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Fostering Sustainable Agriculture through Research, Education and Policy since 1984

Hemp struggles in first year, but advocates remain optimistic

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Why is it urgently important to pass a Farm Bill?

by Margaret Krome We're starting to hear mewings from Congress that, once again, they can't seem to pass a Farm Bill by the deadline they set four-plus years ago. I know how hard deadlines are to m... Read more

Don’t Politicize or Weaken USDA Research Agencies

Last week, several former top USDA research officials in both Republican and Democratic administrations held a nationally broadcast webinar to explain their concerns with a Trump Administration propos... Read more

GULFS Summer Programming

This Summer, our GULFS Program partnered with the Mellowhood Foundation through a joint grant through the city of Madison to pilot three new lessons with their youth to help them start their own hot p... Read more

Prescription for First Warm Spring Saturday: Wade in Stream, MFAI and Farmer Group Host WAV (water monitoring) Training

May 5 found 18 farmers and others at the Cates Family Farm in Spring Green for a Water Action Volunteers (WAV) training on how to conduct basic water quality stream monitoring. Several Uplands Watersh... Read more

Cover crops, CO2 and carbon credits?

Cover crops are grown for several of their benefits, ranging from protecting and enhancing soil to pest suppression. What about using them to sequester atmospheric carbon to counter climate change, wh... Read more

Conservation Planning and Sustainability Consulting Services Available

The Michael Fields Agricultural Institute (MFAI) has long been concerned about soil and water conservation and environmental sustainability. In recent years, an increasing number of landowners have ap... Read more

Growing Urban Leaders in Food Systems (GULFS)

OVERVIEW GULFS is a dynamic, interactive, and engaging youth-centered curriculum developing youth leaders in food systems change. Focused in Milwaukee and Madison, we aim for youth t... Read more


Upcoming events

< 2017 >
  • 6:00 pm-7:00 pm
    W2493 County Rd ES, East Troy, WI 53120, USA

    W2493 County Rd ES, East Troy, WI 53120, USA

    Everyone welcome. Bring a friend!

    It seems appropriate at a time of year traditionally known for renewal to get together to consider the possibilities for the coming year. Citizens’ Climate Lobby (CCL) believes it has a solution to the problem of climate change. It turns out others believe CCL is onto something also! Please join us to view a new episode of the National Geographic Channel’s TV series Years of Living Dangerously that highlights CCL’s success in energizing congressional members to see the opportunities created when we address climate change. Learn about how CCL has achieved this success. And meet people like yourself involved in making it happen.
    For more information about this event, contact Doug Edwards at dougedwards@115chestnut.com or Loren Johnson at plowjockey48@gmail.com.

    Here’s some background about Citizens’ Climate Lobby:
    • CCL’s philosophy is that the world does not need one more angry group. For seven years, CCLers have been building respectful long-term relationships with their members of Congress and staff and with local news media. They’ve held literally thousands of face-to-face meetings—and it’s starting to pay off.
    • Although they are volunteer-driven and organized by congressional districts, they’re not all amateurs. Their Advisory Board is world-class.
    • Last year they grew from 15,000 to 40,000 members.
    • The McArthur Foundation gave them a $500,000 grant.
    • In the summer of 2015 CCL and Quaker volunteers persuaded 10 (now 15) House Republicans to sign the GIBSON RESOLUTION saying Congress should act on human-caused climate change.
    • In early 2016, after three years of effort by local CCL volunteers around the country, CCL persuaded two Florida House members—one Democrat (Ted Deutsch) and one Republican (Carlos Curbelo) to co-chair the CLIMATE SOLUTIONS CAUCUS. The caucus now has 20 House members from FL, NY, PA, CA, IL, OR, CT, MA, VT, NV and MD. They must join in pairs, Noah’s Ark style, one Democrat and one Republican. They are committed to finding a bipartisan climate solution. And, CCL knows that some form of federal carbon fee-and-dividend is almost certainly going to be part of that mix because it can satisfy both parties. It’s hard to overstate the importance of Republicans committing publically to working with Democrats to find a solution.
    • In June of 2016, 1,000 CCLers from around the country held small-group meetings in more than 500 congressional offices in Washington, D.C. Two weeks after the November election, 300 CCLers returned to Washington for more targeted follow-up meetings.
    • In 2017, they expect members of Congress to introduce CCL’s carbon fee and dividend legislation (CFD) with bipartisan co-sponsors.

