|Southern SAWG Newsletter Volume 7, #9
With fall approaching, we look forward to cooler temperatures, along with busy times of planting and harvesting, and bustling markets.
Southern SAWG is busy too, putting the final touches on plans for our twentieth annual conference, and bringing you a brand new DVD in our virtual farm tour series, Natural Farming Systems in the South. Read on for details.
In this issue we also bring you the first glimpses of work on the 2012 Farm Bill, along with updates on more immediate legislation affecting sustainable farmers, including the Food Safety Bill, plus organic certification cost share application information, and the release of the Community Food Project Grants Program funding opportunity.
We wish you a most productive month.
--Your friends at Southern SAWG
Southern SAWG Video #10: From Fields to Market
New Southern SAWG DVD Just Released!
From Fields to Market
Filming From Fields to Market with Joseph Fields (left)
The latest in Southern SAWG's Natural Farming Systems in the South video series is now available. The new DVD features Joseph Fields Farm, a 50 acre organic produce farm located on Johns Island, South Carolina.
Joseph Fields Farm, LLC, is owned and operated by Helen and Joseph Fields. They primarily produce vegetables, growing most every kind of vegetable that can be grown in their region, as well as strawberries, and some tree fruits.
This video focuses on the diverse marketing avenues utilized by the Fields to sell their large quantities of produce. They sell through a cooperative, a small CSA, grocery stores and restaurants, an on-farm stand, u-pick, and several farmers' markets.
For twenty years Southern SAWG has provided the practical tools and solutions you've needed and we've built the necessary bridges between farmers, marketers, ag professionals and local food system advocates. This year's program is no exception, featuring many of the pioneers who helped build this movement from the ground up and are still going strong. Join us and learn from the very best in the field at our twentieth annual conference.
Look for program and registration details at ssawg.org and in your inbox early next month.
|Organic Certification Cost Share |
The USDA's National Organic Program administers a cost-share program for certified organic producers and handlers. After receiving certification, participants may be reimbursed up to 75 percent of costs related to organic certification, up to $750 annually. Participants must comply with NOP regulations for organic production or handling, and must have received certification or renewed their certification within the established timeframe. This is a great opportunity for organic operators to offset the cost of certification, and it can also make certification affordable for those who want to enter the organic market.
The current funding cycle ends September 30, 2010, so individuals seeking reimbursement should work with their state agencies and certifiers to submit a complete application as soon as possible. Eligible producers and/or handlers can find the contact for their state program here. The state agencies can provide further information and application packages.
National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition
Begins Strategizing for the 2012 Farm BillBy Mark Schonbeck, Secretary of the Southern SAWG Board of Directors Yes, you read that headline correctly. Even as we are just beginning to reap the benefits of the gains for sustainable agriculture in the 2008 Farm Bill, such as the new Organic Initiative that is part of the USDA's Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) and its 82 member organizations are already working on strategy for the 2012 Farm Bill. Initial hearings related to the next Farm Bill have taken place in Congress, and the goal is to engage with the process early, with a clear, focused plan, in order to initiate a gradual transformation of the nation's agriculture and food system.
Thus, when more than 70 sustainable agriculture advocates gathered in Amherst, Massachusetts in August, 2010, for the semi-annual NSAC meeting, considerable time was spent discussing the opportunities and challenges of the next Farm Bill, refining priorities, and beginning to develop an advocacy approach in the coming Farm Bill cycle. This work is scheduled to continue at next January's meeting in Washington, D.C., which will include a Farm Bill Summit and opportunities for representatives of member organizations to talk with staff of key Senators and Representatives about sustainable family farm needs and priorities.
Challenges and Opportunities
The federal budget deficit creates a challenging environment, with threats of sharply reduced funding for the NRCS Conservation Stewardship Progam (CSP) and other conservation programs. At the same time, the current Administration's focus on nutrition, ending hunger, local sustainable food systems, and reducing childhood obesity creates a new opportunity to build bridges between sustainable agriculture and public health advocates in the coming Farm Bill campaign.
