Business and Financial

The Texas Center for Local Food (TCLF) is collaborating with Coy Poitier, Chairman of the USDA Farm Service Agency’s (FSA) Dallas Urban County Committee, to explore a series of webinars about how Texas farmers and ranchers can benefit from participating in USDA programs. One of our goals is to highlight small, urban, and historically underserved producers who have successfully accessed technical or financial assistance from USDA.

For our first webinar in March, we’ll be talking about the gateway to USDA programs: the FSA Farm Number.

Register today and please share with other farmers – experienced, new, and aspiring farmers are welcome!

FSA Farm Numbers: What, Why & How – March 6, 2024 – 6:00 – 7:00 PM CST

Register: https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZcocu6rrT0tHtBX9u8BdMQKe4DEV6aQORER#/registration

A farm number from USDA is the gateway to many public programs that can help grow, improve, and aid your farm or ranch in times of need. If you’re interested in working with the Farm Service Agency (FSA) or Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), you’ll need to get a farm number! 

In this online community meeting, we’ll hear from an FSA representative on the benefits and process of getting a farm number, and three Texas farm businesses who have used farm numbers to access technical and financial resources for their farms. We’ll leave plenty of time for Q&A, so come ready with questions.

We’ll update this page with new webinars as we plan them. Stay tuned by following us at @TexasLocalFood on Instagram or Facebook.

The Texas Department of Agriculture’s (TDA) Young Farmer Grant application is open now through October 11, 2023. This grant opens two times per year and is an excellent opportunity for Texas farmers between 18 and 45 years young. There are very few *true* grant opportunities for for-profit farmers in Texas, and this one allows you to fund operational supplies, livestock, seeds/plants, labor, contract work, equipment (TDA will cover up to $5k), and more. The minimum request is $5k and maximum is $20k.

I’ve worked on several of these applications with farmers the past few years. Here are a few things to consider if you want to apply:

  • Funders love projects with specific goals, tasks, and timelines. And in this case, TDA wants to see that you have a specific project that will increase your farm’s production in terms of acreage planted, number of animals, yield, etc.
  • This grant is best for farmers with some sales and/or production history. It’s not required! But since TDA wants to fund commercial and not hobby farms, having a Schedule F (or other agricultural income tax form) or other production history documents will be a benefit to your application during review.
  • It is a 1:1 matching grant. In other words, if you request $10k from TDA, you have to “match” that with your own $10k. There is some flexibility around how you can provide match – it’s project dependent and we’re happy to chat with you more about it. While match can feel discouraging, the thing to keep in mind is… if you know you’re going to spend, for example, $10k on a specific project this year on your farm… why not apply to the grant and try to get 50% of that covered?
  • The grant is reimbursement based. You will have to cover costs of the project up front and then submit receipts to get funding. TDA knows things won’t always line up exactly to the penny if you’re awarded; it’s most about being in communication and getting approval for major changes!

To learn more, visit TDA’s webpage and read the Request for Grant Application. You can also watch a recorded presentation below about the grant by TDA’s Kat Neilson, who partnered with the Central Texas Young Farmers Coalition to host a virtual info session last year.

If you’d like to talk to someone at TCLF about applying and getting assistance with your application, then please submit an intake form with us!

TDA Young Farmer Grant Info Session – April 2022

The Texas Center for Local Food is launching a series of community meetings this fall about Making Money for Your Farm! 

The series will explore marketing and sales topics by and for Texas farmers and ranchers. Meetings are an opportunity to learn from, connect, and ask questions of other Texas producers while building community connections and learning how to grow your farm business. Registration is FREE and required in advance via Zoom.

Register today and please share with other farmers – experienced, new, and aspiring alike!

🍴 How to Break into Restaurant Sales — Wednesday, September 6th — 6:00 – 7:30pm

https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZErcO2vrjMoG9a-26BE0DIUQw8WiHCydJIO 

For the first event on September 6, Texas farmers and chefs discuss what you need to do as a farmer to sell to restaurants and what to keep in mind when you’re building your relationship with chefs. Featuring Finegan Ferreboeuf of Steelbow Farm, Chelsea Fadda of Pecan Square Cafe, Marcella Juarez of Palo Blanco Farm & Ranch and Nadia Casaperalta of South Texas College’s Culinary Department. Bring your questions, share with your network, and register today!

🥕 Best Practices for Selling at Farmers Markets — Wednesday, October 4th — 6:00 – 7:30pm

https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZ0rceyopjIsGNGU7yEdobREz-fKgupYtpb5 

Are you interested in selling at farmers markets, or making improvements to your current setup? Join the Texas Center for Local Food for the second event of their Making Money for Your Farm series on October 4th from 6:00pm – 7:30pm!

Hear from two experienced farmers market vendors – Kay Bell with Passion Garden Farm and Chisa Brigham at HAD Land Farms – about what they’ve learned and how they maximize their profitability at market. They’ll discuss best practices for display, sales, and logistics, and leave plenty of time for discussion and questions. Register today & please share!


