Friday, November 30, 2012

December 2012 Ag Opportunities

The December 2012 issue of Ag Opportunities is now available with the following articles and information:
Past Issues

Soil Health and Soil Quality

Soil is one of the common factors that bring all agriculture together. Regardless of what you farm, the quality of the soil is important. The terms used most often are soil quality and soil health. While many use the terms interchangeably, there is a difference between the two.

 In The Nature and Properties of Soils (Brady and Weil) Fourteenth Edition, they describe the concepts of soil health and soil quality: "Although these terms are often used synonymously, they involve two distinct concepts. The soil health refers to self-regulation, stability, resilience, and lack of stress symptoms in a soil as an ecosystem. Soil health describes the biological integrity of the soil community-the balance among organisms within a soil and between soil organisms and their environment."

Soil quality is a term that we use when we talk about the physical attributes of soil. Physical attributes can be as basic as color. It can also be used to describe more complex soil characteristics such as soil organic matter, nutrient amounts, soil structure, etc. These attributes can all be influenced by management practices and have the capability to enhance or diminish soil health.

Soil quality is often more discussed than soil health because practitioners can visually observe and physically affect this soil property. Soil scientists describe soil quality as the physical and chemical properties of a soil as indicated by the factors of soil formation that together function in support of plant growth. Soil health is a description of the condition or status of a soil and may comprise multiple factors including soil quality characteristics that come together to create a hospitable environment for soil life. These factors may include soil structure as a framework for soil life, fuel in the form of organic matter to drive the entire system, and the diversity or population of soil micro- and macro-fauna. Soil texture and soil fertility are examples of characteristics that we may attempt to enhance. We can add amendments to better our soil tilth or to make the soil more fertile but little information is available on how these practices influence soil health.

Regardless of what terminology we use, soil health and soil quality both play an important role in agriculture.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Basics of Beekeeping in Missouri

This all day workshop will be taught by Jim and Valerie Duever of Jim ‘n’ I Farms, Inc. The speakers have taught several beginning beekeeping workshops and are very passionate about educating people on beekeeping. Come learn about how to start, manage and maintain productive honeybee colonies through an entire year. Also, there will be doing a hands-on building of a hive. This hive will be given away as a door prize.

The workshop will be held at the First Christian Church - 107 North Oak St, California, Missouri on Saturday, December 8th from 9:30 am to 3:00 pm.

Registration is $30.00 per person which includes meal, refreshments and materials. Class size is limited to first 30 paid participants. Deadline to register is December 3, 2012.

Contact the Morgan/Moniteau County Extension Center at (573) 378-5358 for more information or to register.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Some Less Obvious Farm Financing Options

State Agricultural Development Programs

Most states have some type of state-based agricultural finance program. Such programs range from tax credits for landowners who rent land to beginning farmers, to direct- and guaranteed-loan programs and Aggie Bonds, which lower interest rates on loans to beginning farmers. Many of these programs are geared toward beginning farmers. Visit Missouri's at

Personal Savings

Farming is often a long-term, lifetime goal for which aspiring farmers save money while working a nonfarm job over many years, the same way that families set up savings accounts for college. Some nonprofits and state agencies can help meet savings through Individual Development Accounts (IDAs), which match new farmers’ savings account one dollar (or more) for every dollar saved.

California FarmLink and Practical Farmers of Iowa (PFI) both have programs like this. PFI’s Savings Incentive Program requires beginning farmers to attend business management trainings, meet with a farmer mentor, save money regularly, and complete a business plan. Graduating farmers receive their match funds to use for purchasing land, machinery, or livestock.

FSA Transition Incentive Program (TIP)

TIP provides incentives to retiring or retired farmers to rent or sell farmland to beginning farmers. Retiring owners or operators with land coming out of the federal Conservation Resource Program (CRP) are permitted to continue to receive CRP payments for two years if they rent or sell the land to a non-family beginning farmer who will graze or farm the land using sustainable practices. This subsidy might allow the farmer to rent this land at a lower rate to a beginning farmer.

Friends and Family

New farmers can approach friends and family members who believe in their farm business vision and mission for a loan. For example, in the winter before their first year of operation, TableTop Farm in Nevada, Iowa, worked with a lawyer to develop a letter to send to friends and community members requesting small loans of at least $1,000.

Lenders had the option of providing loans of two to five years at interest rates of 2% to 4%, with the longer loans receiving higher interest rates. TableTop used these funds to purchase supplies and make improvements that their FSA equipment loan would not cover.

Private Contracts with Retiring Farmers

Beginning farmer and land link programs connect new farmers with retiring farmers to assist in the transition of land or farm business operations. These programs can ease transitions within a family or make matches across families based on a synchronicity of goals, values, personality types, etc. The combination of an older farmer's wealth and experience and a younger farmer's energy can bring a fruitful farm transition.

