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

Access to Markets: FSMA Exclusions

August 18, 2017Beginning Farmers

By Barbara Patterson, NFU Director of Government Relations, and Roger Noonan, New England Farmers Union President A few weeks ago, we shared the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Needs Assessment Survey here on the Beginning Farmer Forum (BFF). This week, BFF will cover another FSMA-related topic: what is excluded or exempt from the Produce Safety … Read More

Access to Capital: FSA Loan Servicing

August 16, 2017Beginning Farmers

By Tom Driscoll, Director of NFU Foundation and Conservation Policy  In Fiscal Year 2016, the Farm Service Agency (FSA) issued 29,602 direct loans to farmers and ranchers totaling $2.39 billion. Of those, almost 17,800 were allocated to beginning producers. The proportion of loans to beginning producers is high because in many cases, FSA is the … Read More

What Do Farmers Need to Know About Climate Change? Managing Pest Pressures

August 14, 2017Climate Column

By Adam Pauley, NFU Intern For the past several weeks on the Climate Column, we’ve noted that climate change is contributing to rising pest pressures. Frost-sensitive pests are living longer, and rising temperatures are opening new areas to infestation. Farmers are responding to this growing problem by adjusting their pest management strategies. However, some common ways … Read More

Access to Capital: FSA Loans

August 8, 2017Beginning Farmers

By Steven Emmen, NFU Intern As noted in prior Beginning Farmer Forum posts, beginning farmers often times have smaller operations, which means less land and capital. Consequently, they may require hefty loans to get their operations off the ground, but acquiring that amount of money is challenging since they also have shorter production histories and … Read More

Access To Markets: Food Safety Education

August 2, 2017Beginning Farmers

By Barbara Patterson, NFU Director of Government Relations  Congress passed the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) in 2010. It will require many producers to comply with new regulations if they grow food for human or animal consumption. The regulations are intended to protect consumers from food-borne illness. Many producers who will be regulated by FSMA … Read More

Access to Efficiency: Small Business Innovation Research Program

August 1, 2017Beginning Farmers

By Tom Driscoll, Director of NFU Foundation and Conservation Policy  The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service (ERS) found that the percentage of U.S. farms operated by women farmers almost tripled over the past three decades, from five percent in 1978 up to fourteen percent in 2007. This is encouraging news, given the impending transition … Read More

What Can Farmers Do About Climate Change? Integrated Pest Management

July 31, 2017Climate Column

By Adam Pauley, NFU Intern Here on the Climate Column, we’ve been talking about how milder winters due to climate change are contributing to greater pest pressures. Farmers are turning new agricultural methods to mitigate pests without exacerbating other environmental concerns. We’ve discussed a few methods already, including intercropping and crop rotation. Another option is integrated … Read More

Access to Efficiency: Environmental Quality Incentives Program

July 25, 2017Beginning Farmers

By Tom Driscoll, Director of NFU Foundation and Conservation Policy  In NFU’s Climate Column, we’ve discussed a number of practices, including cover crops and no-till, that can build soil fertility with fewer inputs, thus saving producers money. Conservation planning with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) can be an important first step … Read More

Access to Efficiency: USDA Programs and Services Benefit New and Beginning Producers

July 17, 2017Beginning Farmers

By James Tillman, Acting Associate Chief for Conservation, USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service Are you interested in protecting the soil, water, plants, and air and achieving economic sustainability on your newly acquired farm, ranch, or forest? Would you like to increase your marketing and income potential while focusing on increasing wildlife habitat on some of … Read More

From the Field: Farming is a Risky Business

July 6, 2017From the Field

By Matt Perdue, NFU Government Relations Representative Farming is a risky business. A sudden storm, enduring drought, or proliferation of crop disease can decimate a crop. Even when farmers produce a bumper crop, market downturns can still make it a struggle to make ends meet. In Montana’s “Golden Triangle,” farms of all sizes and types … Read More

Access to Capital: Kiva Microloans

June 27, 2017Beginning Farmers, Blog

By Steven Emmen, NFU Intern Access to capital is one of the toughest hurdles a beginning farmer will overcome. Beginning producers frequently don’t have collateral to offer lenders. And it can be hard to build a good credit score as a farmhand or apprentice. New farms may also lack accurate income projections that are used … Read More