This page is regularly updated with opportunities of interest to our members. If you have something of interest to share with our members, please send the announcement to the VABF Administrator. There is no charge to VABF members.

USDA 2017 Census of Agriculture

Signup deadline June 30 – actual census will take place at the end of this year

The USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) is in the process of gearing up for its 2017 Census of Agriculture, which will be mailed out to farmers at the end of this year. Farmers have until June 30th to sign up with USDA to make sure they are on the list to get either a paper or online Census form. This is especially relevant for new farmers and others who have never filled out a census before.

This Census is a once-in-five-years opportunity for organic, small-scale, direct-to-consumer, and other farmers who have been undercounted in past Ag Censuses –  including minority and limited resource farmers – to be sure that they are counted this time.  Now is the time to ensure that USDA gets a  full and accurate estimate of the diversity of the farming community, as well as the economic importance of the organic, direct-to-consumer, and small-scale farming sectors.

Why is the Census important to farmers and those who work with them?

Currently, the census is the only complete count of U.S. farms and ranches and the people who operate them. It includes even the smallest plots of land – rrural or urban – growing fruits, vegetables, or raising food animals, if $1,000 or more of such products were raised and sold, or normally would have been sold, during the census year. The information produced by the Census of Agriculture guides Congress, agribusiness, policymakers, researchers, local governments and many others on the creation and funding of agricultural programs and services – decisions that can directly impact yyour local operations and the future of the agriculture industry for years to come.  For example, data from the new Census can strengthen our positions in advocating for more research, extension, conservation assistance, and other vital USDA services for organic, specialty crop, and local direct-marketing producers.

How can farmers sign up to be counted?

Please note that new farmers or existing farmers who have not participated in a prior Census of Agriculture still have time to sign up to be counted through the end of June at:

The survey takes less than a minute – and will ensure that you receive a Censsus form (that you can fill out in paper form or online. If a farmer/rancher is not on the NASS list frame by June 30th, the producer will not have an opportunity to participate in the 2017 Census of Agriculture.

For more information about the census, please visit:, follow NASS on Twitter @usda_nass, or call (800) 727-9540.

New Tax Credit Available to Virginia Farmers to Help Reduce Food Waste

~ Nonprofit food banks benefit from fresh food donations ~

Virginia farmers have an incentive to donate excess product to nonprofit food banks thanks to the Food Crop Donation Tax Credit. Approved by the Virginia General Assembly during the 2016 Session, farmers who donate edible food crops to a nonprofit food bank can receive up to a 30 percent tax credit for their donation.

“Increasing healthy food access for all Virginians helps strengthen our communities and our economy,” said Commissioner Sandy Adams. “Local growers are often faced with more product than they can sell and food banks need more fresh options. We encourage Virginia farmers to take advantage of this tax credit. It’s a win-win for everyone.”

“Sourcing food locally can help the agricultural industry,” said Leslie Van Horn, executive director of the Federation of Virginia Food Banks, which represents seven regional food banks in Virginia and more than 2,000 nonprofit food pantries and feeding programs. “It reduces food waste and helps give incentives to growers and producers to donate their bounty, but most importantly, it gives food insecure individuals across the Commonwealth access to food they need to thrive and prosper.”

Virginia farmers may apply for a tax credit equal to 30 percent of the fair market value of food crops such as grains, fruits, nuts and vegetables up to a maximum of $5,000 per farmer for a taxable year. If a farmer does not owe enough Virginia income tax to use the full amount of the credit in one taxable year, the farmer can carry over the credits to the next five succeeding taxable years or until the total amount of the tax credit has been used, whichever is sooner.

The Food Crop Donation Tax Credit cannot exceed $250,000 annually for all qualifying taxpayers. If more than $250,000 of credits is requested for the year, a farmer may receive less than the full amount of the tax credit for which he or she applied.

For the 2017 tax year, farmers who wish to participate should submit a Virginia Department of Taxation Food Crop Donation Tax Credit application, Form FCD-1, by Feb. 1, 2018. More information about the Food Crop Donation Tax Credit is available on the Virginia Department of Taxation’s website at

SARE Cover Crop Topic Brief Now Available

Cover crops increase corn and soybean yields, reduce erosion and control weeds, say farmers responding to a recent SARE-funded survey. On top of all that, the number one reason they plant cover crops is to improve the health of their soil.

