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News from the Hub – Week of February 20, 2012

Friday, February 24th, 2012 by

Top Stories

Lenders Learn how to Bank on Small Farms, Local Food
Nic Welty employs himself full time year-round raising lettuce, spinach, and other leafy greens in three low-cost passive solar greenhouses, which together cover less than one acre of land. His Nine Bean Rows farm near Traverse City, MI, is one of many smaller, diversified, often first-generation farms in the country that defy expectations, particularly among bankers and others with money needed to finance the new food enterprises.

FamilyFarmed Helps Get Local Produce To Big Markets
The local food movement is constantly criticized for its small scale. All of these hippie farmer’s markets and boutique restaurants are great for rich people who live in Chicago, but they’re not going to actually make a difference, right? Setting aside how much we disagree with that sentiment, locavores now have a good retort.

Left without food, thousands of hens die on Central Valley egg farm
San Jose Mercury News
An estimated 50,000 hens were left without feed at a Stanislaus County egg farm over about two weeks, officials said Wednesday. The hens starved apparently because of the high cost of feed, said Bill Mattos, president of the California Poultry Federation. The Modesto-based group usually deals only with meat birds, but has helped with the response at the egg farm.

Farmers market could take root in Wallowa
La Grande Observer
More than 40 people including business owners, produce growers, local ranchers, crafters and artists, the Wallowa FFA adviser and students, representatives from the Wallowa food bank and the city mayor attended a meeting led by Deb Reth, owner of Bear Creek Gardens. Even though there is no farmers market in the city of Wallowa yet, there is an overwhelming desire by the community for one — and systems are in place that would help support it.

Buyers Reap Benefit of Food Safety Certfication Tool

Thursday, December 15th, 2011 by

Yesterday we posted in the blog about the launch of a new food safety tool developed by The tool, called the On-Farm Food Safety Project, was funded in part through the USDA to provide greater access to GAP and GHP certification in hopes that more producers start tracing their food safety practices.

The website guides producers through the process of creating and maintaining a clear record of how food is handled and stored and lets you save your work and create a PDF of the file when you’re done.

What we’re particularly jazzed about is providing an easy way to obtain certification for producers means that more wholesale buyers who have food safety requirements already in place – from grocery stores to restaurants, schools and hospitals – will have greater access to a wider variety of local food. Throughout the process, the safety recommendations provided place special emphasis on the idea that having these best practices in place assures that buyers know produce is coming from a clean, well-managed environment.

Good stuff!

New Risk Management Tool from Helps Producers Achieve GAP Certification

Wednesday, December 14th, 2011 by

Tomorrow, join Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan, along with leaders from food and agriculture organizations, will host a media availability to introduce a free online tool to help U.S. producers of all sizes achieve Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) certification. The free online tool—developed by with funding from USDA’s Risk Management Agency (RMA)—helps farmers design a customized manual to meet GAP certification requirements and mitigate business risks by answering just a few questions.

Speakers at the media availability will include: Jim Slama, President,; Will Daniels, Sr. VP Operations and Organic Integrity, Earthbound Farm; Michelle Smith, Senior Policy Analyst, FDA; David Gombas, Sr. VP Food Safety and Technology, United Fresh Produce Association; Marc Zammit, VP, Sustainability and Culinary Initiatives, Compass Group; Phil Petrilli, Regional Director, Chipotle Mexican Grill; and Steve Murray, Murray Family Farms, User of the On-Farm Food Safety Project tool.

The event is open to the media and a conference call line is available for those unable to attend.

Thursday, Dec. 15, 2011
3:30 p.m. EST

WHAT:          Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan and leaders from food and agriculture organizations introduce new risk management tool to help producers achieve GAP certification.

WHERE:       Room 107-A, Jaime Whitten Building (use Jefferson Drive entrance)
U.S. Department of Agriculture
1400 Independence Ave. SW
Washington, DC 20250

DIAL IN:       800-857-5233
Passcode: SECY (Given Verbally)
Trouble number: 202-720-8560

CALLERS:   To join the Q&A portion of the meeting for MEDIA ONLY, please press *1 on
your touch tone phone.