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

What Should Farmers Know About Climate Change? Irrigation Water Management

June 26, 2017Blog, Climate Column

By Skylar Schneider, Executive Assistant, National Farmers Union Climate change presents a multitude of challenges for farmers, as extreme temperatures and erratic rainfall patterns can negatively impact crops. In order to prepare for these extreme conditions, such as drought, farmers can adopt energy-conserving practices. For example, water is a valuable natural resource that is absolutely … Read More

Access to Efficiency: Conserving Water Q&A With Blake Osborn

June 22, 2017Beginning Farmers

By Steven Emmen, NFU Intern Blake Osborn is a water resources specialist at Colorado State University (CSU) Extension in Pueblo, CO. On Tuesday, June 20, we had the opportunity to discuss how beginning farmers can conserve water. Q: For a beginning farmer, what are the first steps to ensure you are conserving water? A: In … Read More

Access to Efficiency: Conserving Water Q&A With Blake Osborn

June 22, 2017Beginning Farmers

By Steven Emmen, NFU Intern Blake Osborn is a water resources specialist at Colorado State University (CSU) Extension in Pueblo, CO. On Tuesday, June 20, we had the opportunity to discuss how beginning farmers can conserve water. Q: For a beginning farmer, what are the first steps to ensure you are conserving water? A: In … 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: 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

What Should Farmers Know About Climate Change? Livestock & Carbon Sequestration

June 19, 2017Climate Column

By Jonathan Reinbold, Sustainability, Research & Grant Manager at Organic Valley Here’s an interesting paradox: livestock is both a major contributor to and a solution for excess carbon in the atmosphere, which is intensifying climate change. The most conservative estimates suggest that raising livestock accounts for nearly 15% of global greenhouse gases emitted each year; the … Read More