USDA Beginning Farmer and Rancher Programs by the Numbers

USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) funds the construction of hoop houses such as this one. (Photo courtesy of USDA)

USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) funds the construction of hoop houses such as this one. (Photo courtesy of USDA)

Last month, USDA hosted an event honoring the White House’s Future of American Agriculture Champions of Change, including NYFC’s own Lindsey Lusher Shute. This event recognized the need for young farmers and highlighted USDA resources targeted at these farmers in particular. (more…)

New Reports Outline Steps Needed to Build an Inclusive Food System

Report Cover

One of the new reports from the Center for Social Inclusion

In U.S. agriculture, there is a long history of discrimination against minority populations and women. For many years, these groups were purposefully excluded from Farm Service Agency (FSA) programs in their own communities. A series of class action lawsuits, most notably Pigford v. Glickman, brought these practices to an end. (more…)

Dirt Works Incubator Farm: Building Land Access and Community in South Carolina

A Growers Group Farmer Training at Dirt Works Incubator Farm. Photo by Nikki Seibert, Lowcountry Local First.

Beginning farmers are finding a new way to get on the land in South Carolina with the help of a local non-profit called Lowcountry Local First (LLF).

In 2012, LLF welcomed farmers to South Carolina’s first incubator farm – Dirt Works Incubator, which is located just outside of Charleston. The newest post from Southern Terroir, a monthly blog featuring the unique products and producers from the American South, details the plants, farmers, and community that are thriving on the farm. (more…)

Sustaining Farming in the Arid West: Stories of young farmers, water and resilience

FARMERS ADAPT TO DROUGHT AND INCREASE PRODUCTIVITY

New Report Highlights Innovative Drought Mitigation & Water Savings by Six Farmers in Four Colorado River Basin States

SustaingFarmers_FrontPageimage

August 14th, 2014

Download report (PDF)

DURANGO, CO – The National Young Farmers Coalition released a report today highlighting innovative farmers who are adapting to record drought in the arid Southwest. “Sustaining Farming in the Arid West: Stories of young farmers, water and resilience,” demonstrates how Western farmers are saving water, stewarding the land and enhancing productivity in increasingly dry times. (more…)

Tell Us Your Student Loan Story!

NYT article on farmer financial problemsFarmers across the country are responding to the opinion piece in this weekend’s New York Times: “Don’t Let Your Children Grow Up To Be Farmers.” It resonates.

We agree that many growers aren’t yet making a living, and we hope that you feel proud to be part of a coalition of farmers and consumers organizing for change. (more…)

Bootstrap @ Nightfall Farm – Building a Farm from Scratch

Nighfall - seed drillThe differences between working on an established farm and starting your own were evident this month. Rather than learning the ropes and falling into developed routines, we’re recreating some systems that have worked on other farms. We’re solving problems unique to our farm. We’re spending a lot of time cobbling together equipment and systems. And often, that costs money.

The animal groups we are raising this year afford us the luxury of not needing big equipment. We rely on temporary electric net fencing powered by solar chargers. We are taxing our family well while we wait for the funds to dig a well dedicated to our pasture. We drive a 1989 Ford F250 to pick up feed from the mill, deliver chickens to the processor, and move our hay wagon/shade shelter/water tank around the field.

(more…)

Whitehouse.gov Guest Post – Bringing Young Americans Back to the Farm

White House Champions - group

2014 Future of American Agriculture Champions of Change, at a White House ceremony.

This post, by NYFC’s Lindsey Lusher Shute, was originally published on whitehouse.gov, where Lindsey has been named a Future of American Agriculture Champion of Change.

With record farmland prices, climate instability, and an agricultural economy often working against them, today’s young farmers and ranchers are all Champions of Change. They are taking tremendous personal and financial risks to feed the country and build a healthy food system.

I am proud to count myself among the nation’s new farmers and to represent my peers through the National Young Farmers Coalition (NYFC). I co-founded NYFC in 2010 to represent, mobilize, and engage young farmers to ensure their success. We are shaping a country where young people who are willing to work hard, get trained, and be entrepreneurial can support themselves and their families in farming. Along with strong local networks and farm services, we believe that access to land, capital, and relief from student loan debt are critical to this goal.

(more…)

NYFC Executive Director Named White House Champion of Change

White House Champions - LLS

Lindsey with USDA Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden.

Our very own Lindsey Lusher Shute was named a Champion of Change by the White House this week! She is being honored along with fellow leaders for their work to build the next generation of farmers and ranchers in the U.S.

Lindsey was in Washington, DC this week for the two-day event. At USDA, senior officials talked about the resources available for young farmers and discussed questions and opportunities with the Champions. At a White House event, Lindsey sat on a panel with fellow Champions. She discussed NYFC and the challenges facing young farmers, particularly access to land. Many of NYFC’s members do not come from farming families, and Lindsey stressed that more needs to be done to help young people without land in the family enter farming.

(more…)

Bootstrap @ Wild Ridge Farm – Making the Right Choices on Farm Equipment

If the farmer paused briefly from his ceaseless toil, taking up pen and paper to list the various equipment he relies on continually in his daily labor, an afternoon would surely be lost and the farmer would retire to bed with cramps in his writing hand. Roller tables, harvest crates, wash tubs, pruners, hand hoes, soil knives, drip tape, row cover, lay flat hose, pitch forks, spades, backpack sprayers—hundreds of simple tools and supplies cluttering the dusty corners of barns and sheds. Tractors, rotary tillers, disc harrows, grain drills, box blades, wood chippers, log splitters, cultivators, cultipackers, flatbed trucks, skid loaders—the imposing diesel guzzlers and implements lined up in garages and parkways.

Wild Ridge Farm - tractorWhile I can assure you that hundreds of those simple tools and supplies can make as big an economic impact as a single big-ticket items, still, tractors have captured our agricultural imagination and are the heroes of children’s books and the pride of weathered old planters and harvesters. In or last century, the scale of farming in America has been transformed to favor 1000-plus acre plots which necessitate fleets of powerful tractors and mammoth machines.

(more…)

Bootstrap @ Lemonade Springs Farm – Making Decisions on Equipment

The question of equipment and capital, it seems to me, is really a question of what decisions you make about your daily work and your financial equilibrium and why you make them. Questions we ask regarding both tools used and money spent (both whose and how much) are those of means and ends- what will the application of a particular sort of funding or a tool mean to the possible success or failure of the farm, how much labor will be eased because of it, what will be further necessary to add as a consequence, etc. Tools shape the user, as well as the farm. Nothing is neutral.

Lemonade Springs - chicken tractorI’ve always been told that debt is the death of small farms and farmers. There’s some truth to this across generations and locales, but this is, unfortunately, the Actually Existing Capitalism of debt-financed America, and without significant saving or lucrative off-farm work, it’s hard to avoid credit.

I’m of two minds on this. On the one hand, I’m an old-fashioned, reactionary, megatechnics hating anarchist loath to hand money over to the usurious death-trip that is global finance. On the other, I partially own a debt-financed tractor, and have been frequently dependent on the patronage and credit of well-meaning family and friends, as well as banks. The necessities of marketplace existence come crashing in quick and merciless upon my ideological niceties.

(more…)