Friday, July 24, 2015

New FSA Financing Options Announced!

New FSA financing for cold-storage, washing, packing, and handling buildings and equipment just announced.  Farm Storage Facility Loan (FSFL) program provides low-interest loans for farmers to build or upgrade permanent facilities to store commodities, primarily grains and oilseeds, but also including fruit and vegetables.

Read more here: 

Thursday, July 16, 2015

07/15/2015 12:25 PM EDT

USDA Announces Conservation Incentives for Working Grass, Range and Pasture Lands


WASHINGTON, July 15, 2015 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that beginning Sept. 1, farmers and ranchers can apply for financial assistance to help conserve working grasslands, rangeland and pastureland while maintaining the areas as livestock grazing lands.


The initiative is part of the voluntary Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), a federally funded program that for 30 years has assisted agricultural producers with the cost of restoring, enhancing and protecting certain grasses, shrubs and trees to improve water quality, prevent soil erosion and reduce loss of wildlife habitat. In return, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) provides participants with rental payments and cost-share assistance. CRP has helped farmers and ranchers prevent more than 8 billion tons of soil from eroding, reduce nitrogen and phosphorous runoff relative to cropland by 95 and 85 percent respectively, and even sequester 43 million tons of greenhouse gases annually, equal to taking 8 million cars off the road.


“A record 400 million acres and 600,000 producers and landowners are currently enrolled in USDA’s conservation programs. The Conservation Reserve Program has been one of the most successful conservation programs in the history of the country, and we are pleased to begin these grasslands incentives as we celebrate the program’s 30th year,” said Vilsack. “This is another great example of how agricultural production can work hand in hand with efforts to improve the environment and increase wildlife habitat.”


The CRP-Grasslands initiative will provide participants who establish long-term, resource-conserving covers with annual rental payments up to 75 percent of the grazing value of the land. Cost-share assistance also is available for up to 50 percent of the covers and other practices, such as cross fencing to support rotational grazing or improving pasture cover to benefit pollinators or other wildlife. Participants may still conduct common grazing practices, produce hay, mow, or harvest for seed production, conduct fire rehabilitation, and construct firebreaks and fences.


With the publication of the CRP regulation today, the Farm Service Agency will accept applications on an ongoing basis beginning Sept. 1, 2015, with those applications scored against published ranking criteria, and approved based on the competiveness of the offer. The ranking period will occur at least once per year and be announced at least 30 days prior to its start. The end of the first ranking period will be Nov. 20, 2015.


Later this week, USDA will also announce state-by-state allotments for the State Acres for Wildlife Enhancement (SAFE). Through SAFE, also a CRP initiative, up to 400,000 acres of additional agricultural land across 37 states will be eligible for wildlife habitat restoration funding. The additional acres are part of an earlier CRP wildlife habitat announcement made by Secretary Vilsack. Currently, more than 1 million acres, representing 98 projects, are enrolled in SAFE.


To learn more about participating in CRP-Grasslands or SAFE, visit www.fsa.usda.gov/crp or consult with the local Farm Service Agency county office. To locate a nearby Farm Service Agency office, visit http://offices.usda.gov. To learn more about the 30th anniversary of CRP, visit www.fsa.usda.gov/CRPis30 or follow on Twitter using #CRPis30.


The CRP-Grasslands program was made possible by the 2014 Farm Bill, which builds on historic economic gains in rural America over the past six years while achieving meaningful reform and billions of dollars in savings for the taxpayer. Since enactment, USDA has made significant progress to implement each provision of this critical legislation, including providing disaster relief to farmers and ranchers; strengthening risk management tools; expanding access to rural credit; funding critical research; establishing innovative public-private conservation partnerships; developing new markets for rural-made products; and investing in infrastructure, housing and community facilities to help improve quality of life in rural America. For more information, visit www.usda.gov/farmbill.


USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer. To file a complaint of discrimination, write to USDA, Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue, S.W., Stop 9410, Washington, DC 20250-9410, or call toll-free at (866) 632-9992 (English) or (800) 877-8339 (TDD) or (866) 377-8642 (English Federal-relay) or (800) 845-6136 (Spanish Federal-relay).

Monday, July 6, 2015

POSITION ANNOUNCEMENT: Program Director for the California Farm Academy!

