Is Whole Farm Revenue Insurance right for your farm?

Whole Farm Revenue Protection (WFRP) is a new national crop insurance program for farmers. Since it is so new, lots of people are unclear about how it works.

Traditionally, CSA and market farmers didn’t buy crop insurance because the crops they grew weren’t covered, the paperwork was mountainous, or the coverage amounts were based on wholesale or commodity crop pricing. Crop insurance was also viewed as less crucial to those with diversified farms and direct-market sales because they are exposed to less single-crop risk and they can sell their products for higher prices.

In 2003 the USDA’s Risk Management Agency (RMA) implemented a pilot program for diversified farmers called the Adjusted Gross Revenue Program (AGR and AGR-Lite), but participation was low. In recent years, sustainable ag groups, like the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, saw this gap and collaborated with RMA to develop a better option. In late 2014, the USDA rolled out a new insurance option, Whole Farm Revenue Protection (WFRP), to reach small and diversified growers. CSA, farmers market, and wholesale producers can be covered under this insurance plan. In fact, it was created with those groups in mind. And it isn’t just for crops— it applies to dairy and meat farmers, too!

Whole Farm Revenue Protection is subsidized to be affordable, and an individual farm’s diversification raises the level of subsidy available. Farmers base their insured revenue on their own previous sales records, so the farmer is able to set the worth of their crop. WFRP is administered by RMA and sold and serviced by private insurance agents. Also, if you’re considering FSA loans, WFRP will meet the FSA insurance requirement.

A team at Cornell has worked to create an online tool that helps farmers compare premiums, levels of coverage, and indemnity payments. In order to buy insurance, you’ll have to speak with a crop insurance agent.

Here at NYFC, we’re trying to help farmers better understand this opportunity and identify if it works for their farm. Are you having a hard time understanding how WFRP works? Are there barriers that keep you from using it? Are small, beginning farmers inherently opposed to crop insurance? Are the premiums or the payouts too confusing? We want to help you understand this option, and figure out if it is a good fit for your farm. Check out this introduction to WFRP and a new online tool developed by Cornell University’s Ag Analytics team to evaluate the program’s usefulness on your farm.

Cornell University Professor Jennifer Ifft invites farmers with questions or feedback about crop insurance to contact her for one-on-one information sessions between now and the March 15th sign-up deadline. Reach her via email at or phone at (607) 255-4769. She should be available during the following times, or you can call to set up a specific time:

March 6: 2-4pm
March 7: 9am-11am
March 9: 2-4pm
March 11: 9am-11am

If WFRP is a good fit for your farm, there’s still time to sign up for 2017! The final day to sign up for WFRP for the 2017 crop year is March 15th. If it isn’t a good fit, please help us understand what needs to be changed to make it more helpful for beginning farmers. Please contact Cara or write a comment on this post if you have crop insurance feedback.

This article is a part of the activities of the New York Crop Insurance Education and Risk Management Project, which is managed by Cornell University in partnership with the USDA Risk Management Agency to deliver crop insurance education in New York State.

Join us: Water Bootcamp in Albuquerque September 18

IMG_7663Join NYFC and local partners in Albuquerque, New Mexico on September 18 from 1 – 4:30 p.m. to learn about agricultural water usage in the Middle Rio Grande. The workshop will include an overview of the history and cultural context of irrigation in New Mexico, a presentation from the Middle Rio Grande Conservation District on the ins and outs of irrigating in the MRGCD, and a presentation by Sharon Wirth of Audubon New Mexico about groundwater management and statewide water issues including adjudication and prior appropriation.

This workshop will be useful for those who are new to farming or new to central New Mexico, but it will also be helpful for those who have been farming in the region for a while. Coffee and snacks will be offered.

Not yet a member of NYFC? Join here for the discounted rate. If the entry cost is a barrier, please contact for scholarship information.


Event Location

South Valley Economic Development Center
318 Isleta Blvd SW
Albuquerque, NM 87105

A dispatch from farm school


By Ruthie King, Director of Operations, Grange Farm School

Two very short months have zipped by since welcoming our new class of students, and boy have we been busy!

The Grange Farm School is located in Mendocino County, California, on a beautiful 5,000 acre ranch. We host residential students, 18 and older, who participate in our three-month Practicum Student Program. Practicum Students are taught a rigorous curriculum five days a week, blending organic food production with sustainable entrepreneurship, industrial arts, and more. The learning experience is a blend of classroom time with guest lecturers and staff, field trips to production farms and supporting services, and guided field work on our nine acres of mixed vegetables, pasture, and orchard. (more…)

Land trusts: apply now to attend national land access training


The National Young Farmers Coalition and Equity Trust are convening our second-annual Land Access Innovation Training, aimed at helping land trusts utilize tools to protect farmland affordability. The training will take place on Sunday, October 11, 2015 in Sacramento, California from 8:30 a.m. – 4 p.m.

