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Tuesday, March 9, 2021 - 9:00am

Our Be Well Farming project is pleased to announce two additional winter workshops for farmers or earth workers of all roles and backgrounds across the Northeast U.S.*.

These two remaining sessions focus on exploring fairness and equity on the farm and improving communication among all of the people (owners, managers, employees, interns, etc) in the farm ecosystem.  

The Be Well Farming project creates reflective spaces for farmers to connect meaningfully and explore strategies that can ameliorate challenges and bolster farmers’ quality of life. 

Exploring Fairness and Power on the Farm: A Conversation by Farmers, for Farmers

March 22, 2021, from 3 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.

Behind each farm business selling beautiful bunches of carrots at the farmers market or high-quality cuts of meat to neighbors is a dynamic enterprise driven by the thinking and decisions of real people and real circumstances.

It is not easy, nor quick work to establish effective decision making structures and assign roles and responsibilities to team members in ways that feel fair to the team. In this virtual session, several farmers including  Jody Bolluyt of Roxbury Farm (NY), Maggie Cheney of Rock Steady Farm (NY), and Calley Hastings of Fat Toad Farm (VT)  will each describe their own journey toward creating fair systems on their farms. The workshop format will allow time for participants to reflect on their own experiences; to share ideas, questions, and concerns related to identifying power (im)balances; and opportunities to take steps towards fairness. Participants will be supported through self-reflection and development of appropriate strategies for change.

Facilitator: Calley Hastings, Fat Toad Farm

Intended Audience:  This workshop is intended broadly for anyone involved in commercial farming, including farmers, farmworkers, employees, interns, family members, and partners (with priority given to those in the Northeast U.S.*).

Registration: Please register online for this free virtual session in order to receive the Zoom link and program materials. Participants are encouraged to connect via videoconference if possible, though telephone connection will be available for those who lack the connectivity or technology to do so. Also, contact our program team if particular accommodations could support your full participation.

Peaceful Communication on the Farm: Listening Tools to Improve Understanding

March 29th, 2021, from  3 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.

In the profession of farming, we often focus on improving our skills to cultivate crops or tend animals.  But what about our skills cultivating and tending to farm relationships?  Whether it be interactions with customers, partners, interns, employees, family or friends, communication is the way we keep all of the farm operations running.  Yet, communication isn’t always easy.  Misunderstandings, tensions, even conflicts can arise and be hard to face in the moment. In this interactive virtual workshop, we’ll learn simple techniques to cultivate listening skills for both professional and personal growth. Listening is one of the core ways we build trust and show respect in our relationships. Join us to practice elements of listening with exercises for the head, heart and gut.

Facilitator: Claudia Ke​nny, NYS Agricultural Mediation Program, Little Seed Gardens

Registration.  This workshop is for anyone identifying as a farmer or earth worker in the Northeast U.S.*, urban and rural, including employees, interns, family members, and partners. Please register online for this free virtual session in order to receive the Zoom link and program materials.

 *The Northeast SARE region includes Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, West Virginia, and Washington, D.C.

This material is based upon work supported by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture, through the Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program under subaward number LNE 19-377-33243.

The post Be Well Farming Adds Workshops on Fairness, Power and Communication appeared first on Cornell Small Farms.

Tuesday, March 9, 2021 - 12:00am
Meteorological spring is here, with predictions by the Climate Prediction Center (CPC) covering March, April and May. The vernal equinox, traditionally celebrated as the beginning of the season, will occur on March 20. There are currently strong La Nina conditions prevailing with greater than a degree Celsius below-average temperature in the Pacific Equatorial region. These conditions have some impact on the outlook.
Tuesday, March 9, 2021 - 12:00am
For thousands of years, humans have altered — often negatively and inadvertently —microbial communities in a quest to improve agricultural crops. In recent years, knowledge about the roles microbes play in these systems has grown rapidly but is not yet to the point at which farmers and society have reaped benefits.
Monday, March 8, 2021 - 10:00am

WASHINGTON, March 8, 2021 — Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced the U.S. Department of Agriculture will invest $285 million to help the Forest Service address critical deferred maintenance and improve transportation and recreation infrastructure on national forests and grasslands.

Saturday, March 6, 2021 - 5:02pm

WASHINGTON, March 6, 2021 — Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack made the following statement today on passage of the American Rescue Plan Act by the U.S. Senate.

Friday, March 5, 2021 - 10:55am
Vice President Kamala Harris virtually swears-in Tom Vilsack as Secretary of Agriculture. Credit: USDA

Energy and momentum to address the climate crisis is building under the Biden-Harris Administration. Many parts of the agriculture sector, previously opposed to climate action, have shifted their stance as agricultural soils come into focus as potentially powerful carbon sinks – and source of profit. Legislators, farm groups, advocates, and corporations have been churning out proposals to engage and compensate farmers and ranchers for taking carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere and storing it in their soils. Many of these proposals emphasize carbon markets and offsets as a silver bullet solution for farmers’ involvement in climate mitigation. However, the rush to carbon markets may be premature as carbon sequestration is complex and actions taken now could have far-reaching impacts on how we support farmers working to improve the sustainability of their operations and address the climate crisis.

While carbon markets are tempting—they could create new revenue streams for farmers and ranchers hurting after years of low prices without increasing public spending—relying solely on these markets will not provide the support and incentives needed to help farmers transition to a more resilient climate future. Carbon markets should not be a substitute for strong federal programs that bolster the practices and people already in place that have been committed to “doing the work” for years.