Community Supported Agriculture

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) allows farmers to develop relationships with their customers and local community members that can be deep and long-lasting. At its basic level, a CSA provides operating capital for farmers by requiring up-front payments in return for a weekly share of produce throughout the growing season. This allows farmers to purchase seeds and other inputs and to share the risk of crop failure with their customers. Customers may also become long-term investors in the farm by lending money to help farmers acquire land or make other significant investments.

Vendor Financing

Some agricultural suppliers have flexible payment terms that let farmers align their payment plan with their cash flow.

FSA Microloans

The Farm Service Agency has proposed, but not yet implemented, a new category of microloans up to $35,000 for seeds, animals, small equipment, etc., to jumpstart a small farm operation. Contact your county FSA office to learn whether the program has gotten underway.

Microenterprise Lenders and Private Financing Programs

Microenterprise lenders are nonprofit organizations dedicated to supporting microentrepreneurs who are unable to access business loans at commercial banks. Microenterprise lenders offer smaller loans at higher interest rates (around 10%). They also provide training and technical assistance in business start-up or management. Microenterprise lenders include the following:
Crowd Funding: Brand New Online Source of Capital
A new and potentially interesting system of internet-based funding, crowd funding lets many individuals donate money to a business for a specific goal. Some crowd-funding sites aim at sustainable practices. Search for "farm" at,,,, and similar sites. This is a new funding approach, so exercise caution.
(Adapted from Financing Your Farm by NCAT Agriculture Specialist Hannah Lewis)


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Farmers Market Winter Seminars

The Farmers Market of the Ozarks received a MO Dept of Agriculture Specialty Block Grant and will be holding 5 winter seminars for farmers who sell or want to sell at farmers market.  The seminars are FREE and will be held at the Bond Learning Center in Springfield, MO.

November 28 from 5 -7 pm
Facebook for Farmers: Learn how to “Get Social” on the farm or with your business. Bring your
laptops. We are going to get interactive.

December 27 from 5 - 7 pm
Exploring Options to Expand (2 tracks)
1.) Most Marketable Vegetables, Incorporating Alternatives, Adding Fruit to the Farm
2.) Meat Marketing at the Market

January 30 from 5 - 7 pm
Working with High Tunnels: For beginners in production under 2 years

February 27(Partnership with Webb City Farmers Market) from 9 - 4 pm
Food Safety and Marketing Short Course
Maximizing Your Stall Space & Branding: The Name of the Game

March 27 from 5 - 7 pm
Dealing with Drought on the Farm
Irrigation, System Design, Mulching, Planting strategies & Using Natives

Register by Calling 417.766.8711 or email

Monday, November 26, 2012

Missouri Livestock Symposium

The 2012 Missouri LivestockSymposium features something for everyone, according to Garry Mathes, Symposium chair. This year’s Symposium will be held December 7 & 8 at the Kirksville Middle School, 1515 S. Cottage Grove in Kirksville, MO. There is no cost to attend and no registration is required. “Just show up and take advantage of everything the Symposium committee has put together for you,” says Mathes. Symposium hours will be from 4 to 10 p.m. on Friday, December 7 and from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. on Saturday, December 8.

The Missouri Livestock Symposium will feature nationally known speakers on horses, beef cattle, sheep, meat goats, forages and stock dogs. There will even be speakers on timely topics of interest to all homeowners and landowners like “What’s Killing My Trees” and “Farm Continuation and Farm Estate Strategies.”

The Missouri Livestock Symposium takes great pride in providing producers with top-notch science based information on current topics and concerns that allow them to make the best financial decisions possible in their operations. In the beef cattle section the program will concentrate on management strategies related to drought, including climate information, stretching forages, feed costs and market outlook.  A special part of this year’s Symposium will be important information on cattle pinkeye.  The beef section program will also cover a new program titled “Quality Beef by the Numbers,” a program designed to advance the beef industry and provide producers various options that may increase their profitability and knowledge of different aspects of the beef industry.

The Horse Section will feature two talks designed to help both the novice and the most experienced horse owners. The horse section also includes a talk on color genetics in horses.

The sheep and meat goat sections this year feature talks on “Can Selection Reduce Disease?” “Selecting Ewes That Reduce Labor,”  “Why Hairsheep are Becoming Popular” and “The Sheep Economy.”

In the meat goat section, topics include raising goats, feeding meat goats and benefits of crossbreeding goats and goat health and herd management.

The 2012 Missouri Livestock Symposium will once again feature an agriculturally-related trade show and a Classic Tractor Contest with the top 5 tractors on display at the Symposium.