This one-day, in-person training is aimed at staff from land trusts with a high degree of commitment to protecting working farms and sufficient capacity to move forward in the implementation of farm protection projects that incorporate affordability innovations. You can read more about last year’s training here and see a list of this year’s presenters here

Land trust participants will receive coaching on funding strategies; monitoring and enforcement; legal considerations; and easement enhancements and ground leases that preserve affordability and active farming. This year’s presenters include Equity Trust, The Vermont Land Trust, South of the Sound Community Farmland Trust, and others!

The training is free for attendees thanks to the generous support of the Cedar Tree Foundation, UNFI, and the Lydia B. Stokes Foundation. There are a limited number of slots, so those interested in attending must fill out an application. Applications are due Friday, August 21st, 2015.

Application button

NYFC will also host a workshop for farmers October 7 in Sacramento, California titled “Partnering with a Land Trust to Access Affordable Farmland.” This workshop will help teach farmers some of the innovative ways they can partner with a land trust to access land. The event will be presented by NYFC in collaboration with Equity Trust, CA FarmLink, and Farmers Guild. Details coming soon.

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…)

What’s Growing in Oregon


Jeff and Kasey of Lonesome Whistle Farm

It’s the height of conference season, and I was delighted to travel this week to Oregon for the Organicology Conference, a three-day gathering of folks from all across the organic food chain in Portland, OR. The event seeks to bring all stakeholder groups to the table to not only develop skills in their own areas of activity but to gain exposure to the challenges and accomplishments of those in other areas of the organic movement. The great takeaway? There are many different opinions on what organic should look like, but the more united we become, the stronger our movement will be. And without supporting the next generation of organic farmers, the organic movement cannot continue!

Excited to meet the brilliant and innovative young farmers of the beaver state, I rented a car and started touring. I met with Leah and Nellie of Oregon’s FarmON!, a one-year old coalition of young and beginning farmers in the state and a proud affiliate of NYFC.  I had a drink with Megan Fehrman of the Rogue Farm Corps which has a beginning farmer training program down in Ashland, OR and Dan Bravin from the Beginning Urban Farmer Apprenticeship (BUFA.) BUFA is a partnership between Multnomah County and Oregon State University (OSU) Extension Service and trains 20 urban farmers each year. 

Rowan Steele, who co-owns Fiddlehead Farm with his wife Katie Coppoletta, is starting a brand new incubator program- Headwaters Farm Incubator- on land leased by the East Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation District. I joined in for a tour of the land, and was inspired by the excitement of the potential incubatees.


Danny Percich and his 16-month old daughter Ramona showed me around Full Plate Farm, their Winter CSA farm 30 min. north of Portland in Ridgefield, Wa. I was thrilled to eat delicious, fresh carrots in February. Danny is hoping to expand his operation by renting parcels of neighbors’ land.  photo(3)

Evan and Rachel of Boondockers Farm in Beavercreek, OR are pioneers in breeding rare heritage poultry. The breeds they focus on raising are listed as critically endangered by the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy. The couple told me about how conventional hatcheries often kill male babies when they’re not needed. They believe anyone raising pasture-based birds shouldn’t ignore the inhumane practices of the commercial hatchery! They also grow and sell heirloom seeds, breed heritage turkeys, and raise Great Pyrenees dogs to protect their flocks.


My last stop was Lonesome Whistle Farm down in Junction City, OR where Jeff and Kasey are working to preserve and promote rare and unique dry bean and grain varieties through a bean and grain CSA. Starting out as veggie farmers, Jeff and Kasey quickly taught themselves bean and grain growing, and are happy to be producing quality product not easily found locally. They grow: Dakota Black Popcorn, Red Fife Wheat Flour, Purple Harless Barley, Emmer Berries, a diverse array of heirloom beans, polenta, and more!


Kasey and the mill

Farmers in Oregon are busy fighting plantings of Roundup Ready GM Canola in the Willamette Valley which threatens its lively organic seed industry. And GM sugarbeets are grown just up the road from Lonesome Whistle Farm. There’s certainly plenty to organize around here, but the state’s supportive policies and markets for local food make Oregon a great place to be a young farmer.


Positions are Still Available for Michigan State’s Farmer Training Program

MSU Farm logoOnly two slots remaining for the 2013 cohort of the Organic Farmer Training Program at the Michigan State University Student Organic Farm!

The Organic Farmer Training Program offers nine months of intensive instruction in year-round organic farming.  The program focuses on diversified production of vegetables, livestock, flowers, fruits and herbs for local markets.  Participants manage all aspects of a 14.5-acre certified organic farm, including passive solar greenhouses used for year-round production in cold climates.  Participants also manage the Student Organic Farm’s (SOF) field and hoophouse production. Produce is grown for the farm’s primary markets, including a 48-week CSA, seven-month on-campus farm stand, and sales to campus dining services.  

MSU logoParticipants develop competencies in farm skills and business planning through trainings and engagement in the daily operation of the farm.  Hands-on training is combined with workshops, lectures, readings and assignments that build participants’ knowledge and understanding of organic farming principles and practices.  The program is designed to give participants a strong background in production skills as well as the knowledge, management, and decision-making skills necessary to operate a diversified small farming business.  Program participants who complete the program will earn a Certificate from MSU Student Organic Farm and MSU Department of Horticulture.  Program tuition is $8600 for the year, but scholarships are available.

