November 4, 2019
Welcome back to the Small Farms newsletter!
Dear friends,

I shared last month that I was appointed to the USDA Advisory Committee on Beginning Farmers and Ranchers. As a member, I will work with folks from around the country to identify ways that USDA services might be better streamlined and targeted to meet the needs of new farmers. 

Last week, the advisory committee had our inaugural meeting in Indianapolis, during the National FFA Convention where about 65,000 young people roamed about in their classic blue jackets.

We all knew these kids had an interest in agriculture, but how many want to farm? Many will pursue agriculture-related careers such as sales, veterinary care, or crop consulting.

What could we do to support those who wanted to keep walking down a path to agriculture production? Once they graduate high school, how could new mentoring networks support their continued development toward farming?

The advisory committee wants to propose actionable strategies for USDA to better support pathways that engage the very young to the more mature new farmer. 

If you have ideas, please share them with us through our online form, now is the time!

Warm regards,

Anu Rangarajan
Director of the Cornell Small Farms Program
Small Farms Program Updates
Helping Farmers Unearth Wisdom through the Act of Listening

Our Baskets to Pallets project coordinator, Violet Stone, recently shared how in the frenzy of our world, and particularly the demanding farm business, the space for a quiet conversation is hard to come by. The project's cohort is currently engaging in "Farm Conversations" with farmers who have participated in our trainings. Violet found that through listening and asking open-ended questions, many of these farmers already had the answers they sought to their challenges. Read more.
In the News: Our Director Talks Crowdfunding for Small Farms

You’ve heard of crowdfunding, but have you heard of crowd-farming? Our program director, Anu Rangarajan, was recently interviewed about funding access for small farms. The sheer amount of capital needed to purchase and operate a farm can be a limiting factor for farmers of all sizes, but small farms are especially at a funding disadvantage. To bridge the gap between farmers and access to funding, crowd-farming provides an alternative method for small and beginning farmers.  Read more.
Join Our Tarping for Reduced Tillage Workshops in New York
Are you using tarps on your farm, or are you considering how tarps could work on your farm? If yes, then you should join one of our upcoming workshops on tarping for reduced tillage on small farms. Hear about research experiments, farmers' stories, and share your own experiences at two workshops in November. Learn more and register.
Explore New Opportunities in the New Year with Online Courses
Live webinars start this week for our second block of online courses, but there is still time to join if you register now. Planning ahead for the winter and new year? Our third block of courses begin in January, and cover a range of topics to help your farm business.
  • Have an idea for a farm enterprise but not sure if it’s feasible? This course will help you explore the potential markets and profitability of your ideas, picking up where BF 101: Starting at Square One left off. (Note: BF 101 is not a prerequisite.)
  • If you’ve been struggling to make your farm operation profitable without driving yourself into the ground, this financial planning course is for you. You will learn how to make financial decisions toward farm and family values and goals.
  • Tree fruit are an important component of the agricultural and homeowner landscape. This course trains beginning tree fruit growers in fundamental concepts in orchard planning and management.
  • Have sheep or thinking about getting a flock? Producers of all experience levels will find something for them in this lively, wide-ranging course. There is no one right way to raise sheep — this course covers many of these different options.
  • This course continues where BF 120 ends, covering vegetable production from transplanting to harvest, including: in-season fertility, integrated pest management, weed control, harvesting, and marketing. (Note: BF 120 is not a prerequisite.)
  • With a bit of practice, mushrooms can be easily grown in the woods on many products. This course trains new and experienced farmers in the background, techniques, and economics of farm scale woodland mushroom production.

Courses are offered with tiered pricing from $199 – $299, based on household size and income to make access to the courses more affordable and equitable for everyone. Browse all of our course offerings on our website and register now to start learning.
Featured From #CornellSmallFarms
@saint_isidores_farm shared the difference between rotational grazing their cows and horses — hungry vs. skeptical.
  @starryridgefarm shared that somewhere over the rainbow, gem corn grows and can be used for popcorn, flour, cornmeal, and decor.
@flyhoneyfarms shared how they tried using pure natural comb honey rounds with one of their beekeeping production colonies.
Share what’s been happening on your farm with #CornellSmallFarms on Instagram and we may feature your image and story in the next newsletter.
Funding Opportunities
Future Organic Farmer Grants for Middle and High School Students

The CCOF Foundation offers grants to help students in grades 7-12 cover the expenses of conducting FFA SAE projects using organic production methods. A total of 33 grants of $1,000 each are available. Learn more and apply by November 15.
Food Animal Concerns Trust (FACT) Fund-A-Farmer Grants

FACT awards competitive grants to working, independent family farmers located in the continental U.S. who raise beef cattle, broiler chickens, dairy cows, goats, laying hens, pigs, sheep and/or turkeys. The grants help cover animal welfare certification, capacity building, and pasture improvement. Learn more and apply by December 2.
NE SARE Accepting Applications for Farmer Grants

