Posted on Friday, June 22nd, 2012 by

News from the Hub – Week of June 18, 2012

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NYC Announces Local Food Procurement Guidelines
civileats.com
Last Thursday, New York City announced what could be far-reaching guidelines on city food sourcing. The administration has created a plan to promote spending on sustainable local and regional food, with a focus on food procurement from New York State suppliers, to encourage consumption of fresh, seasonal food and to bolster local economies.

Politicians, health advocates seek transparency, restrictions in food stamp program
Chicago Tribune
Lawmakers in several states, including Illinois, have unsuccessfully pushed bills to make soda, chips and candy ineligible for purchase with food stamps, now called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Others have suggested that the program, which is administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, could be modified as part of the current farm bill negotiations in Congress.

Food industry is focus of science magazine series
Los Angeles Times
Multinational food corporations have a growing influence on the health of people around the world, including obesity, and their actions need greater scrutiny, according to an editorial Tuesday in the journal Public Library of Science Medicine. The editorial kicks off the journal’s three-week series looking at what it calls “Big Food.” The first articles, and the editorial, criticize not just the food companies but also officials charged with protecting public health.

In “Green Wheat” drive, Wal-Mart may transform farming
Reuters
Wal-Mart Stores has long used its commercial might to forge a global supply chain with ruthless efficiency. It now has a new target: U.S. wheat fields. As part of efforts to reduce its carbon footprint and burnish its image as an environmentally responsible company, the huge retailer is sending senior employees into the fields for the first time ever, looking for ways to help farmers reduce their use of carbon-intensive fertilizer or improve logistics.

GMOs should be safety tested before they hit the market says AMA
Chicago Tribune

The American Medical Association called for mandatory pre-market safety testing of genetically engineered foods as part of a revised policy voted on at the AMA’s meeting in Chicago Tuesday. Currently biotech companies are simply encouraged to engage in a voluntary safety consultation with the Food and Drug Administration before releasing a product onto the market.

News From the Region

Wine country attaches tendrils to food
OregonLive.com
After decades of producing pinot noir and pinot gris, Willamette Valley wine country is increasingly growing another crop: restaurants.

Local farms spread fresh food message to students
Fresno Business Journal
In a country where one in three kids is overweight and one in every 400 has diabetes, one program in California is bringing together the fruits of local farmers to promote healthy eating where children learn it best. Since 2005, thousands of school children throughout the state have taken a little time out each month to taste what the ground has to offer, many of them even learning to make new recipes using everything from peaches, apples and strawberries to broccoli, tomatoes and zucchini.

UC unveils how-to book on organic strawberries
Capital Press
Experts from the University of California want to teach people how to grow organic strawberries, which they say are booming in popularity. They have published a new Organic Strawberry Production Manual for growers, consultants, marketers and others.

Fairgrounds urged to spotlight local agriculture
Capital Press
Small farms experts from a state agency and the University of California want fairs to get back to their roots as the center of their region’s agriculture. Fairs were mostly centered around agriculture for more than 100 years, before entertainment became more of the focus in the last 30 years or so. They said the state’s fiscally strapped fairs could help themselves by doing more to highlight their region’s specialty crops, which are “just about everything we grow in California.”

Senate farm bill includes food safety study for specialty crop growers
McClatchy Washington Bureau
California fruit and vegetable growers might get a chance to insure themselves against a future food safety scare, under an evolving Senate farm bill poised for passage late Wednesday or sometime Thursday.

News From the Nation

Alabama law drives out illegal immigrants but also has unexpected consequences
Washington Post
For years, most poultry workers in Albertville, Ala., were Mexican immigrants, including some who were in the country illegally. But last fall, after a tough state law against illegal immigrants took effect, many vanished overnight, rattling the town’s large Hispanic community and leaving the poultry business scrambling to find workers willing to stand for hours in a wet, chilly room, cutting up dead chickens.

Hawaii Governor enacts bills supportive of local farmers
Hawaii.gov
Governor Neil Abercrombie today signed a number of measures into law including two bills that are aimed to benefit local farmers who want to sell their products and/or establish agricultural-based commercial operations. Senate Bill 2375 authorizes agricultural-based commercial operations in agricultural districts which will increase our farmers’ability to sell their products and promote food sustainability for the islands. Senate Bill 2646 is intended to promote and support diversified agriculture by exempting certain nonresidential agricultural buildings that are on commercial farms from county building permit requirements.

Bee Swarms Startle New York
NYTimes.com
This spring in New York City, clumps of homeless bees have turned up, often in inconvenient public places, at nearly double the rate of past years. A warm winter followed by an early spring, experts say, has created optimal breeding conditions. That may have caught some beekeepers off guard, especially those who have taken up the practice in recent years.

Local farmers cultivate customers on assistance
Pittsburgh Post Gazette
The idea of helping food assistance dollars go toward buying local produce has widespread support, yet making it happen has been a challenge — and it isn’t clear if local growers will ever be able to serve that audience in a significant way. For farmers and farm market operators, there are issues with the costs, the technology and the paperwork involved in accepting benefits.

Some towns looking to ordinances to make local farms exempt from state regulations
Washington Post
Towns in several states are adopting local ordinances that exempt farmers from state and federal regulations if they sell their products directly to consumers, despite warnings that the ordinances are invalid.

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