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.
Coming up next week: the USDA’s Agriculture Marketing Service (AMS) will hold a webinar to discuss the Grass-Fed Program for Small and Very Small (SVS) Producers–a program that aims to create more opportunities for small-scale livestock produces.
The webinar will go over eligibility and how to market products as USDA Certified Grass Fed Beef in a way that is less costly and more in tune with the needs of small-scale producers. In order to get this certification, weaned animals must be fed only grass and forage and no grain or grain byproducts. Ruminants must also have access to pasture throughout the growing season.
AMS announced this new program for small grass-fed producers this past spring. Read more on the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition’s blog and on the USDA’s blog.
Who: Small-scale and niche market livestock producers (those marketing less than 49 head of cattle each year).
What: AMS webinar about the Grass-Fed Program for Small and Very Small Producers.
Where: Listen in via phone or computer: Phone: 866.740.1260, access code 72020000; Computer: http://www.readytalk.com On the left side of the screen enter participant access code: 72020000.
When: Tuesday August 5th; 11:00 AM – 12:00 PM Eastern Time
**Send questions for the presenters to Jennifer.Turpin@ams.usda.gov
Join the Accokeek Foundation for an intensive class on the basics of raising livestock. The workshop includes a combination of classroom and field instruction, and specifically focuses on animal husbandry of heritage breeds like American Milking Devons, Hog Island Sheep, Ossabaw Hogs, Buckeye Chickens, and Black Turkeys. Polly Festa–who has been managing livestock for over 15 years–will teach this class.
The workshop runs from 6:30-9:30pm on September 30th and costs $10 members, $15 non-members.
Click here for more information and to sign up.
This is a tough time for livestock producers, who are continually confronted by rising input costs, intensifying drought conditions and increasing land prices. In response, a handful of grazing programs have popped up to provide support. A study in the Journal of Extension found that courses like these that teach intensive grazing management generally improve the sustainability, profit and quality of life for livestock producers.
The Amazing Grazing program—a collaborative effort of the Kansas Graziers Association and the Kansas Farmers Union—formed to offer support to livestock producers. The program consists of workshops, field days and a conference. There are nine upcoming workshops that include: Ranch Plan and Ranch Drought Plan in August; Short Grass Prairie Grazing Basics and Research in September; and How Animal Selection and Grazing Management Improves Productivity, Profitability and Personal Satisfaction in October. More classes are listed on the Amazing Grazing blog. Funding for this project comes from the North Central Risk Management Education Center and the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture. For more information, contact the project’s director, Mary Howell at 785.562.8726 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Another unique opportunity is The Original Grazing School for Women. In it’s 11th year, this female-only program runs the weekend of June 12th and 13th and consists of workshops, farm tours, dinners and social events to network with other graziers. The registration deadline is June 4th. Register online or Download the brochure.
To describe the relevant organic requirements, provide best practices, and further explain the certification process for certified organic farmers, the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) has partnered with the USDA National Organic Program (NOP) to provide the following detailed guides:
These guides provide helpful information for both beginning farmers and current organic operations looking to adopt new management approaches. Digital downloads of all guides are free, and print versions are $3.00.
The Practical Farmers of Iowa offers free online seminars on a wide variety of topics. Most webinars are 90 minutes long and take place on Tuesdays from 7:00 – 8:30pm CST.
Some of the upcoming topics include:
- Specialty Crop Insurance (*special lunchtime webinar tomorrow, Jan. 24th)
- Explore the Profit Potential of High Tunnels
- Considerations for Year-Round Employment for Vegetable Farms
- Feed Alternatives to Corn and Soybeans
- Selecting the Right Genetics for a Grass-Based System
For more information and to register online, visit: www.practicalfarmers.org/farminar/.
The application period is open for the Food Animal Concerns Trust (FACT) Fund-a-Farmer Project: a micro-grants initiative that assists farmers in improving animal welfare. The Fund-a-Farmer Project grants up to $1,500 for projects that (1) help farms transition to pasture-based systems, (2) improve the marketing of their humane products, or (3) more generally enrich the conditions in which farm animals are raised. Last year, FACT awarded $13,000 to nine farms across the country.
Working, independent family farmers who raise pigs, broiler chickens, laying hens, dairy cows and/or beef cattle are eligible to apply for any of the grants. Projects involving goats and sheep are only eligible for marketing grants. Apply online at www.fundafarmer.org. Applications are due by May 1, 2013, and grants will be awarded in August 2013.
Cooperative Extension faculty and educators from northern New England are offering a workshop on January 17, 2013 in South Deerfield, MA, for dairy and livestock operations. Interactive presentations and discussions will give producers strategies for maximizing the impact of every dollar invested in their operations, including the following topics:
- Reducing shrink on your farm
- Alternative nutrient sources and nutrient management
- Beating high feed costs
- Maximizing forage quality
- High forage dairy diets
- Selecting profitable corn hybrids
- Modern vaccination program
- Other locally relevant topics
Register and find more information at: http://extension.umass.edu/cdle/events/cost-reducing-strategies-livestock-and-dairy-operations. Contact Mallory Ottariano with any questions: 413.545.5221 or email@example.com.
Earlier this year, USDA launched its new Organic Literacy Initiative, an effort to help connect current and prospective organic farmers, ranchers, and processors with the USDA resources available to them.
As part of this initiative, the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) has partnered with the National Organic Program (NOP) on four new guides with detailed information about organic certification. They include information about organic requirements and best practices, and also further explain the certification process:
The guides can be downloaded for free or ordered as a paper publication for a small handling fee either at the links above or on the ATTRA website.