|Scott Reed, Oregon State University|
Registration is $25 through Eventbrite. Chair of the ECOP/ESCOP Health Insurance Action Team Virginia Brown, firstname.lastname@example.org is a point of contact.
FSA Beginning Farmer Mentoring Program Opportunity - Recently, USDA-Farm Service Agency (FSA) has been working with the Small Business Administration (SBA) and Service Corps of Retired (and working) Executives (SCORE), a nonprofit resource partner of the SBA, to develop a peer-to-peer mentor network intended to improve the financial literacy and profitability of agricultural businesses—particularly new farm, ranch, and rural businesses. SCORE offers free or low-cost, one-on-one business coaching that can help businesses develop a business plan, navigate legal and financial preparations in getting started, identify new markets, develop strategies for growth, and more. This resource, already available nationwide to small business owners, can be accessed through USDA’s new farmer website. USDA works with SCORE to increase producer awareness of the mentorship services, complementing Extension resources. USDA is stepping up efforts to recruit experienced farmers and ranchers to become SCORE mentors and roll out new participating states every 3 months over the coming year. A collaboration of SCORE and Extension is currently active in Connecticut, Iowa, and Minnesota; with 5 more states in the queue. This new USDA/SCORE initiative serves as an opportunity to complement new farmer educational resources and is an additional resource that Extension colleagues can offer to producers.
Capacity Funding Reality: Declining Real Dollar Federal Support - USDA-NIFA Director Sonny Ramaswamy sometimes mentions that Cooperative Extension “local boots on the ground” has lost about a third of its footprint. While this is clearly not a good news story, it does speak to the on-going challenge that Extension Directors and Administrators across the country must come to understand. Bill Hoffman, Chief of Staff to the Office of the Director at NIFA, found the article that documents Sonny’s statement. The article is found in Choices, the magazine of food, farms and resource use, and the principal outreach vehicle of the Agricultural & Applied Economics Association, AAEA. Choices provides peer-reviewed articles exploring the economic implications of current food, farm, resource or rural community issues directed toward a broad audience. Sun Ling Wang, an Economist with the USDA's Economic Research Service, published a paper in Choices titled “Cooperative Extension System: Trends and Economic Impacts on U.S. Agriculture” in 2014.