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Celebrate the culture of agriculture & share skills (Growing! Cooking! Eating!)

Farm Aid's very own online Farmer Resource Network: click "search network tool" to search the database.

A phenomenal online compendium of beginning farmer resources here: http://beginningfarmers.org/

The New England Small Farm Institute has a new web site with plenty of helpful resources for new farmers. Check it out here: http://www.growingnewfarmers.org/index.php

A document designed to help student farmers and campus food service companies work together on sourcing, menus and more: http://www.circleofresponsibility.com/uploads/documents/student_gar...

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New for 2010—at Virginia Tech
Growers’ Academy
8-week series beginning
January 19
Low-input, small scale farming
Develop a Business Plan!
Learn New Growing Techniques!
See reverse side for details
or register on-line at:
http://www.cpe.vt.edu/grac/
Attachments:
http://www.ma.nrcs.usda.gov/news/news_high_tunnel_pilot.html

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has announced a new pilot project under the 'Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food' initiative for farmers to establish high tunnels - also known as hoop houses - to increase the availability of locally grown produce in a conservation-friendly way.

A seasonal high tunnel is a greenhouse-like structure, at least six feet in height, which modifies the climate inside to create more favorable growing conditions for vegetable and other specialty crops grown in the natural soil beneath it. This pilot will test the potential conservation benefits of growing crops under these structures. Participating farms can receive funding for one high tunnel. High tunnels in the study can cover as much as five percent of one acre or approximately a 30 by 72 foot structure.

Local farmers who would like to sign-up for the high tunnel pilot should call or visit the NRCS office at a local USDA service center by January 15th. USDA service center locations are listed on-line at http://offices.usda.gov or in the phone book under Federal Government, U.S. Department of Agriculture. General program information is available on the NRCS Massachusetts website at www.ma.nrcs.usda.gov.
Youth Renewing The Countryside available as a pdf download.

Whether we live in Manhattan or Peoria, we depend on a healthy countryside: it supplies the food we eat. So it’s welcome news that across the nation, a hearty crop is taking root. Smart, young people are returning to the roots of American Agriculture—roots steeped in a tradition and culture of diversity, quality, and respect for the Earth. Full of brilliant color photographs, “Youth Renewing the Countryside” shares remarkable stories of young people in each state changing the world through rural renewal.

Produced by Renewing the Countryside in partnership with young writers and photographers across the country and with support from SARE and the Center for Rural Strategies.
LocallyGrown.net and others are online tools that help farmers connect directly to customers. Check out this Farm Aid blog post. There are helpful resources listed in the comments, too.
Press release:
NIFA Announces Grants to Help Train and Educate the Next Generation of Farmers and Ranchers
 
WASHINGTON – Feb. 17, 2010 – USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) today announced the availability of more than $18 million in grants to help train, educate and enhance the sustainability of the next generation of farmers through the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP).  
 
"Beginning farmers and ranchers are critical to creating rural prosperity in the United States, but they face unique challenges and require education and assistance to ensure their profitability and sustainability,” said Roger Beachy, NIFA director. “These grants will provide training the America’s next generation of farmers and ranchers need to succeed.”
 
BFRDP is an education, training, technical assistance and outreach program designed to help U.S. farmers and ranchers -specifically those who have been farming or ranching for 10 years or less.  NIFA will make grants available to organizations to design programs to help beginning farmers and ranchers.  Project results are expected to be disseminated widely to all farmers.  Proposals are due April 6, and applications are available on the NIFA Web site.
 
This is the second year of the program, established by the Section 7410 of the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008.  The Act also makes $19 million available in fiscal years 2011 and 2012.  In FY 2009, BFRDP made 29 awards for approximately $17 million.
 
Priority will be given to projects that are partnerships and collaborations led by or including nongovernmental and community-based organizations with expertise in new agricultural producer training and outreach.  All applicants are required to provide funds or in-kind support from non-federal sources in an amount that is at least equal to twenty-five percent of the federal funds requested.  
 
In fiscal year 2010, only standard projects and a few educational enhancement teams will be funded.  All projects will be limited to three years. Budget requests in the proposals must not exceed $250,000 per year.  For standard projects, NIFA is looking for proposals in these areas:
 
Mentoring, apprenticeships and internships
Resources and referrals
Assisting beginning farmers or ranchers in acquiring land from retiring farmers and ranchers
Innovative farm and ranch transfer strategies
Entrepreneurship and business training
Model land leasing contracts
Financial management training
Whole farm planning
Conservation assistance
Risk management education
Diversification and marketing strategies
Curriculum development
Understanding the impact of concentration and globalization
Basic livestock and crop farming practices
Acquisition and management of agricultural credit
Environmental compliance
Information processing

 
Through federal funding and leadership for research, education and extension programs, NIFA focuses on investing in science and solving critical issues impacting people's daily lives and the nation's future.  More information is at: www.nifa.usda.gov.
 
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USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender. To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Ave., S.W., Washington, D.C. 20250-9410 or call (800) 795-3272(voice), or (202) 720-6382 (TDD).
 
This news release is a service of the USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture.  To view other agency news, visit http://www.nifa.usda.gov/newsroom/newsroom.html.
 
Follow us on Twitter:  http://www.twitter.com/USDA_NIFA

From the Farm Aid blog:

USDA extends its $50 million Organic Initiative for Farmers and Ran...

MatthewBig news if you’re an organic farmer or interested in giving organic farming a shot – a great funding opportunity, the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) Organic Initiative, has been renewed by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) for the second year!

The program provides financial and technical assistance for producers who are using, or planning to transition to, organically certifiable conservation practices on their farm.

Many of the practices the program covers are great ideas anyway. The eligible practices include: cover cropping, pest management, crop rotation, stream buffers, hedgerow planting and many more. This incentive makes the shift to organic production methods that you may have already been considering much easier on the balance sheet.

So get out there, apply for the grant and start putting these conservation practices to good work.

How it works:

The USDA EQIP Organic Initiative is administered by the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). Producers planning to implement a specific practice can apply to the NRCS for technical assistance and funding for the costs of implementing the practice. The initiative may pay up to 75% of the costs and forgone income of certain conservation activity plans. Underserved producers (including limited resource farmers/ranchers, socially disadvantaged producers and tribes) may be eligible for payments up to 90 percent of the costs and forgone income. The payments range between $20,000 to $80,000 per year for a maximum of 6 years.

Farm Aid’s recommendation for your next steps:

Act fast! The deadline is May 20, 2011.

Apply! Contact your NRCS office to speak to your NRCS contact. Develop a working relationship with that person. Seek their guidance in the application and the process.

Learn more! Check out Farm Aid’s partner organization and grantee, the Organic Farming Research Foundation’s EQIP page, for an explanation of the program in detail

Get connected! Contact your local organic farming organization to get some good ideas, use their resources, learn from other producers and strengthen your operation. Visit Farm Aid’s Farmer Resource Network to search for local organizations that can help you with your organic practices.


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