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Thursday, April 21, 2016

Farm Finance Clinic: Planning for Profitability - Tuesday May 3, 3:00-5:30 pm Sebastopol Grange Hall, Sebastopol, CA - Free!

Farm Finance Clinic: Planning for Profitability

When: Tuesday May 3, 3:00-5:30 pm
Where: Sebastopol Grange Hall, Sebastopol, CA

  • Ryan Power, New Family Farm
  • Belle Davis, Farm Service Agency (FSA)
  • Frederick Smith, California Farmlink

Real farm work is not just plowing fields, weeding, and transplanting; farm financial management is essential to establishing and growing a sustainable farm business. Join us for this financial management workshop that will get you started (or keep you going) on the right track.

You will learn about:
  • cash flow management to manage financial risk 
  • how to use farm balance sheets and income statements to manage debt 
  • the benefits of diversification 
  • business structures and their implications for debt and building equity
  • the basics of credit scores and how to improve or establish credit history 
  • different types of agricultural loans, and how a loan might work for you
The workshop is free, but registration is required. To register, click here.

This workshop is being held before the regularly scheduled Sebastopol Farmers Guild meeting and potluck at 6 p.m. So bring some food for the potluck and stay awhile! if you have any questions, please contact Frederick Smith at 831-425-0303 x 7018.

Co-sponsored by California Farmlink and the Farmers Guild

This material is based upon work supported by USDA/NIFA under Award Number 2012-49200-20030.


Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Farm Financial Business Planning Webinar - Thursday April 28

Are you having difficulty finding time for regular financial tasks? Is your farm business running as smoothly as possible?

This webinar is designed to give you the tools to stay on track during the growing season. Join New Entry Sustainable Farming Project and The Carrot Project for a webinar overview of a new Financial Calendar tool. We'll dive into how the tool can help you stay organized with daily, weekly, monthly, and annual tasks. A successful beginning farmer will also be on hand to help you adapt the calendar to your farm's needs and realities and create a personalized financial management calendar for your farm.

Cost: free
Date: Thursday, April 28
Time: 12 pm – 1 pm

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Happy International Women's Day!

Thank goodness for women! Women-owned farms have more than tripled since 1980, and women lead the way in sustainable and organic agriculture.

 Since 2012, 29% of FarmLink's loans were made to women, 27% were made to low-income women, and 22% were made to low-income women of color - totaling well over 1 million dollars! We are honored to be a small part of their stories and support their work!

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Food Safety/FSMA Workshop - March 2, 2016, 9 a.m. - 4 p.m., UC ANR Hopland Research & Extension Center

Food Safety/FSMA Workshop
March 2, 2016
9 a.m. - 4 p.m.
UC ANR Hopland Research & Extension Center
The Rod Shippey Building
University Road • Hopland • CA • 95449

More Info & Registration
Suggested donation of $10; no one turned away for lack of funds.
Includes seasonal catered lunch. Inquire regarding affordable lodging options.
Registration encouraged. Walk-ins welcome.

Curious about the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) and what it means for your farm? Join farmers and experts from UC Davis and CAFF for an intensive workshop the day after the North Coast Farmers Convergence.

·        Learn the science behind FSMA
·        Share common sense best practices in food safety
·        Get information designed specifically for small and diversified farms
Topics include:

·        FSMA, GAPs, and Food Safety Plans- Dave Runsten, Policy Director, CAFF

·        Food Safety Science -- Trevor Suslow, Extension Specialist, Department of Plant Sciences, UC Davis

·        Pre- and Post-Harvest -- Trevor Suslow, Extension Specialist, Department of Plant Sciences, UC Davis

·        Integrating Crops and Livestock on Diversified Farms -- Alda Pires, Extension Specialist in Urban Agriculture and Food Safety, Veterinary Medicine, UC Davis

·        Using Animal Biological Amendments -- Michele Jay-Russell, Program Manager, Western Center for Food Safety

·        Farm and Wildlife Interface -- Michele Jay-Russell, Program Manager, Western Center for Food Safety

More Information:
·        North Coast Farmers Convergence • March 1, 2016 • Ridgewood Ranch • Willits •
·        Food Safety Workshop • March 2, 2016 • Hopland Research & Extension Center • Hopland •

Hosted by:
UC Cooperative Extension Mendocino County, UC Hopland Research and Extension Center
North Coast Opportunities, the MendoLake Food Hub and CAFF

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP) deadline on Tuesday March 1

NAP Annuals Application Closing Date - Tuesday, March 1, 2016

The Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP) provides financial assistance to producers of noninsurable crops to protect against natural disasters that result in lower yields or crop losses or prevent crop planting. 

Tuesday, March 1st is the NAP application closing deadline for 2016 annual crops (e.g. tomatoes, green beans, herbs, squash, carrots, peppers, brussel sprouts, sunflowers). 

You must file a CCC-471 (email to get this form) and pay your service fee by March 1, 2016. 

For all coverage levels, the NAP service fee is the lesser of $250/crop or $750/producer per administrative county, not to exceed a total of $1875 for a producer with farming interests in multiple counties. 

There is a potential service fee waiver or 50% discount for beginning, limited resource, etc. farmers, so do not hesitate to get started on calling or visiting your local service center! 

Please contact the service center in your area if you wish to have 2016 NAP coverage. See below for regional offices:  

Solano/Napa Counties:
Marianne A Morton
County Executive Director
(707) 448-0106 x 104

Humboldt/Mendocino Counties: 
Katherine L Delbar
County Executive Director
(707) 468-9223

Thursday, February 18, 2016

The Greying of California Farming: Success and Succession - Sonoma County Farmers discuss their challenges

February 16, 2016

By Matt Perry

As farmer’s markets explode all over California and people start to view food as a form of medicine, family farms are emerging as the backbone of a blossoming “shop local” movement and the desire to reconnect with both neighbors and nature.

Yet an aging California population also means that older adult farmers – “agrarian elders” – are retiring at a record rate and taking decades of irreplaceable wisdom with them.

A California farming organization is now on a mission to help keep these small farms in the hands of family members or trusted employees to retain this important heritage.

For the past 15 years, California FarmLink has been fostering farm succession using a team of advisors around the state and “toolkits” to help with the process.

“There are a lot of farmers out there who do not have heirs,” says Reggie Knox, who heads the Santa Cruz-based organization as it focuses its succession efforts on those farmers who will be retiring in the next 10 years.

Only about one-quarter of farm successions are passed along to a family member.
The national statistics for aging farmers are staggering. The average age of the American farmer increased from 58 to 60 between 2007 and 2012. Of these agrarian elders, 70% will retire in the next 20 years. And there are demographic challenges to succession: there are 10 farmers over 65 for every one under 35.

California ranks fifth nationally in oldest farmers.

The barriers to family farm succession are extreme. Besides the economic stresses of estate taxes, managing debt load and building equity, there are also the problematic family issues of trust, communication, vision and technology: new owners often want to overthrow convention and cut their own path.

Mike Naylor, owner of Naylor Organics in Dinuba just south of Fresno, said neither one of his two sons wanted to take over the family farm, which grows stone fruits like peaches and plums. Instead, he leased half of his land to a commercial enterprise, and the other half to a woman who has helped Naylor sell his produce at local farmer’s markets. Yet Naylor’s story isn’t necessarily typical.

“Every succession story is completely different,” says Knox.

A “fertility agreement” might seem like a contract from a baby clinic. But it’s precisely what Jennifer Branham signed when she took ownership of the 25-acre Laguna Farm in Sebastopol from its aging owner.

“I never imagined I would have the opportunity to buy the business I worked for,” says Branham.

Like many long-time farmers, Scott Mathieseon wanted to sell his business to someone who would provide the same tender loving care as he did… while still getting a fair price.

Mathieson was tired of the daily demands of farming.  “Scotty wanted to know ‘What do I not have to deal with?’” jokes Branham.

Their succession process, fostered by California FarmLink, was long and stressful. Everything on the farm was inventoried, including seeds. Attorneys “vetted all our crazy legal documents,” says Branham. And when first year revenue was lower than expected, the payment schedule was revised. Finally, the fertility agreement ensured that the land would remain healthy.

“I’m financially poor but my life is rich,” says Branham.

For the past 30 years, a dwindling number of family successions have occurred, according to agricultural consultant Rod Carter. But that trend is slowly changing.

“In the past three to four years, I’ve seen it reverse,” says Carter.

More children have established successful careers elsewhere, he says, and today they have both the financial stability and desire to farm now that crop prices are more attractive. Emerging foreign markets like India, China even the Middle East have insatiable appetites for products like walnuts and almonds that is driving prices skyward.

The spotlight on agrarian elders began two years ago when farmers Michael Ableman and Eliot Coleman hosted the “Agrarian Elders Project” at Big Sur’s Esalen Institute retreat center. During the six-day conference, 24 farmers with over 1,000 years of collective experience explored the complex issues of succession, often citing the two biggest challenges: low pay and the minimal experience of those in succession.

Documentary filmmaker Deborah Koons Garcia – widow of Grateful Dead lead guitarist Jerry Garcia – filmed the event for her forthcoming documentary “Agrarian Elders: Harvesting Wisdom” – capturing the often contrasting issues of farm succession. Despite the low pay and hard work, young farmers are still flocking to the fields.

“So many young people want to make contact with the land,” said Hui Newcomb of Potomac Farms, in the documentary-in-progress.

Andrea Davis-Cetina is one of them.

Davis-Cetina studied sustainable agriculture in college and is committed to finding her “forever land” – a plot of land that isn’t exorbitantly priced that she can tend into her elder years.

“It’s really hard to find land to lease,” says Davis-Cetina, who operates Quarter Acre Farm in the city of Sonoma. Her farm – actually three-quarters of an acre – grows organic vegetables and seedlings, as well as her most popular crop: popcorn.

At just 32, Davis-Cettina is looking at both ends of the succession spectrum – not just as a new, young farmer but eventually one who will pass her business along to someone else.

“I’m in it for the long-term,” says Davis-Cetina. “When I’m 65 to 70 years old I want to be able to be in the position to retire.”