Upcoming YF&R Farm Tour: Echo Farm on Nov. 15 at 2 pm  
Make plans to join us for a tour of Echo Farm in Hinsdale, New Hampshire on Nov. 15 at 2 p.m. This tour is open to any young farmer and their family, including children.

Immediately following the tour, the YF&R committee will host a quick business meeting to discuss the ‘Young at Heart’ Award that is presented at MFBF’s annual meeting in December. Please bring nominations for this award to the meeting. If you have a nominee, but can’t make the meeting, please respond back to this email.

Here is the farm story:

It all began twelve years ago when the Hodge’s purchased Echo Farm in Hinsdale, NH with the intent of owning a horse and a few sheep. That all changed when they met the Schofield family, who had recently built a barn and were raising and showing Jersey calves. The two families became good friends who agreed on virtually everything, except the breed of cows to own. The Schofield’s loved the Jersey breed, while the Hodge’s preferred the Milking Shorthorn breed. In 1990, the Hodge’s purchased five Milking Shorthorn heifers: Lolly, Ticket, Candle, Royal, and Megan. That same year, Maple (a Jersey) was born into the Schofield family, from their cow Misty. Misty was bought in 1988 as a show calf and lived at a farm in Walpole after Maple was born (almost every Jersey on the farm with a name beginning with “M” is related to her). Both families had no idea that the purchase of those first few animals would give rise to the modern dairy farm that exists today.

Eight years ago, our first Milking Shorthorn, Ticket, gave birth to her first calf and instantly we were in the dairy business. We all vividly remember camping out by her pen for days, anxiously awaiting the arrival of that calf. After the calf arrived, we milked Ticket in the Hodge’s garage. As
more cows calved, plans began to surface for a full scale dairy operation.
Today, we milk 80 cows and have more than 160 animals. In the spirit of a true partnership, the herd has remained half Jerseys and half Milking Shorthorns. Although our herd has grown since those original six cows, we have not changed the way we treat our animals (we have even been known to bring newborn calves in the house on cold winter days). The two families started the farm with the intent of being unlike any other farm. Our cows have names, not numbers; in fact, they are treated like members of the family. We pride ourselves on providing our cows with a pleasant and loving environment. They show their appreciation by producing award winning, great tasting, high quality milk, to which we add all natural ingredients to bring you our premium line of puddings.

573 Chesterfield Rd
Hinsdale, New Hampshire 03451

 2- 4 p.m.

Please let katelyn@mfbf.net know if you are planning to attend!

We hope to see you there!
Apply For MFBAPF’s John & Liolia Schipper Memorial Grant!
Massachusetts farmers are faced with many unique challenges and barriers as the Commonwealth is an expensive and tough business environment. Fortunately, the Ma ssachusetts Farm Bureau Federation’s Agricultural Preservation Foundation (MFBAPF) is looking to assist farmers with a new grant program that was made possible through a generous bequest from the late John and Liolia Schipper. With an emphasis on new farmers, all meeting the criteria are welcome to apply.

Eligibility requirements:
Applicants must be a regular Massachusetts Farm Bureau Federation member
be sponsored by a regular Massachusetts Farm Bureau Federation member at the time of application and enrolled as a regular MFBF member to receive grant payments.

Grant applications will be reviewed by a committee and recipients will be notified shortly after. Maximum grant amounts for recipients will be $3,000.

The deadline to apply is Nov. 1. For an application, please visit: https://www.farmbureau.co/news/mfbapf-john-liolia-schipper-grant-program/ 
Reflections From MFBF YF&R Committee Chair Heidi Coope
This year has been an excellent one for the Young Farmers & Ranchers (YF&R) Committee in terms of the places we have visited. Being able to tour different farms that invite us to their operations all over the state is one of the best parts of what we can participate in, for many reasons.

First and foremost, I believe there is nothing more important than the networking and personal connections we make while on these tours. Whether it be with the farm owners and operators themselves, or the other people who join us on the tour, there’s always a relationship that is sparked that helps one of us out later down the line. Of course, we appreciate the technical knowledge and information that is shared, but personal connections seem to be at the top of our list when we are provided great feedback from members who attend tours.

Last month, Smolak Farms in Andover was kind enough to host us to learn about the different aspects of their diversified farm. As a working farm with so much to offer, including pick-your-own, a farmstand with everything including meals, entertainment, parties, education, they were an incredible stop for us this summer. Not only does Smolak Farm have unique ice cream flavors (some which incorporate cider donuts) but they also have a diverse range of animals in their petting zoo from deer to sheep/goats and black swans.

Next month we have an opportunity to take a tour of Echo Farms in New Hampshire. Although we’ve visited our share of dairy farms, making a stop at their unique location is something we are all looking forward to. Not only do they have a robotic milking system that has been put in recent years, but on top of making their own delicious puddings on-site, they are part of the Cabot family of farmers. As a personal fan of their puddings, it will be great to see the entire process and visit the farm. To learn more about them, check out this great profile on the Cabot website about them: https://www.cabotcheese.coop/blog/farmlove-echo-farm/

As a reminder, our tours are always welcome to any “young” farmer between 16-35. We look forward to seeing new faces at tours as we offer them in 2020, and we are always looking for invites to farms as well as suggestions on where farmers would like to visit. If you have any suggestions or would like to host our group, please email me so we can coordinate a visit. If you’ll be at annual meeting in Framingham, we’d love to speak to you in person as well.  

