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May 15, 2014

The Small Farms update summarizes announcements, information resources, opportunities and upcoming events relevant to small farms.  Please feel free to share this information in newsletters, email lists, etc. If you have announcements or resources you would like to include, please send us an email.  Subscribe here.

Thank you again for your interest and support of small farms in New York.
Anu Rangarajan
Director, Cornell Small Farm Program

Calling Sheep & Goat Farmers for Parasite Survey

The Cornell Goat & Sheep Program is asking sheep and goat farmers throughout the NE US and in bordering regions of Canada to fill out this Sheep & Goat Parasite Survey. The purpose this survey is to determine the parasite management practices commonly used by Northeast sheep and goat farmers in 2013. This will provide a baseline to help the Cornell Goat & Sheep Program to observe how parasite management changes in future years. More information on the Cornell Sheep and Goat Program is available online at http://www.sheep.cornell.edu/ and http://www.ansci.cornell.edu/goats/. Here is a link to the survey.

Growing Farmers Initiative Seeks New Farmers for Interviews

Are you a farmer in the northeastern US with less than five years of experience? If so, would you be willing to participate in a phone interview (15 - 20 minutes) about the challenges you face as a young farmer and potential online resources to address some of them? Your participation in a telephone interview will help your advocates better understand your challenges and create online resources for farmers like you. As a small thank you for your participation in the interview, you will receive a $10 gift certificate to Johnny's Selected Seeds for participating. Interested? Please email admin@collaborativehealthresearch.com to schedule an interview. This survey is supported by the Growing Farmers Initiative (GFI), an ongoing effort to increase the number of sustainable small and mid-size farms, especially in the Northeast.

Call for Proposals: National Young Farmers Conference

Every December, hundreds of beginning farmers from across the United States gather at Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture to learn from agricultural luminaries, peers, and advocacy organizations at the National Young Farmers Conference: Reviving the Culture of Agriculture. On December 3-5, 2014, Stone Barns Center will host the 7th annual National Young Farmers Conference, providing participants with access to inspiring keynotes and unique workshops that address soil science, technical skills, agricultural policy, farm business management, conservation and more.  To download the call for workshop proposals, visit the Virtual Grange.


May 22, 2014. 9:00 AM- 4:00 PM. Pollinator Conservation Short Course. Cornell Cooperative Extension Agroforestry Resource Center, 6055 State Route 23, Acra, NY 12405. This full day training is tailored towards farmers, landowners, Natural Resources Conservation Service and Conservation District staff, and other agricultural professionals. It will provide science-based approaches to increasing pollinator populations for improved pollination and crop production. You will leave with the tools necessary to assess, protect, create and manage habitat for these vital insects. 


May 31- June 1, 2014. Two Day Aquaponic Training Course. Cornell Cooperative Extension facility in Oriskany, NY. Are you interested in owning and operating an Aquaponic farm or do you already have an AP system operating? Are you looking to invest in Controlled Environment Agriculture, Aquaponics or Hydroponics? Do you want to build a back yard Aquaponic system, or just curious to learn more about this exciting farming method? Then this is the perfect opportunity for you! For more information on the specifics of what will be offered at this training, please visit: http://aquavitafarms.com/. Questions? Looking for lodging? Email: mark@aquavitafarms.com


June 7-8, 2014. 9:00 AM- 4:00 PM. NY Bee Wellness Workshop. Wappingers Falls NY (Eastern NY). An intensive 2 day, skills oriented, hands on workshop, a Train the Trainer program to teach beekeepers techniques in diagnosing, treating, and preventing honey bee diseases using a very small student teacher ratio. Primarily targeting New York beekeepers with less than 10 years experience and women beekeepers, participants from other states are welcome as space permits. Teams from clubs or groups are preferred as they will be expected to teach at the club level.  Contact: Pat Bono, 585-820-6619 or Pat@NYBeeWellness.org for more information. Register here


June 7-8, 2014. 9:00 AM- 4:00 PM. Fiber Producers Symposium. Cornell Cooperative Extension-Broome County, 840 Upper Front St, Binghamton, NY 13905. Renowned Ruminant nutrition speaker, Dr. Robert Van Saun (Penn State University), will be speaking on Saturday with two workshops focused on basic ruminant nutrition and nutrition for fiber production, growth, and reproduction. There will also be facilitated roundtable discussions. Sunday will focus on marketing topics as well as choosing the best products for fiber quality. A fiber will also be available for pick up that day. Visit the event website for more information and to register.


