Access to Markets: Rural Development Grants

November 14, 2017Beginning Farmers

By Tom Driscoll, Director of NFU Foundation and Conservation Policy As we discussed last week on the Beginning Farmer Forum, the business infrastructure – such as federally-inspected livestock processing facilities for smaller orders and mills that service demand for local feed or flour – that would help beginning farmers connect with emerging markets often doesn’t exist … Read More

What Do Farmers Need to Know About Climate Change? California Air Resources Board Cap-and-Trade Program

November 13, 2017Climate Column

By Tom Driscoll, Director of Conservation Policy and NFU Foundation Farming is one of the few professions with the ability to not only reduce ongoing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, but to also remove existing GHGs from the atmosphere. National Farmers Union supports policies and programs that maximize agriculture’s GHG elimination potential by offering value to farmers … Read More

Access To Markets: Business & Industry Loan Guarantees  

November 7, 2017Beginning Farmers

By Tom Driscoll, Director of NFU Foundation and Conservation Policy As we’ve discussed here on the Beginning Farmer Forum, access to markets is among the greatest challenges for new producers. Oftentimes, beginning farmers face fewer obstacles in emerging markets than in well-established ones. For example, beginning farmers may be able to grow products appropriate for local and … Read More

What Do Farmers Need to Know About Climate Change? Credit Stacking and Water Quality Trading

November 6, 2017Climate Column

By Tom Driscoll, Director of Conservation Policy and NFU Foundation Environmental markets, in addition to being science based, quantifiable, innovative, and permanent, will have to offer farmers adequate incentives to adopt new conservation practices. Cases in which a single practice achieves more than one quantifiable environmental benefit, verifiably reducing more than one pollutant, payments for credits … Read More

Access to Markets: Homegrown by Heroes

October 31, 2017Beginning Farmers

By Natalie Grote, NFU Intern Many veterans, upon returning home from serving our country, discover a newfound passion for farming or ranching. After putting in hours of hard work to start their operations, farmer veterans are often determined to both make a living as well as bolster their local economies by selling their homemade products, … Read More

Cooperatives Build A Better World

October 30, 2017Blog

By Cathy Statz, Wisconsin Farmers Union Education Director A mobile home park resident. A dairy farmer. A college student. A produce grower. A home care worker. A hardware store owner. What do these people all have in common? Each is the owner of a business called a cooperative. Many of us in rural America are familiar … Read More

What Do Farmers Need to Know About Climate Change? COMET-Farm

October 30, 2017Climate Column

By Tom Driscoll, Director of Conservation Policy and NFU Foundation Farmers are a key participant in mitigating climate change. Agriculture is one of a few sectors that can sink existing atmospheric greenhouse gasses (GHGs) as well as reduce emissions moving forward. Environmental markets could compensate farmers for natural resource conservation benefits achieved on their land. A … Read More

Farmers Union Celebrates National Cooperative Month

October 26, 2017Blog

October is National Cooperative Month, a time when more than 29,000 cooperatives across the country advocate for the cooperative business model and its myriad benefits for co-op members, consumers, and local communities. Cooperatives are of particular importance in rural America, where they have offered both political and economic sovereignty for over a century. Farmers Union’s roots … Read More

Access to Markets: Farm to School

October 24, 2017Beginning Farmers

By Tom Driscoll, Director of NFU Foundation and Conservation Policy A growing interest in local and regional food offers lucrative opportunities for beginning farmers, and growing farm products for these markets often require a less significant investment in land and equipment than other production methods would. However, direct-to-consumer sales do require that farmers spend a … Read More

What Do Farmers Need to Know About Climate Change? New York Climate Smart Communities Certification

October 23, 2017Climate Column

By Tom Driscoll, Director of Conservation Policy and NFU Foundation The Climate Column has covered practices that allow farmers to reduce emissions and sink carbon into their soil, like no-till, as well as methods that help farmers secure the food system by adapting to the changing climate, like intercropping. As the harmful consequences of climate change increase, … Read More

Access To Markets: Virginia Grown and State Labels 

October 11, 2017Beginning Farmers

By Tom Driscoll, Director of NFU Foundation and Conservation Policy The market for local and regional food is an important one for beginning producers. A January 2015 report to Congress issued by U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Economic Research Service (ERS) notes that “producer participation in local food systems is growing, and the value of local food sales…appears to be … Read More

Access to Capital: Farm Ownership Loans

October 4, 2017Beginning Farmers

By Natalie Grote, NFU Intern The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) offers both direct ownership loans as well as guarantees for ownership loans from private banks. Direct loans have lower income requirements and generally do not require as extensive farm practice as private loans. Additionally, unlike most private lenders, FSA will work … Read More

