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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Access to Efficiency: Climate Change & Water

June 20, 2017Beginning Farmers

By Steven Emmen, NFU Intern Farmers and ranchers who are feeding a growing population often think about more. The more crops planted and the more they yield, the more mouths are fed, right? However, when speaking in terms of efficiency, whether it’s inputs, land, or water, farmers and ranchers need to think about less. In … Read More

Access to Efficiency: Water Rights Q&A With Harrison Topp

June 8, 2017Beginning Farmers

By Steven Emmen, NFU Intern Earlier this week, we briefly discussed what the prior appropriation system is and its unique characteristics. To give beginning farmers a better idea of the practical application of prior appropriation, we reached out to a farmer on the western slope of Colorado. Harrison Topp manages a peach farm and is currently … Read More

Access to Efficiency: Water & Prior Appropriation

June 6, 2017Beginning Farmers

By Steven Emmen, NFU Intern It would be very difficult to be a successful farmer without adequate access to water. Depending on the topography of the region and the basin that a farmer is diverting from, they will face vastly different issues when acquiring water. When managing water resources there are two things to always remember: the … Read More

Access to Markets: Pricing

June 2, 2017Beginning Farmers

By Jimmy Dula, NFU Intern Pricing has been one of the most difficult ideas in farming for me to wrap my head around. Estimating cost of production can be difficult in a small but highly diversified operation. Most farmers don’t keep track of how many hours were spent weeding and managing rows of carrots versus rows … Read More