A free beef supper will be at 6 p.m. on Friday, December 7 and a free Governor’s Style Luncheon on Saturday at noon. Mathes says, “if there’s a better deal anywhere we would like to know about it!”

Additional information about the program, speakers and trade show can be found at or email Bruce Lane at (please put MLS in the subject line). You can also call Bruce Lane at 660-665-9866 or Garry Mathes at 660-341-6625.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving


Grant Advising

Michael Fields Agricultural Institute is providing Grants Advising services to two target groups in the Midwest.

To whom are these services directed?

  • Socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers in the Midwest as defined by the USDA’s Risk Management Agency, which is basically minority farmers or women farmers.
  • Rural Wisconsin producers and agriculture-related businesses throughout Wisconsin. Agriculture is broadly defined to also include forestry and fisheries. Businesses can be new or existing.
What is Grants Advising?

MFAI’s Grants Advisor can help you apply to grant and cost-share programs of state or federal sources that could help you start or expand your agricultural, forestry or related business. These can be programs of any federal or state agency, not just the USDA. We will assist individual producers, associations of farmers, and agricultural, fishery and forestry-related businesses to both search for and apply to programs for which they are eligible.

Our Grants Advisor helps you decide whether a grant would be the best way to achieve your goals. If so, she will help you identify a grant program that best fits your goals and help you outline a plan of work to help you meet all application requirements. If not, she will suggest other resources you may choose to approach. Examples might be federal, state or local loan programs, loan guarantees, as well as resource information and resource persons.

The Advisor will help you identify local partners (agency staff, nonprofit organizations, or local volunteers with experience in grants and project management) to strengthen your project, to help you complete the proposal, and, if funding is awarded, to manage the project. The Advisor can assist you in preparing the proposal to ensure timely submission with necessary forms, attachments, and letters of support.

Even for program deadlines months away, it is best to start working now with the Grants Advisor. For more information please contact the Grants Advisor, DeirdreBirmingham at (608) 219-4279.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Federal Poultry Inspection Exemptions

These descriptions are highly simplified. Their acceptance may vary by state. Producers must consult the full USDA regulations to learn whether they qualify for an exemption. And they must meet all state and local regulations.

I. Personal Use Exemption. There is no limit on the number of privately owned birds that may be processed for the private use of one’s household and non-paying guests. Poultry may not be sold or donated for use as human food.

II. Custom Slaughter/Processing Exemption. A custom poultry slaughterer provides the service of slaughtering and processing poultry belonging to someone else for that person’s own use. These poultry products may not be bought or sold for use as human food. There is no limit on the number of birds that may be processed.

III. Producer/Grower – 1,000 Birds Per Year Limit. Producers/growers may sell, as human food, no more than 1,000 birds they themselves raise, slaughter and process on their premises. Slaughter and sales records must be kept.

IV. Producer/Grower – 20,000 Birds Per Year Limit. Producers/growers may slaughter, process, and sell no more than 20,000 birds they themselves raise for distribution as human food, including resale to a distributor, hotel, restaurant, retail store, institution, or small enterprise. The slaughter facility and processing equipment may not be used for another person’s poultry unless an FSIS exemption is granted.  The main difference between III and IV is the labeling.

V. Producer/Grower or Other Person (PGOP) Exemption -- 20,000 Birds Per Year Limit. The PGOP is a single entity, either a poultry grower who raises poultry for sale or a person who purchases poultry live from a grower. The PGOP may slaughter and process no more than 20,000 birds per year for sale to households, restaurants, hotels, or boarding houses—the locations where it will be consumed. The PGOP may not slaughter or process poultry owned by another person, and may not sell products to a retail store or other producer/grower.

VI. Small Business Enterprise Exemption — 20,000 Birds Per Year Limit. Processing under this exemption is limited to the cutting up or boning of no more than 20,000 carcasses per year for use as human food. The small business may be a poultry producer/grower, or a business that purchases live poultry that it slaughters and dresses, or a business that purchases dressed poultry for distribution.

VII. Retail Exemption. The retail exemption for a store, dealer, or restaurant has several restrictions on the type of processing, weight, or dollar limit of poultry products that may be sold. Please refer to Criteria and Notes in the Guidance document (Reference #2 below).

Questions about processing compliance with federal regulations may be directed to your regional USDA Office. To find an office near you, see

References about the Federal Regulations on Processing and Selling Poultry Meat
1.         Federal, state and local meat processing and handling regulations. See the Code of Federal Regulations,, specifically Title 9 Animals and Animal Products, Part 303 Exemptions, and Part 381 Poultry Products Inspection Regulations.

