March 2012

Potluck News

>>> 2012 Farm Bill updates from NSAC 

>>> Here is a list of marker bills — think of them
as legislative trial balloons — being floated to influence the 2012 Farm Bill.

>>> The Union of Concerned Scientists promotes science-based sustainability in this new report timed to impact the Farm Bill: "Toward Healthy Food and Farms: How Science-Based Policies can Transform Agriculture".

>>> Why Monsanto Thought Weeds Would Never Defeat Roundup (NPR's Food Blog) Considering how hard it had been to create those crops, "the thinking was, it would be really difficult for weeds to become tolerant" to Roundup, says Rick Cole, who is now responsible for Monsanto's efforts to deal with the problem of resistant weeds. (Photo: Seth Perlman/AP)


>>> Looking for work? Check out our Jobs listings!

>>> Vermont legislation (Senate bill 238) to create a farm guest worker program would enable noncitizens and nonpermanent  residents to establish residency, identification, and work authorization on Vermont farms and prohibit discrimination against them. While the bill is controversial and may not be legal under Federal Law, it makes the point that Vermont's dairy farms depend on foreign workers. More details here. 

>>> Innovation in CSA business models serves a diverse customer base (Washington Post) Flexible CSA models are sprouting up around the country, proving that subscription services can work for farmers and consumers. Some, dubbed multi-farm CSAs, offer produce from a network of small farms for more variety. Others let customers choose what and how much goes into their weekly box or use pre-paid credit at the farmers market or online. 

>>> A Resource Guide for Local Food Policy Practitioners & Organizers  Food First (aka Oakland Food Policy Council) has assembled a collection of resources for local food policy from groups across the U.S. Many organizations, local and national in scope, have developed tools, informational resources, and successful model policies that support an integrated, sustainable and equitable food system at the city or regional level. This document provides community advocates with practical tools and ideas for creating local food policy change in production, processing, distribution, consumption, and food waste recovery. Tool kits for each of those areas were created by a range of non‐profits, universities, or think tanks. Download the PDF

>>> Michael Pollan's "Food Rules" animated with — FOOD!

"Food Rules" by Michael Pollan - RSA/Nominee Trust competition from Marija Jacimovic on Vimeo.


>>> New book exposes the life of food workers 

(New York Times review) In "The American Way of Eating" by Tracie McMillan, the author goes undercover to pick garlic with migrant workers in California, work in the produce department at Walmart, and prepare food in the kitchen at Applebee's. “So far as I can tell, changing what’s on our plates simply isn’t feasible without changing far more,” she writes. “Wages, health care, work hours and kitchen literacy are just as critical to changing our diets as the agriculture we practice or the places at which we shop.” 


>>> Connecticut bill looks to add labels to genetically engineered food (Wall St Journal / Associated Press) 

Consumers at Connecticut grocery stores would be able to know if genetically engineered foods are in the merchandise mix under a bill state lawmakers are considering to require the labeling of such foods. Neither the federal government nor any state currently has a labeling requirement that applies to all genetically modified foods. Connecticut is among nearly 20 states considering a labeling mandate.

>>> Maryland Hospitals for a Healthy Environment 

This model program supports hospitals and other health care facilities in providing healthier, local and sustainably produced foods to patients, employees, visitors and surrounding community members through environmentally sustainable initiatives including institutional purchasing of meat and poultry, and locating farmers markets at 17 hospitals. Pictured here, one of the farmers at United Medical Center’s farmers market.

>>> New Federal Planting Map Reflects Warming   

The government's colorful map of planting zones has been updated for a warmer 21st century. The official guide for 80 million gardeners and a staple on seed packets reflects a new reality: The coldest day of the year isn't as cold as it used to be. So some plants that once seemed too vulnerable to cold can now survive farther north.


>>> New FREE online course for beginning farmers, "Acquiring Your Farm" takes farm seekers through a comprehensive, step-by-step investigation of options and strategies focused on access to landand farms. There are 7 topic modules. Each topic is loaded with content, plus stories and resources. Every topic includes tools, worksheets and checklists. The course is designed so that each learner can come away with a customized farm acquisition action plan.


>>> is a new website for beginning farmers, a USDA-Farm Bureau collaboration to develop a Curriculum and Training Clearinghouse for new and beginning farmers.



                       Pre-Conference Sessions:
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Map of the Month: Farm Loss, 2007-2012

Each red dot on this Census of Agriculture map represents 20 farms that are no more, and each blue dot represents 20 new farms. In just five years, the US experienced a net loss of 90,000 farms. (Download as a PDF to magnify.)


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