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

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).



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.


Food Safety Modernization Act Webinar

Join the Practical Farmers of Iowa on Tuesday, March 31st for a webinar about how the Food Safety Modernization Act will impact farmers. This is the last in a series of free winter farminars that are open to all and allow participants to ask questions in real-time.

The upcoming seminar will feature Sophia Kruszewski from the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, who will introduce the Food Safety Modernization Act and will talk about what implementation will mean for farmers. Chris Blanchard, an Organic farmer and farm consultant at Flying Rutabaga Works, will then discuss how farmers can comply with the new rules and regulations.

Details: Tuesday, March 31st from 7-8:30 p.m. CST; log on at and sign in as “Guest” to participate.

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.

Kansas Workshop Series for Women Farmers

Photo: © Patty O'Brien

Photo: © Patty O’Brien

Join the Kansas Rural Center (KRC) for a “Women in Farming” workshop series. The series consists of four workshops that will explore the opportunities and challenges that women farmers face.

  • Workshop Two: Saturday, March 28th, in Bird City, Kansas. This workshop will continue with the topic of specialty crops. The morning session will include discussion of high tunnels, season extension, food safety, organic certification, pest management, cooperative marketing, and specialty crop insurance. The afternoon includes a farm tour of Y-Knot Farm and Ranch’s 960 acres of certified organic wheat, forage, and pasture.
  • Workshop Three: Saturday, May 9th, in Linn, Kansas. The morning session of this workshop will focus on business, financial, and legal risk management. Speakers include representatives from Kansas State University who will cover financial and business planning, land price trends, leasing and tenant issues. The afternoon farm tour will take place at Lucinda Stuenkel’s farm near Palmer, Kansas, where participants will learn about conservation practices like cover crops and no-till, and cattle management specifically for women.
  • Workshop Four: Saturday July 11th, in Emporia, Kansas. The final workshop in this series will focus on soil health, cover crops and integrated crop and livestock farming. The afternoon farm tour will take place at Gail Fuller’s farm.

Registration and more information about the last three workshops will be made available soon. Check KRC‘s website for details, and contact Joanna Voigt at (866) 579-5469, with questions.

National Young Farmers Coalition guide to land trusts

Finding-Farmland-guidebook-for-storeOne of the biggest challenges that new farmers face is finding and securing land. Land trusts can be one source of help. Land trusts are non-profit organizations that are setup by a community to protect a resource like wildlife habitats or farmland.

The National Young Farmers Coalition recently released a guide to help farmers who want to partner with land trusts to procure affordable land. The guide explains the technicalities of working with such groups and provides farmers with a toolbox of practical information and resources to get a partnership started.

Purchase a copy of the guide for $8 at NYFC’s online store or download a copy from the website.