About the Resource Spotlight
This blog shines a spotlight on some of Farm Aid's favorite resources, tools and other timely opportunities for family farmers and farm advocates.
Also be sure to check out the rest of Farm Aid's Farmer Resource Network, to search through our online directory of farm service providers nationwide, read about some of our farmer heroes, or contact Farm Aid staff for direct assistance.
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Help Us With Your Feedback
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- Oregon Tilth Certified Organic’s webinar will explain the intricacies of labeling claims and labeling requirements. Brian Scheel from Oregon Tilth and Gwendolyn Wyard from the Organic Trade Association will address labeling compliance under the National Organic Program and other labeling claims like non-gmo, natural and more. Check out OTCO’s labeling and composition guide before the webinar.
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.
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.
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.
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.