Given the many benefits of cover crops, are you looking for practical advice for planting them on your farm? SARE’s Cover Crops for Sustainable Crop Rotations is the perfect primer for farmers and agricultural educators seeking practical, research-based tips on cover crop selection and management. Brief overviews of cover crop economics, establishment, soil fertility, rotations, and pest and water management are enhanced with links to more detailed resources online.

Order or download now.

Available as either a free download or in print, Cover Crops for Sustainable Crop Rotations can be ordered for use as a handout at conferences, workshops or field days.

Cover Crops for Sustainable Crop Rotations is a companion to SARE’s Cover Crop Topic Room, where farmers and agricultural professionals will find a wide range of free cover crop resources, including SARE research, producer profiles, webinars and more

Revised Edition of “Planning the Future of Your Farm: A Workbook Supporting Farm Transfer Decisions, Virginia Edition” now available!

The “Planning the Future of Your Farm: A Workbook Supporting Farm Transfer Decisions, Virginia Edition” has been developed to help Virginia families who own farm, forest and horticulture lands and desire to keep their land in production and/or in their family as it passes to the next generation. The goal of this workbook is to provide families with a resource to use as they complete the work necessary to transfer their farm land and/or farm businesses. This workbook was originally created in 2012 and has been updated and revised for 2017.

Online copies can be found here:

 The 2017 Virginia Small Grains Yield Contest is Now Accepting Entries

Enter Your Prize Crop by July 14, 2017!

Does your crop have what it takes to be a statewide yield contest winner? Do want to win a year’s worth of bragging rights and a cash prize? Enter the 2017 Virginia Small Grains Yield Contest today!

Entry forms for VGPA’s 2017 Barley, Hard Wheat & Wheat Yield Contests are now available. Yield contests, such as this, are an important element in our mission to highlight and communicate the accomplishments of Virginia agriculture to our industry partners and the general public. With the help of Virginia Cooperative Extension and various seed companies, we are able to both reward and promote the achievements of Virginia’s most productive grain producers.

Printable entry forms and contest details are listed below. Entry forms must be postmarked by July 14th to be considered for judging. Please also take a moment to visit the Yield Contest page of our website for more information.


Awards and cash will be presented to first, second, third and fourth place winners. More than one entry can be submitted from a farm operation as long as the entries are materially different in production practices and entered by different people. The prize money is provided by the seed companies. Entries must be postmarked no later than July 14, 2017

1st Prize – $700.00

2nd Prize – $500.00

3rd Prize – $300.00

4th Prize – $200.00

Click Here For A Printable Wheat Yield Contest Entry Form



Awards and cash will be presented to first, second, and third place winners. More than one entry can be submitted from a farm operation as long as the entries are materially different in production practices and entered by different people. The prize money is provided by the seed companies. Entries must be postmarked no later than July 14, 2017

1st Prize – $700.00

2nd Prize – $500.00

3rd Prize – $300.00

Click Here For a Printable Barley Yield Contest Entry Form 


Hard Wheat

Awards and cash will be presented to first, second, third and fourth place winners. More than one entry can be submitted from a farm operation as long as the entries are materially different in production practices and entered by different people. The prize money is provided by Mennel Milling Company. Entries must be postmarked no later than July 14, 2017

1st Prize – $700.00

2nd Prize – $500.00

3rd Prize – $300.00

4th Prize – $200.00

Click Here For A Printable Hard Wheat Yield Contest Entry Form 
National Corn Yield Contest

NCGA’s National & State Corn Yield Contest is accepting entries at this time. Visit the NCGA website for entry. Entries may be submitted via an online form or a printable PDF. Entry Deadlines: $75 Per hybrid if postmarked by June 30th and $110 per hybrid if postmarked by July 31st.

