Upcoming Food Sovereignty Summit in Wisconsin

The Oneida Nation, First Nations Development Institute, Intertribal Agriculture Council and Northeast Wisconsin Technical College invite you to this year’s Food Sovereignty Summit. Learn from Native nonprofits and Native nations about best practices in the areas of food sovereignty and food systems.

This year’s summit will be held April 15-18 in Green Bay, Wisconsin.
 
The summit offers three professional training tracks (though attendees can attend sessions in multiple tracks): 

Track 1: Sustainable Agricultural Practices

Track 2: Community Outreach and Development

Track 3: Business Management, Finance and Marketing

Registration rates are as follows:

Student–$80.00 for full conference
Food Producers–$100.00 for 1 day /
$150.00 for full conference
Non-Food Producers–$150.00 for 1 day / $250.00 for full conference
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Click here for more information and to see a summit schedule.

Women in Agriculture Conference in Washington State

The USDA and Washington State University Extension are sponsoring a conference aimed at women farmers, “Growing Your Successful Farm Business,” held on Saturday, Feb. 23rd in Washington State. The conference will be broadcast to 21 different locations throughout the state, each of which will also include a panel of local producers. Keynote speaker Trini Campbell of Riverdog Farm in California will share her experiences growing her farm, including managing labor, financial planning, and dealing with market instability. A second workshop will help producers become financially prepared to grow an operation, as well as survive a downturn in the economy.

Registration is $25 and includes a copy of the book Farmer Jane: Women Changing the Way We Eat. The deadline to register is February 18th, either online or by mail. Women farmers, supporting spouses and aspiring farmers are all encouraged to attend. Visit www.womeninag.wsu.edu for more information.

Veteran Careers in Agriculture

The Farmer-Veteran Coalition recently published “Veteran Careers in Agriculture: A Resource Guide,” available on their newly revamped website. The guide contains information for U.S. veterans interested in sustainable farming, covering training opportunities, farm organizations, agricultural employment, and farm business planning, as well as stories about veterans who have successfully transitioned into farming careers.

The mission of the Farmer-Veteran Coalition is to mobilize veterans to feed America. Learn more at www.farmvetco.org.

USDA Announces New Micro-loan Program

The USDA has launched a new program that will provide micro-loans of up to $35,000 to small, beginning, and socially disadvantaged farmers. The program aims to help producers pay for start-up expenses (like hoop houses for season extension, essential tools, irrigation, delivery vehicles, etc.) and annual expenses (seed, fertilizer, utilities, land rents, marketing, and distribution costs). The USDA has purposely simplified the application process for this program, making it less burdensome in comparison to traditional federal farm loans.

If interested in applying for a loan, contact your local Farm Service Agency (FSA) office. For more information, see this fact sheet on the FSA’s website.

Hispanic & Women’s Discrimination Claims Process Now Open

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.

Farm Aid’s partner, the Federation of Southern Cooperatives released Tips for Completing Claims Form for Hispanic and Women Farmers and Ranchers to assist farmers in the claims process. The guide provides in-depth explanations of each question on the USDA claims form and step-by-step instructions for how to answer and file properly. For direct assistance from the Federation of Southern Cooperatives, contact John Zippert, Director of Programs, at 205.652.9676 (johnzippert@federation.coop) or Mircha King, Lawsuit Legal Coordinator, at 800.503.5678 (mirchaking@federation.coop).

Another Farm Aid partner, the Women, Food and Agriculture Network (WFAN) will host a free webinar on January 8, 2013 at 11 AM EST/10 AM Central Time to address questions about eligibility and offer assistance in filing claims. Representatives from the Farmers Legal Action Group and Rural Coalition/Coalicion Rural will be presenting. The public is invited to log-in here, or access the archived webinar through WFAN after the event.