Posted on Friday, April 6th, 2012 by Megan

News from the Hub – Week of April 2, 2012

Fresh Picks – Top 5 Stories Worth Reading

‘Nature’s Barcode’ Tells The Story Of Foods’ True Origin
NPR (blog)
Already in use to measure air quality and detect gas leaks, “optical stable isotope analyzer” technology, created by the Silicon Valley firm Picarro, can also detect isotopes in food. Access to this information could be a boon for food companies, government agencies and consumers who want to ensure raw ingredients and additives are really what they say they are.

Valley’s small farms find growing market as consumers demand local produce
Yakima Herald-Republic
Small farms in the Yakima Valley, including Fewel Farms, are catching onto the “locavore” ethos, the consumer-driven movement to purchase food grown nearby. As a result, the Valley’s vegetable market, though tiny in comparison to the biggies — wine grapes, apples and cherries — has grown beyond a cute niche.

‘Pink slime’ forces beef processor into bankruptcy
Ground beef processor AFA Foods filed for bankruptcy protection on Monday and said it plans to sell some or all of its assets, citing the impact of media coverage related to a meat filler critics have dubbed “pink slime.” Meat processors have faced a backlash over the use of an ammonia-treated beef filler they call “finely textured beef.” Food activists have campaigned to have it banned arguing the product was unappetizing, but supporters say the product is safe to eat.

A Shortage of Rural Veterinarians Means Retirement Must Wait
In Texas,  a shortage of rural veterinarians persists and grows worse each year. The shortages can greatly hinder the careers of ranchers, whose numbers have already dwindled because of drought and an industry-wide profitability drop in the last 30 years. Many longtime rural veterinarians have no successors. And because most veterinary graduates want to practice in urban areas on small animals, the prospects for solving the problem are grim.

Olive oil and milk among top ingredients used in ‘food fraud’
Food adulteration is more than just your neighborhood fish counter selling you farm-raised salmon and telling you it’s line caught. It’s ingredients that can go in ingredients to make products sold by your reputable local grocer or restaurant. New research shows that the most common food fraud ingredients are olive oil, milk, honey, saffron, orange juice, coffee and apple juice.

News From the Nation

Farmers Market Promotion Program Grants Available
Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan announced today that the USDA is seeking grant applicants for the 2012 Farmers Market Promotion Program. Approximately $10 Million is available for marketing operations such as farmers markets, community supported agriculture and road-side stands.

Young U.S. farmers coax crops from conservation lands
U.S. farmers tapping conservation land could lift crop acres in the world’s top grains producer to a record next year. The trend could ease food supply fears across the globe at the risk of disrupting wildlife including bald eagles that migrate across North Dakota. This year, contracts covering more than 6.5 million acres worth of CRP land will expire, the second-largest turnover in its 26-year history, according to USDA data.

Two young farmers breathe new life into retiring farmer’s organic farm
Columbia Daily Tribune
According to the Center for Rural Affairs, the “American farming population is aging, and new farmers aren’t getting in.” The 2007 U.S. Census of Agriculture showed U.S. farmers older than 55 control more than half of the country’s farmland, and new farmers make up only 10 percent of farmers and ranchers.

Farmers want to freeze locally grown produce
Appleton Post Crescent
A small group of central Iowa farmers are hoping to tap into the growing demand for locally grown produce by opening a nearly $1.03 million business to freeze fruits and vegetables and distribute them throughout the area. The 12 farmers, led by Penny Brown Huber, have formed Iowa Choice Harvest LLC, a start-up company looking to open a plant in Story County and begin operations by September.

Michigan threatens small farms by calling heritage pigs ‘invasive’
As of April 1, the Michigan Dept/ of Natural Resources was slated to start enforcing an order put in place last fall that classified wild boars as an invasive species. What does it have to do with farmers? It turns out the classification — which is based on a set of physical characteristics, such as straight ears, dark snouts, and a tendency toward stripes in their young — also includes many of the heritage animals kept on farms in the state.

Ammonia used in many foods, not just “pink slime”
Surprise rippled across America last month as a new wave of consumers discovered that hamburgers often contained ammonia-treated beef, or what critics dub “pink slime”. What they may not have known is that ammonia – often associated with cleaning products – was cleared by U.S. health officials nearly 40 years ago and is used in making many foods, including cheese. Related compounds have a role in baked goods and chocolate products.

Warm weather means plenty of local produce
Omaha World-Herald
Thanks to this year’s weird, warm weather, local farmers have plenty of produce, weeks before it’s usually ready for harvest. But there’s a catch: With most farmers markets still weeks from opening day, some local growers aren’t sure how to get their produce to your plate. Every year has its weather oddities, ups and downs that can adjust the growing season. But this year, farmers say, is different.

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