Access to Efficiency: Seed Treatment

February 14, 2018Beginning Farmers

By Tom Driscoll, Director of NFU Foundation and Conservation Policy Beginning farmers who grow grains know that the time between planting and emergence in the field can be perilous for their crops. Pathogens in the soil or on seeds can overtake or impair the growth of a seedling, damaging yields and – ultimately – profitability. … Read More

Access to Efficiency: Learning How to Farm

February 6, 2018Beginning Farmers

By Liz Brownlee, Co-Owner & Operator of Nightfall Farm My husband, Nate, knew one thing as a high schooler: he would never, ever work as a farmer. His high school summer job was on a grain farm near Franklin, Indiana, and while his bosses treated him well, the work was not, in his opinion, the … Read More

Access To Markets: Grain Futures

January 31, 2018Beginning Farmers

By Tom Driscoll, Director of NFU Foundation and Conservation Policy Every farm and every farm family is unique. Beginning intergenerational farmers generally do not learn everything they need to be successful in a uniform or linear way. On different farms, the established generation may or may not be willing to share fieldwork responsibility, or be … Read More

Access to Markets: Farmers Market Legal Toolkit

January 23, 2018Beginning Farmers, Blog

By Tom Driscoll, Director of NFU Foundation and Conservation Policy No volume restrictions, no need for brick and mortar investments, and the chance to learn about customers want directly. Participating in a farmers market is often the most immediate access to market available to beginning farmers. But for as quickly and easily as beginning farmers … Read More

Access to Efficiency: CSP at Green Fire Farm

January 9, 2018Beginning Farmers

By Tom Driscoll, Director of NFU Foundation and Conservation Policy Over the past few weeks, we have discussed the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) at length here on the Beginning Farmer Forum (BFF). CSP provides technical assistance and incentive payments to help beginning farmers establish installations or enhance practices that can reduce input costs or provide a … Read More

Access to Efficiency: CSP Bundles and Regional Initiatives

January 2, 2018Beginning Farmers

By Tom Driscoll, Director of NFU Foundation and Conservation Policy As discussions on the next farm bill challenge us to think about how the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) can best assist farmers and landowners in reaching conservation goals, here on the Beginning Farmer Column, we’ve been focusing on the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP). CSP … Read More

Access to Efficiency: CSP Bundles and Soil Health

December 19, 2017Beginning Farmers

By Tom Driscoll, Director of NFU Foundation and Conservation Policy For the past few weeks on the Beginning Farmer Forum, as discussions on the next farm bill challenge us to think about how the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) can best assist farmers and landowners in reaching conservation goals, we have focused on the Conservation … Read More

Access to Efficiency: CSP Bundles and Water Quality

December 12, 2017Beginning Farmers

By Tom Driscoll, Director of NFU Foundation and Conservation Policy In our previous post on the Beginning Farmer Forum, we introduced the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP). CSP can help beginning farmers achieve efficiencies in their business by providing technical assistance and incentive payments to establish installations or enhance practices that can reduce input costs or … Read More

Access to Efficiency: Conservation Stewardship Program

November 28, 2017Beginning Farmers

By Tom Driscoll, Director of NFU Foundation and Conservation Policy NFU’s Climate Column has covered a number of farming practices, including conservation tillage and rotational grazing, that can help farmers increase profits by saving money on inputs, energy, and labor. Beginning farmers can receive assistance to implement such practices, as well as incentive payments for the environmental benefits … Read More

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