July News: NYFC at White House, Student Debt on the Agenda, FSA Elections, Land Trust Ed

Here at NYFC, we think farmers should be spending the summer fighting weeds, fixing fences and growing food—not worrying about student debt and untenable leases. In this July newsletter, we’ll tell you about two exciting campaigns NYFC is taking on: tackling student loan debt and fighting for affordable land. Plus, see us at the White House and read updates on federal programs and local events.

Water stewardship takes center stage on Colorado River Day

DryPowell_NationalGeographic_8-23-13-300x220As news of the Wests’ staggering drought makes headlines nationwide, it can be difficult to look past the waves of dark red on the drought monitor.  Reports are rolling in on California farmers fallowing land due to lack of water, tumbleweed take-over, and western reservoirs dropping to their lowest levels in history.

Land Access Innovations Workshop for Land Trusts

Apply by this Friday, July 25th for NYFC and Equity Trust’s Land Access Innovations Workshop for land trusts.

The one-day, in-person training is aimed at staff from a select group of land trusts that have a high degree of commitment and sufficient capacity to move forward in the implementation of farm protection projects that incorporate affordability innovations. Topics will include: easement tools and ground leases, fundraising, monitoring and enforcement, and legal considerations. Following the training, land trusts will be part of an ongoing working group and receive assistance from mentor organizations as they implement farmland affordability mechanisms into their easement projects.

The workshop will take place on Sunday, September 21st in Providence, Rhode Island, immediately following the Land Trust Alliance Rally.

Click here for more information about the class, bios of the mentor groups, and the application!

Please email Holly with any questions about the workshop or the application – holly@youngfarmers.org.

What Ever Happened to FSMA?

FSMA letter writing at Pine Plains - small

Young farmers at a FSMA letter writing event at Chaseholm Farm in Pine Plains, NY.

About a year ago, the FDA proposed new regulations under the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) that would have created impenetrable obstacles to starting a new farm business through onerous water-testing requirements, amendment restriction and more. In response, NYFC members sprang into action.  NYFC volunteers hosted an incredible 70 letter-writing parties across the country, generating nearly 1,000 comments, out of the 18,582 total submitted. (more…)

Farmshare Austin currently seeking veggie grower students

This just in from our Texas Young Farmer affiliate!

Farmshare Austin bio picFarmshare Austin (FSA) is a new 501c3 in Austin,TX dedicated to educating the next generation of organic vegetable growers in Central Texas. This fall we will accept our first class of students who will live and work on our educational farm as part of an intensive six month program. Produce grown on the educational farm will go to individuals in Austin who may otherwise find it difficult to access healthy fresh choices.

Farmshare Austin’s pilot program, Farmer Starter, is designed to provide aspiring farmers with the essential skills and training needed to run a sustainable farming business. Using a blend of hands-on in-field training and formal classroom education, students will gain practical knowledge and experience in sustainable organic growing methods as well as the business and financial planning skills necessary to establish a successful market farm.

We are currently seeking six full time students to participate in our 2014 pilot program. Our application process is open until August 15th, 2014 for the program beginning October 1st, 2014.

Go to farmshareaustin.org for more information and to submit an application today!

Check out our new land access page!

Photo by Holly Rippon-Butler

Photo by Holly Rippon-Butler

Looking to stay up to date with NYFC’s work on land access for beginning farmers? Check out our new land access page where you will find links to our Conservation 2.0 report, land access working group, policy advocacy work, and case studies of farmers getting on the land. There is also a collection of resources and reports on land access issues that we will continue to update. Be sure to check back in the fall for our guidebook on working with land trusts! (more…)

FSA County Commissions Need Young Farmers!

FSA 2014 county committee election posterAcross the country, local county commissions for the Farm Service Agency (FSA) are taking nominations for new members. These commissions are critical to the operation of the FSA. They help to determine how programs are administered on the local level and ensure local needs are met, including those of young farmers.

When announcing the nomination period, USDA Secretary Vilsack stressed the importance of engaging all types of farmers, including young farmers, in the elections. “I hope that every eligible farmer and rancher will participate in this year’s county committee elections. Through the county committees, farmers and ranchers have a voice; their opinions and ideas get to be heard on federal farm programs.” (more…)

Bootstrap @ Forager Farm – Each Seed Has a Story

Processed with VSCOcam with t1 presetEach seed has a story. Some seeds have been passed down relatively unchanged for generations. Others have been breed for certain characteristics and traits. And others have been adapted for climates like North Dakota.

Bootstrap @ Lemonade Springs Farm – Making Choices on Breeds and Seeds

Lemonade Springs intro post pic 4At our farm, we tend towards open-pollinated, heirloom varieties of seed, for reasons practical, sentimental and political. We are suckers for the poetry of seed catalogues and the promise of hopeful January orders. Our seed shelves spell out the history of our journey to this place- corn and shell beans from Oregon, garlic and dry beans from Vashon, pumpkins and sunflowers from Washington, tomatoes from a friend in Spain, greens from California. Carried along like treasures, these things have sustained our farm, and each row seeded has been a remembrance of past labors and their ultimate fulfillment. Similarly, I hope for our animals to grow with us- to carry our farm through their generations as the farm grows with them. Many have spoken passionately and eloquently in recent years about the value and necessity of seed and breed preservation, especially in the face of industry consolidation and economic monopolization. I have little to add; I believe the strongest argument to be made for saving seed, for breeding animals, and for choosing wisely and carefully for your place is an argument of sentiment- these animals and seeds carry us and our history with them, and all the complicated emotions of planting, hatching, kidding, harvesting and slaughter alongside. That lends a power to the relationship we have with each crop and flock and herd.

Bootstrap @ Nightfall Farm – Choosing the Right Breed

We wanted to be able to sing “Old MacDonald Had a Farm” when we walk around our fields. Think about the standard farm animals that are on those singing kids’ toys where the arrow spins around and selects an animal and then you hear the sound they make.

Nightfall - caring for birdsBut we wanted to be able to support healthy animals and pay our bills, so we tabled our desire for a menagerie – at least for now. We considered our 13-acre field that has been row-cropped for 30 years. Instead of running the farm, we decided to let the farm do the planning.