Farmers at a meeting learning about available resources. Photo: USDA, Flickr Creative Commons
FSA County Committee members play a critical role in FSA options, often making decisions about FSA farm programs at the county level (i.e. what kinds of programs will be offered in their country). Committees are made up of farmers and ranchers that participate in FSA programs and are elected by other producers in their county.
The nomination period for county committee elections opened June 15th and runs through August 1st. Newly-elected committee members will take office on January 1, 2018, meeting once a month over a three-year term to make decisions about disaster programs, conservation programs, emergency programs, and other important agricultural issues.
Farmers and ranchers may nominate themselves or others, and organizations that work with beginning farmers, women farmers, and minority farmers can also nominate candidates. Candidates must participate in an FSA program and live in the area where the election is being held. You can request nomination forms from the local USDA Service Center or obtain them online at: http://www.fsa.usda.gov/elections.
All nomination forms for the 2017 election must be postmarked or received in the local FSA office by Aug. 1, 2017.
For more information, visit USDA’s website at: https://www.fsa.usda.gov/news-room/county-committee-elections/index
AgrAbility is an organization that works to enhance the quality of life for farmers and ranchers with disabilities. They work on helping farmers find gainful employment in production agriculture, gain access to appropriate assistive technology needed for work and daily living activities, and more.
Join them for the 2017 AgrAbility National Training Workshop from March 20-23 in Knoxville, TN. This event is the premier training event addressing issues of disability in agriculture. It brings together professionals and consumers from all over the country to participate in educational sessions, breakout groups, tours, and networking events. For more information, visit the event website
If you’re thinking about starting a farm, there are many groups who do work with beginning farmers. Some have published free guides that provide lots of information that will be useful as you get started. Here are a few of our favorites:
The Greenhorns’ Guide for Beginning Farmers is designed to help young people develop careers in agriculture. It highlights helpful readings and resources about land access, financing farm businesses, and building technical skills.
The Northeast Beginning Farmers Project at Cornell has a Getting Started guide that focuses on identifying your goals, skills, and resources to build an enterprise.
New Entry Sustainable Farming Project’s guide on How to Begin Your Small Farm Dream is a plain language guide that provides a clear overview of the benefits and challenges of owning a farm, as well as the resources to realize those benefits.
ATTRA’s Start a Farm in the City Guide walks you through starting an urban farm, touching on soil testing, finding markets, and resources specifically for urban farmers.
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
Click here for more information and to see a summit schedule.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This blog shines a spotlight on some of Farm Aid's favorite resources, tools and other timely opportunities for family farmers and farm advocates.
Also be sure to check out the rest of Farm Aid's Farmer Resource Network, to search through our online directory of farm service providers nationwide, read about some of our farmer heroes, or contact Farm Aid staff for direct assistance.