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Latest from Young Farmers

NYFC February Newsletter: Beyond the Farm Bill, Western Water, Draft Power and more

As we reported last week, the new five-year farm bill has passed – so where do we go from here?

We keep organizing! In this newsletter we’ll fill you in on what’s next in policy; introduce two new western initiatives (and our new staff members making it happen); and get you linked up with our cooperative webinars, expert advice on draft animal power and a wave of trainings, potlucks and parties hosted across the country by NYFC’s chapters.

Even though we passed the Farm Bill “finish line,” we’ve still got plenty to do!


Draft Animal Expert Donn Hewes on the NYFC Farmers Forum

Donn Hewes, president of the Draft Animal Power Network (DAPNet), will be answering your draft-power questions on the Farmers Forum next week!

Donn will be logging on between Feb. 24th-28th on the Draft Animal Power section of the forum, so get your questions in ASAP.

In addition to DAPNet, Donn and his wife own and operate Northland Sheep Dairy in Marathon, NY, where they rely on draft horses and mules and make award winning cheeses from 100% grass fed sheep. Donn is excited to answer your questions about draft animals – from the basics of how draft systems differs from tractor-based operations to the intricacies of integrating horses, oxen and mules on your farm.

Head over to the forum anytime before the 28th to ask your questions!


Western Farmer Profiles Highlight Sustainable Water Management

Across the West farmers and ranchers are learning to grow abundant food on less and less water. How do they do it?

From a central Colorado potato farmer to a permaculture farm in the Arizona desert, NYFC will be sharing stories of young farmers who use water differently.

Over the coming months we’ll be posting multiple blog series and releasing the final case studies, which will be available online for producers, decision-makers and innovators. 

Have a story you want to share? Post to our forum or email

Webinars on Cooperative Models for Farmers Now Available

NYFC teamed up with the Democracy at Work Institute back in November and January to host two webinars introducing young farmers to cooperative farm models. Tune in to hear successful cooperative stories from Fifth Season Cooperative Growers, Little City Growers Cooperative, Our Table Cooperative Farm, Valley Green Feast, Tourne-Sol Cooperative Farm and Diggers Mirth Farm. 

Click below to stream the videos online!

An Introduction to Worker Cooperatives for Farmers and Start-Ups

How Young Farmers Are Using Cooperatives to Build Successful Farms

Policy News

Agricultural Water Conservation Project Promotes Resilience, New Thinking & Farmer-to-Farmer Exchanges

NYFC and the Family Farm Alliance are partnering to highlight how farmers are adapting to extended drought and tenuous water supply across the Western U.S.

This project will include extensive research and outreach, a farmer-to-farmer best practices exchange and farm tour, as well as multi-media case studies which tell the farmers’ stories, provide data and set the stage for policy improvements and cross-regional adoption of these resilient, innovative approaches.

Click here to read more about the project, and stay tuned!


Farm Bill Clears Washington, After Two Years of Delays

On February 7th, Obama signed into law a new five-year farm bill that had been held up for the past two years by partisan bickering.  Making sure the bill invests in beginning farmers has been one of NYFC’s primary policy objectives in that time, and we’re proud to say we met that goal.

The new bill has some compromises, and it includes cuts to food stamps and limited crop subsidy reform, but we made serious headway for young and beginning farmers.  What parts are we excited about?

  • Full funding for the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program
  • The Farm Service Agency micro-loan program is officially made into law
  • The management experience requirement for Farm Ownership Loans is modified, increasing program access for beginning farmers and ranchers
  • Full funding for the Organic Certification Cost-Share program
  • And more! Check out our in-depth reporting on the bill and what it means for you on the NYFC blog.


Network News

Additions to the NYFC Team!

We are excited to announce several new additions to our staff:

Sarah Wentzel-Fisher – Sarah joined us last month as the New Mexico Field Organizer.  Based in Albuquerque, NM, Sarah is organizing farmers and ranchers across the state to advocate for better conservation policies, and is spurring local chapter creation and growing the existing Rio Grande Farmers Coalition.

 Daniel Fullmer – Daniel joined NYFC earlier this month as the new Western Project Coordinator.  He will be managing NYFC’s Agricultural Water Conservation Education and Outreach project, an initiative designed to generate farmer-to-farmer exchanges across the West surrounding best-practices for agricultural water efficiency and conservation in arid regions.

Eleanor Shute! – NYFC Executive Director Lindsey Shute welcomed her daughter Eleanor into the world last month.  The newest of the “next generation” of farmers, Eleanor looks forward to a supportive community of future farmers like herself!  Oklahoma farmer and former board member Emily Oakley is filling in as interim Executive Director while Lindsey is on maternity leave.



LAS VEGAS, NV: Family Farm Alliance Annual Meeting and Conference – February 19th-21st
NYFC will be presenting an overview of our Agricultural Water Conservation project. Come find us at the conference!

Click here for more info.

CENTRAL COAST, CA: HopeDance Films Water Crisis Film Series – Month of February
A series of films, including “Last Call at the Oasis,” a documentary on the burgeoning water crisis. Films showing throughout the Central Coast region; see website for further details.