Meanwhile, NSAC has launched a Farm and Agriculture Resources for the Media (FARM) Project, an exciting way for farmers to gain wide media exposure. At this time, success stories from organic and sustainable farmers using the CSP, EQIP Organic Initiative, and other NRCS programs can be especially valuable in our efforts to maintain adequate funding for these programs in coming years.
Food Safety Bill Progress
The participants at the NSAC gathering also dealt with more immediate matters, including some breaking news that was released during the time of the August meeting. The Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee released a "Manager's Amendment" to the Senate's version of the Food Safety Modernization Act, S 510. NSAC Policy Director Ferd Hoefner and the NSAC Food Safety Task Force have worked diligently with key Senate staff to ensure that the final food safety bill that Congress passes (likely this fall) is as organic-compatible and family farm friendly as possible. As seen in a review of the current version of S 510, most of the desired provisions are now part of the Senate bill; NSAC's next task is to make sure they are maintained or strengthened in the Conference in which Senate and House bills (HR 2749) are combined into a final bill.
New Proposed Rule for Livestock Producers
Earlier this summer, the USDA Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) issued a Proposed Rule that would help maintain open and fair markets for independent livestock producers, and protect the rights of producers that enter into contracts with agribusiness. The Rural Advancement Foundation International (RAFI) has worked for many years for just this kind of reform to protect both independent and contract livestock and poultry producers, and recently 21 Senators signed a letter to Secretary Vilsack expressing support for implementation of the Proposed Rule. However, agribusiness interests are mounting a campaign to undermine the rule through adverse comments during an extended Public Comment Period (through November 22), and NSAC member groups are gearing up to advocate for the new GIPSA Proposed Rule.
Two More Developments
Based on an analysis of the 2010 Requests for Proposals for the newly expanded USDA Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI), NSAC is submitting comments urging increased emphasis on public classical breeding and on sustainable and organic systems in the 2011 program, as well as a simpler and more open application process.
In response to the Obama Administration's America Great Outdoors (AGO) Initiative, NSAC is submitting comments drawing the links among farming, resource conservation, and the stated goals of AGO to enhance public appreciation for, and stewardship of, our natural heritage. It could be another lever to protect NRCS programs from severe budget cuts.
Program Initiated to Improve NRCS Support for Organic and Sustainable Farmers
And here's some exciting news. A Conservation Innovation Grant entitled Integrating Sustainable and Organic Agriculture into NRCS Program has been awarded funding by NRCS. This is a 30 month project of the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT), NSAC, and ten other partners (including the Virginia Association for Biological Farming), that entails reviewing NRCS practice standards and the CSP, and providing training for NRCS personnel, in an effort to make NRCS programs more accessible to and supportive of organic and sustainable producers.
For more information on these items, and on NSAC, click here
|Southern SAWG and Latino Leaders Confer |
By Lydia Villanueva, Southern SAWG Policy Coordinator
A telephone conference with several key leaders of Latino farm and farmworkers' organizations was hosted by Southern SAWG on July 27, 2010. The conference was sponsored by Southern SAWG's policy program to discuss issues and needs of Latino farm owners and farmworkers. Participants included Omar Garza, of the Texas/Mexico Border Coalition (TMBC); Tirso Moreno, General Coordinator of the Farmworker Association of Florida, Inc. (FWAF); and Malaquías Flores, who runs a program at Washington State University that helps Latinos access farm loans and manage their businesses.
The Texas/Mexican Border Coalition is a non-profit organization that encompasses 38 counties in the southern part of Texas. The organization works in conjunction with Pan American University in identifying Latino farmers near the Texas border, and has worked intensively with various USDA agencies offering technical support to the farmers. The Farmworker Association of Florida is a membership organization of over 6,330 farmworker families from predominately Mexican, Haitian, Afro-American, Guatemalan and Salvadoran communities. They work to empower farmworkers in Florida to respond to and gain control over the social, political, economic, and workplace issues that affect their lives, and are working with farmworkers who are now farm owners.
