Lon Frahm may represent the future of farming. Inside a two-story office building overshadowed by 80-foot steel grain bins, he points to a map showing the patchwork of square and circular fields that make up his operation. It covers nearly 10% of the county’s cropland, and when he climbs into his Cessna Skylane to check crops from the air, he can fly 30 miles before reaching the end of his land. At 30,600 acres, his farm is among the country’s vastest, and it yields enough corn and wheat each year to fill 4,500 semitrailer trucks. Big operations like Mr. Frahm’s, which he has spent decades building, are prospering despite the deepest farm slump since the 1980s. Years of low prices for corn, wheat and other commodities brought on by a glut of grain world-wide are driving smaller American farmers out of business.
There is a new Credit Union for farmers in Maine! It was founded in recognition that access to credit is one of the most difficult hurdles for young and new farmers to overcome. The Maine Harvest Credit Project is working to create a specialised credit union that is focused on providing credit to small farms and relocalizing the food economy in Maine. Their aim is to fill crucial financing gaps in the traditional credit system such as land acquisition, specialized food processing and farm equipment.
They believe that the creation of Maine Harvest will have an impact well beyond Maine’s borders. As the first deposit-taking institution in the USA focused on food system re-localization they will be a model for other states and regions looking to scale up the financing options for small scale, sustainably produced food and agricultural products. This is the start of something very important!
The project still needs a million dollars in order to get its accreditation, we think that this is the perfect opportunity for a tech investment (if you farm for a tech person, please pass this on for them to look at!)
To read more about the Maine Harvest Credit Union click HERE
If you or somebody you know is interested in becoming a donor, please contact Sam or Scott directly.
Sam May: firstname.lastname@example.org / 207.653.2260
Scott Budde: email@example.com / 207.653.5527
We are so proud of Lindsey Luscher Shute after her outstanding performance before the senate committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry. She did a fantastic job of representing the struggles facing young farmers, from land access and affordability, student loan debt, health care affordability to the bias against women and people of color in the existing agricultural framework. She went on to outline the progress needed going forward and the issues that need to be addressed in the next Farm Bill in order to support a new generation of farmers who face different challenges and require different support mechanisms.
Lindsey also submitted a full written testimony that goes into much more detail about the young farmers movement. To read the full testimony click HERE
On this day in 1845, Westminster, the UK Parliament passed the 1845 enclosure act. Although not the first step in the enclosure of the commons, this act created enclosure commissioners who were given the authority to enclose land without prior parliamentary approval. In total, over the course of 300 years, the British government enclosed nearly 7 million acres of the commons in Britain alone. In doing so they created the ‘working class’ and systematic private property in one fell swoop. This model became a worldwide blueprint that has led us to the situation in which we find ourselves today. Enclosure of the commons, coupled with imperialism has ensured that hundreds of millions of people are unable to access agricultural land and billions more live in abject poverty, despite living in regions of abundance. (more…)
The Schumacher Centre for a New Economics is seeking a Development and Communications Director to join their non-profit organisation in Western Massachusetts, to further the transition to a new economy. The centre’s mission is to educate the public about an economy that supports both people and the planet. They believe that a fair and sustainable economy is possible and that citizens working for the common interest can build systems to achieve it. Much of the work of the Schumacher centre is in the area of sustainable local agriculture, land access, land trust with an ever present focus on communities and the commons.
500 which premiered earlier this year at the Sundance Film Festival, is set in the years between 2013 and 2016. It documents the trial of the former Guatemalan dictator Efrain Rios Montt in 2013, who was tried and convicted of genocide and crimes against humanity, when it was found that there was significant evidence that linked him to the ordered killing of over 1,700 indigenous people. 500 years tells the story of this period and the citizens uprising that began when Montt’s conviction was overturned.
The success of the next generation of farmers and ranchers is crucially dependant on whether they can secure suitable land to start and expand their operations. According to the 2012 Census of Agriculture, the number of new farmers and ranchers in the United States decreased 20 percent from 2007 and hit a 30-year low. In acknowledgement of this barrier for young farmers, the American Farmland Trust have just recently announced that 24 experienced educators will serve as Land Access Trainers to help beginning farmers and ranchers secure agricultural land. This will be part of a nationwide, four-year-long project and the chosen trainers are located in each of the 10 U.S. farm production regions. The American Farmland Trust is a national nonprofit organization that works to protect farmland, promote sound farming practices and keep farmers on the land.
Did you have the experience of entering a coloring contest to win an over-sized Easter bunny, or perhaps a pie baking competition for gift basket filled with all manner of goodies? I clearly remember those moments from my childhood – moments that now seem quite unrealistic in terms of how things actually work in the world.
Here’s the equivalent over-sized Easter bunny for the young agrarian: Award-winning architect-turned-farmer Norma Burns has decided to give her beautiful farm away in an essay contest. Norma has been growing herbs, vegetables, and cut flowers on the certified organic, 13 acre farm for the last eighteen years. (more…)
If you weren’t able to get to the “Our Land” symposium in Santa Fe and Albuquerque this November (a lot of us couldn’t), you can still catch a bit of the goodness. Agrarian Trust just uploaded some more of the video lectures from the event. (more…)