Paid Summer Internship at CFAC!

Want to help beginning farmers get started?  Learn about how to develop programming, plan educational opportunities, and host events?  CFAC is looking for an intern for this summer to assist with a range of projects, including:

  • Planning, promoting, and hosting farmer-led, on-farm, field days geared towards farm interns and new farmers in May, June, August, and September
  • Enhancing business planning curriculum for beginning farmers across Montana; Building teaching modules for use by Extension and other professionals
  • Working with a range of partners to develop tools to connect farm and food businesses with investors in Western Montana
  • Planning, outreach, and development of a statewide FarmLink website to serve as a one-stop clearinghouse for beginning farmers, land access, and internship/mentorship opportunities

As an intern, you will have the opportunity to focus in on one of these projects or assist with multiple projects.  We can offer a $1,000 stipend to applicants able to offer 6-10 hours/week between June and September.

To apply, email annie@missoulacfac.org with your resume and a note on the project(s) in which you’re interested and any additional relevant information not covered in your resume.  We will be reviewing applications on a rolling basis starting May 1.

Your Feedback Needed for a New Montana Resource

As part of the USDA BFRDP grant we received in 2014, we are developing a new statewide resource for beginning farmers and ranchers across Montana: FarmLink!

Farm Tour 08FarmLink will be a one-stop clearinghouse for beginning farmers and ranchers, offering:

  • Information on available resources
  • New resources on business planning, financing, legal issues, land access, and more
  • A map-based tool (including online application functionality) to connect beginning farmers with internship, mentorship, and land lease/purchase opportunities

Before we launch the site, we would love your feedback to make the site work as well as possible for you and your needs!

If you’re a farmer or landowner and think you might use this resource to:

  • List internship opportunities
  • Offer mentorship or support to beginning farmers
  • Offer land for lease or sale to beginning/expanding farmers

Click here to fill out our farmer/landowner survey!

If you’re a beginning farmer (from pre-startup to first few years farming):

  • Looking for internships
  • Interested in mentorship
  • Seeking land to buy/lease for farming

Click here to fill out our beginning farmer survey!

And please!  Share this post with people from around the state who might be interested in helping us build a great new resource for Montana!

Thank you!

Montana has Key Federal Legislators!

Did you know that this year, Montana has TWO legislators on the federal appropriations committee?  This means that as the ideas from the Farm Bill are put to the test, we have two Montanans who could help bring them to fruition – or not!

Right now is a key time for appropriations.  Can you make a call today to Sen. Tester and Sen. Daines?

10488226_1446162889000853_1359729666571796987_nHere are some key issues on the table:

  • Congress is at risk of cutting thousands of farmers and ranchers out of programs like the Conservation Stewardship Program and Environmental Quality Incentives Program, programs that support farmers for making smart conservation practices work on their farms! The 2014 Farm Bill already cut $6 billion from the Conservation Title and even though demand for these programs is regularly 2 to 3 times higher than availability, Congress is considering making additional cuts.  Ask our Senators: As you write your 2016 funding request letter, hold the line on mandatory farm bill funding for conservation programs with NO CUTS.
  • You may have heard that the FDA is soon going to be rolling out major new food safety regulations for farmers.  Providing training and support to ensure farmers understand the new rules is absolutely critical to ensuring a safe food supply for us all.  Ask our Senators: As you write your 2016 funding request letter, include $5 million for the Food Safety Outreach Program.
  • For over 25 years, the USDA’s Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program has invested in farmer-led research and projects that help spread innovation and sustainability. Despite its successes, SARE is at risk of not receiving adequate funding this year!  Ask our Senators: As you write your 2016 funding request letter, ask for $30 million for SARE.

For more info on these and other key appropriations issues, visit http://www.sustainableagriculture.net.  Many thanks to the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition for their leadership on these policy issues!

Support Montana’s Cottage Food Bill!

The Community Food & Agriculture Coalition serves on the steering committee for the Grow Montana Food Policy Coalition.   The coalition has prioritized the need for a cottage food law to truly expand economic opportunities for home-based producers.

The result of Grow Montana’s efforts is House Bill 478, which was introduced this week at the Montana Legislature.  It creates standards for cottage food in Montana, in addition to cleaning up sections of current code that have led to confusion and uneven enforcement.  The bill ensures safety with clear regulation, while also establishing the basis for cottage food in Montana.