2.         Guidance for determining whether a poultry slaughter or processing operation is exempt from inspection requirements of the Poultry Products Inspection Act, United States Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service Inspection & Enforcement Initiatives Staff, Revision 1, April 2006.
Additional links to regulations and related topics:

3.         Food Safety and Inspection Service Directive: Custom Exempt Review Process.

Read about the Missouri Department of Agriculture’s Meat and Poultry Inspection Program which includes information on custom exempt rules, selling to restaurants, requirements for state inspection, and product labeling instructions.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Signs and Prevention of Poultry Predators

In our area, there are many different predators that can easily prey on poultry if given the opportunity. This list includes coyotes, raccoons, foxes, weasels, birds of prey, opossums, skunks, rodents, snakes, and domestic animals like dogs and cats. Chickens are most vulnerable to predators due to their size. Turkeys and large ducks are less prone to predation. Younger and smaller birds are also more likely to be preyed upon.

Signs of Predation
Since poultry owners don’t usually witness an attack, the only clue to the type of predator is the pattern it leaves on the flock.

Birds are missing — coyotes, dogs, birds of prey, fox, raccoon. Hawks will take birds during the day. Owls take birds at night. Coyotes and fox will remove the birds. Domestic dogs will not eat the birds at the site of the attack. Scattered feathers in an area may be a sign of birds that have panicked. Birds frightened by predators may be found dead in a pile from smothering each other. Raccoons may take several birds in one night. The breast and crop can be torn and chewed, and the entrails sometimes are eaten. There may be bits of flesh near water.

Missing heads — birds of prey and raccoons. Poultry enclosed in pens made of loose meshing are easy prey. Birds of prey can scare birds and cause them to jump or fly up, allowing their heads to protrude through the meshing. Birds of prey will then grab the heads. Raccoons can also reach through openings grabbing and ripping off the bird’s head through the meshing and wire caging. Weasels and minks will kill many birds and eat only the heads.

Missing limbs — raccoons. Raccoons are known for their nimble paws and intelligence. If birds are kept in a mesh-style pen, raccoons are able to reach nearby, unsuspecting birds and pull their legs off.

Missing eggs or chicks — opossums, skunks, rats, cats, snakes, and birds of prey. Opossums and skunks prey at night. Free-range birds and birds in unprotected nests are easy targets for these predators. Rats can carry away day-old chicks and can also bite older birds in the hock joint, which can cause a swelling and infection. Snakes will consume small birds and eggs whole.

Birds with lacerations near the cloaca — weasels, mink. Weasels bite at the vent region, pulling out the intestines. Some birds can be found walking around, dragging their intestines. Weasels and their relatives also kill for fun, which can leave scattered feathers with bloody or torn carcasses.

Mauled birds, eggs raided — opossums, skunks. Opossums will raid poultry houses, usually killing one chicken at a time, often mauling the victim. Eggs will be mashed and messy, the shells often chewed into small pieces and left in the nest. Opossums usually begin feeding on poultry at the cloacal opening. Young poultry or game birds are consumed entirely and only a few wet feathers left. Skunks will kill one or two birds and maul them. When skunks raid nests, the eggs are usually opened at one end; the edges are crushed as the skunk punches its nose into the hole to lick out the contents. The eggs may appear to have been hatched, except for the edges. Weasels and minks will raid nests for eggs. They eat the eggs by breaking in on the ends.

Here are some other signs of predation:

Birds, usually turkeys, found dead in enclosed corners. Turkeys will huddle in an area away from open sides to avoid predators that may be stalking around the perimeter. The weight of the huddled birds is enough to suffocate and/or crush the birds below.

Birds found with missing feathers and abrasions. Cats may prey upon large birds, but are usually unsuccessful.

Birds, usually layers, with wounds found around the vent region. Although this can be predation of some kind, this may also be the result of cannibalism if a bird has a prolapsed rectum after passing an egg. Chickens will be attracted to the bright red tissue and will peck at it, causing wounds.

Prevention of Predation
The easiest way to protect flocks from predation is to keep flocks secure within buildings. However, for the majority of backyard flocks and organic flocks, this isn’t desirable. The next best tool for these small flocks is prevention. Build predator resistant fences and poultry coops/houses. Lock your birds up at night and maintain a vigilant eye. Open poultry houses should be enclosed by fine meshing to prevent entry by wild birds.

(By Soni Cochran, UNL Extension Associate)



Friday, November 16, 2012

Tell Us What You Think

Hi folks -- There is still time to let us know your thoughts about the Missouri Beginning Farmer Program. If you have participated in any of our beginning farmer trainings or events -- including webinars, trainings or Grow Your Farm classes -- between September 1, 2009 and August 31, 2012, we'd love your comments. Go to and fill out the evaluation. Thanks!

Cattle Water Requirements

Water Requirements

Producers are running out of water, ponds being low, wells drying up, etc. The following table lists water require-ments for different classes of cattle at different temperatures and may be useful for planning purposes if you are facing a water shortage.

