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- NGFN Food Safety Support System in the Works
- Monthly NGFN Webinars Connect You
with Knowledge and Experts
- Meet the Slow Money Alliance
- New Mexico Regional Lead Team: Identity Preserved!
- Save the Date! National Convening
- Follow NGFN on Twitter
- Good Food Media Digest
- Add your profile to the NGFN Database
The National Good Food Network has just completed a two-month journey into the changing world of food safety regulations. Its mission: To learn how the Network might best help value chain practitioners in the field to navigate this confusing yet critical time as laws get written and expectations get set.
Steve Warshawer, a farmer and local food business developer with New Mexico's La Montanita Cooperative, coordinated the project along with Marty Gerencer, NGFN Manager and with guidance from the NGFN Advisory Council through the two-month interim period. He reports that a series of conference calls with the Network's advisory council and partners pointed clearly to a two-pronged approach.
"[People] want to be effective on the ground dealing with the regulations as they work to scale up regional food operations,” Steve said. “However they also want to stay abreast of the policy process so they can contribute to it when appropriate."
The NGFN's October 15 webinar on food safety regulations is one step toward making food safety policy experts and information more readily available. At the time of the webinar, the NGFN will also publish a “Frequently Asked Questions” guide to terms, proposals, and other concepts that are critical to understand in order to function and participate most effectively in the changing food safety arena.
An NGFN clearinghouse of resources is also in the works. Some of the newest items are a guide to food safety strategies for local food systems, by Food and Water Watch and the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, called Bridging the GAPS, and, later this week, a food safety brief from the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition will be available.
Moving forward, Steve Warshawer will continue his work in food safety with NGFN. Look for more of his clear reporting of the latest developments, as well as tools to assist you to understand and implement food safety. For more details about the NGFN food safety plans, be sure to attend the upcoming webinar.
The National Good Food Network's monthly webinars happen every third Thursday from 3:30 to 4:45 p.m. Eastern time. This month, on October 15, the webinar features an interactive briefing on food safety by experts of practice and policy at the center of the shifting regulatory scene . On November 19 we’ll hear the stories of two very different retail models for good food, straight from the people leading these efforts.
If you're not able to attend the webinars live, you can still learn from the good food leaders and service providers featured – each webinar is archived on the ngfn.org site.
|September||USDA Funding Programs and Opportunities|
|August||Innovations in Value Chain Infrastructure: Red Tomato|
|June||Aggregation/Distribution: Appalachian Sustainable Development|
The monthly webinars are becoming a significant Network meeting place. The September USDA webinar had 120 attendees for the 90-minute session. It featured seven USDA representatives, including 2 branch chiefs and one national program leader.
The strongest networks connect with other networks. To that end, NGFN News will regularly feature other networks that we're getting to know in the Good Food world of people and businesses -- from Moms to CEOs -- engaged in the business of building new systems for healthy, green, fair, affordable food.
This month we focus on the Slow Money Alliance, a movement to "bring money back down to earth."
Slow Money Alliance's mission is to build local and national networks, and develop new financial products and services, dedicated to:
- Investing in food enterprises and local food systems.
- Connecting investors to their local economies.
- Building the “nurture capital” industry.
In addition to its goal of a million people signing onto its Slow Money Principles, Slow Money Alliance is taking its mission on the road with Slow Money Institutes. These are regional gatherings of farmers, food entrepreneurs, investors, philanthropists and nonprofit leaders sharing experiences, exploring slow money strategies and possibilities, and building cross- sector relationships. Slow Money has held five Institutes to date in Grafton, VT; Pt. Reyes, CA; Bellingham, WA; Ghent, NY; and Madison, WI.
For more information, check out some of the media coverage of the Slow Money Alliance, including this recent Wall Street Journal article.
Northern New Mexico is home to the nation's longest-standing farming communities. It's been some 400 years, for example, that Don Bustos' family has farmed the very same ground.
Now, as a Regional Lead Team (RLT) of the National Good Food Network, Don Bustos and his neighbors and colleagues are building the connections they need both to preserve their traditions and to share their approach with the rest of us working to put community values into the commercial supply chain.
Over the past year, the organization that Bustos heads, the American Friends Service Committee of New Mexico, brought together a steering committee of six other organizations to focus on building regional value chains, from local producers through processing and distribution and finally to the local consumer. Their focus is a sustainable and healthy future for the land-based Hispanic and Native American community of the region.
