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7th National Small Farms Conference – Preconference Short Courses

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

1:00 pm – 5:00 pm (Eastern Daylight Time)

Short Courses: Titles/Abstracts—Preconference attendees will select one course from the list below. All participants will receive certificates of training upon completion of course.

1. Interactive Grant Writing Workshop- Please make plans to participate in this interactive grant writing session where your goals and objectives, when well-articulated, can result in successfully getting your project funded. Advanced planning and preparation are the keys to successful grant writing. Are you responding to the questions put forward in the evaluation criteria? Do you have the commitment and support of your institutions or organizations in proposal submissions?

Do the Principal Investigators have the necessary qualifications and experience to carry out project work? Are you submitting your proposal electronically? How do you request funding to conduct project work and convince the peer reviewers that the funding requested is appropriate to complete the project tasks? Do you plan to work on your own or with collaborators? Do you plan to evaluate your project work? If so, how? Do you have any dissemination plans in place? How do you plan to sustain your project beyond the expiration of the funds from the grantor? You will get the response to all these questions, and a whole lot more, at this interactive participatory workshop session. This session will include writing a mock grant application. You will receive feedbacks on how well you have laid out effective strategies towards getting your application funded. Grant opportunities from public and private sector organizations will be shared at this pre-conference workshop session.

2. A Primer on USDA Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) & Good Handling Practices (GHP) Audit Services- this course will give you information on the GAP & GHP audit services that the United States Department of Agriculture/Agriculture Marketing Service (AMS) provides for fruit and vegetable producers. The session will tell you how to help your customers prepare for an audit, what they should expect during the audit, and the costs associated with the audit. We will outline the responsibilities for the grower and what USDA provides as part of the service. The instructors will also review the new GroupGap audit certification option, and help you decide if this option is appropriate for your customer. The GroupGAP discussion will include a review of the program requirements, including quality management systems, auditor training, farm audit expectations, and documentation requirements.

3. Whole Farm Planning Introduction and How to's- A business plan is one of the best tools available to help small farmers develop a comprehensive plan for their farm. Developing a business plan helps a producer consider all the various aspects of managing a farm including production issues, marketing,

who will be responsible for which tasks, and finances. This session will introduce participants to developing a business plan using AgPlan, a free online tool that has been used by thousands of producers.

Many producers need financing for their farm. In addition to a business plan, what do lenders require from farm loan applicants, how can producers provide the necessary information for both FSA and bank loans, and what resources are available to help?

How does a producer know what to expect in terms of costs when considering new crop or livestock enterprises? Two tools can help with this question, benchmarking and budgeting. Benchmarking looks at the actual costs incurred by similar producers. Alternatively, many universities provide typical budgets to help producers evaluate enterprises. In this session we will look at both types of tools.

4. Social Media-Helping the Customer Find the Farmer- Building a successful business depends on customers knowing you exist, what you offer, and where to find you. Making that happen takes marketing and, today, effective marketing must include social media and an online presence. This session will discuss: social media and the major platforms: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, and blogging; examine paid ads versus organic search; getting your clients on the map; being visual; and building an online reputation. Learn how this, and more, must be integrated into an integrated marketing effort.

Come prepared to have a discussion regarding new trends as well as to share examples of what works along with new apps and programs.

5. Risk Management Tools You Can Use- Includes discussion on Crop Insurance tools, Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP) and the entire suite of FSA disaster programs; conservation and energy, loans, income support and value added. Record keeping- The session will look at the characteristics of a farm that should be considering Whole Farm Revenue crop insurance--such as what level of farm sales justifies purchasing WFR, and what record keeping the farmer-operator must be capable of to obtain and maintain insurance. This will include practical solutions for small farm record keeping such as the use of Quicken software for personal finance and also farm business accounting. Extension Risk Management Resources-Identify resources and discuss ways to leverage risk management tools provided by land grant institutions. Session will highlight programs such as Extension Risk Management Education and Market Maker.

6. Leadership Development- Oftentimes, small farmers are in position where they have to react to the decisions that are made about their business and rarely have the opportunity to “sit at the table” when decisions are being made. This session will focus on the importance of small farmers being equipped with proper decision-making tools and understanding how to affect change in their communities. Participants will be equipped with the tools and strategies to encourage and engage small farmers with traditional agricultural organizations. Emphasis will be placed on holding general membership and actively participating in advisory boards, administrative councils for agencies such as Farm Bureau, Farm Service Agency, and the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

7. Local Foods- Local food production, processing and marketing can bring many benefits to farmers, ranchers, consumers, businesses and communities. Local and regional food systems are a great way for smaller and/or newer farmers to get into higher-value markets, and for children and families to connect with fresh, wholesome food and the people who grow it for them. There are business opportunities in communities all along the supply chain, such as “food hubs” that handle logistics, or businesses that do value-added processing. This short course will cover the latest information, tools and programs from across USDA that support direct marketing, food hubs, local meat and poultry, farm-to-school, and much more. You will also learn first-hand from people involved in successful programs where Cooperative Extension, farmers, local businesses, and community groups are working together successfully to support this exciting and rapidly-growing sector of agriculture. Come with your ideas and questions, and you will leave knowing what works, where to find resources to support your own work, and how to stay connected with others as these food system innovations continue to grow and prosper.

8. Land Access and Transfer: Building Knowledge and Skills to Assist Farm Seekers and Transitioning Farmers-Access to land is one of the biggest challenges facing both beginning and established farmers. At the same time, our aging farmers need information and support to transfer their farms to a family or non-family successor. This two-part training will give service providers a solid grounding in land access and transfer issues, educational approaches, and tools.

Part 1 will focus on land access. Topics include:

* Land tenure options: helping farmers learn about and choose the right land access strategy

* Acquisition readiness: helping farmers prepare to acquire land for lease or purchase

* Finding and evaluating farms and farmland

* Leasing: basics and more about good farm leases

* Partners and resources: tools and providers, including NRCS, lenders and NGOs

Part 2 will focus on farm succession planning. Topics include:

* What is farm succession (aka transfer or transition) planning? What’s involved

* Outreach and programing for older farmers

* Special focus on heir property

* Special focus on farmers without identified successors

* Partners and resources; your role on a succession planning assistance team

Access and transfer are two sides of the same coin. Participants are encouraged to attend both sessions, but each session can stand alone.

9. Climate smart agriculture- The Climate Hubs were established in February of 2014 to deliver science-based knowledge, practical information and program support to farmers, ranchers, forest landowners, and resource managers to support climate-informed decision-making in light of the increased risks and vulnerabilities associated with a changing climate. Agriculture production and natural resource management activities are constantly changing to accommodate new challenges and issues, and it’s becoming increasingly important to develop and implement testing and monitoring activities that consider the challenges of a changing and uncertain climate. This session will help Small Farmers and Ranchers identify the climate change impacts most relevant to key focus areas. Additionally, participants will apply a ‘climate change filter’ to production and conservation practices in order to identify robust actions that help ecosystems adapt to changing conditions and address priority provisioning and other ecosystem services. At the end of the training, participants will be able to:

•     Identify climate change impacts, challenges, and opportunities for achieving current production and conservation goals

•     Evaluate farming and conservation practices to determine whether they will persist in the face of changing climate conditions