[MANY MORE EVENTS!] Visit our comprehensive statewide events calendar online.

Career Opportunities

NOFA-NY Summer Mentorship Program

Want to partner with an experienced farmer for guidance in your farming career? OR, are you an experienced farmer who can help beginning farmers find solid footing in the sustainable agriculture world? If you answered "yes" to one of these questions, NOFA-NY's Mentorship Program could be right for you. The NOFA-NY Mentorship Program is geared toward supporting beginning farmers in a role of farm start-up, ownership, leadership, management or transition-to-Organic as well as the farmers who train and educate them. Applications due by June 17th. Mentorship Program Information

Meat Processing Laboratory Instructor- Cobleskill, NY

This is a 10-month term appointment beginning August 2014. Job responsibilities include: managing the College's federally inspected meat, poultry, and fish processing facility; overseeing aspects involved in the slaughter, processing and packaging of all standard species of livestock (beef, hogs, lamb, veal, goat and poultry) and fish; operating and maintaining all records, licensing and permits as required by the USDA/HACCP for a federally inspected processing plant; and teaching technical courses and/or assist faculty with instruction of laboratories within the animal science and culinary areas, among other responsibilities. More information can be found here.

Funding Opportunities

Funding Available to Start a Dairy Profit Team

The New York Farm Viability Institute is now accepting applications from dairy farmers for grants to help start a Dairy Profit Team. A Profit Team is a group of professionals, selected by the farmer, who meet regularly to discuss that specific farm, with the goal of making the business more successful. NYFVI can reimburse farmers for 80% of the consulting expenses of the team, up to $2,500, if a farmer holds a minimum of seven meetings over a maximum 15-month period. Dairy farmers who have created Profit Teams in previous funding cycles have reported significant gains in productivity, efficiency, and profitability. Information about selecting team members and a team facilitator, setting goals, and tools that teams can use are all available on the NYFVI website. The Dairy Profit Team grant application is also available on the NYFVI Dairy Profit Team page. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis. For additional information, contact Kristin Cleveland, Profit Team Program Coordinator, atkcleveland@nyfvi.org or 315-453-3823 X 103.

Technical Assistance for Specialty Crops- Due May 19th

The TASC program is designed to assist U.S. organizations by providing funding for projects that address sanitary, phytosanitary, or technical barriers that prohibit or threaten the export of U.S. specialty crops. U.S. specialty crops, for the purpose of the TASC program, are defined to include all cultivated plants, or the products thereof, produced in the United States, except wheat, feed grains, oilseeds, cotton, rice, peanuts, sugar, and tobacco. Any U.S. organization, private or government, with a demonstrated role or interest in exporting U.S. agricultural commodities may apply to the program. Entities wishing to apply for funding assistance should contact the Program Operations Division, Office of Trade Programs, Foreign Agricultural Service  by phone: (202) 720-4327, by email: podadmin@fas.usda.gov. Information is also available on the FAS Web site.

AgrAbility- Assistive Technology Program for Farmers with Disabilities - Due June 4th

The AgrAbility program increases the likelihood that farmers, ranchers, farm workers and farm family members with disabilities will experience success in agricultural production. The program supports projects between State Cooperative Extension System and private non-profit disability organizations who work in partnership to provide agricultural education and assistance directed at accommodating disability in farm operations for individuals with disabilities, and their families, who engage in farming and farm-related occupations. Information on eligibility and how to apply can be found here.

