Increasing Sustainable and Organic Farmers' Access to Credit and COVID-19 Relief through Professional Development

Project Overview

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2021: $90,000.00
Projected End Date: 09/30/2024
Grant Recipient: Farmers Legal Action Group
Region: North Central
State: Minnesota
Project Coordinator:
Scott Carlson
Farmers' Legal Action Group (FLAG)


Not commodity specific


  • Education and Training: decision support system, demonstration, farmer to farmer, focus group, mentoring, technical assistance, workshop, MN Farm Advocates (, MN Farmer-Lender Mediation (, MN Farm Business Mgmt Pgm (
  • Farm Business Management: agricultural finance, budgets/cost and returns, business planning, financial management, risk management, whole farm planning, MN state lending law, borrowers' rights, credit/financial dispute resolution, financial planning
  • Production Systems: organic agriculture
  • Sustainable Communities: analysis of personal/family life, community development, community services, ethnic differences/cultural and demographic change, local and regional food systems, public policy, quality of life, social psychological indicators, farm financial stability; farm operational viability; keep farm families on the land and in rural communities

    Proposal abstract:

    To help Minnesota’s sustainable and organic farmers deal with increasing economic strain and uncertainty resulting from a prolonged downturn in the farm economy and the COVID-19 crisis, FLAG will produce, present and distribute a series of nine interactive professional development webinars on farm credit access and legal rights for sustainable and organic farmers as described in FLAG’s publication Farmers’ Guide to Minnesota Lending Law, including new materials relating to COVID-19 relief provisions. 

    In this project, FLAG will:

    1. Develop new resources to be added to the Guide to address COVID-19 relief programs and legal changes that affect credit for sustainable and organic family farms;
    2. Present the Guide’s information in a series of nine live, interactive professional development webinars with a focus on credit issues affecting sustainable and organic farmers; webinars will be publicized and presented to farmers and to a broader audience – including Farm Advocates, FSA loan officers, Extension agents, organizations that serve the sustainable and organic farm community, and others – that regularly engages with hundreds of Minnesota’s sustainable and organic farmers every year.
    3. Make recorded webinars and related materials broadly available on-demand through FLAG’s website and in collaboration with partner organizations. 

    FLAG will work with a broad range of partner organizations – including Minnesota Farm Advocates, Minnesota Farmer-Lender Mediation Program, Sustainable Farming Association of Minnesota, Land Stewardship Project, Hmong American Farmers Association, and others – to publicize the webinars and make sustainable and organic farmers aware of the online educational materials and training videos produced through the program.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    Outputs will include:

    • A series of nine interactive, real-time professional development webinars on lending law and related COVID-19 legislative changes and programs applicable to sustainable and organic producers (webinars will be recorded and made available for remote viewing)
    • Supporting educational materials created and made available for remote viewing, including the updated Farmers’ Guide to Minnesota Lending Law, Farmers’ Guide to COVID-19 Relief, and materials related to newly enacted COVID-19-related legislative changes and relief programs
    • 100 participants in professional development webinars
    • 200 non-participating farmers reached/helped by Farm Advocates who participate in webinars
    • 200 non-attending farmers have mediators with better knowledge of MN lending law and greater likelihood of just outcomes for farmers
    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.