Resources & Connections

Farmers Guide to the Conservation Stewardship Program

With interest growing nationwide in farming practices that can protect natural resources and reduce the impacts of climate change, this is a key time for producers to explore CSP. This guide is a resource for farmers who want to learn more about CSP or who are thinking about enrolling in the program.

Farm Commons

Farm Commons is a nonprofit organization providing farmers with the proactive legal counsel they need to become the resilient base of a healthy food system

Farmers’ Guide to Business Structures

Establishing and maintaining the right business structure for your farm operation lays the foundation for a stable, resilient farm business. Forming a business structure can help manage risk by protecting the owners’ assets from the business’ liabilities; promote good business practices through accounting and decision-making protocols; raise funds from outside investors; and ease the ownership transition process. For most farmers and ranchers, choosing a structure is straightforward. Complexity arises when drafting organizing documents to support your structure of choice, or, determining how it will operate.

A Call to Build Trust and Center Values in Foods Systems Work

In September of 2019, 70 people from across the U.S. came together to learn from each other about the work of coordinating state level food system plans. The initial intention for this gathering was to surface promising practices of developing and implementing food systems plans—meaning guiding documents, such as the Michigan Good Food Charter or the Vermont Farm to Plate Strategic Plan, that are developed with public input, set out a vision for the food system of a particular place, and identify high priority policies and strategies. Over the course of planning and hosting the three day convening, it became clear that a focus exclusively on technical practices was neither practical nor what participants were most interested in. Instead, it was the complex and adaptive process of bringing people together and the way in which we shared our time that most resonated with many participants. As a way to hold ourselves accountable to walking the path towards racial justice, we share here our reflections on two practices to advance equity that anyone can incorporate into their life and work: building trust and centering values, including racial equity. We describe what these threads looked like in a small national gathering—including both our personal experiences of the process, the practical event decisions we made, and what participants had to say. Our hope is to challenge you to consider all the ways in which your food systems work is either welcoming or exclusionary and either embodies equity or perpetuates “othering” and undermines the fight for racial justice. Our goal is to leave you with some reflections and some resources—ideas of steps you can take in the work you do and where to go to learn more.

Quantifying Economic and Environmental Benefits of Soil Health

AFT used partial budget analysis to estimate the net economic benefits eight farmers have experienced from investing in soil health practices (e.g., no-till, strip-till, cover crops, nutrient management, conservation cover, compost application, and mulching). We also used USDA’s Nutrient Tracking Tool and USDA’s COMET-Farm Tool to quantify the water quality and climate benefits of these practices.

We’ve produced eight two-page case studies that we hope will be useful to farmers and landowners who are curious about soil health practices; to give them confidence that investing in the practices is worth the risk.

Land Reuse and Redevelopment: Creating Healthy Communities. Resource for Urban Agriculture

Land Reuse and Redevelopment: Creating Healthy Communities is a free textbook and community resource providing guidance on reusing land safely. Each section of the book is written by land reuse stakeholders highlighting how ATSDR’s 5-step Land Reuse Strategy is implemented in best practices. It also highlights how safe land reuse can contribute to community resilience, partnerships, and sustainability.

Certification Review Essentials

This course is for organic certification reviewers and describes how effective reviews of the Organic System Plan (OSP) and inspection report support organic compliance. This course guides certification reviewers through OSP requirements and critical control points, OSP assessment, inspection report review, and applying skills using case scenarios. This course helps reviewers gain confidence in completing effective and efficient reviews that lead to appropriate and defensible certification decisions.


Recordkeeping by certified operations and certifiers is a key requirement of organic certification. This course introduces certifiers and inspectors to a variety of recordkeeping systems encountered across the range of certified operations. It also examines challenges created by different operational activities and complexity levels. Finally, this course helps certifiers structure internal and collaborative recordkeeping reviews across operations.

Cleaning and Sanitizing: Scrub Before You Spray!

It's important to remember cleaning and sanitizing are two different things. Cleaning is the physical removal of dirt and filth, whereas sanitizing is the treatment of a surface to reduce the microbes living on a surface. What does the FSMA Produce Safety Rule require in regards to cleaning and sanitizing?

Michael Fields Agricultural Institute

Michael Fields Agricultural Institute Farmers or rural entrepreneur in the Midwest are invited to use a free Grants Advising service of the Institute. Grants Advisers help you decide whether a grant would be the best way to achieve your goals.

The Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program (MAEAP)

MAEAP is an innovative, proactive program that helps farms of all sizes and all commodities voluntarily prevent or minimize agricultural pollution risks.

Michigan On-Farm Produce Safety Team

Did you know that Michigan produce growers enjoy more on-farm produce safety support than growers in other states? The Michigan On-Farm Produce Safety Team provides FREE educational programs and farm visits through a collaboration between the Michigan Produce Safety Technician Program and members of Michigan State University Extension.

PSA Grower Training Courses

The PSA team fast-tracked an Online PSA Grower Training course option and a Temporary Remote Delivery course option.

