NCAT Midwest Home Page

Hello from NCAT's Midwest Region!

NCAT's Midwest office is located in downtown, Des Moines, on the 11th floor of the Midland Building. Our current projects include providing expertise on poultry production and other topics for NCAT's ATTRA program and hosting the FoodCorps AmeriCorps program in Iowa. We also serve as the Midwest co-lead agency for the National Farm to School Network (NFSN).

Staff Updates

Ann Y. Robinson

Ann Y. Robinson joined the NCAT Midwest Regional Office as Director in the winter of 2013. She was raised on a century crop and livestock farm in northeast Missouri and has also owned a small farm in northeast Iowa. She has degrees in agricultural journalism, public policy and natural resources from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of Missouri-Columbia. She has worked for nonprofit groups, Cooperative Extension, and the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, and as an independent consultant and writer. Ann is an experienced advocate for sustainable production and sustainable living, and is pleased to be a part of NCAT's team of specialists helping farmers, ranchers and policy makers find profitable solutions that preserve our natural resources.

NCAT Poultry Specialist Kevin Ellis also works out of NCAT's Midwest Regional Office, along with Iowa's FoodCorps Fellow Marlie Wilson. Future issues of DIRT will include more information about their background and work.

Thank you!

NCAT's Midwest Regional Office acknowledges the supporters who make these programs possible, including the Principal Financial Group Foundation, the National Farm to School Network/Tides Foundation, the Iowa Department of Public Health, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and its Risk Management Agency and NCAT's ATTRA program.

If you have questions about sustainable agriculture production or marketing, using renewable energy on your farm, or how to become certified organic, call ATTRA. We're here to help! 1-800-346-9140 or 1-800-411-3222 en Español.

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NCAT Poultry Specialist to present at Missouri Livestock Symposium, December 5-6

NCAT Poultry Specialist Kevin Ellis will be a featured presenter at the 2014 Missouri Livestock Symposium.

The free conference, organized by the University of Missouri Extension Service, will be December 5-6, at William Matthew Middle School in Kirksville, Missouri.

Ellis will give workshops on backyard poultry and predation on pastured poultry. The event will also include a trade show, where Ellis will provide ATTRA publications and answer questions. For more information on the 2014 Missouri Livestock Symposium, visit

Fact Sheets

Whole Farm Revenue Protection
Coming to Iowa

NCAT's Midwest Regional Office was awarded a Risk Management Education Partnership cooperative agreement through the USDA's Risk Management Agency in September to educate producers in Iowa and the region about Whole Farm Revenue Protection (WFRP), a new crop insurance option that will be available for the first time in Iowa in 2015.

Ann Robinson is working with technical expert Jeff Schahczenski, NCAT's Agriculture Policy and Funding Research Director, to educate farmers and ranchers on the new insurance. Schahczenski has worked on a variety of crop insurance-related projects and helped create the Adjusted Gross Revenue or AGR-Lite Wizard. He wrote the NCAT publication, Crop Insurance Options for Specialty, Diversified, and Organic Farmers.

NCAT is collaborating with Iowa Farmers Union, the Iowa Organic Association, Practical Farmers of Iowa and the Midwest Sustainable and Organic Education Service on a set of presentations and field days on WFRP to educate producers about this new crop insurance option, as well as other topics related to managing production and economic risks. The first program preview was presented to the Iowa Farmers Union Conference in late October.

Whole-Farm Revenue Protection is required by the 2014 Farm Bill. The new policy will expand insurance options for specialty crop, organic, and diversified crop producers, and provide diversified farms a higher premium subsidy than previously available. For more details, stay tuned to NCAT's Midwest webpage.

NCAT and FoodCorps Iowa Lead Farm to School Month Program for Nutrition Educators

In early October, Midwest office staff and FoodCorps Iowa members presented a Farm to School 101 for the Iowa Nutrition Network's school grant program coordinators gathered in Ames. Facilitated by the Iowa Department of Public Health, the program coordinators teach Pick a Better Snack classroom lessons to schools with high low-income populations.

IA FoodCorps Members in costume
Iowa FoodCorps members in costume.

Ann Robinson began the presentation by describing the main elements of farm to school: nutrition and wellness education, student engagement through cooking classes and school gardening, and the procurement of fresh, local food for cafeterias. She also reviewed the benefits of such programs, which build stronger local economies and change childrens' attitudes around healthy eating.

Iowa FoodCorps Fellow Marlie Wilson shared some of the great projects happening through FoodCorps service members' efforts across the state, including weekly local food on the menu in Oelwein and a special Food Day menu in the Des Moines Public Schools, where regionally-sourced chicken, sweet corn, and apples were served October 23 in cafeterias across the district. FoodCorps Iowa service members and site supervisors also participated in the INN training from Black Hawk County Extension & Outreach, Linn County Extension & Outreach, Davenport Public Schools, Des Moines Public Schools, and the Northeast Iowa Food and Fitness Initiative.

Watch for more news about these meetings on NCAT's Midwest webpage and in coming issues of the Midwest Dirt.

NCAT Coordinates Armed to Farm session at Small Farms Conference

Brian Andrews

Veterans transitioning to agriculture was the topic of a panel discussion at the Small Farm Trade Show and Conference in Mexico, Missouri, in late October. Ann Robinson facilitated the Armed to Farm program that included presentations by:

  • Veteran Brian Andrews, a beginning diversified farmer in the Springfield, Missouri, area;
  • Veteran Cody Waters, a commodity crop farmer with operations in Missouri and Illinois;
  • Mark Mudd, Senior Farm Loan Officer, Farm Service Agency, Fulton, Missouri;
  • Karen Funkenbusch, Director of the Missouri AgrAbility Project and MU Extension Rural Safety and Health Extension Specialist.

The speakers highlighted diverse career opportunities in agriculture and provided information on agricultural-related programs available to assist veterans. Listen to an interview Brownfield Ag Radio did with farmer veteran Andrews after the session. The three-day event sponsored by the Small Farm Today magazine also included sessions on cover crops, building soil quality with biochar, composting, aquaculture and livestock management.


We routinely publish news and events as they are happening on our Regional Page on the NCAT website. Bookmark it to keep up to date!

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Copyright © November 2014
The National Center for Appropriate Technology

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