News April, 2013
NSAC Launches New Food Safety Site
April 5th, 2013
Looking for information about the new proposed food safety regulations? Unsure about whether the proposed rules affect you? Want to comment on the proposed rules? Check out NSAC’s new food safety website!
With the deadline for comment on the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) proposed food safety regulations fast approaching, NSAC has launched a new food safety website with resources for farmers, on-farm processors, and consumers.
Over two years ago, President Obama signed the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) into law, and FDA is in the process of implementing new food safety rules mandated by this law.
FDA is currently accepting public comments on two major proposed regulations — one affecting produce growers, and the other impacting facilities that manufacture and process food for human consumption. NSAC’s new site provides an overview and background of the Food Safety Modernization Act, information about the two proposed rules, and instructions on how to comment.
In the days and weeks to come, we will be adding content to the site about specific issues in the proposed rules for farmers, on-farm processors, and consumers who care about where their food comes from. Sign up to receive alerts when new information becomes available!
Comments on the proposed rules are due May 16 — it is critical that farmers, on-farm processors, and consumers who want local and organic food comment on these proposals. We need to ensure that the regulations work for sustainable and organic farmers, support good conservation practices, and allow value-added food businesses to grow and thrive!
Here’s how it can work: A library card gets you a packet of seeds. You then grow the fruits and vegetables, harvest the new seeds from the biggest and best, and return those seeds so the library can lend them out to others. ~via NPR
published in the Christian Science Monitor
Howard Hinterthuer served as a medic in Vietnam in 1969 and 1970. Returning from the war, he found solace by establishing various gardens in Virginia. Today, Howard works as a Peer-to-Peer Mentor for the Organic Therapy Program (OTP), a veterans’ recovery project that promotes healing through organic gardening.
JOB ANNOUNCEMENT -The nonprofit, Virginia Food Works, is pleased to announce that we are hiring a full-time Local Food Development and Processing Specialist to be based out of Prince Edward County, Virginia. A detailed job description can be found on our website: www.VirginiaFoodWorks.org.
Virginia Food Works is a non-profit organization that works with existing and prospective producers of value-added foods, providing expertise and guidance on the steps involved from product development to final production. The mission of Virginia Food Works is to implement programs that will strengthen the capacity of Virginia food producers to enter and succeed in value-added food manufacturing and sales, thereby providing Virginia residents and community organizations with access to safely-processed, nutritious local foods throughout the year. A variety of services are available and we welcome consultation with potential food producers to discuss which services would be most beneficial.
News January, 2013
Worldwatch Report #188: Innovations in Sustainable Agriculture: Supporting Climate-Friendly Food Production by Danielle Nierenberg and Laura Reynolds, Publication Date: December 2012.
Higher temperatures and unpredictable weather events are disrupting life sustaining agriculture in many parts of the world, derailing efforts to reduce hunger and poverty in the world’s poorest regions. Because agriculture relies on healthy soil, adequate water, and a delicate balance of gases in the atmosphere, farming is the human endeavor most vulnerable to the effects of climate change. At the same time, agriculture is a major driver of human caused climate change, contributing anywhere from 25 to 30 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions.
The good news is that agriculture, when done sustainably, holds an important key to mitigating climate change. The United Nations estimates that the global agricultural sector could potentially reduce and remove 80 to 88 percent of the carbon dioxide that it currently produces. Practices such as using animal manure rather than artificial fertilizer, planting trees on farms to reduce soil erosion, and growing food in cities all hold huge potential for shrinking agriculture’s environmental footprint and mitigating the damaging effects of climate change.
By tapping into the multitude of climate-friendly farming practices that already exist, agriculture can continue to supply food for the human population, as well as income for the world’s 1.3 billion farmers. Climate-friendly agriculture also can play a critical role in the global reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and the mitigation of climate change.