Gallons/Head/Day - Temperature, °F

Class               40°        60°         70°         80°         90°

600lb calf            5.3          6.6          7.8          8.9          12.7

Cow                      11.4       14.5       16.9       17.9       16.2

Dry cow               6.7          8.3          9.7          --            --


With the feed shortages that many producers are facing, we have been getting questions from producers that have not utilized condensed corn distillers solubles (syrup) before. This particular feedstuff is a by-product of the ethanol industry. It is a liquid feed and storage may be an issue for some. In general, it usually is high in fat, protein, and energy. It also tends to be high in sulfur and phosphorus. There are differences in the product depending on the plant where it was made so we encourage you to request a sample analysis when making purchasing comparisons. When feeding this product care must be taken to not exceed the tolerable level of fat and sulfur in the diet. Also, the calcium to phosphorus ratio must be balanced. Therefore, we do not recommend feeding this product free-choice. When used properly it can be an excellent supplement, especially for low quality forages. If you have questions about the best way to use this product, contact your local county extension livestock specialist.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Donating Produce from Farms and Gardens

With a little bit prior planning, food pantries and other agencies that distribute food or prepare meals are often eager to accept donations of fresh fruits and vegetables. Produce is generally hard to come by for these groups. However, donations of fresh fruits or vegetables provide families with a much needed source of nutritious food, help reduce food waste, and build good relations between gardeners, farmers, and the community. Below are a few simple steps to follow.

·       Make a connection with a hunger relief agency: In Missouri, there are six regional food banks that distribute food to over 2,000 agencies. These include food pantries, community kitchens, shelters, and other places where people in need can go for food. Contact the Missouri Food Bank Association ( or 573-355-7758) to find an agency near you.

·       Work out the logistics: Not all feeding agencies are the same. Some are open multiple times per week. Some are open once per month. Be sure to have a conversation with the director of the agency in your community about the best time for delivering produce, how much produce can be used, and whether they have adequate refrigeration to keep the produce cool.

·       Harvest and handle with care: Whether donating excess produce from a garden or sound but unmarketable produce (because of odd shapes or sizes) from a farm, handle it as if it will be served to your own family and friends. It is best to harvest produce in the early morning and take some measure to get the field heat out of the product (e.g. hydro-cooling, refrigeration). Keep produce refrigerated if possible until it is delivered. If that is not possible, time the harvest so that it goes straight from the garden or field to the food pantry and food pantry customer. For items that ripen at room temperature after they are picked (tomatoes, cantaloupe, other fruits), harvest the produce before it is fully ripe to extend its shelf life.    

·       Coordinate produce donations with other gardeners and farmers: Area gardeners may choose to join forces to harvest and deliver produce to an agency at a scheduled time. Likewise, for growers who sell at farmers’ markets or produce auctions, produce may be brought to market and set aside at a central location. Also, produce that doesn’t sell can be collected at the end of the day. Delivery or pick-up will need to be arranged.

·       Look into gleaning: Gleaning is a tradition that goes back hundreds of years. It involves allowing volunteers to harvest sound produce from farmers’ fields that isn’t profitable to harvest and take to market. For help with gleaning, for farmers or people looking to form a gleaning group, contact the Society of St. Andrew. They can help locate farms and coordinate volunteers, provide packaging for donated produce, and provide growers with a receipt for their donation. Contact Lisa Ousley or Karin Page at 816-921-0856.

·       For farmers’ markets…Establish a Donation Station at the market: This is basically a table and tent that allows customers to make donations of produce or cash. If cash is donated, it is used to purchase food at the market for a local hunger relief agency. Farmers can participate too.

·       Set a goal: Before the season, set a goal for how much produce you or your fellow gardeners and farmers hope to donate.

This is a Food Pantry Nutrition Project at the University of Missouri.  Watch this video to see more of what they do.
 (by Bill McKelvey, Interdisciplinary Center for Food Security, University of Missouri)

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Applications Available Now for Value-Added Agriculture Grants

Missouri producers and agribusinesses interested in developing or expanding their value-added agriculture operations can now apply for grants through the Missouri Department of Agriculture (MDA) and the Missouri Agricultural and Small Business Development Authority (MASBDA). The Value-Added Agriculture Grant Program is currently accepting applications for funding to assist farmers with business planning expenses for projects that develop, process or market agricultural goods.

"Grants, like these for value-added agriculture, are important tools for Missouri's producers and agribusinesses as they work to expand their operations and realize new opportunities," said Director of Agriculture Dr. Jon Hagler. "Our business community has several examples of successful businesses that started out with support from a value-added grant, and as Missouri agriculture continues to grow, our Department of Agriculture will lead the way in supporting our farmers' innovations in production and processing technology."