What Do Farmers Need to Know About Climate Change? EQIP

October 2, 2017Climate Column

By Tom Driscoll, Director of NFU Foundation and Conservation Policy On the Climate Column, we have discussed many conservation practices, such as cover crops and stripcropping, that help farmers mitigate climate change, either by reducing emissions related to farming or by storing carbon in the soil. Many of these practices not only cut carbon emissions, but they … Read More

Farmers Receive Less Than Sixteen Cents of the American Food Dollar

September 22, 2017Blog

By Alexis Dunnum, NFU Executive Assistant Walking through a grocery store can sometimes be overwhelming. With hundreds of different foods, all with different packaging, flavors and prices, it’s hard to stick to buying only the items on your grocery list. And even if you shop on a budget and limit impulse purchases, when you finally … Read More

Access to Efficiency: Soil Health Cuts Carbon and Input Costs

September 19, 2017Beginning Farmers

By Tom Driscoll, Director of NFU Foundation and Conservation Policy, & Hannah Packman, NFU Communications Coordinator It’s the second day of Climate Week NYC, an event dedicated to keeping climate action at the top of the global agenda, making the discussion of agriculture and sustainability particularly apropos. Farmers and ranchers maintain vast potential to mitigate … Read More

What Do Farmers Need to Know About Climate Change? Low-Carbon Transportation Future

September 18, 2017Climate Column

By Tom Driscoll, Director of NFU Foundation and Conservation Policy This week is Climate Week in New York City. Georgetown Climate Center invited me to represent National Farmers Union (NFU) to their Low-Carbon Transportation Policy Symposium, where I’ll discuss business opportunities in low-carbon transportation. Producers and rural communities will benefit from expanded use of biofuels … Read More

From the Field: Put Your Head Down and Keep Going

September 14, 2017From the Field

By Matt Perdue, NFU Government Relations Representative The harvest season is a special time of year for farmers. It’s their opportunity to, quite literally, reap the rewards of months spent working long hours in the fields, nervously tracking weather patterns, and precariously balancing finances. But for many farms across the drought-stricken Upper Great Plains, 2017 … Read More

Access to Credit: FSA Direct Farm Operating Loans

September 7, 2017Beginning Farmers

By Natalie Grote, NFU Intern Last week on the Beginning Farmer Forum, we discussed why microloans are a compelling alternative to traditional loans for beginning farmers and ranchers. However, for some producers, more traditional Farm Service Agency (FSA) loans may make sense. FSA offers a number of loan options, including direct farm operating loans and direct farm ownership loans, … Read More

What Can Farmers Do About Climate Change? Energy Efficiency

September 5, 2017Climate Column

By Tom Driscoll, Director of NFU Foundation and Conservation Policy Farmers and ranchers are in a unique position to help address climate change. Using practices like conservation tillage and forage management, farmers can help the soil they work and plants they grow take greenhouse gasses out of the atmosphere, preventing them from interfering with the … Read More

From the Field: Farmers Are the Original Conservationists

August 30, 2017From the Field

By Tom Driscoll, Director of NFU Foundation and Conservation Policy Farmers are the original conservationists, and no one knows the soil that sustains us better than the farmers who work it. Family farmers have a strong partner in the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in supporting and coordinating efforts to protect our environment and shared … Read More

Access to Capital: FSA Microloans

August 29, 2017Beginning Farmers

By Tom Driscoll, Director of NFU Foundation and Conservation Policy The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency (FSA), as a lender of first opportunity, has expanded its support of beginning farmers and farmers participating in emerging markets by offering microloans. These loans were first introduced in 2013 and were specifically authorized in the 2014 … Read More

What Do Farmers Need to Know About Climate Change? Cover Crops and Crop Insurance

August 28, 2017Climate Column

By Matt Perdue, NFU Government Relations Representative Previous Climate Column posts have discussed how cover crops help farmers and ranchers adapt to and mitigate climate change. Planting cover crops can improve soil health and water quality, optimize water use, increase productivity, decrease input costs, and reduce carbon emissions. As cover crops grow in popularity, it’s crucial to … Read More

Access to Efficiency: Resource Stewardship Evaluation

August 22, 2017Beginning Farmers

By Tom Driscoll, Director of NFU Foundation and Conservation Policy National Farmers Union’s other weekly blog, the Climate Column, has highlighted the value of conservation planning, which assists with the selection and implementation of practices that address specific conservation concerns, such as pest management, biodiversity, or soil health. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) … Read More

What Do Farmers Need to Know About Climate Change? Principles for Environmental Markets

August 21, 2017Climate Column

By Tom Driscoll, Director of NFU Foundation and Conservation Policy Producers face many severe challenges stemming from climate change. A 2013 report published by the U.S Department of Agriculture, Climate Change and Agriculture in the United States: Effects and Adaptation, estimates that “under climate change, losses to corn production in the United States from precipitation … Read More