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Friday, June 24, 2016

Farmers of All Generations! We need your help.

In 2014, a group of pioneering organic farmers, coined “Agrarian Elders” by The New York Times, gathered on the California coast to discuss “a national emergency”--the greying American farmer. According to the 2012 USDA Agricultural Census, the number of California farmers over 65 has grown by 20%, while the number of beginning farmers decreased by 23%.

Many seasoned farmers are asking: “Can I retire? Can I pass my knowledge and legacy to the next generation?” At the same time, young farmers are asking, “How can I get started, and build on what the elders have accomplished?”

California FarmLink has launched a long-term initiative to develop an array of farmland and business succession services to support established farmers in transitioning their businesses to new farmers, and enable young farmers to continue the farms and harness the wisdom that has been gained.

Your input is critical to guiding the work of this project. We invite farmers of all generations to take a few minutes to complete an in-depth needs assessment to guide the work of FarmLink’s agrarian elders succession project. Your responses will provide us with real-life information about the needs, challenges, experiences, ideas, and approaches to shape our work.

Please feel free to share this survey with your farmer friends and colleagues, as well as other agricultural professionals or stakeholders.

If you are seeking assistance on transferring your farm land and/or business to the next generation, or you are looking for a farm succession opportunity, please contact Liya Schwartzman: 831.425.0303, extension 7017, or

Funding for this project was provided by the Washington State University Western Extension Risk Management Education Center, the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), the UNFI Foundation, Clif Bar Family Foundation, Farm Aid, the Clarence E. Heller Charitable Foundation. Thank you for your generous support of the Agrarian Elders Initiative.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Farm Finance Tools to Help You Manage Risk - Free Webinar on Wednesday June 22 from 12-1:30 pm

Hello everyone!

Growing Profitable Small Farms:
Financial Risk Management and Crop Insurance

Would you like to learn about opportunities to protect your farm’s long-term financial growth and viability? Join us for this webinar where we will look at two key aspects of farm risk management, and what you can do to protect your farm and plan for the future.

Farm Finance Tools to Help You Manage Risk
Wednesday June 22, 12-1:30 pm

Join FarmLink for this farm financial management workshop that will get you started (or keep you going) on the right track. By the end of the webinar, you will understand:

  • 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
  • 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

To RSVP for this free webinar, Click Here

Presented by California Farmlink and hosted by CCOF
Support for this project is provided through a cooperative agreement with the USDA Risk Management Agency. 

Monday, June 13, 2016

The USDA's Value Added Producer Grant Program Deadline is July 1! Don't miss out!

Whether helping farmers turn organic grains into shelf-ready items or providing capital for the creation of farm-identity preserved regional supply chains, the Value-Added Producer Grant (VAPG) program has served as a valuable resource for farmers looking to grow their businesses through value-added products.

Back in April, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced the availability of $44 million in funding through the competitive VAPG Program. Administered by USDA Rural Development, the VAPG program provides competitive grants to producers for working capital, feasibility studies, business plans, and marketing efforts to establish viable value-added businesses. Up to $75,000 is available for planning grants and up to $250,000 is available for implementation grants.

The deadline for proposals is now right around the corner!  Paper applications are due July 1
while electronic applications are due June 24 through

Individual and groups of producers, as well as farmer coops and producer-controlled businesses, are eligible to apply for these grants, which help to increase income and marketing opportunities for America’s farmers and ranchers, along with fishermen, loggers, and other harvesters of agricultural commodities.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Farm Groups and Farm Lenders Appeal for Assistance During Credit Crunch

RELEASE: Farm Groups and Farm Lenders Appeal for Assistance During Credit Crunch


Juli Obudzinski, 202-547-5754,
Ferd Hoefner, 202-547-5754,

Farm Groups and Farm Lenders Appeal for Assistance During Credit Crunch

Washington, DC, June 2, 2016 – Operating loans are the lifeblood of farming. They help farmers get crops in the ground, by financing needed supplies and equipment, and when necessary, refinancing earlier loans. The federal government assists with loans for farmers who cannot secure adequate credit in commercial markets. During difficult economic times, when crop and livestock prices are low, the need for such assistance rises.

