NFU Beginning Farmer Forum

The NFU Beginning Farmer Forum is a community of farmers, ranchers, educators, policy makers, and the general public that share common knowledge and interest in helping beginning farmers and ranchers overcome the challenges to starting and sustaining a farming operation in the U.S. This community hopes to spread awareness about these challenges, provide insight into how they can be addressed at local, state and national policy levels, and share current resources and tools that benefit beginning farmers and ranchers.

On this page, you can browse resources from NFU and other top organizations and institutions that aid beginning farmers and ranchers, read into NFU’s take on the issues and potential solutions for ensuring the success of new farmers and ranchers, and participate in this active and growing community by joining the NFU Beginning Farmer Forum Facebook group.

Have thoughts, concerns or questions? You can email NFU Foundation Director Tom Driscoll at [email protected].

Beginning Farmer Updates

Access to Land

USDA, FSA – Land Contract Guarantee Program
This program provides a valuable tool to transfer farm real estate to the next generation of farmer and ranchers through two loan guarantee options. Click here for more information.

Midwest Organic & Sustainable Education Service – Land Link-up
Free online service to connect farmers who are looking for land with available farmland through an ad posting forum. Click here to visit the site.

Hospital grounds: St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor Hospital in Ypsilanti, Michigan
Click here for more information.

Six U.S. Correctional Facilities with ‘Farm to Prison’ Local Food Sourcing Programs
Click here for more information.

Denver Urban Gardens
Currently operates over 180 community gardens throughout the Metro Denver Area, including more than 66 school-based community gardens. Click here for more information.

Re:Vision, The Promotora Model
In 2014, Re:Vision helped 300 families grow their own food. Over 90 percent of these families live on less than $15,000 per year, which is abject poverty by U.S. standards. With Re:Vision’s help, these families grew over 45,000 pounds of organic produce and many shared food with their family and neighbors, building a community food system in a neighborhood that has zero healthy food options. Click here to learn more.

Access to Capital

Farm Credit
A nationwide network of borrower-owned lending institutions that provide farm loans, rural loans and other agricultural loans across the U.S. Click here to learn more.

Slow Money
29 chapters across the U.S. have catalyzed over $50 million to 519 local and organic food related enterprises. These investments range from a few thousand dollars from a handful of people to hundreds of thousands of dollars or more. Click here for more information.

Barnraiser – Crowdfunding a farm
Raise the funds you need to grow. Projects on Barnraiser’s dedicated platform succeed twice as often and have raised millions of dollars. Click here to learn more.

International nonprofit founded in 2005 and based in San Francisco whose mission is to connect people through lending to alleviate poverty. 100% of every dollar you lend on Kiva goes to funding loans. Kiva covers costs primarily through optical donations as well as through support from grants and sponsors. Click here to learn more.

United States Department of Agriculture, Farm Service Agency
Holds loan programs such as Operating Loans, Ownership Loans, and Microloans for beginning farmers. Click here to learn more.

Access to Efficiency

Machinery Link Sharing
Founded in 2000, MachineryLink started as a combine leasing business that provided farmers access to combines across 26 states to help reduce their operating expenses. While they are based in the historic Kansas City Live Stock Exchange building in the heart of America, they are on the forefront of ag innovation today. Recently, they introduced the first sharing platform in ag, MachineryLink Sharing. Click here to visit the website.

Tool Libraries
Find resources to start a tool library or look for one in your area. It’s great way to affordably acquire tools you need to grow your operation. Click here for information on how to start a tool library.

Conservation Stewardship Program
The Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) helps you build on your existing conservation efforts while strengthening your operation. Whether you are looking to improve grazing conditions, increase crop yields, or develop wildlife habitat, experts can custom design a CSP plan to help you meet those goals. Click here for more information.

Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP)
The Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) is a voluntary program that provides financial and technical assistance to agricultural producers to plan and implement conservation practices that improve soil, water, plant, animal, air and related natural resources on agricultural land and non-industrial private forestland. EQIP may also help producers meet Federal, State, Tribal, and local environmental regulations. Click here for more information.

Access to Markets

National Farm to School Network
An information, advocacy and networking hub for communities working to bring local food, nutrition education and agricultural education into school systems and early care and education settings. Click here to learn more.

Joining/Organizing a Farmers Market – Farmers Market Coalition
A 501(c)(3) nonprofit dedicated to strengthening farmers markets across the United States so they can serve as community assets while providing real income opportunities for farmers. Click here to learn more.

Local Harvest: A Multifarm CSA Handbook
Cooperative marketing is an innovative practice helping CSAs stay strong and viable over the long term. The handbook is available to download from the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) website here.

Growing for Restaurants
A free webinar by Bright Agrotech, Inc. Link here.

Food Hubs
2016 National Food Hub Conference by the National Good Food Network. Download slides and audio files from conference sessions here.

Access to Education

Database of Sustainable Farming Internships and Apprenticeships
Hosted by the National Center for Appropriate Technology with listings in all states. Click here to visit database.

World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF)
WWOOF maintains listings of organic growers all over the world looking for people to come help at their farm anywhere from one day to several months. Help on the farm is exchanged for food, accommodation and the opportunity to learn about a different way of life. WWOOFing offers a great way to travel, learn and connect all at the same time. Click here to visit the site.

The Forest Garden Greenhouse: How to Design and Manage an Indoor Permaculture Oasis, by Jerome Osentowski
An incredible resource on controlled environment agriculture that will expand your vision of what is possible with indoor agriculture. Click here for more information.

Jean-Martin Fortier, The Market Gardener: Six Figure Farming
A 5 part webinar on creating a profitable small scale market farm.
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5

Academic Degree Programs by the Sustainable Agriculture Education Association
Click here to view.

Interview with Moria Reynolds, Owner at Casa Verde Farm – Hood River, Oregon
Provides examples of organizing and running a high volume CSA farm. Click here for video.