Tag Archive for: Preparing a Resilient Future

The National Center for Appropriate Technology, along with nationally recognized organic leaders, will offer an Organic Academy Road Show (OARS) session in Billings, Montana, on December 6 and 7, 2022. Beginning farmers and ranchers in the northern Great Plains will have the opportunity to explore regenerative, certified organic production systems for grains, oilseeds, and pulses.

Thirty scholarships for beginning farmers and ranchers are available for up $200 each to defray costs of attending. There is no registration fee, but registration is required by November 21, 2022. Online registration is available at ATTRA.NCAT.ORG/EVENTS.

This event will host intensive training sessions and one-on-one technical assistance for beginning farmers and ranchers. Topics will include transitioning to organic production, an introduction to organic system planning, soil health, and more. Session leaders will include NCAT Sustainable Agriculture specialists and experienced Montana organic farmers and ranchers. The event schedule and speaker list can be found here.

In addition, attendees will be able to interact with civic leaders, county Extension agents, and staff from USDA’s Farm Service Agency and Natural Resources Conservation Service during a public event on Dec. 6 from 7-9 p.m. The Montana Organic Association will host its annual conference at the same location following the OARS session. Registration is separate for that event at MOA Conference.

“This series of educational opportunities is not just another farming training,” said Doug Crabtree and Anna Jones-Crabtree of Vilicus Farms in Montana.It is about leveraging training to further build the network of beginning organic producers who are farming and ranching at a scale that will have a tremendous impact on land stewardship across the Northern Great Plains.” 

The December event will be the first of 10 OARS sessions in the northern Great Plains states of Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, and Wyoming over the next two years.

The OARS sessions are part of the three-year federal Beginning Farmers and Rancher Development Program, Preparing a Resilient Future, in partnership with the Montana Organic Association, Northern Plains Sustainable Agriculture Society, Center for Rural Affairs, the Intertribal Agriculture Council, Nebraska Sustainable Agriculture Society, International Organic Inspectors Association, North Dakota State, and University of Wyoming.

The new project targets medium to large-scale field crop and livestock operations, unlike most programs focused on beginning farmers and ranchers. This project was selected in a national competition under the Beginning Farmers and Ranchers Development Program funded through the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

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THE NATIONAL CENTER FOR APPROPRIATE TECHNOLOGY has been helping people build resilient communities through local and sustainable solutions that reduce poverty, strengthen self-reliance, and protect natural resources since 1976. Headquartered in Butte, Montana, NCAT has six regional offices in Arkansas, California, New Hampshire, Mississippi, Montana, and Texas. Learn more and become a friend of NCAT at NCAT.ORG.

 

 

The National Center for Appropriate Technology will lead a regional partnership to help more than 300 beginning farmers and ranchers across the Northern Great Plains explore the value, viability, and resilience of raising organic field crops.

NCAT will lead this $600,000 three-year Preparing a Resilient Future project alongside the Montana Organic Association, Northern Plains Sustainable Agriculture Society, Center for Rural Affairs, the Intertribal Agriculture Council, Nebraska Sustainable Agriculture Society, International Organic Inspectors Association, North Dakota State, and University of Wyoming

“The Preparing a Resilient Future project is unique in that it will help beginning farmers and ranchers fully explore the economic and productive viability of organic systems in the Northern Great Plains,” said NCAT Agricultural and Natural Resource Economist and Project Director Jeff Schahczenski. “NCAT has long-recognized that farmers and ranchers learn best from other farmers and ranchers.”

Unlike most programs focused on beginning farmers and ranchers, the new project targets medium to large-scale field crop and livestock operations. This project was selected in a national competition under the Beginning Farmers and Ranchers Development Program funded through the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

Researchers often assume that beginning organic farmers are smaller-scale operations because of the challenge of finding and acquiring affordable land and high cost of larger-scale machinery. Programs that help beginning farmers tend to focus on organic specialty crops like fruits, vegetables, tree nuts and flowers. Research has shown that only about 25 percent of Beginning Farmers and Ranchers Development programs train and educate beginning farmers to focus on commodity field crops such as, wheat, barley, lentils, chickpeas, dry peas and beans and oilseeds as well as beef livestock production.

Why Field Crops?

Interest in growing organic field crops is on the rise in the Northern Great Plains, and there appears to be good reason to think there would be markets for them.

Research shows that organic vegetable and specialty crop growers are meeting the national demand in the U.S. because there’s a net export of their products. At the same time, organically grown field crops are being imported into the U.S. at stable and sometimes increasing rates.

“Organic farming is not prescriptive,” said Jamie Ryan Lockman, Executive Director of the Montana Organic Association and Co-Project Director. “It is a system that requires diverse crops and diverse approaches subject to constant change. Montana is the number one organic wheat- and pulse-producing state in the country; it is uniquely positioned to provide education as well as opportunities to meet, learn, collaborate, mentor, do business, and more.”

Bringing in the Community

NCAT and the project collaborators will host intensive training sessions, one-on-one technical assistance, and on-farm workshops and tours. The training will be conducted in two-day “Organic Academy Road Show” sessions. Importantly, experienced organic farmers and ranchers are some of the lead trainers in this project.  

In addition to the farmers and ranchers taking part, the sessions will include other members of their agricultural communities, including civic leaders, county Extension agents and officials from USDA agencies such as the Farm Service Administration and the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

That outreach is vital as support for the beginning farmers and to introduce organic farming and ranching to the agricultural community in their area.

Opportunities for Diversity

Over the past seven years, NCAT has helped nearly 900 military veteran farmers through its Armed to Farm training projects around the country.

In addition, NCAT and MOA have undertaken many training workshops that have included tribal members, who make up about 2 percent of all new beginning farmers in the Northern Great Plains.

That emphasis on diversity will be reflected in the Preparing a Resilient Future project, which will include at least 50 veteran, limited-resource, tribal, and socially disadvantaged participants.

“NCAT is a longtime, trusted resource for providing accessible training to farmers and ranchers,” said NCAT Executive Director Steve Thompson. “Now we have the opportunity to formally partner with several leading organic and sustainable agriculture organizations and tribal nations to deliver high-quality training to beginning farmers, ranchers, and their community support systems across the Northern Great Plains, creating a recipe for success.”

The Preparing a Resilient Future project will serve farmers and ranchers in Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming.