Bootstrap @ Nightfall Farm – Building Community

Nightfall - community pic - turkey in handIn 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.
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Holiday Shopping for the Farmer You Love

FPS shirts demoThe NYFC “Farming is Public Service”  tees are here for the farmers and farm lovers on your list!

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You can support the campaign to tackle student loan debt – one of the large obstacles new farmers face as they launch their farming careers – and do it in style, with NYFC’s new tees.   Check out the store today to get yours!

 

 

Food Safety Comments Due at Midnight Tonight – Read NFYC’s Here

Tonight is the deadline for Food Safety comments!

NYFC members discussing the new regulations at a letter-writing event last year.

NYFC members discussing the proposed regulations at a letter-writing event last year.

This is the final day in a two-year long process, and you’ve got only one final night to get your comment in!  We’ve been working with the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition and dozens of farmers throughout the NYFC network to analyze this new draft from the FDA and how it will affect new and beginning farmers.

As we reported in the summer, thousands of comments poured in last winter in response to the FDA’s initial attempt at food safety rules.  (Thanks to everyone who submitted a comment or organized a letter-writing party!). From what we heard in Washington, the FDA was stunned by the level of response – over 15,000 comments went in! Since that time, the FDA has issued another draft with a request for comments. Tonight by midnight (EST) will be the final chance for input – after this, they’ll issue a final rule.

Just like last year, we’ve worked with the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition and its members to analyze the FDA’s response and now we’re submitting an organizational comment. We’d love for you to join us! (more…)

Student Loans are Next on the Agenda!

NYFC FPS campaign image - squareYoung people shouldn’t have to choose between a career in farming and paying off their student loan debt. But we’ve heard it again and again—student loan debt is keeping young people from succeeding in agriculture. Now NYFC is taking this challenge head on. Last week, we launched a new campaign to tackle the student loan barrier for committed, career farmers: #FarmingIsPublicService

NYFC is calling for the addition of farmers to the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program, which currently provides debt relief to doctors, teachers, government employees and nonprofit workers. For enrollees who make 10 years of income-driven student loan payments, the balance of their federal loan debt will be forgiven. Not only will this help farmers get out from under debt that they are unable to repay, but it will provide an incentive for new farmers to enter careers in agriculture.
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NYFC Launches Student Loan Campaign to Support Beginning Farmers!

Farming is Public Service - blog imageYoung people shouldn’t have to choose between a career in farming and paying off their student loan debt. But we’ve heard it again and again—student loan debt is keeping young people from succeeding in agriculture. Today, we’re launching a new campaign to tackle the student loan barrier for committed, career farmers.

#FarmingIsPublicService is a campaign to add farmers to the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program.
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Tell New York Governor Cuomo To Act Now on Land Access for Young Farmers

A photo of the Beacon State Correctional Facility from the Empire State Development's Request for Proposals, 2014.

A photo of the Beacon State Correctional Facility from the Empire State Development’s Request for Proposals, 2014. The Beacon facility is one of many decommissioned prisons across the State with farmland, greenhouses, and other infrastructure resources on site. Bill A07002 would help ensure beginning farmers have access to this land and resources.

In August, we wrote a blog post about New York State legislation that would help beginning farmers across the state get access to viable agricultural land. The bill is now on the Governor’s desk – we are asking him to take action and sign it into law.

If passed, this bill could provide access to state-owned farmland for new and beginning farmers; spur the creation of further state policies and programs to support beginning farmers; and reduce the likelihood of state-owned farmland being developed.

 

The Challenge

In New York, the average cost of farm real estate, which takes into account land and buildings, has been steadily rising. It is now $2,700 an acre – up 3.8% from last year and 12.5% from 2010 [1]. For beginning farmers who must compete with developers for this land, these prices mean that buying a farm of their own is often out of reach. Few farms are available for under $300,000, and many more are listed for sale at well over $1 million [2].

New York State’s farm and food sector is worth $47 billion. As the average age of the state’s farmers continues to rise, however, this strong economic engine is at risk of disappearing. We must do more to help our next generation of agricultural businesses succeed. Governor Cuomo has an opportunity to help ensure the future of our farm and food economy in the State by signing this legislation into law.