According to the latest figures from the USDA, the number of Hispanic farmers in the U.S. increased 14 percent between 2002 and 2007--twice the rate of growth among farmers overall. The West Coast, New Mexico, and Texas saw the biggest increases in Latino farmers, who also have become a presence in Arizona, Florida, Texas, and Hawaii. Latino immigrants have long supplied the hard low-paying work that is prevalent in agriculture. Now these immigrants are managing to buy farms and put down roots, in accordance with the American ethos.
While interest was expressed for Southern SAWG to provide a setting for broader discussion by hosting a caucus of Latino farmers at our annual conference, it was pointed out that many of these farmers have extremely limited financial resources, and find it difficult to attend conferences. All three guests agreed that a national effort is needed to help bring Latinos together so that they can be recognized and heard.
One important issue to address is that many Latino farmers have little or no knowledge of USDA programs that could benefit them, and are severely underrepresented in these programs. Reports of discrimination at USDA offices, including farm owners being told they don't qualify for programs, often based on their appearance or ethnicity, were discussed. Participants also identified the need for Latinos to organize themselves to learn new marketing techniques, as well as growing organic crops, and participating in Farm to School programs.
The group plans to bring in additional Latino leaders, and to explore collaborative efforts to bring Latino farmers together to continue to learn new ways of farming, as well as maintaining their traditional farming methods, and to create successful agricultural enterprises.
|Community Food Projects Program Now Accepting Grant Applications|
Deadline is November 17, 2010
A Request for Applications for the Community Food Projects Competitive Grants Program (CFP) for fiscal year 2011 has been issued by the USDA's National Institute for Food and Agriculture (NIFA). The CFP program is the major funding source for community-based food and agriculture projects nationwide, addressing food insecurity in low income communities and addressing nutritional needs by promoting local food and farm connections.
The CFP is open to private, non-profit entities with experience in community food work, particularly concerning small and mid-sized farms, sustainable food production, and development of new markets in low income communities, or in providing job training and business development experience for food related activities in low-income communities.
Applications are due November 17, 2010 and must be submitted electronically at www.grants.gov.
NIFA is also inviting comments for consideration in the development of the next RFA. Comments can be submitted by e-mail by November 17, 2010.
There is $5 million available for this round to support two types of grants. Community Food Project grants of up to $125,000 per year or $300,000 over a three year period will provide a one-time infusion of funds to help projects become self sustaining. Planning Grants of up to $25,000 will help groups assess food security needs and plan for long term solutions in low income communities.
For more information about the Community Food Project Grants Program (CFP), including
assistance for CFP grant applicants, guides to developing a proposal, and examples of successful CFP proposals, click here.click here.
For the Request for Applications and complete instructions, click here.
|Local Food Institute--Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project |
October 13-14, 2010
Asheville, North Carolina
This two-day program is designed to share ASAP's innovative approaches to information and strategies for creating environments with thriving local food economies.
Participants will learn proven steps from leading experts, community leaders, and practitioners through instruction, panel discussions, and networking, and will visit local farms and businesses to see how entrepreneurs are successfully accessing local markets. Registration is open to interested individuals and organizations.
For more information and to register click here or call Allison at 828.236.1282.
|Southern SARE Accepting Applications for Public Relations Coordinator Position|
The Southern Region Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program (Southern SARE) is seeking a Public Relations Coordinator (PRC) to prepare and disseminate news associated with the Southern SARE program's goals, objectives, and grant-making efforts. The PRC also coordinates and assists with implementing Southern SARE's electronic public affairs activities, and assists the National SARE outreach and communications efforts by evaluating proposals for publications, and writing and/or editing/proofing copy about Southern SARE projects for use in National SARE Outreach publications.
Telecommuting is an option, but preference will be given to applicants within commuting distance of the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Campus in Griffin, Georgia.
The announcement of this position is in effect until it is filled. To see full position description and apply, click here click here (Job #20100976). For assistance contact the business office at 770.228.7306.
We appreciate your support.
To make a donation online or download a form to mail to us with your check click here.
welcome your feedback and suggestions
To view past Southern SAWG E-Newsletters
Please visit this site if you would like
to browse through past issues.
|Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group, Inc. (Southern SAWG) is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization founded in 1991 to promote sustainable agriculture in the Southern United States.