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!

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: ncatsw@ncat.org 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 practicalfarmers.org/farminar and sign in as “Guest” to participate.

NRCS Webinar: Transitioning to Organic

If you’re curious about making the transition to organic production, tune into the Natural Resources Conservation Service’s upcoming webinar. This webinar will cover different types of NRCS support that producers can utilize for the transition. Specifically, how producers can use a Conservation Activity Plan (CAP) 138 to help identify conservation practices that are a good match for their operation.

The webinar is scheduled for Feb 18th at 3:00pm EST. For more information and to join the webinar, visit the USDA’s Science & Technology Training Library.

IOIA Webinar on NOP Processing Standards

The International Organic Inspectors Association is hosting a webinar from January 7 and 9 to discuss National Organic Program Processing Standards. Each webinar will take three hours and begins at 8 a.m. PST. IOIA trainer Stanley Edwards will host the webinar, who has more than 16 years of organic inspection experience. Topics of the webinar will include: approved ingredients, labeling, inspection, certification requirements and more.

The webinar costs $325 for IOIA members and $350 for non-members. Click here for more information.

USDA Webinar for Small-Scale Livestock Producers

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; Computerhttp://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

All About Soil Health

As stewards of the land, farmers are responsible for maintaining fertile land for future generations. A big part of this is preserving rich, healthy soil, which is important not only for a sustainable future but also for the crops these farmers grow. Soil health is a science and can be tricky to master, but there are plenty of resources available to farmers to help.

Not sure how the quality of soil impacts you? The Rodale Institute created a Soil Biology webinar to explain why healthy soil is important to individuals and the ecosystem as a whole. “The soil is not, as many suppose, a dead, inert substance,” J.I. Rodale wrote in Pay Dirt: Farming and Gardening with Composts. “It is very much alive and dynamic. It teems with bacteria, actinomycetes, fungi, molds, yeasts, protozoa, algae and other minute organisms.” The webinar goes on to explain what elements should be abundant in soil and how to maintain those levels.

A crucial aspect to preserving healthy soil is testing. Cooperative Extension offers soil testing resources and guides to help with this process. Click here to find an Extension agent near you. Many Cooperative Extensions provide online educational resources. University of Maine Extension offers this publication with a step-by-step guide to soil testing. Cornell University Cooperative Extension has an entire webpage for soil health, including the “Cornell Soil Health Assessment Training Manual,” a soil health management plan and informative videos dedicated to proper soil testing. The University of Georgia Cooperative Extension also offers a soil health webpage with various publications, updated news on soil health science and a list of websites that can provide further help.

While these organizations provide an overview of how to sustain soil health, there are many outlets that offer information on the nitty-gritty of related topics. The Rodale Institute compiled reports and publications related to soil health research discussing specific issues the organization is working on. Many of these can be viewed online here. Rodale also provides an informative, focused webinar, “Impacts of Plastic and Cover Crop Mulches on Weeds, Soil Quality, Yields and Season Length for Tomatoes.”

ATTRA also compiled a list of publications the organization created that discuss specific topics surrounding soil health, ranging from “A Brief Overview of Nutrient Cycling in Pastures” to “Rye as a Cover Crop” to “Alternative Soil Amendments.” ATTRA also offers two educational webinars discussing soil health: “Organic Research and Needs: Cover Crops, Crop Rotation and Soil Health” and “Innovative No-Till: Using Multi-Species Cover Crops to Improve Soil Health.”

Free Organic Seed Resources Available

The Organic Seed Alliance is dedicated to providing free resources to producers with information related to organic seeds. Its website offers publications divided into the following categories: policy reports, plant breeding and variety trials, seed production, worksheets and record sheets, Organic Seed Growers Conference proceedings and a Organic Seed Growers Conference webinar archive. This growing catalog of publications is continually updated and can be helpful to organic and sustainable producers.

The Organic Seed Alliance also offers educational courses that are available to the public, some of which are accessible online. The following courses are currently available: Fundamentals of On-Farm Plant Breeding, Fundamentals of Seed Production, Seed Saving for Farmers and Gardeners and On-Farm Variety Trials.

For additional web-based organic seed resources, check out eOrganic!

Crop Insurance Resource Roundup

Risk management is a crucial aspect of farming, particularly with the extreme weather conditions that are hitting the United States. A critical part of this is crop insurance. To get the basics, the United States Department of Agriculture’s Risk Management Agency developed a webpage with answers to common questions surrounding crop insurance. Below are some tools available for free online that can help farmers navigate how to effectively implement crop insurance.

Crop Insurance for Individuals

FLAG created a PDF intended as a training guide for the Federation of Southern Cooperatives that provides an in depth look into crop insurance for individuals. This document is available to anyone for free online. It covers everything there is to know behind the roles and rules of insuring crops through Federal Crop Insurance or a private insurer. The document also delves into what is covered under crop insurance, what to look for in a contract and much more.

Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program

This program is available for producers that were hit by a natural disaster without crop insurance.

Utah State University Extension developed a presentation explaining everything there is to know about the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program.

The United States Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency also offers an informative disaster assistance fact sheet focusing on the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program.

Organic Crop Insurance

The United States Department of Agriculture’s Risk Management Agency produced a fact sheet explaining the Contract Price Addendum, which now allows organic producers to insure crops at a set price specified in a contract. The addendum is applicable to 62 types of crops.

Corn and Soybean Crop Insurance

Iowa State’s Extension program offers two helpful PDF’s available through the Decision Tools section of its website. These free downloadable PDFs offer valuable insight into choosing crop insurance plans for corn and soybeans; the first of which provides a tool to compare different strategies for insurance on corn and soybeans, while the second compares the risk behind GRIP and GRP crop insurance for these crops.

Cover Crops and Crop Insurance

The National Resources Conservation Service put the Cover Crop Termination Guidelines online in a downloadable PDF format.

For a more in depth look, the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition and the National Center for Appropriate Technology created a webinar that explains “when and how to terminate cover crops and maintain eligibility for crop insurance coverage of subsequently planted cash crops.”

Other Helpful Tools

University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension collected various crop insurance fact sheet publications covering the following topics: apples, peaches, corn, fresh market sweet corn, forage production, forage seeding, nursery and insurance coverage for organic crops.