Illinois SARE Grants

North Central Region SARE Grants

Sustainable Food, Fuel and Fiber

Contact Information:

Doug Gucker
3351 N. President Howard Brown Blvd.
Decatur, IL 62521

Know Your Farmer 2013

Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food, Know Your USDA
A Local/Regional Food System Convening

Union League Club of Chicago
September 9, 2013
8:30 am - 5:00 pm

Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food, Know Your USDA is a one-day convening hosted by USDA's Illinois Rural Development, Food & Nutrition Service Midwest, Illinois Farm Bureau & Fresh Taste. This unique convening offers farmers, businesses, organizations, state and federal agencies, institutions and others involved with agriculture an opportunity to learn about USDA agencies, programs, grants and opportunities.

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Click on a presenter's name to view a PDF of their presentation.

8:30 - 9:30 am

Opening Session - (Main Lounge)

  • USDA, Every Day in Every Way USDA Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden
  • USDA 101: An overview of USDA programs and resources that support local food systems. Colleen Callahan, Director, USDA Illinois Rural Development

9:30 - 10:15 am

USDA Micro-Loans, From Concept to Reality. USDA Wisconsin Farm Service Agency's Carol Nagel joins Rick Terrien of Iowa County, Wisconsin's Innovation Kitchen to discuss the promising use of USDA's newest program—micro-loans. Moderator: Carol Nagel, Senior Farm Loan Officer, Wisconsin Farm Service Agency

10:15 - 10:30 am


10:30 - 11:30 am

USDA Rural Business Enterprise Grant, Building an Edible Economy. Catherine Dunlap, Associate Director of the Green Economy Initiative at  Heartland Community College and Irv Cernauskas of Irv & Shelly's Fresh Picks, join Illinois Rural Development to share how this USDA program is  helping to create a community-owned food hub and farmer-owned cooperative serving farmers and consumers in a 32-county region of Central Illinois. Its goal is to foster a healthier, more self-sufficient community where more local money goes back into the local community.  Moderator: Susan Petrea, Area Director, USDA Illinois Rural Development

11:30 - 12:30pm

USDA Beginning Rancher & Farmer Grant Program, Supporting the Creation of a New Generation of Farmers. Given that the average age of the American farmer is around 60, the creation of a new generation of farmers is essential. This USDA program, initiated in 2009, is being leveraged by a number of Midwest organizations. Representatives from these organizations and a USDA representative will explain how they qualified for and are using these programs with Angela Mason of Chicago Botanic Garden, Mary Hosier of the University of Illinois, Fred & Jifunza Carter from Black Oaks, and Brad Leibov of Liberty Prairie Foundation. Moderator: Rick Graden, Executive Officer, Illinois Farm Service Agency

12:30 - 1:25 pm


  • USDA FNS Programs, Supporting Nutrition & Local Foods. USDA, Food & Nutrition Service Midwest Regional Administrator Tim English discusses how Farm to School & SNAP farmer's markets can be leveraged to improve nutrition and support local food systems. Introduction: Alan Shannon, USDA Food & Nutrition Service, Midwest

1:30 - 2:30 pm

Panel Breakout (sessions run concurrently)

Leslie Fowler, Chicago Public Schools, Rochelle Davis of Healthy Schools Campaign, Linda Mallers of FarmLogix, & Julia Govis of Illinois Farm to School discuss how they leverage USDA's Farm to School grants and/or school meals. Moderator: Alan Shannon, USDA Food & Nutrition Service, Midwest

  • Session 2 (Main Lounge): Grant Writing 101, Tips, Insights & Ideas.  Join USDA staff and professional grant writers, including Laura Wetter, Angelic Organics Learning Center, Brad Oeltjenbruns, Ebenezer Mgmt, and Jim Gage, James D. Gage Consulting, for an overview of the USDA grant process and an informal question and answer session on grants. Moderator: Molly Hammond, Assistant to the State Director, USDA Illinois Rural Development

2:30 - 3:15 pm

USDA Rural Development Business & Industry Loans, Supporting Local Food Businesses. Rural Development, Jim Beuster of Morton Community Bank, and Aaron Anliker of Watershed Foods explain the use of this important loan guarantee program which has been used by a number of companies, including Watershed Foods, to expand or start-up operations that involve local foods. Moderator: David Chestnut, Business & Cooperative Programs Specialist/B&I Coordinator, USDA Illinois Rural Development

3:15 - 3:40 pm

USDA Risk Management Agency (RMA), helping ranchers and farmers manage risk (concurrent session - Main Lounge).
Join Brian Frieden, Regional Director for USDA Risk Management, & Jim Slama, President of to hear about RMA programs and's farmer training programs that work with local partners to produce twenty-five trainings for small to mid-size growers which teach them best practices in food safety, postharvest handling, and packing.

3:15 - 4:00 pm

Getting to Know USDA, Networking, & Curbside Consulting/Break (concurrent session - Heritage Room). During this informal session, attendees can meet and talk to USDA staff from Rural Development, Farm Service Agency, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Food Safety and Inspection Service plus consultants and grant writers.

4:00 - 4:45 pm

USDA's Value Added Producer Grant (VAPG), Increasing Farm Income & Invigorating Local Food Systems. Farms and food operations that further process foods have higher incomes. USDA's VAPG offers support for developing and expanding value added products. Mark Schneider of Living Water Farms and Amy Marcoot of Marcoot Jersey Farm join Illinois Rural Development to share their VAPG experiences. Living Water Farms, owned by the Kilgus/Schneider families, is a sustainable Illinois family farm focused on growing specialty greens and micro-greens year-round for chefs, distributors and retail throughout the Midwest. Marcoot Jersey Farm produces a variety of Illinois cheeses and dairy products. Their specialty is raw milk cheeses, aged in a cave modeled after the man-made cheese caves in Switzerland. Moderator: Matt Harris, Business & Cooperative Program Specialist/VAPG Coordinator, USDA Illinois Rural Development

4:45 - 5:00 pm