Contact Your Representatives! Plus: Young Farmer Mentorship Program
Contact Your Representatives! Plus: Young Farmer Mentorship Program
Issue 335 ~ August 10, 2017
Congress is in Recess – Make Your Voice Heard!
The August congressional recess is upon us, and elected officials are back in their home districts and states spending time with their constituents. Now is the time to speak up and make your voice heard. Call and set up meetings with your elected officials while they are home and attend town hall meetings.
There are a number of legislative priorities for family farmers, ranchers and their rural communities that may be taken up this year in Congress, including the farm economy, the farm bill, expansion of ethanol use, and health care.
NFU has put together the 2017 District Work Packet, a helpful resource on legislative issues that Congress may take up this year. Be in the know, and make a difference on behalf of your operation and your community. Check out the packet here and get in touch with your representatives today!
D’Quinton Robertson, far left, at the roundtable discussion in Iowa.
USDA Rolls Out Young Farmer Mentorship Program
Last week, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue hit the road on his “Back to Our Roots” RV tour. His six day trip, which included visits to Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois, and Indiana, was an opportunity for Secretary Perdue to gather input from farmers and ranchers on the 2018 Farm Bill and rural prosperity.
On Saturday, Secretary Perdue attended the 2017 Iowa Ag Summit, where he announced plans for a young farmer mentorship program. The program, which will provide young producers with guidance and advice at no cost, is a collaboration between the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE), a nonprofit that offers similar services to new entrepreneurs.
Secretary Perdue then joined a panel of farmers and agricultural leaders to discuss the program in greater detail. Iowa Farmers Union member and NFU Beginning Farmer Institute graduate D’Quinton Robertson was among those in attendance, along with Mayor Kim Reynolds and Senator Joni Ernst. Robertson shared his own experience as a beginning producer and spoke in favor of the mentorship program, saying it will both help beginning farmers from farming families stay in agriculture as well as make farming a more accessible career path for those outside of agriculture.
Read more about the roundtable here, and apply to participate in the program, either as a mentor or mentee, here.
It’s National Farmers Market Week!
August 6-12 is National Farmers Market Week! NFMW is an annual celebration sponsored by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) that highlights the important role farmers markets play in the nation’s food system.
NFMW allows farmers markets to take center stage on a national level and is an opportunity for all markets to showcase the impacts they make in their communities. Farmers markets are not just a venue for direct marketing, but they also stimulate local economies, provide beginning farmers a low-cost way to enter the marketplace, preserve farmland and rural livelihoods, increase access to fresh food, and support healthy communities. These benefits and others are highlighted in the Federal Reserve Bank of St Louis’ new publication Harvesting Opportunity: The Power of Regional Food System Investments to Transform Communities.
NFU is looking for an outreach specialist in Iowa!
The outreach specialist will promote increased and more effective adoption of conservation practices among Iowa producers by introducing them to the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) Resource Stewardship Evaluation framework and the Resource Stewardship Evaluation Tool (RSET). Posting closes August 25. Applicants will be considered on a rolling basis.
For a position description and application information, click here.
Nominate a Pollinator Advocate!
Pollinator Advocates understand just how important pollinators are to food, culture, and life. They have taken that extra step to help out the birds, bees, butterflies, moths, and bats that support agriculture and ecosystems everywhere.
Pollinator Partnership wants to recognize the unique contributions that members of the agricultural community make to pollinator where they are needed most – supporting our food supply. If you know someone who is working to protect pollinators, nominate them for the Farmer Rancher Pollinator Conservation Award here.
Share What You Know About Food Safety!
Calling all produce growers, farmers, and food hubs: how can we help you with food safety? The Local Food Safety Collaborative wants to know. Take their survey here, and be entered to win one of twenty $100 gift cards.
Your responses to this survey will help LFSC enhance food safety knowledge and support local farmers and processors to comply with applicable Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) regulations.
New on the Beginning Farmer Forum: Farm Service Agency Loans
Beginning farmers face high upfront costs but may not yet have the capital to pay for them, often making loans a necessity. However, without collateral to offer or the ability to prove future profitability, they may have a hard time acquiring a traditional loan.
That’s where the USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) comes in. Through their direct and guaranteed loan programs, FSA helps beginning producers access loans so they can purchase farmland, update their facilities, pay for inputs, and afford other expenses keep them competitive and profitable.
New on the Climate Column: Agriculture and Food Research Initiative
Climate change presents an enormous threat to farming and food security. Public and private research will be key to find climate solutions that protect farmers’ livelihoods and prevent widespread hunger.
That’s why programs like the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI), which is administered by U.S. Department of Agriculture‘s National Institute of Food and Agriculture, are so valuable. AFRI supports critical research on climate resilience, adaptation, and mitigation in the food system.
As farmers face more disruptions from climate change, adequately funding AFRI and similar research programs is becoming increasingly important. Read more about AFRI on the on the NFU Climate Column. You can also join the NFU Climate Leaders Facebook group for more on the conversation!
NFU in the News
Sugar Symposium opens with call for unity in farm bill talks
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Member Benefit Highlight: Constant Contact
Nasco has over 21 different catalogs offering over 96,000 unique items to meet the needs of teachers in 14 different educational subject areas, farmers and ranchers, and industry. In addition to serving customers in all 50 states, Nasco’s unique blend of products for education, healthcare, agriculture, and industry appeals to customers in over 180 countries. Nasco provides customers with high quality, affordably priced products. Nasco’s mail-order catalogs offer a convenient, inexpensive way for individuals in education, healthcare, agriculture, and industry to shop for the items they need. NFU members receive 10% off and free shipping.
Visit nfu.org/join to become a member and start saving today.