We don’t usually post farmer training program listings on the NYFC blog, but the the MSU program is one of the best in the country for beginning farmers to get the skills they need to start their own operations.  

For more information:


South Dakota Trains a Network of Beginning Ranchers with Help from BFRDP Funding

Ken Olson is the extension beef specialist at South Dakota State’s West River Agricultural Center. He came to South Dakota from Montana, where he grew up on a farm that ultimately wasn’t large enough to support both him and his brother. Though he teaches agricultural science for a living at SDSU, the highlight of his career has been his work developing an exciting rancher training program funded by the Beginning Farmers and Ranchers’ Development Program (BFRDP.) The program has allowed him to expand his reach to beginning ranchers with fledgling businesses who need more technical assistance and connections. The program, called BEEFSD, is a partnership between the SDSU extension and the South Dakota Farm Bureau. When the project received funding in 2010, 46 individuals representing 30 operations began a three year training program which includes classroom time, field trips to established ranches, guest speaker lectures, and networking opportunities.

The most satisfying aspect of the program for Ken is the creation of a close community among the cohort. “It’s a bright young bunch of people,” Ken says. “We have helped them establish a network among themselves and we are really promoting networking and learning from each other.” The education they receive is exponentially increased, as each rancher is quick to share new knowledge with the others. Ken explains, “…the time on the bus is almost as valuable as the trip because of all that networking.” The program also introduces participants to mid to late-life successful ranchers who have a lot of wisdom and experience to draw from. Through visits to their ranches and guest lectures, participants are given an opportunity to create a support network of experienced mentors.

You can help strengthen programs like BEEFSD:

Tell Congress to support the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program today.

Ken and his colleagues would love to continue the program with a new cohort of beginning ranchers, but without BFRDP funding the future of the program is bleak. BEEFSD even has some money left over from their 2010 grant, but because BFRDP funding doesn’t roll over after three years, the team needs to start from scratch. For Ken, it’s essential the program and funding for farmer training programs continue. “It doesn’t seem like a lot of people. But it’s 46 people whose futures have been positively impacted. If we can keep this thing going we can build on what we’ve started here. These 46 people are young, excited and motivated. They are active learners, they really energize me. They are going to be the future leaders of South Dakota.”

If you would like to help programs like BEEFSD succeed in the future, please help advocate for the BFRDP in the next Farm Bill. If you haven’t yet signed the petition, click here to join the call!

Registration Deadline Approaching for HMI training in Oklahoma

HMI logoFor those in the Oklahoma area, Holistic Management International (HMI) is offering this two day workshop on the Holistic Management® Whole Farm/Ranch Planning System.  HMI describes the system as one that will help farmers, ranchers and land stewards better manage agricultural resources in order to reap sustainable environmental, economic, and social benefits. Participants will learn how this “triple bottom line” of benefits can be achieved by maximizing the management of current resources.

The program cost is $150 per person, $225 per couple and includes two lunches.  Registration ends August 6th at noon EDT, so register now if you are interested.

Visit the event web site for more information and to register.

Learn the Skills to Pay the Bills: Hawthorne Valley Farm Offers 8-Session Course!

Attention all aspiring young farmers!


Beginning Saturday October 13th Hawthorne Valley Farm (Harlemville, NY) will be offering an eight-session course. The class will provide in-depth guidance and education on the financial in’s and out’s of running a farm enterprise. And it’s only $50 to enroll!


The class will take place bi-monthly from October 2012 through January 2013. During the sessions enrolled students will meet with regional farmers, tour farms, and learn about how to start a farm enterprise. Starting in March 2013, students will be given individual mentoring sessions. In the months of April and May 2013, students will have four “field days.” According to the program website, field days give students the chance to, “spend a day on a farm of interest, gain insight into the farm operation, ask questions of an experienced farmer, learn of the challenges and rewards of someone in the business.” In total, the class provides 482 hours of education for (did I mention?) only $50.


The focus of the program includes:

● Goal setting

● Sound financial management

● Strategic planning to scale up the farming operation

● Access to support networks & colleagues


Class sessions will include include:

●  Clarifying your values: setting personal and strategic goals.

●  Analyzing your situation: strengths, weaknesses and opportunities.

●  How to manage your most important asset: your land.

● Creating a strategy for developing your farm over a number of years

● Marketing your products

●  Distribution options and how to develop a pricing strategy.

●  Assembling the financial data: budgeting and your beliefs about money.

●  Land access and tenure: lease agreements


The information provided in this course is potentially invaluable, and the $50 is a great offer!


“Aspiring and current farmers, those in transition from conventional to sustainable agriculture, second career farm entrepreneurs, and landowners interested in developing farming enterprises on their land,” are all encouraged to attend.

For more information or to access a registration application,

Call: 518-672-7500 x 232,


or visit