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.
A project of Farm Aid, RAFI-USA and several cooperating partners, the Farm Advocate Link is a newly established national network of farm advocates whose goal is to honor and support established advocates, welcome new and aspiring advocates, and provide ongoing training, professional development and a shared sense of purpose to farm advocates across the country.
The claims process for Hispanic & women farmers and ranchers claiming discriminatory FSA practices is now open. Farmers who faced discriminatory denials of farm loans or service assistance by the USDA between 1981 and 2000 can file their claims through March 25, 2013. This voluntary claims process offers an alternative to litigation and requires no fees or legal representation. At least $1.33 billion will be made available for awards and payments, and an additional $160 million will be available in farm debt relief to eligible farmers and ranchers. To register for a claims package, call 1-888-508-4429 or visit www.farmerclaims.gov.
In response to the growing use of written contracts in the booming organic sector, the Farmers’ Legal Action Group (FLAG), one of our Resource Partners, just released the Farmers’ Guide to Organic Contracts. The guide was created to help USDA-certified organic farmers make informed decisions and offer solutions when negotiating with organic buyers about their contracts. The guide assists farmers in evaluating offers, negotiating contract terms, managing performance, and finding solutions to contract disputes.
The guide is organized into the following sections:
Overview of Contract Laws Relevant to Farmers A basic overview of contract law helpful for farmers, including creating an enforceable agreement and successfully changing formal agreements within a contract period
Practical Contracting Toolkit A primer on contract basics, negotiation strategy tips and advice to manage an agreement
Explaining How Organic Regulations Interact with Contracts How contracts may affect farmers’ compliance with organic regulations, and how regulations can affect farmers’ ability to satisfy contracts
Examples of Unfavorable and More Favorable Contract Language A detailed examination of 100+ types of organic contract provisions from price to GMO testing
Information About Solving Common Contract Disputes How to enforce an organic contract against a buyer and tips for finding a qualified contract attorney and handling a lawsuit, including ten common contract dispute situations