A growing number of states are reimbursing schools for buying locally grown and produced foods in an effort to improve children's diets while supporting local farmers. Before the pandemic, eight states and the District of Columbia had programs that subsidize local food purchases at schools — seven more states have added these programs since 2020.
In a bid to strengthen local and regional food systems and help small and midsized farms and food businesses reach new markets and resources, the USDA is creating a dozen new regional food centers, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced Wednesday. (No paywall)
To build resiliency into the food system, the Agriculture Department said on Monday it would award up to $500 million to state and tribal governments for purchases of locally grown food for emergency food assistance. The Local Food Purchase Assistance program has a goal of buying food from socially disadvantage farmers and putting it in the hands of under-served communities.
Small farmers who sell their products locally are eligible for a new micro-farm policy, said the Risk Management Agency, which oversees the federally subsidized crop insurance system. The policy, which simplifies recordkeeping and covers post-production costs, is available for 2022 crops.
Alaska imports more than 90 percent of its food, but with Covid-19 interrupting supply chains, especially to remote regions, people in the state are reacting by starting gardens and advocating for more locally grown food, reports Miranda Weiss in FERN's latest story. (No paywall)
The spread of the novel coronavirus has shuttered colleges, closed hospitals to visitors, and otherwise radically altered how many institutions operate. For some local farmers who have sold food to those operations’ cafeterias, it will prove difficult to recover from the lost business.(No paywall)
As the spread of the coronavirus causes many cities to curtail public gatherings, farmers who sell directly to customers at farmers' markets and through CSAs are coming up with novel solutions at breakneck speed to keep their customers fed and their operations viable. For one farmer, a pool noodle is an essential part of the plan.(No paywall)
Companion bills introduced in the House and Senate would make it easier for schools to buy locally produced foods to serve to their students, said sponsors on Thursday.
Madison, Wisconsin, was hit particularly hard by the 2015 merger of Kraft and Heinz and its accompanying layoffs. Now, the city is assessing whether the former meat processing site could be repurposed into a food terminal for regional producers. If the terminal is approved, the city will join others who are building infrastructure for medium-scale regional food distribution.
California offers an example of how to avoid the electronic equipment snarl that threatens SNAP sales at 40 percent of farmers markets across the nation, says The New Food Economy. "Their method? Creating a system partially, if not fully independent of the federal system."
In the small town of Ava in southern Illinois, brewers Marika Josephson and Aaron Kleidon take a look outside when they need ingredients for their brewery. With a garden on their property and a "commitment to sourcing their hops and malt close to home," Scratch Brewery "is part of a new movement of breweries that want to use foraged beers—beverages brewed with wild ingredients sourced hyper-locally—to educate drinkers about agriculture," says Civil Eats.
The great majority farmers under the age of 35 hold a college degree, significantly higher than the U.S. average. It is a cohort that "is already contributing to the growth of the local-food movement and could help preserve the place of midsize farms in the rural landscape," says the Washington Post. It cites the 2012 Census of Agriculture as saying the number of farmers under the age of 35 is increasing for only the second time in a generation.
With an eye toward the 2018 farm bill, congressional backers of regional food marketing efforts filed bills in the House and Senate that would expand local and direct sales of food, which were estimated at $8.7 billion in 2015.
In a lengthy report, the St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank identifies regional food systems as "a promising avenue for economic growth for both rural and urban communities through the creation or enhancement of existing jobs and businesses."
The James Beard Foundation announced six winners of its Leadership Award this this year, saying they are "pioneers in their areas of work, including reducing food waste, environmental protection, local and national advocacy, and workplace safety." The winners are Rep. Chellie Pingree of Maine, chef Dan Barber, author Joan Gussow, food advocate Olivier De Schutter, and the directors of the Food Chain Alliance, Joann Lo and Jose Oliva.
The release of a President’s budget proposal triggers a lengthy sausage-making process. As we continue examining the 2018 skinny budget proposal released by the Trump White House earlier this spring, it’s important to keep that in mind: the final 2018 budget will probably not look a lot like the President’s proposal, if history is any guide.
If they serve locally-sourced food at all, school districts are likely to serve it every day, say five economists who produced the first USDA study of the prevalence of local food in school meals. They said 19 percent of school districts serve at least one locally-sourced item daily, and because the districts tend to have large enrollments, 30 percent of all students have the option of local food.
Growers in California reaped one-third of the $8.7 billion in direct marketing of food nationwide, said USDA in its first-ever Local Foods report, based on 2015 sales of fresh and value-added products. Farms who sold directly to institutions or intermediaries, such as wholesalers or food hubs, took the largest share, $3.4 billion, of the U.S. total.
Ecotrust, a non-profit based in Portland, Ore., opened phase one of a $23 million, 80,000-square-foot campus that is part food hall, part food hub, designed to connect small- and mid-size farms and ranches with their customers, Fast Company says. The Redd on Salmon Street offers a central warehouse where farmers, ranchers, and other producers can stash their products until they’re ready to be distributed, the magazine said.