Application Deadline: July 31, 2015
(or until position is filled)

The Center for Land‐Based Learning inspires and motivates people of all ages, especially youth, to promote a healthy interplay between agriculture, nature and society through their actions and as leaders in their communities. We serve high schools students and adults through our experiential programs in 20 California counties and at our Farm on Putah Creek educational site near Winters, CA. Our California Farm Academy beginning farmer training program and farm business incubator has provided hands-on education, mentorship, land for lease and marketing support for over 80 new farmers to date.

Background: In February 2012, the first session of the California Farm Academy (CFA) beginning farmer training program launched with 20 adult students of all ages and backgrounds. Every year since, through a combination of lectures, hands-on field work and farm visits, as well as learning from over 30 guest speakers from academia, industry and agricultural agencies, student-farmers are given a condensed, practical head start to their farming careers. Graduates leave with a network of resources and mentors, a farm business plan they created during the program, and opportunities to access land. Specifically, in the CFA farm business incubator, graduates and other qualified farmers are leased land in either rural or urban settings and provided infrastructure, tools and technical and marketing assistance to start or improve their agricultural enterprise. Over seventy-five percent of CFA graduates are farming.

Job Description:

Land-Based Learning is hiring a Program Director, based at our main office at 5265 Putah Creek Road, Winters CA, at the Farm on Putah Creek. This position will be responsible for continuing the existing training and incubator programs; supervising 3 full-time CFA staff; writing and managing grants; creating and updating annual program budgets; working with an Advisory Committee of agricultural professionals, farmers and educators; launching an urban farm in a development currently under construction at The Cannery in Davis, CA; working with our West Sacramento urban farming program to oversee farm sites, expand marketing opportunities and explore aggregation; and, in partnership with another farmer training organization, developing an accredited farm apprenticeship program. If you’ve worked at other Beginning Farmer and/or Incubator programs, this is an opportunity to utilize your experience and take the highly successful California Farm Academy to the next level. There is a tremendous amount of support in the region for Land-Based Learning programs, and you will have many, many resources at your disposal.

Mandatory requirements:

The California Farm Academy Program Director should be a leader with a strong commitment to education, agriculture, ecology and land stewardship. The Director must be selfmotivated, and capable of working effectively both alone and with a larger team.

·       Bachelor’s or Master’s Degree (or equivalent experience) in Agriculture, Ecology, Community Development, or other closely‐related field
·       A minimum of six years of professional experience directing and/or coordinating programs, including hiring and managing staff performance, creating and managing budgets, and building associated programmatic infrastructure and capacity needs
·       Experience with farming; either as a beginning farmer, apprentice/intern, or other related agricultural farm job
·       Experience in adult education, particularly involving agricultural business planning, market development and mentoring new businesses.
·       Experience working with diverse partners and stakeholders, with ability to collaborate on creating and implementing programs
·       Experience in hiring, managing, and working with sub‐contractors as needed
·       Proven track record of successful grant writing, grant management and reporting, especially for federal      and state grants
·       Excellent communication, social and writing skills

In addition, the ideal candidate will also have:

    A background in either formal or informal educational programs, including developing and implementing training and/or small business incubator programs
    A background in sustainable agriculture and/or beginning farmer training programs
    An ability and willingness to be flexible
    Experience with outreach and recruiting
    Moderate to advanced computer skill, especially with Microsoft Office, web browsers, social media, and email
    Willingness to work odd hours and weekends as required. Training program classes are held evenings and weekends, as are some organization-wide events.

Salary:

This is a full-time position with a starting salary range of $55,000 $65,000, commensurate with experience. Full benefits (health, dental, vision, flex plan, and 401K) are included after one month of employment.

How to Apply:

Direct inquiries, cover letter and resume to: Mary Kimball, Executive Director  mary@landbasedlearning.org

We highly encourage you to visit our website at www.landbasedlearning.org

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Land Trust Alliance "Climate Change Toolkit" highlights FarmLink's Succession Planning work!

The Climate Change Toolkit "...highlights stories of organizations conserving working lands in ways that involve strategic conservation planning, vulnerability assessment, mitigation, and adaptation, in light of the increasing pressures of climate change."

FarmLink's page is focused on Succession Planning and Conservation. After months of hard work, we now invite you to view it publicly here: http://climatechange.lta.org/case-study/california-farmlink-preserving-farmland-through-thoughtful-succession-planning/.