School meals programs represent a big marketing opportunity for Vermont producers and suppliers, purchasing more than $15 million worth of food and supplies last year. However these programs must follow strict federal and state requirements for competitive procurement for every purchase they make. These long-standing regulations are just now beginning to be enforced in Vermont, and many schools who were not previously complying them will begin to implement competitive procurement practices in the coming year. Together, these two webinars will guide you through the federal regulations that these programs must follow, point out potential marketing opportunities for Vermont producers, and teach you how your business could be more competitive when bidding to supply school meals programs.
These webinars are for farmers, producers, distributors, and other businesses that sell (or wish to sell) directly to school meal programs in Vermont. 

February 17, 2015: Understanding Your Customers’ Needs & Regulations
This 1-hour webinar will discuss the market opportunities for various school meals programs. We will cover how the new menu requirements under the Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act effect what types and sizes of foods schools are looking to purchase, what competitive purchasing requirements school meals programs need to follow, food safety requirements for these programs, and other things that school food service managers wish you knew about doing business with their programs.

February 24, 2015: Standing Out During a Competitive Procurement Process 
In this 1-hour webinar, we will go deeper into the competitive purchasing procedures school meals programs must follow, and discuss ways that local producers can compete for this business. We will focus on ways that school meals programs may be thinking about what it means to “buy local” and do “farm to school” and how Vermont producers can fit their products and services into these efforts and compete for school business on more than just price.

When: February 17 & 24, 11:30am – 12:30pm
Instructors: Abbie Nelson, VT FEED/NOFA VT & Rosie Krueger, VT Child Nutrition Programs, Agency of Education
Audience: Vermont farmers, producers & distributors who want to sell to school meals programs
Cost: Free!
For more information, contact Rosie Krueger at 802-479-1246 or

Upcoming Farm Law Webinars

Let Farm Commons help you plan for a stable, resilient farm business with our Farm Law Webinars.  This year we are hosting 13 different- and completely free- farm law webinars. First up, we have 8 webinars in our Farm Law Basics series. Later in the winter, we are offering 5 new Advanced Farm Law webinars.

Read about and register for each webinar following the link below.  Every webinar will be recorded and available for viewing after. Register even if you can’t attend- you will receive a link to the recording in your email as soon as it’s available.


Ideas for Enhancing Sheep Production – Webinar 10/8

Wednesday, October 8 from 10-1.  Hosted by UVM Extension.

Joe Emenheiser, UVM Livestock Specialist will center the discussion around designing sheep production systems to match animals to resources to markets.  He will briefly cover breeds, breeding programs, nutrition/health, reproduction, and product quality (meat and wool). If time allows, he will also touch on facilities and pasture management

Raised on a small family farm in Pennsylvania, Joe’s experience with livestock includes managing sheep farms in New York, butchering, genetic evaluation, teaching, and judging. He seeks to help Vermont’s diversified livestock farms improve their efficiency, product quality, and marketing.

Go to to join the conversation.

Direct Marketing Meats Webinar

Date: Tuesday, September 16

Time: 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

Description: Are you new to direct marketing meats? Not sure how to fill out a cut sheet or what questions to ask your butcher? During this webinar, we’ll hear from a meat processor and a farmer about how to increase profitability from your direct market meat sales. We’ll talk about how to fill out a cut sheet, marketing tips for selling the whole animal and what works (and what doesn’t!) in direct marketing meats.

Presenters for this webinar are Lois Aylestock of Blue Ridge Meats in Front Royal, VA, and Jennifer “Tootie” Jones of Swift Level Farm in Lewisburg, WV.

To join the webinar:
Go to about 10 minutes prior to the start time. Click on “Enter as a Guest” and type your name in the space provided, then click on “Enter Room.” For best results, we suggest you use Firefox or Internet Explorer as your web browser. Prior to participating in this Adobe Connect event, please go to the following URL to confirm ability to log on to the Connect server:

California Certified Organic Farmers Financing Webinar 3/20

Join the CCOF Foundation for a webinar on small- to medium-scale farm financing on March 20th. 

Looking to expand your farming operation? Not sure where to get the funding to do so? Join our webinar to hear about creative options for financing land, equipment, and other farm expenditures. Learn about collateral, conditions, credit, and the criteria lenders look for when underwriting a loan.

Looking to expand your farming operation? Not sure where to get the funding to do so? Join the CCOF Foundation, John Oosterman from the USDA Farm Service Agency, Brett Malone from California FarmLink, and Justin Renfro from Kiva Zip to hear about creative options for financing land, equipment, and other farm expenditures. Learn about collateral, conditions, credit, and the criteria lenders look for when underwriting a loan. This webinar can help secure your farm’s future. Register now!

