November Policy Updates

By November 24, 2021VABF News

Funding and Marketing Opportunities

More Organic Certification Cost Share Funds Available!

USDA will provide an additional $20 million in pandemic assistance to cover a portion of certification and education expenses incurred in fiscal years 2020, 2021, and 2022 to agricultural producers who are certified organic or transitioning to organic. USDA will make $20 million available through the new Organic and Transitional Education and Certification Program (OTECP) as part of USDA’s broader Pandemic Assistance for Producers initiative. More information, on the Notice of Funding Availability, including eligible expenses and payment calculations, are provided here:  https://public-inspection.federalregister.gov/2021-24384.pdf. The deadline to apply is January 7, 2022, through a local Farm Service Agency (FSA) office. One-on-one support is available by calling 877-508-8364.

https://www.fsa.usda.gov/state-offices/Virginia/news-releases/2021/usda-builds-pandemic-support-for-certified-organic-and-transitioning-operations?utm_medium=email&utm_source=govdelivery

Apply NOW for NRCS programs

While USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service accepts program applications year-round, many states have upcoming ranking dates for the current funding cycle. Apply before the ranking date to be considered for EQIP, CSP and AMA funding in this cycle or your application will automatically be deferred to the next funding cycle. Find the ranking dates in your state  https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/staterankingdates.

For those of you in Virginia, applications for the 2022 growing season are currently open for the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) and the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP).  Application deadlines are December 15, 2021 for ACEP and “to be determined” for CSP.  Visit the Virginia NRCS website for more information.

One-Stop-Shop for USDA Climate-Smart Agriculture and Forestry Resources

USDA offers financial assistance and one-on-one technical advice through a suite of voluntary programs to directly support farmers, ranchers, private forest landowners, and partners in implementing climate-smart management solutions. Programs include:  Agricultural Conservation Easement Program; Conservation Stewardship Program; Conservation Reserve Program; Environmental Quality Incentives Program; Conservation Innovation Grants; and Regional Conservation Partnership Program. USDA Service Centers are staffed with conservation experts ready to provide custom, one-on-one support based on a farmer’s specific climate-smart management and production goals. Through the Conservation Technical Assistance Program (CTA), NRCS offers targeted advice and information – based on the latest science and research – to  help producers make informed decisions. This support is offered at no cost to the producers. Contact your local USDA Service Center to learn more about programs and services to support climate-smart solutions for your working land. Visit farmers.gov/program-deadlines for more information on application deadlines and state ranking dates. https://www.farmers.gov/conservation/climate-smart

Applications for Farm and Food Workers Relief Grant due Feb 8, 2022

USDA is accepting applications for the new Farm and Food Workers Relief (FFWR) grant program. The program will provide $665 million to fund competitive grant applications to provide relief to farmworkers and meatpacking workers who incurred pandemic-related health and safety costs. Eligible state agencies, tribal entities and non-profit organizations serving farmworkers and meatpacking workers can apply now through Feb. 8, 2022, at www.grants.gov for grants ranging from $5 million to $50 million.

https://www.usda.gov/media/press-releases/2021/09/07/usda-invests-700-million-grants-provide-relief-farm-and-food

 

Community Food Projects Competitive Grants Program – Applications due December 20

NIFA’s Community Food Projects Competitive Grants Program (CFPCGP) is soliciting applications to fund two types of grants. The types are entitled (1) Community Food Projects (CFP) and (2) Planning Projects (PP). The purpose of the CFP is to support the development of projects with a one-time infusion of federal dollars to make such projects self-sustaining. Projects and plans are to focus on a defined community and describe in detail the activities and outcomes of the plan or project. Awards can be up to $400,000 and have supported many local and regional food systems projects over the years.

https://nifa.usda.gov/funding-opportunity/community-food-projects-cfp-competitive-grants-program.

 

Farm to School Grant Program – Applications due January 10

The USDA Food and Nutrition Service announced a Request for Applications for the Farm to School Grant Program , which offers awards up to $100,000 (or $500,000 for state agency applicants) to develop and expand Farm to School programs that link schoolchildren with local farms and purchase locally grown produce and other foods for school meal programs. USDA expects to award $12 million in FY 2022. Eligible applicants include individual farmers or groups of farmers, as well as school districts and school food programs, state departments of agriculture, Indigenous tribal organizations, and non-profit organizations. This grant program now offers a simplified application process for projects with a targeted objective such as educational curricula, edible gardens, or producer training.  Learn more including how to apply at the NSAC blog on F2S.

https://www.fns.usda.gov/cfs/resources-farm-school-grant-program-applicants

USDA Rural Development Funding for Rural America

To help rural America build back better, USDA Rural Development is seeking applications to implement projects supported by regional economic and community development planning. In fiscal year 2022, this funding is available under the following USDA Rural Development programs: Community Facilities Direct Loan and Grant Program; Community Facilities Loan Guarantee Program; Water and Waste Disposal Direct Loan and Grant Program; Water and Waste Disposal Loan Guarantees; Rural Business Development Grants; and Community Connect Grant

For more information, see https://www.rd.usda.gov/sites/default/files/usda_rd_sa_secd102621.pdf.

Ask the Expert – Crop Insurance for  Specialty Crops

Specialty crop liaisons Adrienne Steinacher and Matt Wilkin with USDA’s Risk Management Agency answer questions about insurance for specialty crops.

https://www.farmers.gov/blog/disaster-planning-and-assistance/ask-the-expert-risk-management-agencys-adrienne-steinacher

Take Action – Framing Policy

The upcoming 22nd Annual Virginia Biological Farming Conference, to be held in Roanoke, VA on January 22-24, offers a unique opportunity to conference participants to help frame federal agricultural and food policies for the next five years.  There will be a policy track of two sessions on organizing for sustainable agriculture advocacy, one on policy developments at national and state levels with a farmer listening session on 2023 Farm Bill and another on building an intentional, coordinated advocacy capacity statewide with grassroots organizing, including VABF policy team and member advocacy corps. This is your chance to help steer federal policy and USDA programming in climate-friendly, regenerative, and organic directions! Register here!