Michigan State University Extension's Farm Business Management programming

Connection to listserv for MSU farm business management event notices, updates to the materials shared during the webinar, answers to common questions, and other useful educational materials.

Rural Resilience: Farm Stress Training

In response to a growing rural mental health crisis, National Farmers Union (NFU), Farm Credit, the American and Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) announced a free online training program to help farmers, their families and neighbors identify and cope with stress.

Soil Health Indicators and Tests

This publication takes a brief look at conservation tillage as it may be applied to organic cropping systems. A number of the most promising strategies and technologies are described, and abstracts of recent research are provided. The focus is on annual cropping systems. Both agronomic and vegetable cropping systems are discussed.

Job Hub

Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences (MANRRS) is a national society that welcomes membership of people of all racial and ethnic group participation in agricultural and related science careers. MANRRS members are encouraged to be full participants in other professional societies for their basic disciplinary and career interests. However, MANRRS attempts to provide networks to support professional development of minorities. It is a springboard for their entry into and advancement in careers where they otherwise could be lost in the sheer number and established connections of mainstream participants. For student members, MANRRS provides role models and networking opportunities.

Vermont Law School and NECAFS legal resources for Food Safety Compliance

The Northeast Center to Advance Food Safety at the University of Vermont and the Center for Agriculture and Food Systems at Vermont Law School are pleased to share legal educational factsheets as an output of their joint project, the Extension Legal Services Initiative. This initiative identified, researched, and developed educational resources related to key legal questions associated with the FSMA Produce Safety Rule. This project began in late 2018 with a national survey of the produce community to identify and prioritize legal research questions.

FTC Episode 116: Health Insurance Options – What to Consider During Open Enrollment

For many families, having health insurance is a key factor in determining if a member of the family may take an off-farm job simply for the benefits. Do those benefits outweigh the potential cost of child care? What factors should you consider to matter what your stage of life? We talk about the options to consider during open enrollment.

U-Pick, U-Cut and Agri-Tourism Operations required COVID Safety Measures

MDARD has reminded fall and winter agri-tourism operators - cider mills, orchards, corn mazes and pumpkin patches, u-cut Christmas tree sales, etc. - to stay vigilant and follow specific COVID-19 guidance to ensure the safety of all employees and customers. The U-Pick Guidance document includes information on gathering sizes, wearing of face masks, employee exposure, preparedness planning, staff screening, in-person interaction, hand washing and sanitation.

USDA Service Centers Provide Free, One-on-One Help for Farmers

At USDA, we are committed to helping farmers complete loan applications, environmental reviews, and other paperwork free of charge. One-on-one support is available at more than 2,300 USDA Service Centers nationwide. USDA’s Farm Service Agency and Natural Resources Conservation Service staff are usually co-located at these Service Centers and can help guide farmers to the best USDA assistance based on their unique goals, whether it is loans, conservation programs, or insurance.

Organic System Plans

The Organic System Plan (OSP) is a document that serves as the basis for communication between an organic business, the certifier and the inspector. It is the foundation of the organic certification process. This course teaches requirements related to OSPs in the USDA organic regulations, examines the different functions of the OSP, discusses critical organic control points, and provides OSP evaluation and design considerations for certifiers.

Farmer to Farmer eCommerce Platforms Report

This report synthesizes input from 170 respondents on 23 different platforms and highlights the nine most popular platforms used by the participating farmers.

NSAC CFAP 101 for Producers

Starting September 21, 2020, USDA’s Farm Service Agency is accepting applications through the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program 2 (CFAP 2) for direct aid (payments, not loans) to agricultural producers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Michigan Agricultural Mediation Program

Michigan farmers can now mediate a wide range of disputes at no cost through the Michigan Agricultural Mediation Program (MAMP). The 2018 Farm Bill enables the MAMP to mediate agricultural issues involving leases, farm transitions, organic certification, next-door neighbors and more. To request free mediation or for more information, call (800) 616-7863 or go online at All calls are confidential.

Farm Loan Discovery Tool

Farmers and ranchers can use the Farm Loan Discovery Tool on to find information on USDA farm loans that may best fit their operations. USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) offers a variety of loan options to help farmers finance their operations.

The Local Food System Response to COVID Resource Hub

Local and regional farms and facilities tend to be more vulnerable to market disruptions as they are operated by smaller, new/beginning, historically underserved or low resourced producers and business owners. This searchable database contains insights and educational material from 16 partner organizations to help local and regional food producers and businesses adapt their market strategies in the current environment.

Agribusiness Resources for Novel Coronavirus

Michigan State University Extension has compiled a list of financial resources for Michigan farmers. The list includes a list of programs and their descriptions, along with MSU Extension contact information, eligibility and where and how to apply.

Municipal Policy Options for Healthy Food Access in Stores and Restaurants

Municipal Policy Options for Healthy Food Access in Stores and Restaurants. This resource focuses on ordinances and other formalized municipal policies across tax, zoning, licensing and other areas that have been used throughout the country to improve healthy food access and offerings in restaurants and food stores such as grocery stores, corner markets, and bodegas.


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