Access to Markets: SNAP & the Next Farm Bill

March 28, 2017Beginning Farmers

By Jimmy Dula, NFU Intern The United States farm bill, as one would expect, addresses agricultural issues such as trade, conservation, and crop insurance. Some would be surprised, however, to learn that food stamps and nutrition programs are also included in the bill. In fact, the 2014 Farm Bill allocated $756 billion in spending over 10 years … Read More

Access to Capital: The Meek Ranch Family & Business Planning

March 24, 2017Beginning Farmers

By Lura Roti, South Dakota Farmers Union Traditionally, Lakotas don’t have a background in farming or ranching, but they do have a strong heritage of cowboying and rodeo, explains Elsie Meeks. Meeks, 62, ranches on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation with her husband, Jim, 71. “The Lakotas were a horse nation. Horses were essential to … Read More

Access to Markets: Gleaning

March 21, 2017Beginning Farmers

By Jimmy Dula, NFU Intern For the past several months, we have been talking about how you, as a farmer, can access markets through technology, value-added goods, institutions, and more. Today, we’re going to flip the tables and talk about how markets can access you. Farmers feed people, a fact at the core of who we are … Read More

Access to Land: Clark Ranch Family & Succession Planning

March 17, 2017Beginning Farmers

By Lura Roti, South Dakota Farmers Union Middle of Nowhere might be the best way to describe the location of Pat and Barb Clark’s ranch, which is located on native rangeland 40 miles southeast of Lemmon and 30 miles east of Meadow. Homesteaded in 1915 by his grandfather, Avery Clark, and great-uncle, Harry, the Clarks, … Read More

Access to Markets: Agritourism, Policy, & Rural Communities

March 16, 2017Beginning Farmers

By Kriss Marion, Owner and Operator of Circle M Market Farm In America, children are fond of computer games. When my children were young, they played games called Age of Empires and Rise of Nations for hours. These games, still popular today, are strategy-based storylines for which each scenario begins with collecting resources – sheep, coal, … Read More

Access to Markets: Agritourism

March 14, 2017Beginning Farmers

By Jimmy Dula, NFU Intern Diversity may be the hottest buzz word for agriculture, both large and small. Relying on one product or commodity to support the entire farm can be a gamble, putting the operation at higher risk. As farmers, we need to expand our approach to diversifying farm revenue to access as many potential markets as possible. We have … Read More

Access to Efficiency: Paper Pot Transplanting

March 13, 2017Beginning Farmers

By John Hendrickson, Stone Circle Farm and Small Farm Works Tools and equipment appropriate for small-scale, highly diversified vegetable farms have been a passion of mine for a long time. I discovered one of my favorite tools about 12 years ago while living in Japan. I was abroad with my wife, who was doing international … Read More

Access to Efficiency: Introduction

February 28, 2017Beginning Farmers

By Thomas Driscoll, Director of Conservation Policy and NFU Foundation Whether growing grain and hauling it to the same elevator your grandparents did, raising vegetables to sell to your neighbors, managing a small herd or a big one, beginning producers seek greater efficiencies for their farms and ranches. Running an operation efficiently is critical for … Read More

Access to Land: Reis Ranch Family & Succession Planning

February 24, 2017Beginning Farmers

By Lura Roti, South Dakota Farmers Union While some ranchers are nervous about what will happen to their operation when they are ready to retire, David and Brenda Reis are not too worried. “All of our kids want to take over the ranch. That would not be sustainable, but the one thing about having a … Read More

Access to Land: Ficke Farm Legacy Letter

February 23, 2017Beginning Farmers

By Del Ficke, Owner and Operator of Ficke Cattle Company This letter was originally published in The Future of Family Farms: Practical Farmers’ Legacy Letter Project To my future generations: In 1860, Johann Ficke made the trip from Germany to settle in the United States. Just nine years later, after first arriving in Wisconsin, he found a … Read More

Access to Land: Farm Legacy Letters

February 21, 2017Beginning Farmers

By Teresa Opheim, Editor of The Future of Family Farms: Practical Farmers’ Legacy Letter Project About five years ago, a farmer stopped during a farm tour and confided that he worried that his son would not be able to continue farming. The farmer’s land-owning mother had just died, and her farmland was being divided among her children. … Read More

Access to Efficiency: Kolousek Family & Intensive Grazing

February 17, 2017Beginning Farmers

By Lura Roti, South Dakota Farmers Union Shadowing an engineer for a few days his sophomore year of college was all the exposure Scott Kolousek needed to realize he would be happier building a career on his family’s Wessington Springs cattle and crop farm. “That experience saved me a lot of time pursuing the wrong … Read More

