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Fostering Sustainability and Innovation in Agriculture

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Press Release

USDA Expands Access to Credit to Help More Beginning and Family Farmers

October 7, 2014 |

post_usdalogoWASHINGTON, Oct. 7, 2014 – Agriculture Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden today announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will improve farm loans by expanding eligibility and increasing lending limits to help more beginning and family farmers. As part of this effort, USDA is raising the borrowing limit for the microloan program from $35,000 to $50,000; simplify the lending processes; updating required “farming experience” to include other valuable experiences; and expanding eligible business entities to reflect changes in the way family farms are owned and operated. The changes become effective Nov. 7.

“USDA is continuing its commitment to new and existing family farmers and ranchers by expanding access to credit,” said Harden. “These new flexibilities, created by the 2014 Farm Bill, will help more people who are considering farming and ranching, or who want to strengthen their existing family operation.” Read More

Cityblooms’ Automated Hydroponic Micro-farm Grows Nutritious Produce on Plantronics Company Campus

September 30, 2014 |

CITYBLOOMS conference seedstockSANTA CRUZ, Calif., Sept. 30, 2014 /PRNewswire/ — Plantronics Inc. (NYSE: PLT) is pioneering the use of on-site food production to boost employee nutrition as part of the company’s global commitment to sustainability.  Through a joint project with Santa Cruz-based Cityblooms, a prototype computer-automated farm has been installed at the Plantronics headquarters and is being powered by the company’s existing solar energy system.

The hydroponic micro-farm produces bi-weekly harvests of premium leafy greens and vegetables for the on-site cafe operated by Bon Appetit Management Company, a national leader in socially and environmentally responsible food service. “By locating these micro-farms close to the point of consumption, we measure farm-to-fork distances in yards, rather than miles,” said Nick Halmos, Cityblooms founder. “We eliminate the financial and environmental costs associated with food waste and food transportation.” Read More

USDA Awards Over $52 Million in Grants to Grow Organic and Local Food Economies

September 29, 2014 |

post_usdalogoNews Release – DOSWELL, Va., Sept. 29, 2014 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced the award of over $52 million in support of the growing organic industry and local and regional food systems through five U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) grant programs. The Secretary made the announcement during an event with Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe and First Lady Dorothy McAuliffe and local farmers at the Virginia State Fair.

“Local and regional food systems are one of the pillars of our efforts to revitalize rural economies,” said Secretary Vilsack. “Consumers are increasingly demanding more local and organic options. Investing in local and regional food systems supports the livelihoods of farmers and ranchers, especially smaller operations, while strengthening economies in communities across the country. Today’s announcements also improve access to fresh, healthy food for millions of Americans.” Read More

White House Rural Council Announces Support to Help Communities Boost Local Food Economies

June 9, 2014 |

post_usdalogoWashington, D.C., June 9, 2014 — Today, on behalf of the White House Rural Council, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack announced Local Food, Local Places, a federal initiative that will provide direct technical support to rural communities to help them build strong local food systems as part of their community’s economic action plans. Under this effort, a team of agricultural, transportation, environmental, and regional economic experts will work directly with local communities to develop comprehensive strategies that use local food systems to meet a variety of needs.

The announcement, made during the White House Rural Council’s first live-streamed meeting, included Vilsack, U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, Environmental Protection Agency Deputy Administrator Bob Perciasepe, Appalachian Regional Commission Federal Co-Chairman Earl Gohl; and Delta Regional Authority Federal Co-Chairman Chris Masingill. Read More

USDA Announces Historic $78 Million Investment to Support Local Food Enterprises

May 8, 2014 |

post_usdalogoNews Release – WASHINGTON, May 8, 2014 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that USDA is making a historic $78 million investment in local and regional food systems, including food hubs, farmers markets, aggregation and processing facilities, distribution services, and other local food business enterprises.

“The 2014 Farm Bill has given USDA new tools, resources and authority to support the rural economy,” Vilsack said. “Consumer demand for locally-produced food is strong and growing, and farmers and ranchers are positioning their businesses to meet that demand. As this sector continues to mature, we see aggregation, processing, and distribution enterprises across the local food supply chain growing rapidly. These historic USDA investments in support of local food give farmers and ranchers more market opportunities, provide consumers with more choices, and create jobs in both rural and urban communities.” Read More

Seedstock’s “Grow Riverside” Sustainable Agriculture Conference Enhances Event with Nationally Known Experts

February 26, 2014 |

RIVERSIDE, Calif. — Spearheading the movement to assist cities develop more urban sustainable farming within their environs, the “Grow Riverside: Citrus and Beyond!” conference continues to expand its stellar program lineup with notable authorities in resource management, agricultural growth strategies and public policy. The March 19-20 event presented by Seedstock in partnership with the City and Community of Riverside will be held at the Riverside Convention Center.

Appearing as opening night keynote is Richard Conlin, who created Seattle’s local food initiative while serving as a City Councilmember. Conlin will talk about how to develop and establish urban sustainable agricultural policies – from land-use to funding efforts.

“Local food policy is a key element in creating environmental sustainability, economic prosperity and improved public health,” Conlin said. “I hope my experience can help provide guidance on how to put this into practice.” Read More

California Small Farm Conference Announces Talks and Workshops to Address Drought Management for Small Farms

February 24, 2014 |

Press Release — ROHNERT PARK, CA – The California Small Farm Conference, the state’s premier gathering of small-scale farmers and ranchers, farmers market managers and others involved in the small farm community, announced today its line-up of workshops and talks to address managing and minimizing drought impacts for small farmers and ranchers.

Sandra Schubert, Undersecretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture, will speak at the Conference on Monday, March 10th, during the Networking Lunch and address strategies and the many resources available to small farmers and ranchers relating to drought management. Read More

Congressman Mark Takano to Address Seedstock’s “Grow Riverside” Sustainable Agriculture Conference

February 6, 2014 |

Congressman TakanoPress Release – Seedstock today announced Congressman Mark Takano (CA-41) as the opening day luncheon speaker for the “Grow Riverside: Citrus and Beyond!” conference. The March 19-20 event, to be held at the Riverside Convention Center, will assist cities in examining and developing solutions to reconnect with their agricultural roots as well as evaluate potential economic and public health benefits of sustainable urban agriculture.

Representative Takano presently serves on the House Veterans’ Affairs and the Science, Space and Technology committees. Prior to being elected to Congress, Takano spent 23 years as a high school teacher in the Inland Empire and more than 20 years on the Riverside Community College Board of Trustees. The Congressman, an advocate of “slow food” – an international movement founded by Carlo Petrini in 1986 – will share his perspective on this fast food alternative and the quest to preserve traditional and regional cuisine through the farming of plants and seeds characteristic of the local ecosystem.

“The progressive sustainable urban farming innovations to be presented at this event will prove an invaluable asset to Riverside and its environs,” said Congressman Takano. “I am greatly impressed with the forward-thinking leaders of this historically rich agricultural region and look forward to witnessing the future success of the collaborations that are certain to be generated as a result of the Grow Riverside conference.” Read More