*** NOTICE: In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed, without profit, for research and educational purposes only. ***
News for December, 2012
Healthy Food in Health Care: Pledge Signed by 400 Hospitals Nationwide
The Healthy Food in Health Care pledge states that healthy food is not just about nutritional information for any given food product, but must also come from a food system that in environmentally sound, economically viable, and socially just. The pledge is encouraging hospitals to support a more sustainable food system by committing to local and organic food procurement from family farms. Some hospitals, like St. Joseph Mercy Hospital of Ann Arbor, Michigan, are creating educational farms in which the crops will be incorporated into patient meals and cafeteria offerings.
Measuring the Effects of Mobile Markets on Healthy Food Choices
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) is conducting research on mobile food markets to measure the effects of mobile markets on healthy food choices, on those whom use them, and explores how to improve effectiveness. One of the mobile markets under review is Fresh Moves, which sells fruits and vegetables in West and South Chicago and educates consumers about healthy eating. Read more about USDA-AMS efforts to increase access to healthy food.
New Study Looks at Food Access and Income Correlation and How to Reach Low-Income Consumers
In spite of advances in marketing local food to underserved consumers, a recent study published by Indiana University finds efforts are still needed to move local food beyond just the reach of the “privileged,” high income consumer. The study reviewed who frequents farmer’s markets and participates in CSAs in Indiana, and found that most are high-income consumers. It also found that CSAs and farmer’s markets are not located near low-income consumers, making them difficult to access. The study suggests that farmer’s markets and CSAs look into alternative payment models that have become widespread, such as WIC program vouchers and other government assistance, or sliding payment scales and work exchange programs. To read more about the study, click here.
Can Food and Beverage Industry Help Reduce Obesity?
An important conversation in the food and health policy arena continues. Earlier this month, two big names in food policy debated the conflict between the food and beverage industry’s interests and public health policy’s interests and obesity. It was argued that the food industry is untrustworthy, citing incidences where the food industry has fought national policies that would restrict unhealthy food marketing to children. Pro-industry argued to look to the future, and noted that the food industry recognizes that the model of quantity over quality needs to change.
Policymakers Paying Closer Attention to Health Impact Assessments
Policymakers across the U.S. have been analyzing health impact assessments, looking at the potential health impact of decisions in areas such as transportation and city planning. These tools can be used by policymakers to learn about the health effects of the decisions they are making and for future recommendations.
FamilyFarmed.org Farmer Training
The Risk Management Agency of the USDA has funded FamilyFarmed.org to expand its farmer training programs in 2013. With these agreements, FamilyFarmed.org will work with local partners to produce 25 trainings for small to mid-size growers and teach them best practices in food safety, postharvest handling, and packing produce. More than 2,500 fruit and vegetable farmers from across the country are expected to participate. The Wallace Center is collaborating with FamilyFarmed.org to deliver trainings on wholesale success in Alabama and Mississippi this winter.
Calling All Farmers: Participate in the 2012 Census of Agriculture! December 19th, 2012.
USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) is currently mailing the 2012 Census of Agriculture form to all farmers and ranchers. USDA uses the results of the Census to shape programs and services for farmers and rural communities. Legislators rely on the results of the Census to inform key policy decisions and monitor trends in agriculture. Read the Rest…
Farm Service Agency Increasing Action: Program for New Farmers and Ranchers December 19, 2012
USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) is taking steps to increase participation in the Land Contract Guarantee Program. The program facilitates the transfer of a farm or ranch to a beginning or socially disadvantaged farmer or rancher who may have a relatively short credit history or limited farming experience. In order to be eligible for this Read the Rest…
Stories from the Field: Show Me the Numbers – The Importance of Data, December 13th, 2012
Due to Congressional inaction, the 2008 Farm Bill has expired without a new bill or extension to take its place. In the absence of a farm bill, numerous innovative programs that invest in sustainable agriculture systems are shut down and left without funding. This post is the final post in our 10-week blog series that Read the Rest…
New Report Evaluates 2012 Beginning Farmer Awards, December 12th, 2012
The Land Stewardship Project (LSP) has recently issued a report evaluating the 2012 grant allocations through the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP), administered by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). NSAC collaborated on the evaluation and report. The evaluation included a phone survey of 36 out Read the Rest…
2012 Farm Bill: No Bill is Better than a Bad Bill, December 12th, 2012 There are indications emerging, that some of the modest but important farm safety net reforms in the Senate-passed bill are being ditched or watered down as negotiations continue. Read more here.