The result is a Good Food network that has not only multiplied valuable connections in the five-county focus area but has also grown statewide as businesses, organizations, and elected officials gravitate to the power of the group's strategic thinking and coalition building.
This trajectory started at the RLT’s very first meeting. "We thought if we could get 20 to 30 people, we would be doing OK," Bustos said. "But more than 100 came to our first forum, and it continued like that."
Bringing ranchers, farmers, retail and institutional buyers, distributors, and community leaders together, the team catalyzed significant connections. These connections have brought about new business development, such as contract negotiations between several food buyers and regional producers. Bustos’ RLT is now ushering an effort, with lawmaker attention and support, to re-establish a system of state meat inspection to better serve smaller processors and local markets.
Participants also united around a key value chain principle: To preserve and honor their region's culture.
"We raise food in a humane and sacred manner; we acknowledge the animal's spirituality and the Creator," Bustos said. "We want to build that into the market, into the processing infrastructure, so it's honored as we expand."
The team is setting itself up to do just that as it goes into the next year of maintaining and growing what has become a three-tiered network of 1) statewide interests 2) farmers, ranchers, buyers, distributors and other value chain participants and 3) the original five-county base of steering committee participants, who will produce an action plan from its work so far.
New Mexico regional lead team steering committee members:
American Friends Service Committee of New Mexico, has worked since 1976 to protect land and water rights and promote economic viability of sustainable agriculture through farmer to farmer training, technical assistance, and policy work.
New Mexico Acequia Association, a grassroots organization of communal irrigation systems that works to sustain a land-based way of life, protect water as a community resource, and strengthen agricultural traditions. The Association's campaign to protect communal water rights - El Agua es la Vida, Water is Life - has achieved major policy changes to protect water locally and statewide.
Sustainable Agriculture Science Center at Alcalde, NM, houses New Mexico State University Extension projects around rural agricultural improvement and community economic development outreach in north central New Mexico. The projects have a special emphasis on empowering the region's predominantly small-scale and limited-resource Hispanic and Native American producers.
Taos County Economic Development Center, focuses on helping the land-based peoples of Northern New Mexico build upon their traditions and expertise, increase incomes, and create jobs and businesses. The Center is particularly active in the food sector as a relevant and viable economic opportunity for area residents.
La Montanita Co-op, a community-owned, consumer cooperative with four locations and more than 15,500 member household owners statewide. With its Co-op Trade Initiative/Food-shed project, La Montanita is a major factor in the regional food system's development; 20 percent of the co-op's purchases and sales come from approximately 500 local producers on a regular and seasonal basis.
Northern New Mexico Stockman’s Association, which unites ranchers in northern New Mexico and southern Colorado on livestock grazing and other issues, particularly related to property rights they retained after the Mexican-American War to ancestral lands that the federal government now manages.
The National Farm to Cafeteria Conference will be held on May 17-19, 2010, in Detroit, Michigan. The National Good Food Network is partnering with the National Farm to School Network, School Food Focus and other national and regional partners to host the event.
Collaboration with the National Farm to School Network brings the NGFN's base of businesses and organizations together with one of the leading drivers of those new market opportunities.
Put the date on your calendar and plan on a powerful and productive time!
The National Good Food Network has entered the "real-time web world" and is developing a following. We'll keep you abreast of the latest developments within the NGFN, as well as in the broader world of scaling up good food. You can get the latest, tweet by tweet, here: twitter.com/ngfn, or @ngfn.
New Research/ Data
- USDA ERS study, “Marketing US Organic Foods: Recent Trends from Farms to Consumers”: U.S. organic-industry growth is evident in an expanding number of retailers selling a wider variety of foods, the development of private-label product lines by many supermarkets, and the widespread introduction of new products. A broader range of consumers has been buying more varieties of organic food. Organic handlers, who purchase products from farmers and often supply them to retailers, sell more organic products to conventional retailers and club stores than ever before. Only one segment has not kept pace—organic farms have struggled at times to produce sufficient supply to keep up with the rapid growth in demand, leading to periodic shortages of organic products. [source].
