This week, we learned that our Operations Manager, Leanna Mulvihill, was selected to receive student loan forgiveness by New York State. Leanna is starting her own livestock operation this year and will now be able to invest her savings in lambs and pigs instead of student loan payments. This is exactly the kind of impact that we’re working to achieve with #FarmingIsPublicService – to help young people manage their student debt while getting a farm operation off the ground. Campaign updates to come!

In this March newsletter, you’ll hear directly from Leanna, meet NYFC’s newest chapter, get an update on Western water and see a listing of events across the nation.

Leanna Mulvihill and her feeder pigs that arrived this week (Photo: Four Legs Farm)

New York State Forgives Student Debt for Farmers

From Leanna Mulvihill, NYFC’s Operations Manager and farmer at Four Leg’s Farm in New Paltz, NY:

“I just found out this week I was selected for the New York State Young Farmers Loan Forgiveness Incentive Program. Over the next two years, all of my student loans will be forgiven. This is the only program of its kind in the country that is currently funded. It is still a very small program and I feel incredibly lucky and grateful to have been selected.

This gives me $18,000 more dollars to put into my business in the coming years. I buy my animals locally, my feed is grown locally and my animals are processed locally.  It will be so exciting to put that money back into my community.

I hope this is the beginning of more programs that help young farmers manage their student debt. The National Young Farmers Coalition’s campaign, Farming Is Public Service, is working on this at the federal level. There needs to be better options for student loans to keep my generation farming.”

Farmers escape the rain to talk collaborations (Photo: Brittany Dooling)

Maryland Farmers Launch New NYFC Chapter

Last weekend, thirty or so young farmers met at Flying Plow Farm in Rising Sun, Maryland for a two-day summit to launch the latest NYFC chapter: the Maryland Young Farmers Coalition. Despite the cold and cloudy skies, folks came out from Maryland, Pennsylvania and Delaware to participate in the strategy session and to connect and learn from one other.

The weekend was full of brainstorming and development of the group’s ideas on the purpose and mission of a regional coalition for young and beginning farmers.

Thanks to MidAtlantic Farm Credit, Future Harvest CASA and Wegman’s for making the event possible.

Farm protected with federal funding (Photo: USDA)

NYFC Fights to Fund Affordable Farmland Through USDA

We know how tough it can be to find affordable farmland. Even once you have pieced together the necessary capital, you still have to contend with competition for land from non-farmer buyers. That’s why we have been fighting to make the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP) work for young farmers.

ACEP was created in the 2014 Farm Bill to continue USDA’s work to protect farmland from development. By placing a conservation easement on a farm, ACEP ensures that we will not lose that farmland to a strip mall, subdivision, or other construction. In the Farm Bill, NYFC successfully pushed to add “farm viability” to the priorities of the program – we want to make sure that farms are not only protected from development, but also stay as working farmland through affordability protections in the conservation easements.

Legislative change, however, is only the first step. Following the passage of the Farm Bill, USDA started writing the regulations to implement this new program. The draft regulations were released at the end of February. In the next month, we will be meeting with USDA, drafting formal written comments, and coordinating with land trust partners. We want to ensure that farmland that is preserved for active farming through these public dollars will be permanently accessible to farmers. For more information on NYFC’s land access work, click here.

 

One Year of Water Left for California? 

An Op-Ed published in last week’s L.A. Times claimed California has one year left of stored water. While this may have been slight hyperbole, NYFC continues to help young farmers in the West secure the water they need while supporting sustainable water-use practices. Kate Greenberg, our western organizer, talked to NPR’s Take Two about the situation (5:44). In April we’ll be meeting with farmers and ranchers across the Southwest to talk about the future of Western water. Want to make your voice heard? To find a roundtable near you, email Kate at kate@youngfarmers.org.

Events

Wakefield, Quebec: March 27th Young Agrarians and NFU Youth BARN MIXER

4-11:30pm Featuring presentations by Sophie Ackoff, Virginie Lavallee-Picard and Sarah Dent. Potluck dinner and party to follow!  Click here to get more info.

San Juan Capistrano, CA: March 28th Grange Future Event

Ecology Center – grangefuture.org/. All day.

Salem, OR: March 30th 9:30-2 Farmer & Rancher Day at the State Capitol
Raise your farmer voices! Join us for a day of education, civic engagement, and a rally on the capitol steps! If you have been looking to engage in state ag policy, this is the event for you! To learn more and RSVP (required), click here.

Durango, CO: April 3rd. Young Farmer Panel & “Resilient” Film Screening

Southwest Conservation District Annual Water Seminar

Doubletree Hotel. 8-4:30. 501 Camino del Rio, Durango, CO 81301.

1:35 Film Screening

1:45 Panel discussion: “Agriculture’s Future in the Colorado River Basin.” Panel includes Kate Greenberg, NYFC western organizer; Dustin Stein, Southwest Farmers and Ranchers Coalition President; Pat O’Toole, Ladder Ranch and Family Farm Alliance; and Ken Nowak, Bureau of Reclamation.

Columbia, MO: April 12th. Missouri Young Farmers Coalition Mushroom Cultivation Workshop

9-3pm at CCUA’s Urban Farm (1209 Smith St.) $20. Register at everyeventgives.com Snack, lunch and drinks provided! More info here. 

Starksboro, VT: April 23rd.  Vermont Young Farmers’  Spring Supper & Barn Dance

Thursday, 6pm-9pm.  Footprint Farm, 668 Tatro Road, Starksboro, VT

Sonoma County, CA: April 23rd. Farmers Guild Growing Our Farms: A Forum to Connect Farmers and Ranchers with Land

1-5.30pm with reception at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds

Your spare acres can make a difference– a new food future for Sonoma County.  Click here for more info.

Los Angeles, CA: April 24th. Grange Future Event 

6pm-10pm @ Venice Arts Plaza, 681 Venice Blvd.  Pizza, live music, great speakers and more!  Further details to come soon.
Delhi, NY: May 1st. NYFC: Catskills Potluck and Music

American Legion 6pm – click here for the details!

Hudson, NY: May 2nd. Hudson Valley Young Farmers Coalition Spring Mixer

Letterbox Farm Collective

Join the Google Group to get more info!

Brockton, MA: May 5th. Young Farmer Nights at Stonehill College Farm

More info on this event and the Young Farmer Network’s season of events at http://youngfarmernetwork.org/.


In Northern California? Check out the Farmers Guild monthly meet-ups! farmersguild.org

In Solidarity,

Lindsey and the NYFC team

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