Ecotrust is Hosting a Four-State “Ag of the Middle” Business Accelerator Program. Designed for Farmers, Ranchers, and Fishers

— The 2018 cohort kicks off NOVEMBER 7-8th, 2018! Apply online by October 5th —

Know a small rancher, farmer, or fishers in far Northern California, Oregon, Washington or Alaska who’d like support growing their business? Ecotrust, a regional nonprofit based in Portland, together with a network of supporting organizations across the region, is hosting a new program to help food producers scale up and reach financial stability.

Producer-centered, the program will offer resources, expertise and networks to help get wind at the backs of small food producers – including farmers, ranchers, fishers, and value-added processors – who are keen to grow while maintaining their commitment to their community, regional markets, and restorative production practices.

This is a two-year, hands-on, capacity-building and business development program. It is designed to cultivate an active cohort of successful, independent, midsized farmers, fishers, and ranchers who are growing and harvesting food products, while selling into domestic markets. The goal is a modern-day “ag of the middle” sector that can supply mainstream regional markets with products raised in ways good for land, soil, water, people, and animals.

The curriculum will cover three key areas: business structure and taxation, credit and finance, and market development. To best meet the needs of working farmers, fishers, and ranchers, the core program trainings will be conducted remotely in online group sessions and in team-based offline work through

the 2018 -2019 winter months. Curriculum for this program is being developed in partnership with Poppy Davis of C2C Consulting and other highly skilled trainers. The program will begin with a hands-on, in-person gathering in Portland, OR on Nov. 7th & 8th. Beyond initial training sessions, this opportunity

includes an option to participate in a key local food show, and to interact with Portland’s newest food hub, the Redd on Salmon Street. Activities for the first year of training will culminate in late February, 2019 with a second in-person gathering in Corvallis, Oregon. Participants will develop lasting connections with peers, and learn as much from each other as they will from the formal curriculum provided.

Participants will graduate from the program with their business, land, and other assets appropriately structured to limit liability and facilitate growth and succession. Participants will be provided with the tools and network connections to put the right mechanisms in place to secure appropriate credit, and develop or enhance key value propositions and branding to reach clarified target markets.

It is free to apply and all interested parties are encouraged to do so. Applicants accepted into the program will need to pay one-time $125 registration fee, and are responsible for expenditures related to travel and lodging to attend two-in person gatherings in November, 2018 and February 2019. Limited scholarships are available (see application for details). Applicants should be adequately prepared to travel to Portland, Oregon on Nov. 6th, for in-person cohort gathering Nov. 7th-8th. Announcements of application acceptance will be made on October 23rd.

Eligible participants are farmers, ranchers, fishers, and related value-added enterprises. The program is intended to support small to midsize producers of food items important to human nutrition. Preference may be given to producers and harvesters who have:

  • A demonstrated commitment to their community, building soil health, clean water, healthy ecosystems, sustainable harvesting practices, and other restorative production practices.
  • For fishers, those working, landing, and processing in a remote/rural community or communities with a population(s) of less than 25,000.
  • For farmers and ranchers, those working with
  • priority products such as whole and minimally processed grains, legumes, and rotational crops, as well as grass-finished beef, pastured pork, and other differentiated proteins.
  • Producers meeting the USDA definition of “socially disadvantaged.”

Application Timeline:

  • Sept. 14, application period opens.
  • Oct. 5th, application submission deadline.
  • Oct. 23, announcements of application acceptance will be made. Applicants should be adequately prepared to travel to Portland, Oregon on Nov. 6th, for the in-person cohort gathering.
  • Nov. 7 & 8, in-person convening in Portland, Oregon.

To learn more and apply: Please follow this link for the full application. To learn more, please contact Aaron Vargas at avargas@ecotrust.org or call 503-467-0785 with any questions or for more information.

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