Training, resources, and practical advice to help you grow.
October 2019 Organic Link
National Conference for Women
The national Women in Sustainable Ag Conference features a unique blend of workshops, tours, demos, meet-ups, and more to encourage farmers, food justice advocates, and food-system-change leaders to share ideas, collaborate, and grow their skills. The event takes place Oct. 17-19 at the InterContinental Saint Paul Riverfront Hotel.
Tickets are available for the full conference, single days, and the add-on intensives, which combine a morning class with an afternoon tour to a related spot in the Twin Cities. Topics for these intensives are storytelling to create change, livestock production, and regenerative farm design and permaculture landscaping.
The MOSES Farmer-to-Farmer Mentoring Program pairs experienced organic farmers with those new to organic production to encourage their success. Farmers who want to transition to organic or add a new enterprise can gain insights from a mentor who has "been there" and knows what has and hasn't worked. Mentorship pairs meet at the 2020 MOSES Organic Farming Conference to establish goals and timetables. The pairs receive complimentary admission to the conference in both 2020 and 2021. The application deadline for the 2020 program is Oct. 31.
In Her Boots Podcast
The MOSES "In Her Boots" podcast currently features interviews with Halee Wepking, who has a unique farm-access story. Halee and her husband, John, run Meadowlark Organics, working with Paul Bickford on his 800-acre Wisconsin farm, shifting the focus from organic feed crops to food-grade small grains, edible dry beans, and open-pollinated corn.
The Organic Research Forum at the 2020 MOSES Organic Farming Conference includes a juried poster session documenting completed and ongoing research projects related to organic agriculture. Researchers, academic faculty and staff, graduate/undergraduate students, and farmers may submit a poster proposal for consideration by Dec. 13, 2019. Space is limited to 25 posters. All accepted poster presenters receive complimentary full conference admission. The first-place poster research may be published in the Organic Broadcaster newspaper.
Origin of Livestock Rule
The National Organic Program (NOP) has reopened the public comment period for the Origin of Livestock proposed rule, originally published in 2015. The NOP is looking for new comments and updated information to the 1,580 comments received in 2015. The proposed rule would level the playing field for all organic dairy producers by limiting dairy animals to a one-time transition to organic and requiring any additions to a herd to be managed organically from the last third of gestation or sourced from dairy animals that already completed their transition into organic production. The current comment period ends Dec. 2, 2019.
Certification Cost Share
Local Farm Service Agency (FSA) offices are taking applications now through Oct. 31 for the organic certification cost-share program (OCCSP). The application also is available online (search OCCSP) and through state departments of ag in Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, and Wisconsin. Certified producers and handlers can apply for reimbursement for certification-related expenses incurred from Oct. 1, 2018 through Sept. 30, 2019. Payments will be up to 75 percent of certification costs with a maximum of $750 per scope of certification.
Unique Lending Option
The newly established Perennial Fund provides loans, business planning, and market access to help farmers expand certified-organic acreage using regenerative practices. The fund serves current organic farmers who want to expand in 2020 as well as those in the midst of transition to organic. Loans can be used to cover operational costs, equipment, and infrastructure. Farmers do not pay back the fund until they are making net profits, paying nothing during the 36-month transition period. The Perennial Fund is supported by a variety of investors under the nonprofit Mad Agriculture.
Grants for Livestock, Poultry Farmers
Food Animal Concerns Trust (FACT) is accepting applications for grants to help livestock and poultry farmers attain humane certification, build capacity, or improve pasture for their animals. Funding is available for projects that improve farm animal welfare, such as building mobile housing, constructing fences, or adding water lines to pastures. Independent family farmers located in the continental U.S. who raise beef cattle, broiler chickens, dairy cows, goats, laying hens, pigs, turkeys, and/or sheep may be eligible to apply. Applications are due by Dec. 2, 2019.
Minnesota Farming Grants
The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) has opened the application period for Agricultural Growth, Research and Innovation Sustainable Agriculture and Demonstration Grants. Grants of up to $50,000 are available to fund projects on Minnesota farms to test ideas that may make farming more profitable and resource-efficient. For requests between $25,000 and $50,000, applicants must provide a dollar-for-dollar match on the amount above $25,000. Eligible applicants are Minnesota farmers, individuals at educational institutions, and nonprofit organizations. The deadline to apply is 4 p.m. Dec. 17, 2019.
Food Justice Certified Label
The Agriculture Justice Project has partnered with the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA) certify U.S. farms and businesses to its Food Justice Certified label.
Routes to Farm, a project of Angelic Organics Learning Center, hosts a farmer-led marketing workshop in Caledonia, Illinois. On Oct. 29, Charlotte Smith of 3 Cow Marketing will explain the tactics she used to start and grow her profitable farm. On Oct. 30, the workshop will have three tracks: bringing customers to the farm, bringing the farm to customers, and wholesale/institution connections. Scholarships are available to farmer-veterans.
Farm Viability Conference
The National Farm Viability Conference takes place October 22-24 in Red Wing, Minnesota. The conference is geared towards professionals in the fields of farm and food business planning, financial planning, agricultural financing, farmland conservation, agricultural market development, and food hub management.