29 April 2015

CCOF Future Organic Farmer Grant Opportunity

Another opportunity for funding-- deadline fast approaching!
Future Organic Farmer Grant Fund
Students interested in studying organic agriculture in an undergraduate or vocational training program, apply for one of CCOF's 20 - $2,500 Higher/Vocational Education grants! Last year's grants supported students involved in programs like Washington State University's major in Organic Agricultural Systems and the Michigan State Organic Farmer Training Program, but can also support those interested in UC Santa Cruz's Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems (CASFS) program for the 2015-2016 school years.

The Future Organic Farmer Grant Fund makes grants to students attending a program that fits into one of three categories:
  • Vocational training/certificate programs: Six-week to two-year technical hands-on training/apprenticeship programs focused on agricultural production.
  • Junior college/two-year degrees: Colleges offering courses for two years beyond high school, either as a complete training or in preparation for completion at a four-year college.
  • Bachelor’s/four-year undergraduate degrees: Degree programs at a college or university in undergraduate studies. This grant program is not open to graduate students.
Please consider applying!
Application deadline is May 15, 2015

Call (831) 423-2263/ email ccoffoundation@ccof.org for more info or follow this link to learn how to apply!

24 April 2015

Beekman 1802 with a great funding opportunity for small farms (and big ideas)!

Beekman 1802 launched its Mortgage Lifter Pasta Sauces (a collection of sauces named after a 1930s variety of heirloom tomato) in 2013 with the promise of giving back 25% of the profit to other American small farms. This year, they raised $18,147 and are eager to give that money away! If you're a "small farm with big ideas," apply for a LIFT!

Four small American farm winners will be announced on May 12th!
{one - $15,000 Lift; three - $1,049 Mini-Lifts}

New CDFA Relations Related to Direct Marketing & Food Safety

On Wednesday, the UC Small Farm Program's Small Farm News blog reported the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) has recently implemented new regulations related to direct marketing and food safety. The major updates are summarized below, per Small Farm News, and should be reviewed alongside CDFA's Small Farm Food Safety Guidelines.

AB 224 CSA Programs
  • Authorized CDFA to adopt regulations establishing a registration program for CSA producers, including those supplying multi-farm CSA
  •  Approved $75 annual fee, $25 for each amendment
  • Imposed specific requirements related to the labeling and maintenance of consumer boxes and containers that are used in CSA programs to deliver farm products in order to facilitate traceback
    •  Label the consumer box or container used to deliver farm products to the consumer with the name and address of the farm delivering the box or container
    • Maintain the consumer boxes or containers in a condition that prevents contamination
    • Inform consumers, either by including a printed list in the consumer box or container or by delivering a list electronically to the consumer, of the farm of origin of each item in the consumer box or container
    • Maintain records that document the contents and origin of all of the items included in each consumer box or container, in accordance with department regulations
    • Comply with all labeling and identification requirements for shell eggs and processed foods imposed pursuant to the provisions of the Health and Safety Code, including, but not limited to, the farm's name, physical address, and telephone number
    • Specified that a registered California direct marketing producer is an approved source, subject to compliance with specified provisions of the law, and that any whole uncut fruit or vegetable or unrefrigerated shell egg grown or produced in compliance with all applicable federal, state, and local laws, regulations, and food safety guidelines shall be deemed to be from an approved source.
AB 1871 Certified Farmers Markets 
  • Raised fee paid by Certified Farmers Markets for their vendors from 60 cents to $2 daily. Only farmers used to pay the fee, but now extended to all vendors, including food and crafts sellers in non-agricultural sections
  • Required farmers to register with County Ag Dept. and pay a fee annually
  • When farmers get their Certified Producers Certification for selling at Certified Farmers Markets, required them to attest that they are “knowledgeable of and intend to produce in accordance with” good agricultural practices (GAPs)--as outlined in CDFA's Small Farm Food Safety Guidelines
  • Authorized use of the term “California grown” and similar terms for marketing, advertising, or promotional purposes only to identify food or agricultural products that have been produced in the state or harvested in its surface or coastal waters, and made the fraudulent use of the term or a deliberately misleading or unwarranted use of the term a misdemeanor
AB 1990 Community Food Producers
  • Defined “community food producers” as an approved source that includes, but is not limited to, community gardens, personal gardens, school gardens, and culinary gardens
  • Permits a community food producer or gleaner to sell or provide whole uncut fruits or vegetables, or unrefrigerated shell eggs, directly to the public, to a permitted restaurant, or a cottage food operation if the community food producer meets all of the following requirements in addition to any requirements imposed by an ordinance adopted by a local jurisdiction:
    • (1) Agricultural products shall be grown or produced in compliance with subdivision (b) of Section 113735
    • (2) Agricultural products shall be labeled with the name and address of the community food producer.
    • (3) Conspicuous signage shall be provided in lieu of a product label if the agricultural product is being sold by the community food producer on the site of production. The signage shall include, but not be limited to, the name and address of the community food producer.
    • (4) Best management practices as described in CDFA's Small Farm Food Safety Guidelines, but not limited to, safe production, processing, and handling of both nonpotentially hazardous and potentially hazardous foods.
    • (5) Egg production shall be limited to 15 dozen eggs per month. 
  • Permits a local city or county health enforcement office may require a community food producer or gleaner to register with the city or county and to provide specified information, including, but not limited to, their name, address, and telephone number
While these new stipulations have the potential to increase growers' costs, they also have the potential to foster more favorable market conditions for smaller farms engaged in direct marketing. Many of the regulations and recommendations, which can be found here,  are simply good farming and good business practice. 
If you have any questions or concerns about these new regulations, please email Shermain Hardesty, Leader of the UC Small Farm Program, shermain@primal.ucdavis.edu.