Beginning Farmers and Ranchers Development Program- Due June 12th

The Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 appropriated $75 million for FY 2009 to FY 2012 to develop and offer education, training, outreach and mentoring programs to enhance the sustainability of the next generation of farmers. The Agriculture Act of 2014 has provided an additional $20 million per year for 2014 through 2018. Applicants for this funding should be a collaborative, State, tribal, local, or regionally-based network or partnership of public or private entities, which may include: state cooperative extension service; community-based and nongovernmental organization; college or university (including institutions awarding associate degrees); or any other appropriate partner. For more information about the grant, eligibility, and upcoming webinars that will further explain the funding: http://www.nifa.usda.gov/fo/beginningfarmersandranchers.cfm.

Farmers Market and Local Foods Promotion Program- Due June 20th

This new program, administered by the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), makes $30 million available annually to farmers markets, other direct producer-to-consumer venues, and other businesses in the local food supply chain. Under this program, $15 million is now available for marketing and promotional support specifically for local food businesses, including food hubs, delivery and aggregation businesses, and processing and storage facilities along the local food supply chain, while $15 million is for marketing support for farmers markets and other direct to consumer outlets. More information about how to apply is available on the AMS website. Applications are due June 20, 2014.

USDA Rural Energy for America Program- Due July 7th
USDA is seeking applications from rural small businesses and agricultural producers for funding to make energy-efficiency improvements or to install renewable-energy systems. For fiscal year 2014, USDA plans to award up to $12.3 million in grants and $57.8 million in loan guarantees through the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP). Requests for grants may not exceed 25% of a project's cost. Applications for grants or combined grants and loans are due by July 7th, while applications for loan guarantees are due by July 31th. For more information.

Latest Resources

Organizing and Conducting a Tractor Operation Workshop Publication

A question often asked is how to get farm helpers trained to safely operate the tractor and equipment. "Organizing and Conducting a Safe Tractor Operation Workshop" is a concise informational outline of what is necessary to train apprentices, interns, volunteers, and inexperienced new employees in safe tractor driving skills. This publication, recently released by the Ag Safety and Health Program at Penn State, is free for download online.

New Publication Highlights Cooperative Farming Business Models

The Greenhorns' latest publication is all about farmers working together to build viable businesses. It has chapters on resource-sharing, collective farms, legal structures, tips of making it work, and cooperative land-holding. You can find it as a free download online.

FarmFan Increases Farmers Market Sales

Using a combination of loyalty and text messages, FarmFan drives traffic to your market stand or on-farm retail market. FarmFan sends a text message to customers an hour before the market starts, which has a powerful effect on increasing sales. FarmFan also includes a customer rewards program that acknowledges loyalty to your farm. For more information on the program: http://www.farmfanapp.com/info.

Food Hub Benchmarking Study Results Available
The National Good Food Network Food Hub Collaboration has released Food Hub Benchmarking Study: Report on Findings, 2013. The report is the result of a study undertaken to help not only farmers and food hub operators, but also lenders, investors, and grant makers understand how this market sector works. The study considered scope of operations, products, organization and operations, sources of revenue, labor expenses, customers, and other factors. The 13-page publication is available online.

Get Connected!
Need personal help?
Sometimes local questions are best answered by your neighborhood Cornell Cooperative Extension agent. Check out our county-by-county listing of small farm agents here. You can also get to know our Cornell Small Farms Program staff, or contact us.   Just starting to farm?  We have an extensive directory of beginning farmer service providers across the Northeast in the "Who Can Help?" section of our Northeast Beginning Farmers Project website.
The Small Farms Update is intended as a resource for farmers and agricultural service providers in New York and the Northeast, and is provided to you by Cornell Small Farms Program. Our mission is to foster the sustainability of diverse, thriving small farms that contribute to food security, healthy rural communities, and the environment.  The Cornell Small Farm Program is a joint effort of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and Cornell Cooperative Extension.

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