  • 9:00 am-12:00 pm

    This Workshop has been cancelled due to low registration. Please check out the Small Farm Business Planning Workshop which will touch on many topics of the Farm Finances Workshop.

    9 am – Noon

    This workshop is geared toward a person already farming who wants to do a better job of understanding their financial strengths and vulnerabilities. We’ll talk about the three major financial statements: balance sheet; income statement; and statement of cash flows. We’ll discuss how to prepare and analyze all three using the farm’s Schedule F as the starting point. We’ll also discuss the difference between cash flow and profitability. Finally, we’ll touch on farm investment analysis.

    Instructor Paul Dietmann is Emerging Markets Specialist with Badgerland Financial, a member-owned rural lending cooperative and Farm Credit System institution serving southern Wisconsin. Paul leads the coop’s beginning farmer program and its Emerging Markets Loan Program, which provides loans to farmers who are marketing their products direct to consumers. Prior to joining the staff at Badgerland, Paul spent 16 years with the State of Wisconsin; eleven years as a county agriculture agent with the University of Wisconsin-Extension and five years as director of the Wisconsin Farm Center, which is the farmers’ assistance program in the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP). He served as Wisconsin’s Deputy Secretary of Agriculture in 2010. He is co-author of the book Fearless Farm Finances: Farm Financial Management Demystified.



  • 12:00 pm-1:00 pm


    With a February 3 deadline for farmers to apply to USDA’s Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) approaching if they want their application considered in 2017, MFAI announced today that the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) will join the Institute on January 26 to present a webinar for farmers on how to sign up.

    CSP both rewards farmers for existing conservation and helps them improve or create new conservation practices on their land. Contracts require a five year commitment with the option to renew, and payments are based on maintaining existing conservation operations on the land and/or implementing additional activities. Last fall, NRCS celebrated Wisconsin farmers’ having enrolled over 1,000,000 acres in CSP.

    MFAI’s Policy Program Director, Margaret Krome, noted that NRCS recently announced changes in CSP, including new tools to assess farmers’ eligibility and rank applications, a new minimum payment of $1,500, added flexibility for mid-contract changes, expanded options for enhancements, practices, and bundles of practices, and a redesigned payment structure.

    “We want farmers to understand these changes, and we’re pleased that Wisconsin NRCS will join us in offering this webinar,” said Krome. “Wisconsin NRCS’s program manager for CSP, Ryan Gerlich, will tell farmers what they need to know so they can apply by February 3. The webinar is timed so farmers can eat lunch while watching, ask questions, and then act to get their applications in on time.”

    Participating in the webinar is easy: https://usda.adobeconnect.com/r1xvxi7oip3/
    and dial in to the conference number: 1-888-844-9904, participant code: 2674600 Please remember to MUTE your phones. Test your connection at the following link ahead of time: https://usda.adobeconnect.com/common/help/en/support/meeting_test.htm

    The Institute also pointed out that the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) had prepared a Farmers’ Guide to the Conservation Stewardship Program, which includes enrollment guidance, key definitions, explanations of the ranking and payment system, and helpful hints for accessing the program and is available for free download on the NSAC website 

    Although farmers can apply for CSP at any point of the year, the deadline to apply and have all eligibility complete for 2017 participation is Friday, February 3rd. Farmers who do not submit an application before this deadline will have to wait until 2018 for their application to be considered.