WE NEED YOUR HELP!  Please contact your representative and urge him/her to support this bill.

Feb. 18 Update: This bill is about to be voted on by the House Ag Committee so if you can contact one or several of the committee members, that would be great.  Our wonderful local rep in Missoula, Willis Curdy, is cosponsoring the bill, and it’s sponsored by Kathleen Williams of Bozeman so thank them for their support too!

House Agriculture Committee Members Assignment
Alan Redfield  (R) HD 59 Chair
Christy Clark  (R) HD 17 Vice Chair
Margaret (Margie) MacDonald  (D) HD 51 Vice Chair
Seth Berglee  (R) HD 58 Member
Willis Curdy  (D) HD 98 Member
Bill Harris  (R) HD 29 Member
Greg Hertz  (R) HD 12 Member
Jessica Karjala  (D) HD 48 Member
Mike Lang  (R) HD 33 Member
Theresa Manzella  (R) HD 85 Member
Wendy McKamey  (R) HD 23 Member
Matthew Monforton  (R) HD 69 Member
Dale Mortensen  (R) HD 44 Member
Andrea Olsen  (D) HD 100 Member
Albert Olszewski  (R) HD 11 Member
Carolyn Pease-Lopez  (D) HD 42 Member
Zac Perry  (D) HD 3 Member
Gordon Pierson  (D) HD 78 Member
Daniel R Salomon  (R) HD 93 Member
Scott Staffanson  (R) HD 35 Member
Susan Webber  (D) HD 16 Member
Kathleen Williams  (D) HD 61 Member

Reasons to Support HB 478

  • The products considered cottage food under this bill are low-risk and non-potentially hazardous.  They include such things as baked goods, jams and jellies, dried fruit and dry mixes, granolas, and the like.  They require minimum regulation, which is accomplished by HB 478.
  • HB 478 allows cottage food products to be made in relatively small quantities in a home kitchen and be sold directly by the cottage food operator to consumers within Montana.
  • Our state’s entrepreneurs benefit by being able to test their business idea prior to making large investments, and consumers benefit by having increased access to a variety of locally-produced food.
  • This bill will spur growth in Montana’s increasingly important food manufacturing sector, which currently ranks third in manufacturing employment in Montana.
  • HB 478 cleans up current code and ensures safety with clear regulation.

Please contact the House Agriculture Committee today and urge them to pass HB 478.

Draft-powered Farming, (Ag)vocacy, and More

Ed Hamer didn’t start farming for the fame, but when he started delivering food to his neighbors via horse and wagon, the calls started coming in.  Hamer, who will be speaking in Missoula on Wednesday, February 18, has since been featured in the Guardian, Ecologist, and more, and calls his Welsh-Dartmoor pony, Samson, his secret weapon.

ed-sammy

Samson has helped Hamer sell more vegetables, but the work doesn’t stop there.  Samson helps to plow the fields and has helped Hamer see a different opportunity for growing food in the United Kingdom. Hamer is an active leader in the British young farmer movement and co-founded the Landworkers’ Alliance as a union to represent small-scale ecological producers across the UK.

“Ed has such a unique perspective and we’re thrilled to help share his news about what’s happening in the UK with farmers and supporters here in Missoula,” says Annie Heuscher, program director for the Community Food & Agriculture Coalition, organizers of Hamer’s visit.  “His work in England has so many implications for the changes happening in Montana.”

The Landworkers’ Alliance has grown to represent nearly 1,000 farmers and has been adopted as a formal member of La Via Campesina, an international movement defending small-scale agriculture and peasants’ rights.  Hamer is currently travelling across the United States visiting like-minded farmers to share ideas and aspirations for a better food system.

Hamer is coming to Missoula as part of a larger project to train beginning farmers across Montana.  The project, which includes a wide array of production and business trainings along with financing and land access tools, was recently funded by a major grant from the USDA National Institute for Food & Agriculture.  CFAC was one of fewer than 40 organizations across the country to receive the funding and it is the first time this grant has been given for work in Montana.

Hamer will be speaking at Burns Street Bistro on Wednesday, February 18th from 5:30pm – 8pm.  Snacks and beer provided.  For more information, visit http://missoulacfac.org/farm-school.html.

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