About our speakers:

John Oosterman, USDA Farm Service Agency
John L. Oosterman serves as the farm loan chief for the Farm Service Agency (FSA) in California. He oversees the Farm Loan Programs, which lent $38.1 million in direct funds and $82.7 million in guaranteed funds during fiscal year 2013. John brings to the business a long line of professional experience, having begun his career with the Farmers Home Administration in 1987. John is a graduate of Cal Polytechnic State University; Dordt College in Sioux Center, Iowa; and Modesto Junior College in Modesto, California.

Brett Malone, California FarmLink
Brett Melone is the loan officer at California FarmLink. He is also an adjunct instructor of sustainable agriculture at the Monterey Institute of International Studies. Most recently, Brett served as executive director of Friends of MarViva Foundation, leading resource and partnership development in the U.S. to support ocean conservation and sustainability of coastal communities in the Eastern Tropical Pacific region. Between 2002 and 2011, he served as executive director of ALBA (Agriculture & Land-Based Training Association) in Salinas, California.

Justin Renfro, Kiva Zip
Justin is the associate manager of business development for Kiva Zip. He leads Kiva Zip’s efforts in the United States, building partnerships and finding qualified entrepreneurs to support. Justin graduated with a degree in entrepreneurship from the University of Arizona and started his career at LinkedIn. He’s been particularly focused on supporting small farms and food producers throughout the country with Kiva Zip.

Two Webinars Coming Up From UVM-Extension

For those of you making value-added products from your farm.  Learn all the rules and regs, as well as good food safety tips, from UVM EXT’s food safety specialist Londa Nwadike.  Also, mark your calendars for the fencing webinar at the end of May!

UVM Extension New Farmer Project Webinar Series
7 PM EST, Tuesday, April 23, 2013: Creating Products from Farm Produce:  Best Practices for Food Safety and Regulations for Value Added Food Production in Vermont.

Are you considering adding value added products to your mix at the farmers market, your farm stand or CSA pick-up? As you make plans to add diversity to what you offer, join this webinar to learn the rules and regulations, as well as the best practices for food safety when creating value-added products from your farm produce.  Presenter Londa Nwadike, is the Food Safety Specialist for UVM Extension.  She works with value-added producers of all sizes on food safety and complying with state and federal regulations.  The presentation will touch specifically on Vermont state regulations, but the food safety best practices and information on federal regulations will be applicable across state lines.

Newcomers to online learning are welcome. All you need to participate is internet access and a computer that you can hear sound through. To participate, please go to at about 6:45 pm EST on April 23, 2013 and click on the webinar title.  For more information, contact or call 802-223-2389×203. If you require accommodations to participate in this program, please let Jessie Schmidt know by April 19, 2013 at 802-223-2389 or 1-866-860-1382 (toll-free in VT) or so we may assist you. If you have not participated in a webinar before, we recommend you download the necessary software for free the day before the webinar is scheduled at


7 PM EST, Tuesday, May 28, 2013: Livestock Fencing Tips & Tricks with Colin Kennard, of Wellscroft Fencing.

UVM Extension helps individuals and communities put research-based knowledge to work.

University of Vermont Extension, and U.S. Department of Agriculture, cooperating, offer education and employment to everyone without regard to race, color, national origin, gender, religion, age, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, and marital or familial status.

For Women Ag Leaders! Another Webinar from WFAN

From the Women, Food and Agriculture Network:

Ramp Up Your Leadership in 2013!

Join us for our next Plate to Politics webinar on April 18.

Session #2: Alliances

Thursday, April 18

Noon PST/2 p.m. CST/3 p.m. EST

Join us on April 18th at 2p.m. CST for the second session of the Plate to Politic women’s leadership webinar series. Our topic this month is Alliances.

Presenters will include special guests Karen Washington and Pakou Hang.

Karen Washington, an urban farmer and leading force behind community revitalization in NYC’s Bronx neighborhoods, will talk about her passion for bridging the urban-rural divide. She will share some of her personal story, and then offer strategies for creating vibrant regional local food systems that combine the strengths of urban and rural farmers.

Pakou Hang, the Executive Director of the Hmong American Farmers Association (HAFA), will outline tips for collaborating with allies and building coalitions with unlikely partners to work towards a common goal.

Register for the second session here. Registration is free, and open to all women with an idea or a passion for leadership in sustainable food and agriculture.

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