📈 Harvest & Sales Tracking Tools — Wednesday, November 1st — 6:00 – 7:30pm

https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZEsduGuqTkiHtXbdwHR11PdcvpswrWXxGQ8

So you’re selling your products but you don’t have a great system in place to keep track of it all… come learn from two Texas producers and educators – Shakera Raygoza of Sentli Regenerative Center and Terra Preta Farm, and Michelle Akindiya of Farmshare Austin – what it looks like to track harvests and sales across different market channels. They’ll share and explain their farm harvest and sales tracking systems, and how they utilize services like Square and Quickbooks. We’ll leave plenty of time for discussion, and we’ll send you home with customizable tracking spreadsheet templates.

Howdy all! I participated today in a virtual tour of an online set up for farmers markets in northeast Iowa. The customers order and pay online, the group aggregates from the various producers and delivers at the farmers markets. The system is convenient for lots of shoppers and seems to work best for non-weekend markets when customers are more in a hurry. It’s a new project and the folks in Iowa are learning a lot and they’re happy to share. Check them out and be sure to tell them Texas Local Food sent you at Curbside Markets!

Curbside Markets – northeast iowa

Here’s a developing list of resources related to creating virtual farm tours and other farm events.

Virtual Farm & Food Experiences webinar. Univ of Vermont and International Workshop on AgriTourism. Visit the latter for more webinars. Sponsored by Yonder, a new agritourism and farm stay platform. Also see the resources from the webinar: Eleanor Leger, Eden Specialty Ciders, Vermont, USA and Caroline Millar, Balkello Farm and Go Rural, Dundee, Scotland.

Pony Power Therapies in New Jersey. Webinar recording of farm tour.

This is our list of our bests for 2020.. we begin this blog post on Dec 7 and will add to it as we approach year end..

Best Report: The Food system: Concentration & Its Impacts by a respected group of authors including our own Douglas Constance from Sam Houston State University. Report presentation video.

Best Books we read: Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World by Anand Giridharadas. Gratitude to the National Good Food Leadership Network book club for including this book. Grain by Grain, another winner by Elizabeth Carlisle with Bob Quinn takes the reader through the long process to establish sound, durable businesses based on values of nutrition and retention of footways that are good for people and planet.

Best Virtual Conference: Mission Capital Data Institute Conference. The combination of pre-recorded 15m sessions coupled with 45m live sessions was a lively experience. This is one of the few conferences where I went back and viewed recordings of sessions I’d missed. The main benefit was the relevant topics including How to Make An Infographic and How to Use Pivot Tables in Excel. The agenda was laid out clearly and it was pretty easy find sessions. I found myself rushing a bit from session to session – not that different from in person life. -SB

Best New Way to Think About Food System VisionFood System Vision Prize Themes from OpenIDEO When we look at our work from different perspectives, we see more open doors to creating the new food system we want. (1) Traditional Wisdom & Practices (2) Community-informed Policy (3) Hyper-localization (4) Human-first Technology.

Best Indicators of a Shift in Academic Thinking About Food Systems – National Academy of Sciences workshop “Healthy People, Healthy Planet: Building a More Sustainable, Resilient, Equitable, and Nourishing Food System – A Workshop“, July 2020. The introduction by Dr. Patrick Stover, Dean Texas A&M AgriLife describes changed expectations of our food systems shifting to a more systemic analysis focused on long term health and environmental impact. Dr. Stover draws on the 2015 report, “A Framework For Assessing Impacts of the Food System” as the basis for this shift in expectations. Dr. Ricardo Salvador of the Union of Concerned Scientists walks through one example (among many) of COVID-19 among meat packing plant workers to demonstrate that scientists cannot legitimately address food as system without considering work welfare. Watch the videos here. Stover Salvador

Best New Government Resource – The USDA Agricultural Marketing Service Transportation and Marketing Program webinars and resource listings during COVID-19 have been excellent resources, highlighting outstanding COVID responses for us all to leverage across the nation. The website design highlights sharing of the multitude of local food resources offered and gathered by this critical front line agency.

Local Food As Economic DevelopmentWorking Landscapes video. Food processing for schools and rural communities in Warren County, North Carolina. Worth a watch for economic development professionals! they used in depth participatory process called “Community Voice“.

From our friends at The Counter, this excellent overview of the history of Black farmers and current actions to dismantle racism in our food system.

Farmers market managers take note and count on us at the Texas Center for Local Food to support your shift to a more diverse customer base. “… the recent movement in the U.S. to promote healthier and more sustainable eating by supporting local farmers’ markets among other things was overwhelmingly white. So though there has been a boom in farmers’ markets in recent years — they grew by 76% from 2008 to 2014, and another 6% since then, according to the USDA — they typically serve affluent white populations and too often have erected barriers that discourage farmers and other vendors of color.

Black farmers’ markets work to “redesign the food system”

This guide was written for farmers up north in Minnesota and Wisconsin and has ideas you can use here in Texas. Hey Texas farmers and ranchers, add your comments below to share your ideas.

Are you a farmer interested in diversifying into on-farm food service and serve meals on your farm?  As local food fans continue to flock to on-farm dining experiences, from multi-course farm-to-table meals to family-friendly pizza nights. This opens up opportunities for farmers to launch dining experiences on their family farms and add an income stream. 

A new free publication, Come & Get It: What you need to know to serve food on your farm  is a 120-page guide with case studies of nine successful farm businesses. Spearheaded by Renewing the Countryside, this project created publications specifically for Wisconsin and Minnesota to help navigate and understand various regulations.  

Texas farmers. Share your ideas for increasing farm income using agri tourism. Add your comments below

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