Speak Up: Cover Crop Survey Seeks Farmer Participation

Cover crops can improve soil health, conserve resources and improve farm profitability. Now, your experience with what works and doesn’t work can help shape the future of cover crop initiatives nationwide. Farmers who plant cover crops, used to plant cover crops, or have never tried cover crops are all encouraged to take this short survey, now in its fifth year.

Take the survey now.

Thank you for choosing to share your perspective on cover crops.
The number of survey questions you will be asked depends on your farm(s), but you can expect the survey to take five to 10 minutes in most cases, or slightly longer for somebody who is growing a wide variety of crops and using cover crops in various ways. Data from these surveys are used to help guide policy, research, and education on cover crops nationwide.

See the results of the four previous survey years.

For educational materials on cover crops, visit SARE’s Cover Crops Topic Room.

Magilla Entertainment TV Casting Opportunity

 Now Casting: Farm Sisters!
Are you and your sister working on a family farm?
Perhaps you are inheriting a family business such as a ranch or a farm, and will be in charge for the very first time?
Are you both mothers who are raising your children AND taking on the responsibilities of the farm?

If this sounds like your family, we’d love to hear your story!

 To apply, email with your names, ages, phone number, a photo, and a brief paragraph about your new business venture!

Organic Seed Alliance – Seed Internship Program

This is your chance to participate in addressing one of the most pressing needs in organic agriculture – and to develop a new enterprise for your farm.

Organic Seed Alliance ( is seeking to match the organic seed growers of tomorrow with the experienced growers of today.

The Seed Internship Program combines online and classroom learning, farm-based independent study, and real-world experience through a diverse network of family farms. Hosted by Organic Seed Alliance and the Multinational Exchange for Sustainable Agriculture (MESA), the Seed Internship Program matches individuals who want to learn about seed production with experienced growers.

Learn more and apply today

Become an Intern
The Seed Internship Program matches interns with host farms that provide on-farm experience and formal training in seed production. The six-month internships offer interns:
        Online, class, and field-based education
         Independent studies on the host farm
        Experience with the organic seed trade

Become a Host
Are you experienced seed producer looking for interns? We need you to train the next generation of seed producers! Host farms receive:
        Assistance with matching the right intern for your farm
         Educational materials, webinars, and other support

Organic Certification Cost Share – now more readily accessible

Visit your Farm Services Agency (FSA) office anytime after March 20 to apply for the 2017 season

From Alyssa Charney, Policy Specialist at NSAC:
On December 21 of 2016, USDA announced the transfer of the organic certification cost share program to FSA.  National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) published a press release and blog, which you can read below, as well as USDA’s press release and the NOFA in public inspection (to be published in Federal Register tomorrow).
It’s important to note that State agencies now have the chance to “opt in” to directly administer the program as well.  In states where the department does opt in, applicants can either go through their county FSA office or State Department of Agriculture to enroll.  State Agencies that participate will continue to be able to contract with NGOs to deliver the program in a particular state.In order to ensure maximum options for producers, and in states were the program was run well, we strongly encourage folks to urge your States to continue to offer the program.FSA plans to partner and work closely with the states that choose to also administer the program.  They also will hold a stakeholder call, including NOC and NSAC members, early in the year, so we will keep you posted with details as soon as that gets scheduled.

 BRAVO 400 SPRAYER – $3,500

Tank Capacity: 400 Liters
Totally Rounded.
Not wetting the driver.
Low center of gravity = stability also in slope condition.
Tank content meter by large index and scale.
Optimal mixing of the spraying mixture. No sediment.
Total utilization of the tank content.
Fresh water tank with selector valve for a quick circuit flushing.
Chassis with impact-resistant belt, peripheral.
Steel keel for protection to ground.
Filling hole of tank on the left side.
Constant pressure regulator, micro adjusting.
Auto-filter: the pressure filter continuously flushed clear.
Never clogged. Never to be cleaned.
Anti-drift Propeller: Air Volume and Penetration Power adjusted in seconds.
Dosing Probe: Fast and safe. instantly sucking and mixing powders, granules and liquid chemicals.
The Air sprayers of BRAVO line are suitable for the spraying of the most various Trees Plantations: Vineyards, Orchards, Nurseries and Greenhouses, etc.