- Fewer than 10% of U.S. high-school students are eating the combined recommended daily amount of fruits and vegetables, a finding that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention called "poor" in a report. The report, based on 2007 data, found that 13% of U.S. high-school students get at least three servings of vegetables a day and just 32% get two servings of fruit. Fewer than one in 10 get enough of both combined. [source]
Resources for Farmers
- New, free, 40-page resource from The Kerr Center (Poteau, Oklahoma) called “Farm Made: A Guide to On-Farm Processing for Organic Producers.” Resource has information for those who want to process organic ingredients into value-added organic products, on the farm. Includes information on organic production, processing, and regulations for each enterprise. Has overviews of each enterprise and an overview of organic production, certification, with extensive resource lists. Report available here. [source]
- Under a proposal the New York City Planning Commission unanimously approved on Wednesday, the city would offer zoning and tax incentives to spur the development of full-service grocery stores that devote a certain amount of space to fresh produce, meats, dairy and other perishables. The plan — which has broad support among food policy experts, supermarket executives and City Council members, whose approval is needed — would permit developers to construct larger buildings than existing zoning would ordinarily allow, and give tax abatements and exemptions for approved stores in large swaths of northern Manhattan, central Brooklyn and the South Bronx, as well as downtown Jamaica in Queens. [source]
Federal Funding Opportunities
- USDA Rural Development – 8 states awarded $1.4 in grants to assist small, socially disadvantaged agricultural producers and cooperatives in rural areas. States are Colorado, Hawaii, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Washington. [source]
- Federal funds in the amount of $1.5 million are available through the USDA AMA Program for organic certification cost assistance to eligible organic producers in the states of Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia and Wyoming. [source ] FAQ available here.
- USDA Rural Development announced the availability of approximately $18 million in competitive grants for fiscal year (FY) 2009 to help independent agricultural producers enter into or expand value-added activities. [source] More on the Value Added Producer Grant.
Federal Level News
- The USDA’s Federal Safety and Inspection Service recently proposed regulations that will allow certain state-inspected plants to ship meat and poultry in interstate commerce. This impressive development is part of USDA’s larger initiative, “Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food,” which seeks to develop economic opportunities within regional and local food systems.[source]
- Rajiv Shah, the USDA's undersecretary for research, education and economics, told a Congressional hearing that "the next six months will be a time of great organizational evolution." Shah, who led research at the Gates Foundation before the Obama administration named him to his USDA post, said he will use his role as "Chief Scientist" to focus resources around priority areas, seeking breakthroughs in food safety, food security, climate change, biofuels and human nutrition. The USDA also will formally establish the National Institute of Food and Agriculture on Thursday, replacing the Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service, which helps fund external research projects. [source] [Remarks from Vilsack’s speech at the launch of NIFA]
- US Dept of State / Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced global food security commitment to: Advance sustainable agricultural-led growth through increased investment across the entire agricultural production and market chain, strengthen post-harvest infrastructure, and protect the natural resource base; Reduce under-nutrition by increasing access to diverse and quality foods, and strengthening prevention, identification and treatment; Increase the impact of humanitarian food assistance by strengthening government capacity to mitigate hunger crises and improving local and regional procurement. [source]
- House and Senate negotiators are poised to sign off on a new Agriculture appropriations measure that contains emergency aid to U.S. dairy farmers and lifts a two-year-old ban on Chinese poultry imports. Under the compromise, dairy farmers would receive $290 million in direct payments and the U.S. Department of Agriculture would spend another $60 million to buy cheese and other dairy products to reduce surpluses that have helped drive down farmers’ income. [source]
- The U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation that will ensure more children have year-round access to healthy and nutritious meals at school, in child care settings, and during the summer months, at no new cost to taxpayers, as part of the 2010 Agriculture Appropriations Bill Conference Agreement. The legislation, which passed with a bipartisan vote of 263-162, temporarily extends expiring provisions of the law governing child nutrition provisions and makes investments to help meet critical child nutrition needs for families across the country. [source]
- Kellogg Co. invested in innovation with the expansion of its W.K. Kellogg Institute for Food and Nutrition Research in Battle Creek. The $54 million project created 157,000 square feet of additional space for about 300 employees at its Hamblin Road facility. [source]
- A new logo is intended to highlight healthier groceries -- selected by food giants in partnership with a nonprofit group. Critics say a program that includes Froot Loops is too lenient. Lucky Charms, Froot Loops, Ritz Bits Peanut Butter Chocolatey Blast crackers and Kid Cuisine Magical Cheese Stuffed Crust Cheese Pizza meals are billed as "Smart Choices" under a controversial new food-rating program. [source]
Are you part of a food and farm initiative that more people should know about? Are you skilled or knowledgeable in an area of this work and ready to be part of it? Do you have some research to share? Then create your profile on ngfn.org to make sure your work shows up in the National Good Food Network's database of experts, organizations, and information. The database is just starting. Help it grow into the comprehensive clearinghouse we could all use!