Heidi Cooper
YF&R Chair
(978) 489-4860
Upcoming Fundraiser At MFBF’s Annual Meeting
National YF&R Conference In 2020 Set To Be Held In Louisville, KY
Plans are underway for the 2020 American Farm Bureau Federation’s
YF&R Leadership Conference that will be held March 13-16 in Louisville, Kentucky. If you are interested in attending, please contact the office at 508-481-4766 or info@mfbf.net.
Farm Bureau Ag Innovation Challenge Application Deadline Extended to Oct. 14; $145K in Startup Funds on the Table The American Farm Bureau Federation, in partnership with Farm Credit, will accept applications for the 2020 Farm Bureau Ag Innovation Challenge through Oct. 14. In its sixth year, the Farm Bureau Ag Innovation Challenge is a national business competition for U.S. food and agriculture startups. Entrepreneurs will compete for $145,000 in startup funds. Launched in 2015 as the first national competition focused exclusively on rural entrepreneurs, the competition continues in its sixth year to provide an opportunity for U.S. startups to showcase business innovations in food and agriculture. Startup funds for the Challenge are provided by sponsors Farm Credit, John Deere, Bayer Crop Science, Farm Bureau Bank and Country Financial.

To apply for the 2020 Farm Bureau Ag Innovation Challenge, competitors can apply online at http://fb.org/aginnovationchallenge by midnight Eastern Standard Time on Oct. 14, 2019. “It takes faith, courage and creativity to start a business,” said AFBF President Zippy Duvall. “Rural entrepreneurs face a number of additional challenges compared to their urban counterparts. These include limited access to broadband, high transportation costs and a lack of access to business networks. We’re very interested to see how entrepreneurs working in food and agriculture will use startup funds provided by the Challenge to take their businesses to the next level.”
Ten semi-finalist teams will be announced on Nov. 22 and awarded $10,000 each. All 10 semi-finalist teams will travel to AFBF’s Annual Convention, in Austin, Texas, in January 2020, with all expenses paid, to compete in a live competition to be the Farm Bureau Entrepreneur of the Year. The 10 teams will compete in Austin to advance to the final round where four teams will receive an additional $5,000 and compete live on stage in front of Farm Bureau members, investors and industry representatives. The final four teams will compete to win:
Farm Bureau Entrepreneur of the Year award and $15,000 (chosen by judges), for a total of $30,000 People’s Choice award and $10,000 (chosen by public vote), for a total of $25,000Entrepreneurs and startups with businesses in the following categories are encouraged to apply: Farm, ranch, greenhouse, aquaponics Input product or crop variety Method or tool for growing, monitoring or harvesting crops or livestock Production support services Retail, agritourism or farm-to-table business Food/beverage/textile product or ingredient Method of production, preparation or packaging of food/beverage/textile products or ingredients Value-added processing including yogurts, cheeses and processed meats, wineries, breweries, cideries and distilleries
Entrepreneurs must be Farm Bureau members to qualify as a top-10 semi-finalist. Applicants who are not Farm Bureau members can join a state Farm Bureau of their choice. Visit https://www.fb.org/about/join to learn about becoming a member. Detailed eligibility guidelines, the competition timeline, videos and profiles of past Challenge winners are available at http://fb.org/aginnovationchallenge.
Harvest For All Food Drive 
The Harvest for All campaign is a partnership between Farm Bureau and Feeding America which provides food to help those in need. Each year, every state Farm Bureau YF&R committee is challenged to donate more time, money and food to fight hunger.
This year, MFBF’s YF&R is going to host a drive where every young farmers goes to a local farm stand for one day and collects food to be donated to a local food pantry. Just like Stop and Shop does, the young farmers will have a box outside of the farm stand. They will ask customers before entering the farm stand to purchase one additional item to donate to a food shelter. At the end of the day, the young farmer will arrange for the food to be donated to a local, pre-arranged food pantry for donation. We’re excited to do this as it benefits the farm with a little extra money coming in for purchases as well as, most importantly, the local food pantry with fresh food being made available to them. If you know a farm that would like to participate in this program with us, please let us know by emailing our chair, Heidi Cooper at cooper.heidi.jo@gmail.com.

Other Donations
If your farm already donates product to local food pantries, please be sure to fill out this donation form: https://www.mfbf.net/harvest-for-all-donations/ so we can track your contribution as part of our total.
Farm Bureau University: Board Leadership Lessons on Your Laptop
Farmers and ranchers know better than most that learning isn’t exclusive to classrooms or meeting ve  nues. With that in mind, the American Farm Bureau Federation’s learning and development team created Farm Bureau University, an interactive online experience that allows Farm Bureau members to learn where and when they want.  

Farm Bureau University’s latest offering, Farm Bureau Board Essentials, was designed to help county Farm Bureau board members lead strong, effective organizations that meet members’ needs on all levels. The program provides resources and training for county board members in five essential pathways: Being a Board Member; Governance; Planning; Policy Development & Advocacy; and the Membership Cycle.   For example, through Farm Bureau Board Essentials, a new county board member can get the fundamentals-like budget building basics or how to draft an action-oriented agenda-from the online training so when he or she meets with field staff, fellow Farm Bureau members or a retiring board member, they can get right down to the important issues at hand.   Regardless of the topic, in each pathway, the learner will experience: A two-minute kickoff videoA 10-question pre-assessmentTwo or more 10-minute e-learning primersTwo or more 10-minute e-learning skill buildersAn application toolkit with downloadable resourcesA 10-question post-assessmentBooster activities to refresh learning   Although Board Essentials was created by AFBF, between Board Essentials and Farm Bureau Builder, another FB University program, more than 50 state Farm Bureau staff members have provided valuable feedback to shape the content.   To start your journey on the five essential pathways of Farm Bureau Board Essentials, go to university.fb.org. New users will need to register for a free account using member code “mafb.”