15 April 2015

Online Learning Series: Build the Farm or Ranch of Your Dreams

Holistic Management International (HMI) is offering the following online course:

"Getting Started- Holistic Financial Planning" 
Series begins May 4, 2015
Instructor: Larry Dyer, Holistic Management Certified Educator
Cost: $199*
Register by clicking here.

This course provides key financial principles that help you learn how to work on your business, not just in your business. This simple approach to financial planning will help you understand the big picture view as well as make critical production decisions based on a clear sense of cost of production for different enterprises. You will develop a financial plan and identify ways to implement and monitor that plan. You'll learn the key economic analysis tools for improved financial decisions for both annual budgets and for long-term investment.

*HMI works to keep course fees as low as possible, but for folks who need a little more financial support to help them get started on the path to sustainable farming and ranching...
>this course is eligible for the HMI Terry Gompert Memorial Scholarship and FSA Borrower Training Credit (in some states) and the Nebraska State income tax credit. 
>Scholarship Deadline: April 22, 2015 

08 April 2015

Celebrating Women in Agriculture

This is what a farmer looks like

Join fellow female farmers at Full Belly Farm in Guinda, CA on 31 May to Celebrate Women in Agriculture through workshops, hands-on learning opportunities, empowered and empowering speakers, farm tool demos, and discussion groups.
Lunch donation of $5

Celebrating Women in Agriculture
on Sunday, 31 May 2015 (10am to 4pm)
at Full Belly Farm 
16090 County Road 43
Guinda, CA 95637

for more information: contact Dru or call 530.796.2214

02 April 2015

USDA to Provide $332 Million to Protect and Restore Agricultural Working Lands, Grasslands and Wetlands

Private landowners, tribes, and eligible entities encouraged to apply by May 15.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that U.S. Department of Agriculture is making available $332 million in financial and technical assistance through the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP). USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) will accept ACEP applications to help productive farm and ranch lands remain in agriculture and to protect the nation's critical wetlands and grasslands, home to diverse wildlife and plant species.

"USDA helps farmers, ranchers, private forest landowners and partners to achieve their conservation goals using our technical expertise, Farm Bill funding and sound conservation planning," Vilsack said. "Conservation easements are an important tool to help these landowners and partners voluntarily provide long-term protection of our nation's farmland, ranchland, wetlands and grasslands for future generations."

The 2014 Farm Bill consolidated three previous conservation easement programs into ACEP to make it easier for diverse agricultural landowners to fully benefit from conservation initiatives. NRCS easement programs have been a critical tool in recent years for advancing landscape-scale private lands conservation. In FY 2014, NRCS used $328 million in ACEP funding to enroll an estimated 145,000 acres of farmland, grassland, and wetlands through 485 new easements.

In Florida, NRCS used ACEP funds to enroll an additional 6,700 acres in the Northern Everglades Watershed, supporting the restoration and protection of habitat for a variety of listed species, including the Wood Stork, Crested caracara, and Eastern Indigo Snake. The Nebraska Land Trust plans to use ACEP to enroll more than 1,400 acres of native grazing lands that also include grasslands and woodlands that provide critical habitat for Nebraska's bighorn sheep and elk.
ACEP's agricultural land easements not only protect the long-term viability of the nation's food supply by preventing conversion of productive working lands to non-agricultural uses, but they also support environmental quality, historic preservation, wildlife habitat and protection of open space. American Indian tribes, state and local governments and non-governmental organizations that have farmland or grassland protection programs are eligible to partner with NRCS to purchase conservation easements. A key change under the new agricultural land easement component is the new "grasslands of special environmental significance" that will protect high-quality grasslands that are under threat of conversion to cropping, urban development and other non-grazing uses.

Wetland reserve easements allow landowners to successfully enhance and protect habitat for wildlife on their lands, reduce impacts from flooding, recharge groundwater and provide outdoor recreational and educational opportunities. NRCS provides technical and financial assistance directly to private and tribal landowners to restore, protect and enhance wetlands through the purchase of these easements, and Eligible landowners can choose to enroll in a permanent or 30-year easement; tribal landowners also have the option of enrolling in 30-year contracts.

ACEP applications may be submitted at any time to NRCS; however, applications for the current funding round must be submitted on or before May 15, 2015.

26 March 2015

35-Acre Farmland Lease Opportunity with Peninsula Open Space Trust


Peninsula Open Space Trust (POST) has just released a request for proposals (RFP) to lease the 35-acre backfield of their Butano Farms property in Pescadero, CA. POST is soliciting proposals from individuals interested in leasing the land for productive agricultural operations.

POST staff will lead a mandatory tour of the site for prospective operators at 10am on April 17, 2015. If needed, a second tour will be scheduled. Please RSVP for the tour by April 10 to loleary@openspacetrust.org. 
Additional information, including sample lease language, previous land uses, and other information will be available at the tour. All interested parties must attend the tour. Please do not try and visit the property prior to the site tour. Access is across a private road and bridge with locked gate.

Proposals must be submitted by May 31, 2015 to the attention of:

Laura O’Leary
Peninsula Open Space Trust
222 High Street
Palo Alto, CA 94301
650-854-7696 x339

Proposals will be evaluated based on economic, social and ecological factors, including but not limited to: suitability of the proposed use for the site, contribution to the agricultural community, viability of the business plan, proposed investments, benefits to natural resources, qualifications of the applicant(s), and completeness of the proposal.

For the full RFP, please email mika@cafarmlink.org. While FarmLink is not the point of contact for this land listing, please do not hesitate to reach out should you have any further questions.