Webinar: Family Farms, Rural Landscapes, and the Farm Bill – January 18

January 17, 2012 | General RCAP News

January 18, 2012
1:30 – 3:00PM Eastern

Register to attend


This webinar, hosted by The Horinko Group’s Water Division, will explore some of the issues and opportunities tied to moving our nation forward on a path of sustainable agriculture practices, while strengthening small family farms and diversifying rural economies to foster more livable rural communities.

At the local, state, and federal levels, deliberations are ongoing on how best to chart a sustainable path forward. Many are attempting to craft and share the business case for sustainability. Efforts underway to address the next farm bill and future farm programs could have a profound effect on the family farm and rural communities. Rural landscapes support the natural capital that must be optimally utilized to feed a growing population while protecting the ecological services that natural systems provide us. Reclaiming and sustaining the economic vitality of rural communities is an imperative.

An uptick in consumer interest for local food systems and special attribute products present growing value-add and direct marketing opportunities for producers. Many farmers face financial challenges in diversifying and transitioning their operations to address these opportunities and lack access to viable local and regional markets. Local and regional food systems will likely play a much larger role if we are to secure a sustainable future. Federal policies and programs are cautiously responding to this changing market environment and a trend is emerging of “grow local, buy local.”

Influencers and change drivers point to the need for innovation and job creation in rural communities to ensure the long-term viability of rural America. Traditional economic models for business recruitment and retention simply don’t meet the needs of rural communities. Grassroots entrepreneurship is part of the equation, but only part of it. There is a perceived need for incentive to mobilize and perhaps incubate small entrepreneurial operations during the transition to new practices, products, and markets. A number of organizations and programs offer technical assistance, innovation grants, assorted tools and other resources to help rural communities and growers in this transition, but more is needed.

Hear from the Experts

Learn from seasoned practitioners and advocates for stronger rural communities about what is happening and what is needed to reinvigorate rural communities and to strengthen the contribution of the small family farm. Find out the latest updates on farm market promotion strategies and grants and other emerging opportunities for local-regional food system assistance. Gain a better appreciation of other challenges confronting rural communities.


  • Richard Warner, Professor Emeritus, Natural Resource Ecology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (Moderator)
  • Robert Stewart, Executive Director, RRural Community Assistance Partnership
  • Mark "Coach" Smallwood, Executive Director, Rodale Institute
  • Mark Gorman, Policy Analyst, Northeast-Midwest Institute

Who Should Attend?

This webinar is intended for NGOs interested in the future of rural landscapes and livable communites, federal and state natural resources professionals, agricultural research interests, extension specialists, local community planners, local officials including rural mayors and county board members, political science practitioners and students, sociologists, and educators and entreprenurial family farmers.

Join Us to Learn About

  • Current status of efforts to promote sustainable agricultural practices and strengthen the role of the family farm and more livable rural communities.
  • Opportunities to develop new markets for innovative farm products to support local and regional food systems.
  • Role of upcoming farm bill in calling attention to farm program reforms that more directly support the family farmer, new market development, and rural community redevelopment.
  • Perspective of leading practitioners, progam managers, and advocates on efforts to more effectively rebuild rural landscapes and the communities they support.

Register to attend the webinar