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Cornell Small Farms Program Update

Message from the Managing Editor

Happy New Year! I hope many of you are getting some rest and enjoying looking through seed catalogues or planning for new infrastructure. With so much extreme weather the past two years (flooding followed by spring temperature fluctuation and then summer drought), now is the time to think through your farm systems and consider expanding the size of the pond or choosing more resistant crops.

Recently some farmer friends came over for dinner, and I was asking them how they fared with the lack of rain this past growing season. Their pond had run dry, but late enough in the harvest that their vegetable crops sailed through. In fact, they said it was their best season yet. I’m reassured, that despite the volatile weather patterns, farmers are finding was to adapt and continue to prosper.

Even if you’re not an animal farmer, I encourage you to read “A Four Dollar Grazing Chart” by Troy Bishopp. He describes making it through the summer drought with very careful advanced planning and consideration of any “what if” scenario that might arise. He writes “For me, this visual chart reduced stress by constantly informing me of conditions on the ground to form battle plans weeks ahead of when I actually needed to speed up or slow down the rotation”. All of us could benefit from such planning, no matter what our enterprise.

As always, we love to hear from you. Drop us a line anytime!

Best wishes,

Violet

Top 8 Priorities for Small Farm Investment

You might recall on February 29th of 2012, the Cornell Small Farms Program teamed up with Cornell Cooperative Extension to host the 2012 Small Farms Summit. This statewide meeting provided a venue for small farm supporters to gather and prioritize opportunities to increase the health and vitality of the small farm sector. After a lengthy process combing through responses, we have now published the recommendations. Download the report at http://smallfarms.cornell.edu/projects/summit/ We encourage you to print a copy to bring to a town hall meeting, a producer group, or a legislator. Choose a ‘recommended action’ that inspires you, or generate your own creative approach to addressing a priority area. Start building collaborations that can tackle the complexity of the issue. Cite the report as justification when applying for funding to support your project. Stay in touch. We’d like to share any outcomes of your work.

From Grazing to Goat Marketing, New Grant Program Generates Resources

The Cornell Small Farms Program is pleased to announce a variety of excellent new resources generated from project recipients of the 2012 “Small Farm Grants Program.” This program offers up to $5000 per year to organizations in New York that present compelling projects to serve and support small farms. This year, four projects were funded. They include 1) A new series of 12 “How-to-Graze” videos 2) A study assessing small farmers’ success selling to distributors 3) An initiative to expand “Work-place CSA’s” and 4) a makeover to www.sheepgoatmarketing.info, a website that connects sheep and goat producers to markets. An additional project to support a small dairy field day series during Summer, 2012 was also funded. Detailed reports reflecting project successes and lessons learned, as well as additional educational materials for any of the initiatives, are available at http://smallfarms.cornell.edu/projects/grants/

Two Farm Financial Management Online Courses Offered January 2013

The old joke goes, “Know how to make a small fortune in farming? Start with a large one.” For many farmers this hits too close to home to be funny. Whether you’re just getting started or have been farming for a while, the Cornell Small Farms Program is offering two online courses this January to give you the confidence and tools to take control of your farm finances.

BF 104: Financial Recordkeeping is an introductory course designed for those who don’t yet have well-established systems for tracking farm financial records. It will help you learn what records to keep, how to set up a system in either Excel or Quickbooks, and how to generate and analyze financial reports to get a picture of your farm’s financial health. BF 104 starts Jan. 14, 2013. More info is available at http://nebeginningfarmers.org/online-courses/all-courses/bf-104-financial-records/

BF 203: Holistic Financial Planning goes beyond the basics for farmers who already have some financial records but want to increase the profitability of their operations. You will learn how to prioritize your investments in the farm, analyze and compare enterprises, and make your farm work for you. BF 203 starts Jan. 22, 2013. More info is available at http://nebeginningfarmers.org/online-courses/all-courses/bf-104-financial-records/

These 6-week courses include weekly live webinars featuring interactions with successful farmers and ag professionals, as well as readings, discussion forums, and homework assignments. Those who successfully complete a course receive a certificate from the Northeast Beginning Farmer Project. Course registration is $200, which will easily pay for itself in the knowledge you gain about how to manage your farm’s finances well.
Don’t hesitate – courses often fill quickly, and registration is only open until the course fills or one week before the start date, whichever happens first. So visit http://nebeginningfarmers.org/online-courses today and check out your options for learning some new farming skills online this Winter.

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