Right now, demand for such assistance is so strong that the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) expects to completely run out of operating loan funds in the next few weeks. If this happens, farmers applying this year will still be able to have their applications approved by FSA, but they will not actually receive loan funds until Congress acts on the next agricultural spending bill.

Today, eight national farm and financial organizations appealed to Congress to address the emerging farm lending crisis by increasing funding for federally-assisted farm operating loans in the fiscal year (FY) 2017 agricultural appropriations bill. Congress is expected to debate and vote on that bill later this month.

The letter urges Congress to add $16.5 million to the FY 2017 spending bill, the amount needed to make available an additional $300 million in direct FSA operating loans and $350 million in FSA guarantees of private sector commercial loans. These amounts would allow USDA to cover the estimated shortfall of available loan dollars.

Three national farm groups – National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC), National Farmer Union, and National Young Farmers Coalition – signed the letter, as did all of the major farm lenders – American Banking Association, Farm Credit Council, Independent Community Bankers of America, National Association of Credit Specialists, and the Opportunity Finance Network, the member organization of Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs).

“We are pleased to be joined by a coalition of farm groups and farm lenders in this urgent appeal,” said Ferd Hoefner, Policy Director for NSAC. “We hope that the need underscored by the united voices of the farm sector will persuade Congress to find the necessary funds to fill this shortfall and prevent thousands of farmers from losing access to operating loans that are vital to their ability to do business.”

FSA is both the lender of last resort for farm businesses that cannot secure commercial loans, and the lender of first opportunity for our nation’s young and beginning farmers. The majority of operating loans made or guaranteed by FSA are typically set-aside for beginning farmers, but the competition for these loans is growing as more established, commercial farmers facing – who are facing decreased commodity prices – increasingly need to rely on FSA support.

The coalition emphasizes the urgency of the situation in their letter, stating, “Access to credit can largely determine whether or not farmers can continue working on their lands, and for beginning farmers it can determine whether or not they decide to pursue a career in agriculture in the first place.”

A copy of the letter is available online.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Go Organic! – Organic Certification for Processors in Sonoma, CA! June 22, 9am - 4pm

Go Organic! – Organic Certification for Processors in Sonoma, CA

Are you thinking of starting an organic food business and want to know more about organic certification? Is your food processing operation looking to expand into organic production? Are you an existing organic processor looking to train new staff in what it takes to manage your business’s organic certification? If so, join CCOF and Forager Project in Sonoma, California, for a workshop on what it takes to go organic for food processors and handlers. The workshop will start with a review of the nuts and bolts of organic certification by CCOF staff. Then, learn about benefits and challenges of going organic from successful organic processors including speakers from Forager Project, Three Twins Ice Cream, Lundberg Family Farms, and California Olive Oil Co-Packer. In the afternoon, we will tour Cowgirl Creamery’s organic cheese making facility.

Date:      June 22, 2016
Time:     9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. PDT
Cost:     $65 incl. organic lunch

Registration/More Information:

A little about the CCOF Foundation:
CCOF Foundation is a 501c(3) non-profit based in Santa Cruz, CA. We envision a world where organic is the norm. We advance organic agriculture for a healthy world through education and hardship grants, technical assistance, and consumer education. We are proud to build upon more than 40 years of CCOF’s commitment to growing organic. For more information, please see our website.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Free Webinar: Farm Finance Tools to Help You Manage Risk, June 22, 12-1:30 pm

Farm Finance Tools to Help You Manage Risk

Wednesday June 22, 12-1:30 pm


California FarmLink and CCOF’s farm financial management webinar will get you started (or keep you going) on the right financial track. By the end of the webinar, you will understand:

  • 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
  • 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 

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

40 acres for lease for organic vegetabvle farming and pasture near town of Mendocino!

Check this out!

Unique opportunity to lease approximately 30-40 acres (willing to start with 10) for organic vegetable farming and pasture on established 320 acre homestead in the Jackson State Forest. It farm is located 30 minutes from both Mendocino and Ft. Bragg and 10 miles inland from the coast (including 5 miles of dirt road). 280 acres of coastal redwood & Douglas fir with the remainder of the ridge top in open pasture, garden, orchard, berry, 9 buildings (including possible housing).
Ideal situation two couples. This is fully-functional, working farm.

7-10 acres for row crops and the rest is pasture.

Three year lease to start with possibility of 10-year renewable terms.