Earlier this year, MDA and MASBDA awarded more than $370,000 in grants to assist producers and agribusinesses exploring and expanding value-added agriculture.

Grants are awarded on a competitive basis, and applications will be scored based on their economic development potential for the agriculture industry, credibility and merit, probability of near-term commercialization and practical application of project results, source and level of matching funds and the geographic location of the project's economic impact.

Past projects have included feasibility studies for native nut production, local dairy processing and waste management. Projects funded in previous years have also included business plans and marketing plans for locally produced pork and poultry products, biomass pellets, wind energy and specialty grains.

The maximum individual grant is $200,000, with a portion of the available funding designated for grant requests of $25,000 or less. Applicants are required to provide a 10 percent cash match toward eligible expenses, which do not include operating expenses, salaries or capital improvements.
These grants are funded by contributions made to MASBDA through the purchase of tax credits. Donors receive up to 100 percent of their contribution in tax credits. Grant applicants are responsible for securing commitments to buy the tax credits. Tax credit applications amounting to at least 50 percent of the grant request must be submitted with the grant applications.

Applications must be received by MASBDA no later than 5:00 p.m. Friday, Dec. 28, 2012. Incomplete applications will not be accepted. For more information on the program and complete guidelines, visit the Department online at or contact MASBDA at or (573) 751-2129.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

SARE Farmer/Rancher Grants - Due Nov 29th

This is a reminder that the 2013 NCR-SARE Farmer Rancher Grant Proposals are due Thursday, November 29th at 4:30 p.m. at the NCR-SARE office in Saint Paul, MN.

Farmers and ranchers in the North Central Region are invited to submit grant proposals to explore sustainable agriculture solutions to problems on the farm or ranch.  Proposals should show how farmers and ranchers plan to use their own innovative ideas to explore sustainable agriculture options and how they will share project results. Sustainable agriculture is good for the environment, profitable, and socially responsible.

Projects should emphasize research or education/demonstration. There are three types of competitive grants: individual grants ($7,500 maximum), partner grants for two farmers/ranchers from separate operations who are working together ($15,000 maximum), and group grants for three or more farmers/ranchers from separate operations who are working together ($22,500 maximum). NCR-SARE expects to fund about 45 projects in the twelve-state North Central Region with this call. A total of approximately $400,000 is available for this program. Grant recipients have 25 months to complete their projects.

Interested applicants can find the call for proposals online as well as useful information for completing a proposal online. You can find more information about sustainable agriculture on this website, or take a free National Continuing Education Program online course about the basic concepts. Proposals are due on Thursday, November 29th at 4:30 p.m. at the NCR-SARE office in Saint Paul, MN.

A hard copy or an emailed copy of the call for proposals is also available by contacting Joan Benjamin. We make revisions to our calls for proposals each year, which means it is crucial to use the most recent call for proposals.

Each state in SARE's North Central Region has one or more State Sustainable Agriculture Coordinators who can provide information and assistance to potential grant applicants.  Email KB Paul or Debi Kelly.  

Potential applicants with questions can contact Joan Benjamin, Associate Regional Coordinator and Farmer Rancher Grant Program Coordinator.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Farm Service Agency - Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP)

November 20th is the upcoming deadline for producers to apply for coverage through Farm Service Agency’s Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP).  NAP provides financial assistance to producers of noninsurable crops when low yields, loss of inventory or prevented planting occur due to normal disasters. This deadline pertains to the following crops:

Apples, Apricots, Blueberries, Grapes, Nectarines, Peaches, Pears, Plums and Prunes.

Other upcoming sales closing dates for NAP include:

12/3/12 – Honey
12/31/12 – Potatoes
2/28/13 – Rice
3/15/13 – All other crops

All NAP sales closing dates and other FSA program deadlines can be found on our website,  Click on the “Complete List of Deadlines” link.

There is a factsheet about the NAP Program and a news release about the deadline is also available.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Building the Base of Your CSA: Legal Best Practices, Including Member, Volunteer, and Intern Agreements

Do you have a CSA program or are you planning to start one? Would you like guidance in how legal documents can help you achieve your CSA goals?

Farmers are invited to attend a webinar December 10th from 6 pm to 7:30 pm to learn about the legal aspects of running a CSA and gain strategies for crafting a CSA member agreement to improve customer satisfaction and retention. This webinar will also discuss how to create meaningful volunteer opportunities with worker share or volunteer agreements, while also identifying potential legal risks. We will discuss setting up a CSA business, hiring interns and apprentices, and overall risk management strategies to build a CSA that can thrive.

