By Sophie Neems, NFU Intern

‘Tis the season. . . for agricultural conferences! The harvest is done and the cows have been moved to winter pasture, which means that educational opportunities for farmers and ranchers abound. However, here at National Farmers Union, we understand that it’s not always possible to leave the farm unattended and that traveling cross-country is expensive, especially for new business owners. That’s why we’re hosting Growing for the Future, a FREE, online conference focused on beginning farmer and rancher issues. Join us December 4-7 for insight from the leading voices in agriculture – without leaving the comfort of your own home.

Once registered, you will be able to log into the conference website to watch both live and pre-recorded presentations and access a myriad of relevant agricultural resources provided by our 40+ organizational partners. You can even ask questions of presenters and engage in conversation with peers through this innovative online platform. The website will be available starting December 3, and will remain active through March.

You can expect to learn about a variety of topics ranging from mentorship, business planning, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) programs, conservation and women and veterans in farming. We’re looking forward to all our presenters, but here are just a few teasers:


  • Cara Fraver, of the National Young Farmers Coalition, will discuss the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), explaining who must comply with these new rules. Donna Marie Pahl, of the Produce Safety Alliance, will delve into the act’s specific requirements, such as worker hygiene practices, water quality monitoring, soil amendment handling, equipment cleaning and sanitizing, and record-keeping.


  • Kriss Marion will discuss the strength and importance of local farmer networks during her presentation on Soil Sisters, a Wisconsin based group of more than 175 women farmers who champion grass roots activism. Audra Mulkern of the Female Farmer Project will continue the discussion with her presentation on the power of storytelling. She will focus on the ways that stories can improve sales, affect policy change, illustrate data points, and make the invisible visible.


  • Finally, NFU’s government relations staff will present on policy topics important to farmers. Barbara Patterson will lead a session on the farm bill, breaking down what can be a confusing and complicated piece of legislation into more easily understandable concepts. Matt Perdue will discuss the ongoing impacts of the Affordable Care Act, focusing on the impact of health care policy on farmers, ranchers, and rural America.


There is so much to look forward to, so don’t miss this opportunity to gain the skills and knowledge you need to run a successful operation. Register now!

For more information and registration, visit

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