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Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Mendocino County Lease Clinic & Potluck/Mixer, Tuesday July 14,4:30-7pm at Ridgewood Ranch!

Creating Secure Land Tenure Agreements:
Lease Clinic & Potluck

DATE: July 14, 2015,
TIME: 4:30-6:30 Workshop; 6:30 Potluck/Mixer
LOCATION: Howard House, Ridgewood Ranch, 16200 N. Hwy 101, Willits, CA (map)

Are you a farmer or rancher looking to lease land in the North Coast region? Are you already leasing but wish to learn more about what makes a good farm or grazing lease? California FarmLink, The Grange Farm School and North Coast Opportunities invite you to join us for a Lease Clinic and Potluck!

This introductory workshop is geared towards farmers and ranchers in the first ten years of production who are looking to better understand the components of a good farm or grazing lease. Specific topics will include the legal and financial risks of poorly developed leases, leasing best practices, alternative lease clauses, and lease development and negotiation.

Join us afterwards for a potluck and networking!


  • Frederick Smith, North Coast & Bay Area Program Coordinator, California FarmLink
  • Tim Ward, Program Director of the Grange Farm School and owner of Anderson Valley Community Farm
  • Mark Biaggi owner of Laluna Farm and experienced Mendocino rancher. 

COST: Free – but space is limited so be sure to RSVP to

Sponsored by California FarmLink, The Grange Farm School and North Coast Opportunities

Thursday, June 25, 2015

30 Year Old Trial Finds Organic Farming Outperforms Conventional Agriculture

Many of us intuitively knew this all along, but it's amazing to see a 30-year study showing that, yes, organic agriculture is not only healthier for farm workers and eaters, but more productive too.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Farm Conservation Client Gateway Now Open for Use!

On Wednesday, May 27, USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) released their long anticipated online portal for conservation activities. This new Conservation Client Gateway, is a streamlined online approach to be used by farmers, ranchers, and private landowners who have or are looking to secure NRCS funding for conservation programs. This Client Gateway is a secure and efficient way for farmers, ranchers, and other producers to work with NRCS planners online and acquire assistance.
What is possible on the Conservation Client Gateway?
  • Request NRCS technical and financial assistance
  • Complete and sign conversation program applications
  • Review and sign conservation plans and contracts
  • Track payments for a requested conservation program
  • Track conservation progress and request documentation of completed practices
  • Report practice completion
  • Obtain and store financial and technical documents and files
What type of information can be accessed in the online Gateway?
  • NRCS Financial Assistance Conservation Program applications submitted during the current fiscal year
  • NRCS Financial Assistance Conservation Program active contracts
  • Conservation Plans connected with an active NRCS Financial Assistance Conservation Program contract (specifically the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) or the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP))
This NRCS online portal will allow users to make fewer trips to their local field office and will allow individuals to complete all administrative tasks in a timely manner online. NRCS staff will be able to focus more on the users’ resource opportunities rather than paperwork by working with users through the online Gateway.
In order to access the Client Gateway, two steps are required for new users:
  1. Confirm your Service Center Information Management System (SCIMS) record – confirm that you have a SCIMS record that is linked to an email address by contacting your local USDA Service Center.
  2. Obtain a Level 2 eAuth Account – create your Level 2eAuth account that is linked to your SCIMS record by visiting the USDA eAuthentication Service website.
Access the Conservation Client Gateway here, and read more about the benefits of this innovative conservation resource.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Upcoming Grant Deadlines for Producers!

Upcoming Grant Deadlines for Producers

Value-Added Producer Grants – July 2
The Value-Added Producer Grant (VAPG) program provides
competitively awarded grants to individual independent 
agricultural producers, groups of independent producers, 
producer-controlled entities, organizations representing 
agricultural producers, and farmer or rancher cooperatives 
to create or develop value-added producer-owned businesses.
These grants may be used to fund business and marketing plans 
and feasibility studies or to acquire working capital to operate 
a value-added business venture or alliance. On May 8th , the 
U.S. Department of Agriculture announced the availability of 
$30 million in funding through the competitive VAPG Program. 
The deadline to submit paper applications isJuly 7. Electronic 
applications submitted through are due July 2.

Organic Certification Cost Share Programs – 
Reimbursement On-going
USDA will reimburse up to 75 percent of an individual producer’s or
handler’s certification costs, up to a maximum of $750 per farm
certification through September 30!
USDA offers farmers two programs to help defray a portion of the
annual costs associated with organic certification:
the National Organic Certification Cost Share Program (NOCCSP) and
 the Agricultural Management Assistance Organic Certification Cost 
Share Program (AMA). Both programs are noncompetitive financial
assistance programs that help defray the costs of organic certification
and are administered by the National Organic Program (NOP). NOCCSP
is available nationally, while AMA is available only in certain states in
the northeast and west.
On May 14, the USDA announced the availability of approximately
$11.9 million in funding for organic certification cost-share assistance
for organic producers and handlers through state departments of
agriculture. Payments for certification-related expenses incurred from
October 1, 2014 through September 30, 2015 can reimburse up to 75
percent of an individual producer’s or handler’s certification costs,
up to a maximum of $750 per farm certification.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Monday, May 4, 2015

NGFN Webinar - Crop Insurance for Small Farms: A Crash Course, Thursday May 14, 3:30-4:45 pm

Crop insurance is a critical part of a comprehensive risk management strategy. Matching operations with crop insurance options is important. In addition, identifying and matching a farm's overall business goals to other insurance tools is an important step in the growth and sustainability of the operation.
Learn about crop insurance options, what it means to be in an insurance contract, how to think about the best options for your farm, or the farms that you advise and work with.

Vineyard Irrigation Efficiency and Water Quality Management Workshop Wednesday, May 20, 2015, 8:30-11:30 am, Benziger Family Winery, Glen Ellen

Join us for a workshop on vineyard water management and conservation. Presentations will be made on how to best manage your water resources to maintain good crop quality, while protecting water quantity and quality. The meeting will feature presentations in the Winery’s meeting room, and end with a demonstration in the vineyard.

Speakers include:

  • Keith Abeles, Sonoma RCD -Irrigation Evaluations and Achieving Good Distribution Uniformity
  • Mark Greenspan, Advanced Viticulture- Irrigation Scheduling to Maximize Efficient Use of Water
  • Adam Weinberg and Cree Morgan, Department of Agriculture (formerly known as Sonoma County Ag Commissioner’s Office)­-Farming in the Riparian Corridor
  • Anya Starovoytov, Sonoma RCD- Developing LandSmart® Plans to Protect Water Resources and Comply with Emerging Regulations
  • Jennifer Walser, NRCS Petaluma- NRCS Cost Share Opportunities for Grape Growers and Landowners
  • Robert LaVine, Sonoma County Winegrowers- Sustainability Program Update

This event is sponsored by Sonoma County Winegrowers and Sonoma Resource Conservation District, in partnership with USDA Risk Management Agency, Sonoma County Farm Bureau and the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance.

For more information contact Keith Abeles at 707-569-1448 x 112 and or Karen Thomas, SCWC, at 707-522-5862 and