Upcoming webinar: Opportunities for Conservation in Organic Livestock Systems

Photo: Flickr Creative Commons, Pamzpix

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.

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.

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.”