CSA farmers, educators, and advocates are invited to attend. The legal principles discussed will be relevant to CSA farmers nationwide, although Wisconsin and Illinois examples will be emphasized for state-specific discussions.

Please register for this webinar at

After registering you will receive more information about how to log into the webinar. We are excited to use the University of Illinois’ user-friendly and interactive webinar presentation resources. It will be accessible for those on dial-up. Phone support will be available if you have any trouble accessing the presentation.

This webinar is presented by Professor A. Bryan Endres at the University of Illinois Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics and Rachel Armstrong of Farm Commons and the University of Illinois. It is hosted by the University of Illinois, Online and Continuing Education, and funding is provided in part by the North Central Risk Management Education Center.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Youth Educator Grants

This is a reminder that the 2013 NCR-SARE Youth Educator Grant Call for Proposals are due by 4:30 pm, Thursday, November 15, 2012 at the NCR-SARE office in Saint Paul, MN.

Youth Educator Grant projects provide opportunities for youth in the North Central Region to learn more about sustainable agriculture (farming and ranching that is ecologically sound, profitable, and socially responsible).  Educators use the grants to encourage young people and their parents to try sustainable practices and see sustainable agriculture as a viable career option. Projects should help youth discover that sustainable farming and ranching is profitable; good for families, communities, and their quality of life; and good for the environment long term. Grants are awarded at a $2,000 maximum, and a total of approximately $20,000 is available for this program. Grant recipients have 25 months to complete projects.

Interested applicants can find the call for proposals online as well as useful information for completing a proposal.  You can find more information about sustainable agriculture here on our website, or take a free National Continuing Education Program online course about the basic concepts. Note that NCR-SARE’s Youth Grant Program was discontinued in March 2012.

Proposals are due by 4:30 pm, Thursday, November 15, 2012 at the NCR-SARE office in Saint Paul, MN.

A hard copy or an emailed copy of the call for proposals is also available by contacting Joan Benjamin. We make revisions to our calls for proposals each year, which means it is crucial to use the most recent call for proposals.

Each state in SARE's North Central Region has one or more State Sustainable Agriculture Coordinators who can provide information and assistance to potential grant applicants. Interested applicants can find their State Sustainable Agriculture Coordinator online.

Potential applicants with questions can contact Joan Benjamin, Associate Regional Coordinator and Farmer Rancher Grant Program Coordinator. 

Joan Benjamin
Farmer Rancher Grant Program Coordinator and Associate Regional Coordinator
Lincoln University
Lorenzo J. Greene Hall
900 Leslie Blvd, Room 101
Jefferson City, MO 65101
Phone: 573-681-5545
Tollfree: 800-529-1342

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Farm Business Planning and Management Workshop

On November 10, 2012, this workshop will address farm business planning and business management. Katherine Kelly, Executive Director of Cultivate KC, will outline the basic steps for developing and implementing a successful business plan. We will also do some interactive activities to get audience members thinking about how they will develop their own business plans. Nick and Loretta Rivard of Nick’s Greenleaf Gardens will discuss basics of business management as well as their experiences developing their own business over the last 20 years. They will also provide a tour of their farm after the workshop.

Registration: $30 (includes lunch and farm tour)

Workshop and Farm Tour Information:

Workshop Location:
9 am – 3 pm at Beacon of Hope Church 1315 E. Walnut St. Raymore, MO 64083

Farm Tour: 3 pm – 4 pm at Nick’s Greenleaf Gardens 13315 E. 147th St (MO 150 HWY) Kansas City, MO 64149

Growing Growers is a collaborative effort of K-State Research and Extension, University of Missouri Extension, Lincoln University Cooperative Extension, the Kansas Rural Center, the KC Food Circle and Cultivate KC. We work to increase the production of local food by helping existing growers farm “better” and by helping new growers get started.  Or more information on our programs, go to:

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Value-added Workshop Nov. 8th

You are invited to join us at the Ennovation Center (Independence) on Thursday November 8th from 5-9 pm for a workshop focused on creating a value-added food business.

"Well Done" is a two-part workshop geared toward existing food producers, those interested in developing a food product including small farmers, homemakers or those who have always wanted to work for themselves in a food-related business.

Part One will cover the basics:
    Get out of the kitchen- FDA regulations, labeling and food safety.
    Don't get burned- Planning your business and pricing for profits.
    Get on the shelf- Working with retail buyers and distributors.
    Get on the plate- Building a brand and moving your customers to buy.

Part Two: will go beyond the basics. We have brought together some of the regions most successful foodpreneurs including the founders of The Roasterie, Boulevard Brewery, Original Juan's and Shatto Milk to share their wisdom and start-up experiences with you.

Dinner will be provided.

This workshop is brought to you in partnership with the Ennovation Center, Lincoln University Cooperative Extension, and the Missouri Department of Agriculture.