Access to Capital: Red Dog Farm & Farm Credit

February 16, 2017Beginning Farmers

By Karyn Williams, owner of Red Dog Farm I didn’t grow up in a farming family. In fact, I grew up in the suburbs of Seattle. My great-grandparents were farmers, back in Missouri, during the Dust Bowl years. When they moved out west with my then-6-year-old grandmother, I suspect they wished for a non-farming life for their … Read More

Access to Capital: Farm Credit

February 14, 2017Beginning Farmers

By Jimmy Dula, NFU Intern In previous weeks, the Beginning Farm Forum’s has presented several ways that beginning farmers and ranchers can access capital, including  the Farm Service Agency and crowdfunding. Today, we’re examining Farm Credit, a national organization made up of over 70, member-owned cooperative associations that provide financial services to farmers, ranchers and rural business across the U.S. Farm Credit … Read More

Access to Land: Christensen Farm Family & Succession Planning

February 13, 2017Beginning Farmers

By Lura Roti, South Dakota Farmers Union Ask Marlow Christensen and his three sons, Dale, Don and Doug, why they chose farming as a career and their responses are similar. “It’s all we’ve ever known,” explains Dale, who, like his younger brothers, joined the family operation full-time right out of high school. His brother, Don, … Read More

Access to Markets: LocalFood App

February 9, 2017Beginning Farmers

By Elise Rothman, Founder of LocalMotive Is there a proven strategy to boost demand and revenue for local food? And if so, can the local food shift be measured? LocalMotive, a Public Benefit Corp out of Manitou Springs, Colorado, thinks they may have the answers. In 2015, they piloted LocalFood, a mobile application (“app”) that uses … Read More

Access to Land: Boulder County Land Lease Program

February 3, 2017Beginning Farmers

By Jimmy Dula, NFU Intern, and Vanessa McCracken, Agricultural Resource Specialist for Boulder County Parks & Open Space  Boulder County, whose most populous city is the eponymous Boulder, Colorado, is home to the University of Colorado Buffs, and is infamous for an expansive population of tree hugging, rock loving, spiritually centered citizens. In the 1970’s, an intergovernmental … Read More

Access to Land: Farming on County Property

January 31, 2017Beginning Farmers

By Jimmy Dula, NFU Intern As land values in many parts of the county continue to rise, and as urban development threatens rural landscapes, county governments have begun taking stewardship of farmland and its development rights in order to make the land available to farmers. Though programs vary in structure and funding, they share the … Read More

Access to Markets: Organic Q&A With Harrison Topp

January 26, 2017Beginning Farmers

By Jimmy Dula, NFU Intern Harrison Topp, NFU member and Director of Membership for Rocky Mountain Farmers Union, is the operator of Topp Fruits in Paonia, Colorado. Topp holistically manages the stone fruit orchard, giving special consideration to environmental stewardship and resource management. The orchard first received organic certification two years ago. In this Q&A, Harrison … Read More

Access to Markets: Organic Certification

January 24, 2017Beginning Farmers

By Hannah Packman, NFU Communications Coordinator Although Organic Certification has only been offered by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) for about 15 years, there are already more than 20,000 organic operations nationwide. According to the USDA, Organic Certification is given to operations that “demonstrate that they are protecting natural resources, conserving biodiversity, and … Read More

Access to Education: Young Farmers Conference

January 19, 2017Beginning Farmers

By Christy Ottinger, Manager of Little Gunpowder Farm As a beginning farmer, I try to seize every opportunity to further my education and learn more about all aspects of farming. Thus far, I have done this by attending conferences during the winter, participating in NFU’s Beginning Farmers Institute, and enrolling in short workshops during the season. … Read More

Access to Education: Introduction

January 17, 2017Beginning Farmers, Blog

By Jimmy Dula, NFU Intern Snow and cold weather may slow down food production, but there is no off-season for farmers. Even when it is too cold for crops, farmers are readying for the spring, researching new production methods, educating themselves on new farm technologies, and planning market strategies. Thorough  preparation for the growing season can greatly reduce … Read More

Access to Markets: Selecting Seeds

January 12, 2017Beginning Farmers, Blog

By Whitney Will, Farm Manager at Roaring Gardens at TCI Lane Ranch January is a time for dreaming about the next season of farming, planning the garden, and ordering seeds. For me, looking forward to the next season always starts with looking back on previous ones. What worked well last season? Which vegetables did we need … Read More

Access to Markets: Growing for a Farmers Market

January 10, 2017Beginning Farmers, Blog

By Hannah Packman, NFU Communications Coordinator Farmers markets can be an important source of supplementary income and public exposure for both small scale producers and beginning farmers and ranchers. Not only do they provide access to additional markets and new consumers, but they also eliminate the costs of processing, storage, wholesale, and distributing associated with traditional … Read More