Farmers Union Applauds House’s Inability to Pass Fast Track
National Farmers Union (NFU) President Roger Johnson applauded last week’s House vote that effectively kills – at least for now – Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), also known as fast track authority. TPA would grant the administration the ability to secretly negotiate trade deals and only permit an up or down vote by Congress, with zero amendments.
“This vote was a clear signal that the fast track authorities being negotiated for the president simply do not live up to their hype,” said Johnson. “NFU is hopeful this action gives Congress the time to rethink granting the president the ability to bypass Congress’s constitutional check on trade negotiations, an ability that has served as a major setback for America’s workers, family farmers and ranchers, and this nation’s future prosperity.”
Johnson noted that in the past, TPA has fast-tracked trade deals that have consistently increased trade deficits, exported jobs, and lowered wages for Americans.
“The U.S. trade deficit for last year totaled over $500 billion, and that deficit is largely due to these flawed ‘free trade’ agreements,” said Johnson. “Our trade deficit is a net drag on our economy by a full 3 percent, which means lost jobs and lower wages for working Americans,” he said.
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COOL Fails for Now, Despite Supporters’ Last-Ditch Effort to Sidetrack Repeal
Despite the actions of a coalition of 283 agricultural, environment, consumer, and faith-based organizations who sent a letter to House Agriculture Committee chair Mike Conaway, R-Texas, and ranking member Collin Peterson, D-Minn in support of country-of-origin labeling (COOL), the House of Representatives voted to repeal COOL last week.
In the letter, the organizations — including the National Farmers Union, New England Farmers Union, and many of our organizational and business members — told House members it is “premature for the Congress to unilaterally surrender to saber-rattling from our trading partners in the midst of a long-standing dispute.” Farmers Union will continue to work to ensure transparency in labeling, as our member-crafted policy sets forth, and more than 90 percent of consumers say they want.
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Deadlines Approaching for 3 Mass.-Based Farm Viability Grant Programs
GUEST BLOG POST: By the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources
The Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources is accepting applications from farmers who wish to participate in these Department programs in Fiscal Year 2016. Interested farm operators are encouraged to review these options on the web pages of the Department found at www.mass.gov/agr/ (Click on Grants and Funding Programs under Quick Links in right hand column) or call contacts listed below for each program for more information.
Farm Viability Enhancement Program
This popular business planning and technical assistance program provides management advice and grants from $25,000 up to $100,000 to implement farm growth and sustainability strategies. Farm operators receive grant awards for signing a 5 or 10 year Agricultural Covenant, and receive valuable consultations and visits from a team of consultants to discuss farm production and management, marketing, and business planning. Typical uses of funds from the Farm Viability Program include building or repairing farm structures, modernizing field equipment, purchasing delivery vehicles and tractors, and improving retail marketing structures or food processing capacity.
Applications and program information are available online at the Agricultural Resources web site listed above, or you can request a copy of the application by calling the Farm Viability Program at 617-626-1725. The deadline for submitting applications is Tuesday, June 23, 2015. Click here to read more.
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Two USDA Grant Opportunities
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) announced that approximately $11.9 million in organic certification assistance is available through state departments of agriculture to make organic certification more affordable for organic producers and handlers across the country. The funding is provided on a cost share basis and certification assistance is distributed by two programs. Through the National Organic Certification Cost Share Program, $11 million is available to organic farms and businesses nationwide. Through the Agricultural Management Assistance Organic Certification Cost Share Program (AMA), an additional $900,000 is available to organic producers (crop and livestock operators only) in Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wyoming. More information can be found here.
USDA is also now accepting applications to provide technical assistance to socially-disadvantaged groups in rural areas. Funding will be made available through USDA’s Federal Register. Applications submitted by mail must be postmarked by July 20, 2015. Electronic applications must be submitted at www.grants.gov no later than midnight Eastern Time July 14, 2015.
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Member Profile: Magical Moon Farm
|Donna Green and her son, Adam.
Magical Moon Farm in Marshfield, Mass., is a 5-acre organic piece of heaven growing everything from pumpkins to berries; a farm stand; and nine beehives. But while growing food is an essential part of its mission, its primary goal is to help children with cancer, eating disorders and sustenance related illness “find hope and resilience through nourishment on every level,” according to its website.
The farm and foundation, run by Executive Director Donna Green, holds farming and cooking programs designed to teach children how eating healthy food can increase their health and build stamina as they undergo medical treatments.
“Children here enjoy running Magical Moon Farm Stand,” Green says. “They empower visitors with all they’ve learned about healthy living through discussions, projects, and therapeutic programs at Magical Moon Farm. Reaching out to others helps them to feel stronger.”
The hands-on approach from garden to table is a great way to experience fresh food that is simple, organic and beneficial, Green says. The farm also offers programs such as tai chi, yoga, Brain Gym, Reiki, Pilates, art, music, nature classes, animal care and therapy with horses. She’s been amazed at the positive results children experience being in the farm environment and the importance of eliminating chemicals from their food.
When it comes to farm policy, Green sees her relationship with New England Farmers Union as essential. “I appreciate that Farmers Union is working on supporting family farmers, local and regional food systems, and important organizations like Magical Moon Foundation,” she says. “I see my membership in Farmers Union as a way to ensure farms like Magical Moon, and the many others throughout the region, will be here for generations to come.”
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Yesterday’s Farmers Union
Read a roundup of June news from the capitol.
From National Farmers Union.
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Welcome New Farmers Union Members
Sundowner Farm Dartmouth, MA
Rockwood Farm Granville, MA
Fantasy Acres Farm West Groton, MA
Verrill Farm Concord, MA
Green Meadows Farm South Hamilton, MA
Future Lands Design Bernardston, MA
Greenfield Farmers Cooperative Exchange Greenfield, MA
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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.
Farm Aid’s Farmer Resource Network
The Farmer Resource Network connects you to Farm Aid’s resource partners and hundreds of organizations providing services, tools and opportunities for family farm profitability and sustainability, as well as immediate support.
Farmer-to-Farmer Mentorship Program
The NOFA-NY Mentorship Program assists beginning or transitioning-to-organic farmers in finding a farmer mentor who will help them develop their farming career. The NOFA-NY Mentorship Program is geared toward beginning farmers in a role of farm start-up, ownership, leadership, management or transition-to-Organic. The Mentorship Program connects these farmers with experienced farmers, creating a long-term mentorship that supports the beginning farmer’s development surrounding organic and sustainable practices.
The National Young Farmers Coalition supports practices and policies that will sustain young, independent and prosperous farmers now and in the future.
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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.
Save the Date!
Sixth Annual Convention of New England Farmers Union
November 6-8 • Concord, NH
Farm Food Safety for Post-Harvest Handling and Small-Scale, Low-Cost Facility Design June, 17 • Montague, Ma
Accessing Capital Workshop June, 19 • White River Junction, VT
UMass & Valley Malt’s Barley Field Day June, 24 • South Deerfield, MA
Women in Farming — Weekend Intensive June, 27-28 • Greenfield, MA
41st Annual 2015 NOFA Summer Conference August, 14-16 • Amherst, MA
Barley Fest Ocotber, 3 • Hadley, MA
NESAWG’s It Takes A Region Conference November, 12-14 • Saratoga Springs, NY
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