DATE: November 8th from 5-9 pm

Ennovation Center
201 N. Forest Avenue
Banquet Room
Independence, 64050

Or contact Katie Nixon.  Farmers that have been working with our Small Farm Program can attend FREE of charge, otherwise the cost is $15.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Webinar Tonight - Starting a CSA

Don't forget to join the Missouri Beginning Farmer Program this evening Monday, November 5th from 7-8:30 pm for a webinar on Starting a CSA with Eric and Joanna Rueter from Chert Hollow Farm. Catch the details of how this CSA operation does it successfully. Join the webinar by logging in at

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Marketing for Profit: Tools for Success Webinar Series

Essential FREE Resource for Farmers, Market Managers, and Local Producers
Marketing for Profit: Tools for Success Webinar Series Registration Now Open!

The Farmers Market Federation of NY and the NY Farm Viability Institute have partnered with USDA Northeast SARE to present a series of webinars on marketing, “Marketing for Profits: Tools for Success”. These webinars have been designed with the assistance of regional and national marketing experts to provide critical marketing insights for farmers and farm markets throughout the northeast. The webinars are free, are approximately an hour and a half long, and easy to access with a basic internet connection. This winter, 6 webinars will be held and interested participants are encouraged to register TODAY for the webinars they think they will attend.

The Marketing for Profit: Tools for Success webinar series will give farmers the information and tools they need to excel at direct marketing their farm products. It will also provide curriculum, presentations and handouts to Cooperative Extension Educators and other farm service educators to help their farmers master key marketing concepts that will bring greater success and more profits to their farms than ever before.

As producers, farmers are well-equipped with the knowledge to produce quality farm products. They determine the best methods of farming, and the crop mix that will help them to achieve their production goals and revenue requirements. They understand and follow all statutory regulations impacting their operation, comply with labor law and file mounds of paperwork. But when it comes to marketing, many producers believe the Field of Dreams version of “Build it and they will come.” Marketing is a concept that must be learned to achieve maximum profits from chosen marketing channels, whether it is farmers markets, CSAs, direct to restaurant sales, or another other venue.

Marketing encompasses a broad array of efforts all aimed at identifying your market and customers, satisfying your customers and maintaining your customers long term. It includes all marketing channel selections and business decisions, what to grow or produce and how it will be produced; ie conventional, organic, bio-dynamic or some amalgam of these; how you choose to make products available, how product is presented to the public, how you present your business, advertising and promotions, signage, pricing strategy, and so on. Marketing is complex and is often the most misunderstood and least successful part of many farm businesses.

The series will include coverage of 5 categories of marketing concepts spanning three years: Self-Assessment, Market Assessment, Customer Assessment, Communications Assessment and Business Assessment. Each Assessment will be a series of 3 webinars. The winter season, 2012-13, will focus on Market Assessment and Customer Assessment. Learn how to understand the current marketplace, understand your competition, find the right fit for you and your products and build your marketing plan. In the Customer Assessment series you will learn to identify your ideal customer and how to attract them, understand customer service, gain knowledge of marketing tactics to reach your ideal customers and use a SWOT analysis to understand trends that can impact your business. These are just a sample of the skills and knowledge to be gained through this season’s Marketing for Profit: Tools for Success webinar series. Each webinar will be repeated twice to maximize opportunity to participate.

Learning to Look Around, or Getting Your Head in the Game!
Bob Buccieri, former President of the Farmers Market Federation of NY
December 4, 10 am – 11:30am
December 5, 7pm – 8:30pm

How Smart ARE you, Really?
Warren Abbott, Abbott Farms, Baldwinsville, NY
December 10, 10am – 11:30am
December 11, 6pm – 7:30pm

Building the Marketing Plan
Marty Broccoli, Ag Economic Development Specialist, Cornell Cooperative Extension, Oneida County
January 8, 11am – 12:30pm
January 9, 6pm – 7:30pm

People Sure Are STRANGE! Coming to Understand the Customer
Marty Butts, Small Potatoes Marketing
January 15, 11am – 12:30pm
January 16, 6pm – 7:30pm

BOGOs, Bounce Backs and the cost of freebies! Promoting the Product
Lindsay Ott Wilcox, Creative Director, Clear Channels Radio, Syracuse
January 29, 11am – 12:30pm
January 30, 6pm – 7:30pm

Every Silver Lining has a Cloud! Market Assessment & Analysis
Marty Butts, Small Potatoes Marketing
February 12, 11am – 12:30pm
February 13, 6pm – 7:30pm

These webinars are free to participate. To register for the webinars, go to

 For more information, detailed descriptions of the sessions or a full, 3 year curriculum, please contact Diane Eggert at or David Grusenmeyer,