 

What This Bill Would Do

The key features of this legislation are:

  • Inventorying of state lands. The bill would require state agencies to inventory and publicize their landholdings and assess the suitability of the land for farming.
  • Farmland conservation. Viable agricultural lands would be considered for conservation through the state farmland protection program and made available to famers for lease or purchase.
  • Beginning farmer land access. The bill requires the state to enhance beginning farmers’ access to this land and to support the successful transfer of viable farmland from retiring owners to the next generation of farmers.
  • Beginning farmer assistance. The bill requires the Agricultural Advisory Council to provide guidance to the Department of Agriculture on taxes, financial assistance, and other policies and programs that could address the needs of beginning farmers

By inventorying state landholdings that are viable for agriculture and making them available to beginning farmers, the State could put thousands of acres of land currently sitting vacant on decommissioned prison farms, mental health facilities, and state parks to work for our state’s agricultural economy. This legislation is an opportunity for the Governor to demonstrate his commitment to two of the state’s most valuable agricultural resources – its land and the farmers who work it.

 

What You Can Do

Call Governor Cuomo’s office today! He needs to hear from you. Governor Cuomo was elected to serve the citizens of New York, and now is the time to make your voice heard.

1. Call the Governor’s office1-518-474-8390 PRESS 3 to speak with an assistant or PRESS 2 to leave a message

2. Tell him,“I am a ____________ (young farmer/advocate/New York State resident) who is ____________ (experiencing/concerned about) the challenge that our beginning farmers face getting started in New York State. Through Governor Cuomo’s policies and actions, he has demonstrated an awareness that agriculture is a strong economic engine in the State of New York, and we appreciate that. As our current population of farmers ages, however, we need to do more to support the next generation of farmers getting started or we risk losing this incredible state resource. The Governor has an opportunity to help beginning farmers access land and successfully start their farm businesses by signing Bill A07002 into law. This bill, which is currently on his desk, would make state lands available to young farmers and help direct resources towards ensuring those farmers’ success. I urge him to sign the bill into law today.”

Feel free to use this template as a starting point, or tell a personal story about why access to farmland is an important issue to you.

3. Talk to your friends! Tell other farmers and farm supporters you know to call the Governor’s office and make their voices heard as well.

THANK YOU! Together, we are ensuring the voice of the next generation of farmers is a powerful part of the public conversation.

Gov. Cuomo speaking on a farm in Middleburgh, NY in 2011. Photo: Office of Gov. Cuomo

Gov. Cuomo speaking on a farm in Middleburgh, NY in 2011. Photo: Office of Gov. Cuomo

[1] www.nass.usda.gov/Publications/Todays_Reports/reports/land0814.pdf

[2] www.nytimes.com/2013/10/01/opinion/keep-farmland-for-farmers.html?_r=0

Rogue Farm Corps Recruits Aspiring Farmers for their Hands-on Education and Mentoring Programs

Planting at Rogue Farm CorpsFarming is a tough business, and beginning farmers need hands-on experience and mentoring before they can successfully take on a commercial operation. Finding that experience and mentoring can be a significant challenge, and it’s at the heart of why Rogue Farm Corps (RFC) was created. The Oregon-based nonprofit was founded in 2003 by first generation organic farmers in their twenties and thirties who themselves had been mentored and considered it critical to their success. They noticed that many older farmers were retiring without anyone to take over their businesses, while young, inexperienced farmers didn’t know how to get started in commercial farming. RFC’s Executive Director Stu O’Neill says the organization was born from the desire to give beginning farmers access to mentors and in-field training. (more…)

VIDEO: Young Farmers Speak Up

Do you want to change food and farming in the US? Then it’s time to get with your chapter and engage elected officials.

In this short video, see members of the Hudson Valley Young Farmers Coalition in action– sharing stories, building relationships and winning the change they need!

HVYFC organizing video -Gibson meeting banner 2 (more…)

VIDEO: Don’t farm alone… Start a crop mob!

building the movement - crop mobs - image 2We believe cooperation beats competition, any day. From barn raisings to crop mobs, having each other’s back is the basis of a strong farming community.

Leslie Touzeau of the Missouri Young Farmers Coalition says it best, “Farming is hard…if we’re going to be successful, we have to learn to work together. “

WATCH our short film with Leslie on Crop Mobs and learn how to build the movement in your region. (more…)

VIDEO: Young Farmers Show You How To Party!

Tierney Creech, organizer of the Washington Young Farmers Coalition (WAYFC), says it perfectly: “In the middle of the summer, camaraderie is almost as invigorating as sleep.” Take it from Tierney, WAYFC knows how to throw a party.

WAYFC organizing video - musicianEach fall, they bring together hundreds of farmers from across the state for a young farmer mixer complete with live music, local food, dancing, camping and, of course, plentiful opportunities to make new friends. Thanks to their efforts, Washington State is a place where young farmers feel welcome and connected, whether they’re in Olympia, Spokane, or anywhere in between.

To help us create this level of camaraderie amongst new farmers and ranchers in every region of the U.S., we need you! Events are the basis of a strong network, and NYFC is here to help you plan a successful event that leads to a lasting young farmer coalition in your region. (more…)