risk behind GRIP and GRP crop insurance for these crops.

Cover Crops and Crop Insurance

The National Resources Conservation Service put the Cover Crop Termination Guidelines online in a downloadable PDF format.

For a more in depth look, the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition and the National Center for Appropriate Technology created a webinar that explains “when and how to terminate cover crops and maintain eligibility for crop insurance coverage of subsequently planted cash crops.”

Other Helpful Tools

University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension collected various crop insurance fact sheet publications covering the following topics: apples, peaches, corn, fresh market sweet corn, forage production, forage seeding, nursery and insurance coverage for organic crops.

Food and farm webinar roundup

What is a webinar, you ask? A webinar is essentially an online educational video that typically discusses a specific topic. Many organizations listed in our Farmer Research Network online search tool provide this type of resource to assist agricultural producers. While some of these webinars require advanced registration, other videos are archived for farmers and ranchers to watch anytime! From conservation tips and tools to learning to start a farm, there are plenty of agriculture webinars available to farmers. Here are some trusted websites with webinars that can help:

National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service (ATTRA) 

ATTRA, a division of the National Center for Appropriate Technology, maintains an ongoing archive of its webinars focused on different areas of sustainable agriculture. Want to learn how to build a better relationship with your lamb processor? How about organic farm conservation? With 55 archived webinars and a growing library, this is the site to visit for all things sustainable.

United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)

Many branches of the USDA developed webinars to assist and educate producers. The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) created a library of various videos related to conservation. These webinars span topics ranging from “Planning for Floodplain and Riparian Area Special Environmental Concerns” to “Conserving Pollinators While Addressing Other Resource Concerns.” Each webinar is hosted by a lineup of experts, many of which are USDA employees.

The USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) developed a series of webinars that air twice a month from January through June of 2014 focusing on farm to school programs. All of these videos are archived in an FNS library in addition to a host of other webinars from the past two years.

The USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service created an ongoing series of fruit and vegetable webinars archived here.

The USDA’s Forest Service developed the “Invasive Plants—Issues, Challenges and Discoveries Webinar Series” intended for landowners, agriculture professionals and scientists. This seven-part series will run through May, 2014, and information on each can be found here.

National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC)

While NSAC doesn’t have a library of archived webinars, the organization hosts several training webinars throughout the year. These training sessions cover many different topics, like how to market your agricultural business through building connections with the media or this overview of cover crops based on updated USDA termination guidelines. To stay up-to-date on the latest NSAC webinar, check out its website or like the organization on Facebook.

Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE)

The different SARE branches created varying series of webinars. North Central SARE offers webinars focusing on greenhouse energy, cover crops, building local sustainable foods and irrigation energy.  Southern SARE provides a webinar on “Grafting for Disease Management in Organic Tomato Production.” Farmers and ranchers can also order archived webinar series from Northeast SARE focusing on marketing for profit or farmland transfer and access.

Women, Food and Agriculture Network (WFAN)

WFAN has a library of webinars that focus on empowering female farmers. These webinars cover a diverse range of topics within this realm, but each is meant to give women the tools they need to succeed. That may be on a policy level, such as the “Policy—When The Personal Becomes Political” video, which engages women leaders to explain how individuals can further policy goals. There are also more abstract videos, like this webinar that discusses the power of blogging.

Farm Commons 

Farm Commons creates and archives webinars focused on dealing with legal issues that can impact farm operations. The organization supplements these videos with downloadable resources. These webinars cover topics relevant to beginning and advanced growers alike, with titles ranging from “ Starting a Farm” to “Community Supported Agriculture Legal Issues.”

Rodale Institute 

While the Rodale Institute hasn’t released any webinars yet, stay tuned! The organization is in the works of creating a schedule of webinar trainings. In the meantime, Rodale developed a page with helpful videos from its conferences and workshops.