Haygrove High Tunnels – $25,000

1 acre- 9 Bays 28’x 250’

Smart door frames

PTO Removing Tool

Standing- Buyer must disassemble and haul


Virginia Farm Business Development Grants

The Virginia Farm Business Development Program is now available.  Some of you might already be familiar with this new opportunity.  Please see below and attached for more information and how you can help share the word with the farmers you work with.  This program may help new farmers who have been in operation for at least 3 years.

The Governor’s press release is available here:

For more information, please visit the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services website:

For more information, please have your farmers contact:

Maggie Beal Longest
Coordinator, Farm Business Development Program
Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services
(804) 786-1241

Help in a statewide effort to make nutrient management planning more useful to farmers throughout Virginia!

The Virginia Nutrient Management Leadership Team, which is a collaborative effort comprised of 18 agricultural and conservation organizations and state agencies, is reaching out to farmers and ag industry professionals as part of a periodic assessment, to learn about challenges and opportunities relating to nutrient management plan development and implementation.

While Virginia farmers use and implement nutrient management plans to improve yields and reduce input costs, we are seeking to further expand farmer participation. Our goal is to understand the barriers to participation in nutrient management planning, and find ways to make it more useful to farmers without additional regulations.

Nutrient management plans recommend fertilizer or manure application rates designed to achieve crop production yield goals while at the same time minimizing fertilizer inputs and costs.   According to Kristen Evans, with Sustainable Chesapeake,

“Nutrient management plans help farmers maximize their return on fertilizer investments – and in doing so, they also protect water quality, as fertilizer applied in excess of crop requirements can be lost to air and water resources.  Because nutrient management plans support agricultural production, farm profits, and water quality, they are a high priority conservation practice.”

Darryl Glover is with the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, which oversees the Commonwealth’s nutrient management planning program. He stated that:

“DCR hopes the results of the assessments will provide information that will help us find ways to encourage more farmers to obtain nutrient management plans.” 

Wilmer Stoneman with the Virginia Farm Bureau, also noted that:

 “it is important to do a periodic check-up of Virginia’s nutrient management program.”

We very much need you to weigh in, sharing your experience, ideas and suggestions. We would be extremely grateful if you would please complete the assessment, either in hardcopy or online.  If you can, please help us reach as many people in Virginia’s ag community by sharing this with your colleagues and constituencies, now through mid-February.

Results of the assessment will be released in late Spring 2017.

Participate now!

Virginia Nutrient Management Team Members Include:

  • Chesapeake Bay Foundation
  • Headwaters LLC
  • James River Association
  • James Riverkeeper
  • Sustainable Chesapeake
  • University of Virginia
  • Virginia Agribusiness Council
  • Virginia Association of Conservation Districts
  • Virginia Biosolids Council
  • Virginia Cattlemen’s Association
  • Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Service
  • Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreatio
  • Virginia Department of Environmental Qualit
  • Virginia Farm Bureau
  • Virginia Grain Producers Association
  • Virginia Poultry Federation
  • Virginia Natural Resources Conservation Service
  • Virginia State Dairymen’s Association
  • Virginia Tech

The Virginia Environmental Endowment is providing funding for this important effort through a grant to Sustainable Chesapeake.

For more information:  Contact Kristen Hughes Evans, Executive Director, Sustainable Chesapeake at or 415-730-7503.

Radical Roots Farm is currently accepting apprentice applications for the 2017 season

If you are serious about taking your farming to the next level, please consider this amazing opportunity.

Radical Roots Farm grows high quality, certified organic vegetables and herbs in a sustainable way.

The Radical Roots Farm Apprenticeship is an exchange of time and learning between experienced and new farmers.  Apprentices’ learn the art and craft of organic farming through hard work in the fields, observation of successful farm ecosystems and participating in a mentoring relationship with experienced farmers.  This immersion into all aspects of organic vegetable production gives new farmers valuable skills and experience to begin their career in organic agriculture.  Whether they start their own farm or go on to work in public gardens, landscaping, school gardens or farm to table restaurants, apprentices gain a firm foundation and confidence to succeed.

