As someone who has spent many hours paging through codes and regulations in an attempt to develop a compliant organic system plan (OSP), I understand why many small farmers find the process too arduous and time-consuming to be worth their while. And yet, I also understand and appreciate the rigorous and meticulous nature of the certification process which gives real meaning to the USDA Organic label: a certification which takes no effort to obtain and which lacks the oversight to ensure proper compliance cannot give us any confidence that the fruits, vegetables, meats, dairy, and grains are truly free of the pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers which have systematically tainted our nation’s food system.
To date, we at Wild Ridge Farm have decided not to certify even though we have complied and will continue to comply with all the methods and material restrictions as stipulated in the National Organic Program (NOP) code—with the sole exception of the Final Rule which I will presently discuss at length. (more…)
Land Stewardship Program Releases New Report – “Crop Insurance – How a Safety Net Became a Farm Policy Disaster.”
Although we don’t often discuss it, one of the largest ways that the government and US farming community interact are through crop insurance. NYFC focuses on highlighting and reforming the many programs and institutions that play a big role in beginning farmers’ lives, and for most – in particular for first-generation farmers – crop insurance isn’t high on that list. But we can’t ignore crop insurance programs completely, especially when it becomes such a big part of the national discourse on the USDA.
For that reason, we’re thrilled to report that our friends at the Land Stewardship Project have released a new three-part report, “Crop Insurance – How a Safety Net Became a Farm Policy Disaster.”
The first few weeks of the New Year are a good time to reflect on how lucky we are to work in agriculture. For many, the farm lifestyle is as, if not more, important than making money. Yet farms are still businesses, and many young farmers aren’t spending enough time managing their farm’s finances. Many beginning farmers starting their businesses don’t know how to budget for expenses, or how much they’ll make producing a given agricultural product.
There can be a lot of mystery around the financial side of farming. How profitable are eggs versus cucumbers? Sheep versus pigs? This year, the 12 Month Farm Finance Challenge seeks to answer those questions and more, in real time, on real farms. John Suscovich, farm manager at Camps Road Farm in Kent, CT and creator of the online resource Farm Marketing Solutions, developed the 12 Month Farm Finance Challenge as a way to keep himself accountable. As a young farmer, he knew he wasn’t tracking the financial side of his farm adequately. The Challenge started as a personal one, and grew into a desire to help other farmers learn about their finances. Now, nine farms, including Suscovich’s Camps Road Farm, are taking part in the Challenge. (more…)
For the second time, USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) is conducting a census of organic farmers and ranchers. Much like the five year Census of Agriculture, the Organic Survey provides a snapshot of agriculture across the U.S.
The survey asks specifically about an organic farm’s production in 2014. Question cover:
- Production of field crops, vegetables, fruits, tree nuts, berries, livestock and poultry;
- Production practices such as pest management, cover crops, crop rotation, rotational grazing, conservation tillage, water management and buffer zones;
- Production expenses;
- Marketing practices, including wholesale, retail and direct-to-consumer sales; and
- Value-added production and processing.
It is critical that organic farmers and those transitioning to organic farming respond to this survey! Not only is response required by law, it also provides valuable data that is used to shape farm policy across USDA. (more…)
In 2010, NYFC was founded by a group of farmers who were struggling to find affordable farmland to start and grow their businesses. Five years later, we know that accessing farmland is still one of the biggest obstacles young farmers face.
The good news is that there is a growing movement of land trusts working to keep farmland in the hands of farmers. We have been working closely with groups across the country to support these efforts. Now, we’re excited to release a new resource designed specifically to help farmers connect and partner with land trusts – A Farmer’s Guide to Working with Land Trusts. (more…)
Join us at the Young Farmer Winter Supper on February 19 for an evening of farm-fresh food, fellowship and startup stories, featuring short films by women dairy farmers, presented by Etsy, Stonyfield Farm and Wythe Hotel.
Farm-to- Fork Feast prepared by Chef Mona Talbott of Talbott & Arding Cheese and Provisions and Chef Sean Rembold of Reynard and Marlowe & Sons.
Startup stories and artisanal cheese tasting by Young Women Dairy Farmers: Sarah Chase of Chaseholm Farm; Ashlee Kleinhammer of North Country Creamery, Suzy Konecky of Cricket Creek Farm and Margot Brooks of Sugar House Creamery.
Local foods supplied by Fleisher’s Pasture Raised Meats, Cayuga Pure Organics and She-Wolf Bakery, and local libations poured forth by Sovereign Cider, Brooklyn Brewery and Lieb Cellars. (more…)
USDA’s Risk Management Agency (RMA) has just released a new type of crop insurance – Whole Farm Revenue Protection. Unlike most crop insurance products that are designed for a single commodity, this insurance is meant for diversified farms growing multiple crops. Now, diversified farmers will have access to yet another tool commodity farmers have had for years.
Whole Farm Revenue Protection is crop insurance for an entire farm. This insurance covers a farm in the case that total farm revenue drops far below historical farm revenue. A policy may ensure that a farmer sees anywhere from 50-85% of farm revenue, depending on the farmer’s specific policy. Whole Farm Crop Insurance is designed to replace the AGR and AGR-Lite crop insurance products, which were little used and not well-designed for diversified farmers. (more…)
Creating a community of food lovers has always been at the top of our to-do list. A community that is centered on food but goes beyond just the consumption, one that supports sustainable practices in not just farming, but day-to-day living.
Our first year of operation hasn’t allowed for much community building. In fact, it hasn’t allowed for much beyond just surviving. We realized quickly we bit off more than we could chew and decided we needed to focus on our priorities as a first-year vegetable CSA.
However, within the CSA model, and in particular how we chose to set-up Forager Farm, community is at the heart of it. Our process of pick-ups meant we met with our members on a weekly basis, face-to-face, to deliver their boxes of fresh vegetables. (more…)
Last week, Congress passed a $1.1 trillion, 1,600 page spending bill. This bill funds all of the federal government through next September, with the exception of the Department of Homeland Security. (DHS is only funded through February, in retaliation for President Obama’s recent executive action on immigration.) This spending bill was a huge step forward for Congress – in past years, Congress was only able to agree to continue funding at current levels. This year’s bill is a real appropriation and it allowed Congress to reexamine funding levels for all federal programs. (more…)
In the last five years, each place Liz and I called home came with a vibrant agricultural support network. Simply by the virtue of location, we were surrounded by farmers, friends and food that guided and taught us what we know and how we act. We still rely on this former (and yet current) network, calling with questions and concerns that are answered with generosity and encouragement. But now we live in a different state, and our Indiana home is a bit different.
Because we started a new farm rather than joined an existing farm, we didn’t plop down into a well-developed network. We are still finding our support but this month especially we are realizing that the voice in the corn was right; if you start to build it, sure enough, they will come.