Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Get Listed: New USDA Effort to Connect Farmers with Local Customers

A new USDA effort aims to make it easier for your organization or business to reach more customers. Building on the success of the National Farmers Market Directory, USDA has developed national directories for On-Farm Markets, CSA Enterprises, and Food Hubs designed specifically to communicate operating information, product selection, terms of payment, and location to customers. The online directory will allow you to enter your baseline information in minutes, then update it anytime you want. Free of charge to registering organizations and businesses, the directories will be available to the public by January 2015. Visit the main registration and update webpage for more information and directions.  

Monday, September 29, 2014

FDA Revises Draft Food Safety Rules for Farms

Sorry for not posting in a while.  I've been super busy with my new position.  Things are starting to slow down so I hope to be posting everyday once again.  Below is a blog from the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition on the Food Safety Modernization Act.  Anyone who grows food of any kind will be affected by this.  So please read and let your voices be heard on what you believe will be best for your farm and your farming system.

On September 19, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released revised language for two major proposed rules detailing standards for farms that grow fresh produce (fruits and vegetables) and for facilities that process food for people to eat.

Why is FDA revising the draft rules?
FDA’s originally-proposed rules, issued in January 2013, included several highly problematic requirements that would have put many sustainable and organic farmers out of business, dampened the growth of local food systems and innovative supply chains, and undermined farmers’ natural resource conservation efforts.  In response, the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) and the sustainable agriculture community undertook an extensive public outreach and education campaign on the proposed rules, resulting in tens of thousands of comments to FDA from concerned farmers, food entrepreneurs, and consumers.

In large part due to that campaign last year, FDA announced that it would reexamine several critical areas of the FSMA proposed rules that have major potential impacts for sustainable farming.  The recently released proposals contain revisions that reflect FDA’s new thinking on such critical issues as water quality standards and testing; standards for using raw manure and compost; provisions affecting “mixed-use facilities” (farms that engage in value-added processing); and due process considerations for farms that are eligible for qualified exemptions from the new regulations.

What is NSAC doing in response?
Following the release of the re-proposals, NSAC put out a statement that highlights some clear improvements as well some concerns with the rules.  NSAC will be doing a complete and thorough analysis of the rules and will provide more information as we read through the re-proposed language in the weeks to come.

Everyone has a role in ensuring safe food from field to plate, and fair rules will help sustainable farmers continue producing safe, affordable, and healthy food.  We are analyzing the revised proposed rules to ensure in particular that they:
  • allow farmers to use sustainable farming practices, particularly on the contentious issues related to water, including irrigation water, and soil amendments like compost;
  • allow local food and farms to grow and thrive, by not subjecting them to inappropriate or excessive regulation; and
  • will treat family farms fairly, by having clear and fair procedures in place.
The rules will be officially published in the Federal Register on September 29, at which time the public comment period will begin.  The comment period will last for 75 days.  Hence there will be a mid-December deadline for submitting comments.

Where can I find more information?
For more information, visit our FSMA Action Center, which we will be updating over the next several weeks with updated analysis.

To stay informed about when and how to take action on the food safety rules, sign up for our action alerts.

Click here for FDA’s summaries and fact sheets for the revised Produce Proposed Rule and the Preventive Controls Proposed Rule.

You can download pre-publication copies of the rules here.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Captain Planet Foundation Small Grants

If you have kids on the farm or if you work with kids who are interested in agriculture, you may want to check out this grant opportunity.

Grants of $500 to $2,500 are made for activities that conform to the mission of the Captain Planet Foundation and are project-based, performed by youth, and have real environmental outcomes. The Captain Planet Foundation primarily makes grants to U.S.-based schools and organizations with an annual budget of less than $3 million.

Grants are made for activities that conform to the mission of the Captain Planet Foundation and MUST have all three of the following to be considered for funding:
  • ·         Be project-based;
  • ·         Projects must be performed by youth; and
  • ·         Projects must have real environmental outcomes.

Grants from the Captain Planet Foundation are intended to:
  • ·         Provide hands-on environmental stewardship opportunities for youth;
  • ·         Serve as a catalyst to getting environment-based education in schools;
  • ·         Inspire youth and communities to participate in community service through environmental stewardship activities.

Preferential consideration is given to requests who have secured at least 50% matching or in-kind funding for their projects. (Projects with matching funds or in-kind support are given priority because external funding is a good indicator of the potential for long-term sustainability of the activities).  Captain Planet Foundation may choose to fund a portion of the project budget that best fits within the foundation guidelines or contact an applicant for further discussion.

The application deadline is September 30, 2014.  For additional information click here

Monday, September 8, 2014

SARE Farmer/Rancher and Youth Educator Grant Writing Workshop

Two SARE Farmer/Rancher Grant Writing Workshops will be held, one in St. Charles MO on Sept 11th and the other in Hillsboro MO on Sept 18th.

The Farmer/Rancher Grant Program is for farmers who want to explore sustainable solutions to problems through on-farm research, demonstration and education projects.  A single farmer can get up to $7,500; two farmers working together on the project can get up to $14,000 and three or more farmers working together can get up to $24,000.

North Central SARE recognizes that youth programs are a way to introduce new and exciting farming and ranching options to youth, parents and community members.  The program supports opportunities for youth educators to research, demonstrate and learn more about sustainable agriculture.

6:00 - Welcome
6:10 - Youth Educator Grant
6:30 - Farmer/Rancher Grant

The Sept 11th workshop will be at the St. Charles County Extension Center at 260 Brown, Road, St. Peters, MO.

The Sept 18th workshop will be held at the Jefferson County Extension Center at 301 Third St., Hillsboro MO.

Registration is $15/person which includes handout materials and sandwiches/chips/drink.  To be sure you will have a sandwich please call to register by calling 636-791-5391.  Walk-ins are welcome but a sandwich is not guaranteed.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

New Horticulture Specialist at Lincoln University

Dr. Touria Eaton is the new State Horticulture Specialist at Lincoln University.  She will be conducting research based demonstrations and developing extension and education programs to benefit Missouri farmers.
Dr. Eaton has a Bachelors of Science from Morocco in Plant Science and a Masters and Doctorate degrees in Plant and Soil Sciences from the University of Massachusetts.

As a senior researcher and extension educator, she worked with a broad range of farmers with various personal experiences, learning styles and ethnic and religious backgrounds.  She worked closely with farmers, agricultural organizations and agriculture departments to develop educational programs that helped farmers increase income and profitability through sustainable practices of nutrient and pest management.  Her work was with both vegetable and floriculture crops.  A unique research project she conducted with vegetables was the production of Brussels sprouts for selling on stalks instead of as buds.  She has worked on how to increase fertilizer and water efficiency through the use of biochar as a soil amendment and how to increase the nutritional quality of vegetables through cultivar selection and soil fertility regimes.  Her recent research projects can be found here.

Dr. Eaton can be reached via email at eatont@lincolnu.edu or 573-681-5174.