Goals of the Apprenticeship

  • To share the skills involved in organic farming and the tools of the trade.
  • To offer apprentices an example of a successful organic farm so that they can learn the cycles of the growing season.
  • To give apprentices first hand working knowledge with specific crops, so that they can have a solid foundation of farming experience.
  • To support the hands on learning that comes through hard work in the fields with educational resources, garden reading, classes and field trips.

To apply, check out our website.

The Catawba Sustainability Center is now accepting applications for its 2017 Small Farm Incubator program!

Download the program overview and application.

The Catawba Sustainability Center’s Small Farm Incubator Plots program aims to incubate and grow viable, independent farm businesses and to serve as a model new-farmer program by providing access to land and resources in a low-risk environment.

Program Goals

  • Accommodate up to 8 new growers and small farms
  • Build infrastructure necessary to fulfill mission and serve as a model agricultural development organization
  • Provide educational opportunities and skills training
  • Support the local economy and local food system

The Catawba Sustainability Center (CSC) is establishing “Land-Use Agreements” with new and established farm businesses to utilize a portion of designated farmland to grow produce. The Center is committed to developing the incubator program, facilitating learning opportunities, and ensuring that land is available annually for new participants. All participants must follow the CSC’s Land Use Protocol and new farms must participate in one of the Catawba Sustainability Center’s training programs.

For questions, please contact:

Adam Taylor
Catawba Sustainability Center Manager

Beginning Farmer webinars – input wanted

If you have a topic you would like to speak about, know someone who may want to speak in a webinar, or just have a topic you want someone to cover, please feel free to email me with anything you wish. Some details about our webinars are included below:

  • Use the WebEx program through Virginia Tech
  • Speakers only need a working computer/internet connection and a reliable phone line (do not need to travel to Virginia Tech)
  • Presentations are given through a “screen share” option to share powerpoints, documents, pictures, and more
  • Aim for 45 minutes of material followed by a 15 minute Q&A session
  • Typically offered on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, or Thursdays around lunch time

We need suggestions from you all to keep these webinars interesting and relevant to beginning farmers and ranchers across Virginia. I look forward to hearing the ideas you all send my way!


Allyssa Mark
Program Associate

Virginia Beginning Farmer & Rancher Coalition Program


Farmer Incubator Program at Bottle Tree Farm LLC

(Waverly, VA)

Bottle Tree Farm LLC, an 18+ acre farm on the edge of Waverly Virginia, 23890, is looking to assist young and beginning farmers to establish their own business growing and selling seasonal produce and related agricultural products. My wife and I are in search of a few (2-4+) qualified candidates to participate in our Farmer Incubator Program.

The two of us make use of only a small fraction of the farm and have always wanted to further opportunities for young and beginning farmers. To that end, we are willing to share our investment in land, equipment and other resources with a small number of prospects that have either classroom and/or field experience and who are looking to start their own agricultural related business.

We are looking for sustainable farmers willing to invest in the soil and land. Growing seasonal produce crops for direct to consumer marketing is likely the best use of this land. Livestock and fowl are logical extensions to add to the  rotation of crops, for those willing to take on this responsibility.

Our Farm is conveniently located on US460 within 50-60 miles of 3 major metropolitan centers; 1) Richmond, Petersburg, Hopewell; 2) Norfolk, Portsmouth, Virginia Beach and 3) Williamsburg, Newport News, Hampton. Great marketing opportunities and potential exist for those willing to hustle.

There is a cottage on the farm and other affordable housing available nearby. Currently (2017) cottage is occupied If interested, please send letter of introduction to: Include summary of experience and resources you have and the type of business you are hoping to establish as well as any initial questions that you may have. Please include your current working business plan.

Thank you for your interest in this opportunity.
Bob Richardson

Riverstone Organic Farm in Floyd is seeking a part-time employee to help sell our products at farmers markets

$10-12.00/hr. Friday afternoon and Saturday morning schedule. Other opportunities at the farm may be also be possible. Good customer service skills required. Call 540-0230-0020, or email