CORVALLIS, OR: Small Farms Conference Hoedown – February 22nd
If you make it to the Conference (or even if you can’t), be sure to register for the after party!
Where: Guerber Hall, Benton Co. Fairgrounds, 110 SE 53rd St., Corvallis
When: Saturday, February 22nd from 6 – 11 pm (right after Small Farms Conference)
Cost: $15 buys you:

  • Delicious, locally-sourced dinner from Gathering Together Farm,
  • Music by When Picks Fly, Matt Schoch & Friends, and The Slippery Slope String Band with caller John Luna (no square dance experience necessary!), and
  • Beer donated by Deschutes Brewing, Sky High Brewing, and Full Sail Brewery
  • Also, expect goodies donated by High Mowing Organic Seeds and Nectar Creek Honeywine!

Click here for more information and to register.

SONOMA, CA: Sonoma Valley Farmers Guild Meeting – February 23rd
Join up with the Farmers Guild of Sonoma Valley for their monthly meeting at the Sonoma Valley Grange Hall, 18627 California 12, Sonoma, CA.  Meeting starts at 6 PM.  Visit for more info.

HARTFORD, CT: New Connecticut Farmer Alliance Annual Meeting and Hootenanny! – February 23rd
Join the Hootenanny at Real Art Ways in Hartford. Complimentary victuals, cash bar, and live music.  Check out the NCTFA website for more info.

The New Connecticut Farmer Alliance brings together emerging farmers from across CT to network, share resources and identify common challenges and opportunities for a more accessible, successful and diverse agricultural community.

ONLINE: Donn Hewes, Draft Animal Expert, on the NYFC Farmers Forum – February 24th-28th
Donn Hewes, president of the Draft Animal Power Network and farmer at Northland Sheep Dairy in Marathon, NY, will be serving as February’s Farmers Forum expert.  Ask Donn your questions before the 28th at the Farmers Forum!

LA CROSSE, WI: MOSES Conference – February 27th-March 1st
NYFC and New Organic Stewards will be co-hosting a New Farmer Meet and Greet on Friday at 6.30pm.
Click here for more info.

Farming in Wisconsin? Come meet up with other Wisconsin farmers and get involved in the Wisconsin Young Farmers Coalition.  You can connect with the group at either the NYFC or the Greenhorns tables in the exhibitor hall.

DAVIS, CA: Yolo Farmers Guild Meeting – March 3rd
Join up with the Farmers Guild of Yolo County for their monthly meeting at the N-Street Co-op, 716 N Street, Davis, CA.  Meeting starts at 6 PM.  Visit for more info.

HEALDSBURG, CA: North Coast Farmers Guild Meeting – March 4th
Join up with the Farmers Guild of Yolo County for their monthly meeting at the Healdsburg SHED, 25 North St. Healdsburg, CA.  Meeting starts at 6 PM.  Visit for more info.

NATHROP, CO: Colorado Land Link Forum & Young Farmer Mixer – March 7th-8th
Come find us at the forum, and join us Saturday evening in Salida for an informal gathering of young farmers and ranchers. Stay tuned for more info – click here for Forum details.

AUSTIN, TX: TXYFC Presents: Low Tech Bed Preparation and Equipment Discussion and Tour at Buena Tierra Farm! – March 9th
Steve Kraemer and Carey Burkett are the owners of Buena Tierra, an organic, mixed vegetable farm that grows produce for Austin’s wholesale market.  Not only is Steve one of the best veggie farmers in Texas, but he is also a mechanic and inventor who finds innovative ways to farm both economically and ecologically.

Come join the TXYFC March 9th for a tour and discussion concerning low tech. bed preparation methods and equipment use.  For many years Steve farmed with a simple Allis-Chalmers tractor and very limited equipment.  In an industry where bigger is often seen as better, Steve’s farm stands as an example that big and fancy is not the only way to go, especially when first starting out. 

Come ready to share any knowledge or experience you have, as Steve and Carey are eager to learn as much from us as we may learn from them! Event runs 10:30 am – 4 pm. Visit the website for more details.

DENVER, CO: Front Range Beginning Farmers Conference – March 9th
Meet up with us, and enjoy an NYFC co-sponsored social hour!  Click here for details.

WAUNAKEE, WI: Wisconsin Maple Syruping and Campfire – March 22nd
The Wisconsin Young Farmers Coalition is organizing its 2nd Annual Maple Syruping and Campfire at Equinox Community Farm.  Visit their website for more info.

CENTRE HALL, PA: Central PA Young Farmers Potluck – March 22nd or 29th
The Central PA Young Farmers are holding a Potluck at the Chase Farm in Centre Hall, PA (outside of State College) on March 22nd or 29th. For more info, email Emily ( or sign up on facebook or the listserve.

BELLEVILLE, WISCONSIN: New Farmer Summit – April 4-5
New Organic Stewards are partnering with MOSES, Renewing the Countryside, NYFC, Agrarian Trust, and USDA to convene a New Farmer Summit at Primrose Valley Farm featuring two full days of workshops, networking, hands-on learning, contra dance and more. Click here for more information and to register.


In Solidarity,

Lindsey, Emily, Wes, Sophie, Kate, Ellie, Debbie, Kacey, Sarah and Daniel


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