Securing Healthy Soils for a Food Secure World: A five-part series in partnership with SARE.
What is the U.S. EPA Food Recovery Challenge?
A newer EPA initiative where participants commit to reducing food waste through prevention, donation and composting. Participants can receive technical assistance to complete a baseline assessment and undertake food waste reduction activities. Organizations can sign up at http://www.epa.gov/smm/foodrecovery/index.htm
Find out about Surplus Food Recovery in Virginia from the Workshop held May 8, 2012
Learn about incentive programs and case studies in the arena of food surplus and institutional level composting. Co-sponsored by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, Feeding America, Federation of Virginia Food Banks, and the Institute for Local Self-Reliance. “Best management practices” were shared by BJ’s Wholesale Club with their experience in winning management support to start a donation program; Martins presented corporate plans to seek zero-waste; Feeding America shared realistic methods for setting poundage goals, and Feedmore and SE Virginia Food Banks shared methods for working with retailers to achieve consistent and growing donations. The Federation of Virginia Food Banks spoke about their “Fresh Food for Virginians” project whose goal is to build relationships with local farmers and produce distributors in order to provide access to more fresh produce for individuals in need. The Federation’s effort also brought about a partnership with the Virginia Farm Bureau Young Farmers and in its first year resulted in over 1.2 million pounds of additional fresh produce to food banks across the Commonwealth of Virginia. Also, state environmental professionals described available opportunities to compost food scraps.
This is a chart that highlights state statutes that require state or local agencies to give purchasing preferences to agricultural products or food grown or produced in the state or locally. Developed in connection with the fact sheet “Local Food for Local Government: Considerations in Giving Preference to Locally Grown Food” this chart is designed to help show when a government agency can give a purchasing preference to locally grown or produced food.
A Report of food hub impacts on regional food systems, and the resources available to support their growth and development.
See pages 28-37 for full description of the Farm to Table recommendations that were determined through the Farm to Table Research and Assessment of Virginia’s food system. Learn more about the Virginia Farm to Table Project at http://virginiafarmtotable.org/
Proposed legislation for credit unions and small businesses
Eric Bendfeldt (VFSC, VCE, SVFFN) provides an example of the influence this legislation can have. Read Here
Rethinking the food system, one pig at a time
The increasing consolidation of power within the food industry has contributed to persistent food recalls, environmental degradation, obesity, hunger, and food shortages. We have reached a tipping point where many opinion leaders are now interested in finding ways to redistribute this power through a regional approach to food systems. Even some major chain restaurants are calling for change.
Check out Chipolte’s moving video that clearly promotes rethinking our food system and rebuilding it from the ground up.
The University of Vermont Breakthrough Leaders Program for Sustainable Food Systems in a one-of-a-kind opportunity to learn practical approaches to building a viable regional food system as an alternative to the conventional one that exists now. (Contact Matt Sayre - firstname.lastname@example.org – for more information)
A New Web Resource Maps USDA Support for Local and Regional Food Projects and Highlights Business Opportunities
On february 29th the Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan will unveil the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food (KYF) Compass via a live webinar. This KYF Compass is an interactive web-based document and map highlighting USDA support for local and regional food projects and successful producer, business and community case studies. In September 2009, USDA launched the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food initiative to coordinate USDA resources and expertise on local and regional food systems. The initiative also encourages Americans to learn more about U.S. agriculture and connect with the farmers, ranchers and growers who are producing their food. The KYF Compass documents the ways in which USDA has coordinated across its 17 agencies and additional offices, enhanced transparency and met congressional mandates from the 2008 Farm Bill on local and regional food. Go to: Know Your Farmer Know Your Food Compass
Learn where to find out about recent 2012 Virginia agriculture related bills introduced to the General Assembly
We suggest that you start following some of the recent agriculture related bills at the State Genera Assembly Site:http://legis.state.va.us/ or at the Lobbyist In a Box site: http://lis.virginia.gov/h015.