The Biden-Harris Administration’s Executive Order, Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad (E.O. 14008) emphasizes a multifaceted approach to address the complexity of the climate crisis. Outlined in the Executive Order are:

  • The creation of a Civilian Climate Corps to foster the next generation of conservation and environmental resilience workers;
  • A goal of conserving at least 30 percent of lands and water by 2030; and
  • Instructions to gather direct input from Tribes, farmers and ranchers,
    forest owners, conservation groups, and others on how to best implement and fund the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Programs that promote climate stewardship.

The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) praises the Administration’s efforts to include feedback from stakeholders most impacted by USDA programs. Their input will help USDA create climate solutions that are robust, equitable, and that directly serve those working on the ground and guide USDA as they join other agencies to implement an ‘whole of government’ response to the climate crisis. Farmers and ranchers are ready to do their part to address and help reverse the climate crisis by implementing climate stewardship practices and systems, but they will need resources – including programs that pay them for the full range of environmental benefits they provide, research to develop and demonstrate more sustainable production systems, and technical assistance to help them adopt these new systems – if they are to succeed. 

Last fall, NSAC delivered a letter signed by over 2,100 farmers and ranchers from across the country to the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis. The letter urges Congress to make farmers and ranchers central in any major climate change legislation moving forward. After decades of witnessing how climate change has impacted their operations and livelihoods, farmers signed the letter to demonstrate their commitment to adapt to and mitigate climate change through climate-stewardship practices such as cover crops, resource-conserving crop rotations, soil health conservation, grasslands management, and more. To reinforce their commitment, NSAC submitted comments to the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, the Senate Democrats’ Special Committee on the Climate Crisis, and to USDA on its Agricultural Innovation Agenda emphasizing ways that legislators and USDA can improve upon and expand existing programs to better equip farmers and ranchers in their efforts to be part of the solution to the climate crisis. 

NSAC also shared a set of policy recommendations with the Biden-Harris Transition Team to provide the Administration with opportunities to modify and improve existing programs as they work to create a more equitable and resilient system of agriculture. Embedded in all these recommendations is racial equity as a core tenet in future program design and implementation. This includes recommendations to enhance the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), and the Environmental Quality Incentives Programs (EQIP), as well as doubling funding for conservation planning and program applications support, expanding technical assistance, and increasing outreach and set asides for farmers and ranchers of color and other historically underserved producers. 

The recommendations are also designed to help USDA leadership harness CSP as the agency’s premier climate program and further align CRP as a climate and water quality program. It contains points on how USDA can better align crop insurance Good Farming Practices to better support conservation and accelerate the adoption of cropping management plans to build soil health. We also recommend the agency create a Soil Health and Greenhouse Gas Federal Advisory Committee to ensure all USDA conservation programs align in supporting farmer and rancher efforts to adapt to and mitigate the impacts of climate change. Finally, NSAC also recommends that the agency coordinate research programs, such as the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Extension (SARE) program, to develop and test methodologies that can quantify and document carbon sequestration, greenhouse gas reduction, soil carbon and nitrogen dynamics resulting from soil health and other conservation activities. Increased investments in sustainable agriculture, soil health, and climate mitigation research are critical to ensure that American farmers have the tools they need to become more resilient, productive, and sustainable.

We need to drop the fallacy of a silver bullet solution to the climate crisis. To meet the urgency of the climate crisis, we must take a farmer-focused approach that uplifts the work of those farmers, ranchers, land stewards, and foresters who are already working to mobilize around the climate crisis, prioritize expanding and improving existing conservation programs, and continue to innovative, design, and implement new sustainability practices and technologies. NSAC looks forward to working with legislators, the Biden-Harris Administration, and USDA leadership to expand and improve conservation programs, agricultural research, and rural development programs that are farmer-driven and have a proven track record of success. 

The post The Climate Crisis Needs More Than a Silver Bullet appeared first on National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition.

Thursday, March 4, 2021 - 9:32am

The COVID-19 pandemic requires a coordinated approach to combat the virus and its rippling effects. We all have a role to play to help end the pandemic. USDA is doing its part by providing evidence-based research and information, its facilities, personnel, and expertise to communities across the country.

Thursday, March 4, 2021 - 12:00am
Fruit growers are encouraged to attend the Purdue Extension Fruit Management Webinar series sponsored by the Indiana Horticultural Conference and Expo. The series will be held virtually 1-3 p.m. ET Tuesday (March 9), and March 16 and 23.
Thursday, March 4, 2021 - 12:00am
President Biden has recommitted the U.S. to the Paris climate accord and also moved forward with a climate plan calling for carbon free electricity by 2035 and net zero emissions by 2050 — policies compatible with and beyond the 2 degrees C mitigation effort called for in the original Paris agreement.
Wednesday, March 3, 2021 - 3:00pm

WASHINGTON, Mar. 3, 2021 — In January 2021, President Biden released the National Strategy for the COVID-19 Response and Pandemic Preparedness. The plan is driven by science, data, and public health to improve the effectiveness of our nation’s fight against COVID-19 and to restore trust, accountability and a sense of common purpose in our response to the pandemic.

The National Strategy provides a roadmap to guide America out of the worst public health crisis in a century. It is organized around seven goals:

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