Farmer Grants provide research funds for commercial farms to explore new ideas in almost any aspect of production, marketing and other topics that influence successful farming in the 12 Northeast states and D.C. If you want to learn more, check out the free webinar on October 23 (listed in events below).  Learn more and apply by December 3.
Dairy Margin Coverage Program Applications Open Now

All dairy operations are eligible to apply for the Dairy Margin Coverage (DMC) Program, which is a voluntary program that provides dairy operations with risk management coverage that will pay producers when the difference (the margin) between the national price of milk and the average cost of feed falls below a certain level selected by the program participants. Learn more and enroll here December 13. 
Business & Career Opportunities
CCE Clinton Seeks Agriculture & Energy Educator

This position will be responsible for the delivery of established Agriculture and Energy programming and activities, and will serve as the local connection for Regional Ag Specialists, enhancing the Association’s communication with the agriculture community as well as the general public in Clinton County.  Learn more and apply by November 7.
Groundswell Hiring a Farm Education Program Manager

Located in Ithaca, NY, this position will work to develop, coordinate and teach many of the farmer training programs offered by theGroundswell Center for Local Food & Farming, including a 6-month Farmer Training Practicum, technical workshops and an annual farm business course. Learn more and apply by December 1.
NCAT Offers Veteran Scholarships for Sustaining Family Farms Conference

Limited scholarships are available via NCAT for military veterans who would like to attend the annual Practical Tools and Solutions for Sustaining Family Farms Conference. Fifteen partial scholarships and five full scholarships are available. Learn more and apply by December 6.
Mark Your Calendars
Check our statewide calendar for events near you. 
2019 National Field School Conference

When: November 4 to 6,
at various times

Where: Ithaca, NY

Details: This conference brings together land-based beginning farmer trainers, ag service providers, incubator farm program staff, apprenticeship mentors and others. Cost to attend ranges. Learn more and register.
Small Ruminant and Fiber Conference

When: November 9 and 10,
at various times

Where: Ithaca, NY

Details: This conference is aimed at both prospective and experienced goat and sheep raisers as well as fiber designers and processors, youth organizations, college students, professionals and fiber enthusiasts. Learn more and register.
NOFA-NY Battle of the Farmer Bands

When: Saturday, Nov. 16, from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Where: Freeville, NY

Details: Join NOFA-NY for their annual fundraiser, this year co-hosted with Hopshire Farm & Brewery. The benefit will consist of a Battle of the Bands (each featuring at least one farmer) as well as a food truck, beer, and dancing. Learn more.
Farmland for a New Generation Ask the Experts Series

This workshop series by Cornell Cooperative Extension covers finding, affording, marketing, and leasing farmland. Participants from across the state will hear a presentation from each expert, ask questions, and network with other farmland seekers and owners. Cost is $10 a session. Learn more and register.
  • November 12: "How is Farmland Valued?"
  • November 26: "What Is In An Effective Lease Agreement?"
Ag Workforce Development Council's Labor Roadshow III

Learn about various new labor laws affecting farmers in New York State. The Ag Workforce Development Council will be hosting a workshop in five different locations across the state. Sessions run from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. and cost $55 per person, payable at the door. Learn more and register.
  • November 18: Genesee Community College-Batavia Campus in Batavia, NY
  • November 19: The Lodge at Hidden Valley Animal Adventure in Varysburg, NY
  • November 20: Ramada by Wyndham in Watertown, NY
  • November 21: Hilton Garden Inn Clifton Park in Clifton Park, NY
  • November 22: Cayuga‐Onondaga BOCES in Auburn, NY 
Additional Reading & Resources
Low-Tech Tools to Evaluate Tree Health

If you have trees in your yard or on your land there are some simple tools you can learn to use in evaluating the health of your trees. Learn from a certified arborist how to identify terminal bud scars and tree trunk flare. 
Is Pasture, Rangeland and Forage Insurance Right for Your Farm?

If your farm produces hay, or grazes livestock on pasture, then you are eligible for PRF coverage. Unlike single crop insurance, which compensates producers for yield or revenue losses relative to their own production history, PRF compensates farmers for below normal precipitation (rain or snow) in their area.
About Us

The Small Farms Newsletter is a resource for farmers and agricultural service providers in New York and beyond. The newsletter is produced by the Cornell Small Farms Program (SFP), which helps farmers get expert assistance to facilitate all phases of small farm business development. SFP is housed at Cornell University's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and works collaboratively with Cornell Cooperative Extension.
Stay Connected
Do you have farm-related questions? Sometimes local questions are best answered by your neighborhood Cornell Cooperative Extension agent. Find your local contact .