This week’s blog post brings you reminders about three upcoming opportunities and deadlines we don’t want you to miss.
1. Last call for coaching at the NOFA-VT Winter Conference
The New Farmer Project is offering new and aspiring farmers individual consultations with farm business advisers on both Feb. 16 and 17 at the NOFA-VT Winter Conference. These sessions will focus on helping you create an action plan to start or enhance your farm businesses. Preregistration is recommended and space is limited. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call Jessie at 802-223-2389 x 203. If you’re planning on going to the conference but haven’t registered, don’t delay. Feb. 4 is the last day to pre-register for the conference. After then, registration fees go up by $20 per day.
2. Make Sure You’re Counted!
February 4 is also the deadline for submitting your information to the USDA Census of Agriculture — the only source of uniform, comprehensive and impartial agricultural data for every county in the nation. Conducted once every five years, the Census plays a pivotal role the development of US agricultural policy and allocation of resources to farm and ranch programs.
Here at UVM Extension, we use Census numbers in many ways — to write grant proposals, in talking with legislators, journalists and sponsors, to identify research topics and to design programs. Your information is critical to steering resources to projects that make a difference for beginning farmers.
A farm is defined as any place that produced and sold, or normally would have sold, $1,000 or more of agricultural products during the Census year (2012).
All farmers and ranchers should have received a Census form in the mail by early January. Farmers can return their forms by mail or online by visiting a secure website, www.agcensus.usda.gov. The National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) also has tips and guidelines to help with online filing at http://www.agcensus.usda.gov/Help/FAQs/General_FAQs/
By law, the information you provide to the Census is kept confidential and will not be disclosed to any other government or private entity.
3. Go after Funding
Feb. 5 is the deadline to register to enter the 2013 Vermont Farm/Food Business Plan Competition, which is offering $60,000 in multiple prizes for new and existing businesses. The online registration is simple and quick — plan submission is in early March. Awards will be made in early June. The competition is one of the few sources of funding for new businesses — those in the concept stage or in operation for less than 6 months. There are also categories for business in operation for more than six months, and a special student category. Sponsored by Vermont Technical College and Strolling of the Heifers, the competition seeks to encourage farm, food and forestry business development throughout Vermont. After registering, contestants must attend a Feb. 5 interactive video presentation offered by VIT at 13 Vermont locations.