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Fostering Sustainability and Innovation in Agriculture

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USDA News

New Data Reflects the Continued Demand for Farmers Markets

August 4, 2014 |

post_usdalogoNews Release - WASHINGTON, Aug. 4, 2014 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) Administrator Anne Alonzo announced over the weekend that USDA’s National Farmers Market Directory now lists 8,268 markets, an increase of 76 percent since 2008. The data reflects continued demand and growth of farmers markets in every region of the country. Alonzo also announced that AMS is developing three new local food directories that will expand USDA’s support for local and regional foods by providing easy access to the most current information about the local food market. 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

USDA Grant to Provide Access to Food and Agricultural Employment in Southeastern Ohio

May 7, 2014 |
Chesterhill Produce Auction in Morgan County. Image courtesy of Tom Redfern.

Chesterhill Produce Auction in Morgan County. Image courtesy of Tom Redfern.

Rural Action  has been awarded a USDA Rural Business Enterprise Grant to support the Southeast Ohio Food Hub Network, three food hubs that provide access to food, agricultural business training, and employment opportunities for people in Perry, Athens, and Morgan counties.

These counties, located roughly an hour from Columbus, Ohio, have all been classified by the Appalachian Regional Commission as “distressed,” according to Tom Redfern, Sustainable Agriculture Coordinator with Rural Action. “Distressed” means many things, but in this part of Ohio, the classification means little access to healthy food, chronic illness and obesity, as well as few employment opportunities that provide a living wage. Read More

Farm Bill a ‘Mixed Bag’ for Sustainable Ag

February 3, 2014 |

post_usdalogoAfter a year of fierce debate, House and Senate agricultural leaders released a finalized Farm Bill, known as The Agricultural Act of 2014  last week. The bill has been making its way through congress and President Obama is expected to sign it into law on Wednesday.

“Today’s bipartisan agreement puts us on the verge of enacting a five-year Farm Bill that saves taxpayers billions, eliminates unnecessary subsidies, creates a more effective farm safety-net and helps farmers and businesses create jobs,” Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D.) of Michigan, Chairwoman of the Senate Agriculture Committee said in a release on Jan. 27. Read More

Seedstock “Grow Riverside” Conference to Provide Template for Cities Developing Urban Sustainable Agriculture

December 11, 2013 |

grow-riverside-header-v1-r2If you are an elected official, county supervisor, council member, city manager, planning director, community development director or finance director looking to bring the budding concept of local sustainable agriculture to your community, “Grow Riverside: Citrus and Beyond!” is the conference to attend!

The event, to be held at the Riverside Convention Center on Wednesday and Thursday, March 19-20, 2014, will feature keynote speakers Dr. Glenda Humiston, California director for U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development, and Val Dolcini, California executive director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency. Read More

Speakers at Seedstock’s “Grow Riverside” Conference to Examine Opportunities for Urban and Local Ag

December 3, 2013 |

citrus and beyond speakersHow can cities leverage unused agricultural land to increase the supply of locally available and create new jobs and farmers? What small scale urban agriculture solutions are bearing fruit? Is it possible to create an economically viable farming business on one or two acres of land? How can the USDA help? What are innovators in the sustainable urban agriculture space doing? What policy needs to be put into place to facilitate an active agricultural economy in a city and on its fringes?

These and other questions will be the focus of Seedstock’s upcoming Grow Riverside: Citrus and Beyond! conference, which is set to take place on March 19 – 20 at the Riverside Convention Center in Riverside, CA. The event will feature urban agriculture innovators, key policy makers, nutrition experts, and investors, who will partake in a two-day, outcomes-based conference to examine solutions to help cities, Riverside in this particular case, to galvanize their citizens, growers, advocates, government officials and other major stakeholders around the economic opportunities that can result from employing sustainable urban agriculture. Read More

USDA Builds the American Dream

November 7, 2013 |
Val Dolcini, State Executive Director of USDA Farm Services Association

Val Dolcini, California State Executive Director of USDA Farm Services Agency

The following is excerpted from a speech given by Val Dolcini, State Executive Director, USDA Farm Service Agency on Oct. 24 at the 46th annual Farm-City Harvest Awards Luncheon sponsored by the Woodland Chamber of Commerce.

I frequently tell people that I’ve got the best job in California. Most days, my “office” is one of the many thousands of farms in our great state and as often as my schedule will allow, I’m on the road, traveling the blue highways and back roads of California working with my USDA colleagues in 30 county offices from Mount Shasta in Siskiyou County to Mount Signal on the U.S.-Mexico border.

I’ve learned a lot from my travels about what it takes to farm in California in the 21st century and about the many different kinds of farming operations that represent the diversity of the Golden State. Read More