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January 14, 2014

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In This Issue

Membership Message

NEFU’s 2014 Convention a Big Success

NEFU Presents on Farmer Co-ops at Maine Agricultural Trades Show

NSAC Offers New Grassroots Guide to Federal Farm Programs

Marketing Classes in Western New England

Member Profile: Franklin County Community Development Center

In Every Issue 

Washington Corner 

Tools for Growth

Upcoming Events

 

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Membership Message

Hi all. We survived the holidays and are headed into the relative down-time of January and February. To take advantage of that window when you are less busy, NEFU is planning a series of Shop Talks, informal events where farmers can talk about issues they’re concerned about. New England Farmers Union listens and incorporates those issues into its policy work. If you’re interested in hosting a Shop Talk, contact me.

Another member benefit we want to make sure you are aware of is our new scholarship: $500 for a member or child of a member who is pursuing any agriculture-related field at the college level. Find information and an application here. The deadline is April 15 and the winner will be announced July 31. This one way NEFU is supporting the next generation of farmer leaders! 

And don’t forget to check your insurance coverage and see if you can find a better deal on a high-quality Acadia Insurance policy from agents who really know agriculture. Crop insurance is also a good way to ensure peace of mind. Policies are available for businesses of all sizes. Find out more here.

Sincerely,

Kate Snyder
Director of Memberships and Programs

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NEFU’s 2014 Convention a Big Success

Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-ME) states her vision for New England agriculture.

As more than 100 members gathered in Portland on December 11-13 for New England Farmers Union’s fifth annual convention, Navigating Change in New England Agriculture, it became clear that, while NEFU represents a remarkable diversity of producers, most challenges farmers face are universal.

During the welcome dinner, Chelsea Kruse, a first-generation dairywoman from New Hampshire who now farms in western NY, talked about how National Farmers Union’s Beginning Farmer Institute was her “farm family.” She inspired the audience by describing the enthusiasm she and her fellow classmates feel about ensuring agriculture is a viable career option for young people.

Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-ME), who has been an organic farmer and business owner since the 1970s, laid out a vision for New England agriculture that harkened back to when Maine was the breadbasket for the nation, and fed the Union army during the Civil War. “We had the expertise. We had the infrastructure. We can do it again,” she said at the welcome dinner. Read more here.

Please click here to see presentations given at the event.

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NEFU Presents on Farmer Co-ops at Maine Agricultural Trades Show

Ned Porter presents at the Maine Agricultural Trades Show

Using New England Farmers Union’s Growing a Food System for the Future: A Manual for Co-operative Enterprise Development, Ned Porter, professional consultant, provided a brief overview of co-operatives and how they work and benefit producers at the Maine Agricultural Trades Show in January.

Steve Getz, New England East Region Pool Manager for Organic Valley, and Dean Churchill, Business-Cooperative Programs Director for USDA’s Rural Development in Maine, joined Porter on the panel. Getz provided insights based on his hands-on experience with both food and farmer co-ops. Chruchill talked about the USDA grant and financing programs available to farmer co-ops.

“The audience was engaged. We had some good give and take,” Porter said. “I am looking forward to some follow up with a few of them who were keen to learn more.”

NEFU will hold a similar discussion on farmer co-ops at Harvest New England in February. See our event listing here. And thanks to the Broad Reach Fund for funding this work on producer co-operatives.

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NSAC Offers New Grassroots Guide to Federal Farm Programs

New England Farmers Union (NEFU) is a member of the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC), an alliance of grassroots organizations that advocates for federal policy reform to advance the sustainability of agriculture, food systems, natural resources, and rural communities. Recently, NSAC released a Grassroots Guide to federal farm and food programs, programs that NEFU advocates for, and which benefit New England’s agricultural landscape. Click here to link to the guide.

The guide is a great resource to bookmark (it’s posted here on NEFU’s website) and covers the many ways that farmers and food system workers interact with the federal government, from Rural Development to Food Safety to Renewable Energy. It even contains a guide to the many acronyms that emerge from the USDA.

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Marketing Classes in Western New England

For those farming or owning food-related businesses in western New England, upcoming classes from NEFU member Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture (CISA) may be of interest.

CISA is holding a seven-workshop series on Branding & Communication Strategies from January-March 2015. This series will provide farmers and business owners with effective communication strategies and one-on-one support to implement and improve direct marketing communications. Although examples in the workshop will be farm related, the skills and methodology will be relevant to all businesses. Participation in the whole series is encouraged, and to be eligible for free one-on-one support, you must attend a minimum of four workshops. Dinner will be served at each session. The cost to attend the series is $80 for CISA’s Local Hero members, or $15 each for individual workshops. The non-member fee is $100 for the series, or $18 each for individual workshops. Register online at buylocalfood.org or contact Devon Whitney-Deal at devon@buylocalfood.org or (413) 665-7100 ext. 22. Click here to see the complete list of classes.

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Member Profile: Franklin County Community Development Center

The FCCDC’s Nico Lustig shows off locally grown quick-frozen carrots that will be shipped to schools around the region.

A 34-foot-tall white tank towers outside the food processing center at the Franklin County Community Development Center (FCCDC) in Greenfield, Massachusetts. Inside the tank are 11,000 gallons of liquid nitrogen, ready to freeze vegetables brought in by farmers throughout the fertile Pioneer Valley.

On a recent fall day, inside the 4,000-square-foot food hub, a stainless steel liquid-nitrogen-powered Individual Quick Frozen Tunnel churned out thousands of ruffle-cut carrots, cloudy with cold. The vegetables were grown by NEFU member Czajkowski Farm, and after processing and boxing, will be shipped off to a K-12 school, college or university in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island or Albany, NY.  Click here to read more.

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Washington Corner

Read a roundup of January news from the capitol.
From National Farmers Union.

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Resources and Tools for Growth

Check out our resources page, full of programs and services to help producers in our region. Here are upcoming educational programs that might interest you.

Cornell Small Farms Program and Cornell Cooperative Extension online Fall and Winter courses to help farmers develop their businesses. These 5- to 7-week online courses cost $200 total for up to four members of the same farm to participate. Details on courses here.

Healthy Food in Your Community: A Toolkit for Policy Change Learn how to navigate the food policy system and join in efforts to make healthy, affordable food part of your community’s landscape.

If you have resources you’d like to see listed, please send us an email.

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Upcoming Events

Please check the calendar on the New England Farmers Union website. We will post information about events that we will attend, and events that are of interest to our members. Please send along information if you have an event you would like us to post.

2015 Maine Potato Conference January 21, Caribou, ME

Farmland Seeker Forum in MA January 26, Dighton, MA

Legal Services Food Hub Info Session January 28, Springfield, MA

The Harvest New England Agricultural Marketing Conference and Trade Show February 25-26, Sturbridge,MA

Webinar on Transitioning to Organic Agriculture March 3, Webinar

NFU  Convention: Driving  the  Future  of  Agriculture March  14-17,  Wichita, KS

2015 Massachusetts Agriculture Day Macrh, 31, Boston, MA

Strolling of the Heifers June 5-7, Brattleboro, VT

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