The Farm Bill is a large piece of legislation that is renewed every 5 or so years. It includes funding for a wide range of programs (SNAP, crop insurance, conservation, local food promotion, farmer training, and more) that impact everyone in the United States. This year, The Farm Bill is up for renewal and its current draft would fail family farmers and ranchers, hungry Americans, and the environment. It is important that we all take the time to reach out to our Congress people and ask them to support a stronger Farm Bill for farmers, ranchers and consumers.
Spring has officially sprung and that means it is time to hit the farmers markets! Southeast Michigan boasst a large number of farmers markets and 15 of these are in Washtenaw County. As you plan your spring and summer schedule, make sure to include visits to the Washtenaw County Farmers Markets. You can find more details about these markets at washtenawmarkets.org.
As awareness of local food grows, more people are becoming interested in understanding the economic impacts of local food systems. While many of us may be motivated to buy local food by values like preserving farmland, supporting small businesses, and expanding access to fresh, healthy food, these goals are economic development goals. Economic growth is a much narrower measure centered on increases in jobs and sales, or monetary value. To be sure, economic growth is a limited way of judging success, but there are times when it is helpful to justify food system initiatives in terms of economic growth to decision-makers like funders or local government officials.
In1890, Detroit was a place where a man could go to seek his fortune. Its boundaries were expanding, its population swelling. That’s the year wealthy factory owner Hazen S. Pingree was elected mayor.
In the United States, we waste 40% of food produced, and an alarming 90% of that goes to the landfill, where it emits methane gas which is a mere 23 times more powerful than carbon dioxide. If that statistic doesn’t do anything for you, then how about that the average American spends about $1,500 a year on food they are just going to throw away.
The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) was signed into law by President Obama on January 4, 2011. The goal of this legislation is prevent contamination of food produced in the United States before foodborne illness outbreaks occur. The Produce Safety Rule of FSMA has huge implications for many growers across the state. This year, compliance of the full rule will be enforced for farms grossing $500K or more. Smaller farms have until 2019 or 2020 to comply with rule, depending on their income.
The return of the longer days, bouts of sunshine, and the pop of crocus and snowdrops have signaled that spring is here. If you’re like me, you’re dreaming of your garden and the tastes of fresh, local produce. To ensure that you have consistent access to these flavors, and the upcoming seasonal bounty, consider signing up for a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program.
As northern Michigan farmers work to build a sustainable, local-food economy, they need funding and other support to get started, expand current operation, build year-round growing capacity or establish new business models. USDA Rural Development, MSU Extension, Taste the Local Difference and the Food and Farming Network have teamed up with local sponsors and organizations to make it easier for farmers, growers and producers to find the help they need. The Funding Local Farms & Foods workshops will point local growers toward government agencies, non-profits and private lenders who can offer funding and other resources.
The Power of We Consortium AmeriCorps State Program is looking for individuals passionate about healthy lifestyles. AmeriCorps State members serve Ingham county residents through direct service with programming and resource sharing.
The Michigan Statewide CSA Working Group announces the release of the first Michigan CSA Farm Survey. Data from this survey serves as a critical underpinning toward developing broad strategies to support Michigan’s CSA farmers and their communities.
If you are currently a CSA farmer, or have had a CSA operation in the past, please consider taking this survey. Individual responses will be kept confidential. Aggregated data and analysis will be used to inform local and state agencies how to proactively address the needs of Michigan’s CSA farms and farmers.
Survey Link: http://bit.ly/MICSASurvey
The Michigan Statewide CSA Working Group includes:
- Michigan Food and Farming Systems (MIFFS)
- Michigan Public Health Institute (MPHI)
- Michigan Department of Health and Human Services
- Michigan State University Extension
- West Michigan Growers Group
- Oakland Ave Urban Farm
- Great Lakes CSA Coalition
- Taste the Local Difference
- Allen Neighborhood Center
- Greater Lansing Food Bank