Independence Farmers Market Winter Workshop
March 1st 2014
The workshop will be held upstairs in the Historic 1908 Courthouse located at the intersection of Highways 21 and 58 in downtown Independence, Virginia.
We are pleased to have local experts teaching these classes and sharing their knowledge.
This is the second in a series of four free workshops sponsored by the Independence Farmers Market and Virginia Cooperative Extension. The workshops are targeted to backyard gardeners, commercial growers, ranchers or new farmers that wish to grow food for retail, direct sales, and wholesale markets. Speakers will introduce attendees to the techniques and practices that have been successful across the Appalachian Region. Attendees will also be connected to a larger network of growers, buyers and resources to help them with their farming needs.
We hope you will plan to join us for all of them and enjoy a day full of information and tasty local food. Seeflyer for more details.
VSU Small Farm Outreach
VA Beginning Farmer and Rancher Coalition Program
Developing A One Page Farm Business Plan
March 5th 2014
10 AM to 1:30 PM
FREE AND OPEN TO THE PUBLIC
Boxed lunch generously provided by Farm Credit
Charles City County Recreation Center
8320 Ruthville Rd. Providence Forge, Va.
It’s time to get professional about your growing agricultural business and join us for this work-shop on writing your own One Page Business Plan. Farm Credit of the Virginias will guide you through this important step as you turn your small farm dream into a healthy sustainable business. More info found here.
Please RSVP by
804 524 5493
7th Annual Virginia Berry Conference
March 13, 2014 8am -4:30 pm
VSU, Gateway Dining Hall
See attached for details. (1) (2)
Berry and Vegetable Programs
A couple of day events at Virginia Tech that may be of interest. See attached.
2014 Farm Bill Passed and Signed into Law
Yes, folks, after well over two years, we at last have a Farm Bill Reauthorization for the next five years. Key programs that have been stranded without funding since September of 2012 – including Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP – original funder of Virginia Beginning Farmer Coalition Program), Organic Research and Extension Initiative (which has funded a 5-year multistate project to develop organic controls for the brown marmorated stink bug), the National Organic Certification Cost Share Program, and the Farmers’ Market and Local Food Promotion Program (which supports SNAP benefit access to farmers markets, among other local food initiaties). These have all received robust funding.
The downside is that the 2014 Farm Bill missed a huge opportunity to adopt substantive reforms to commodity subsidy programs – reforms that had received strong bipartisan support in both houses of Congress.
Thank you for all you have done over the past couple years during the long and often intense grassroots campaign around Farm Bill issues.
Following and attached are additional information, analysis, and reflections from the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) regarding this new Farm Bill, and our next steps toward a more sustainable federal ag policy.
The President has signed the 2014 Farm Bill into law. Yes, that’s right, we have a new, five-year farm bill. It took us a long time to get to this point (remember when this bill was called the 2012 Farm Bill?!), and the final bill is a mixed bag, but because of your tireless advocacy efforts there are bright spots to build on in our shared effort to build a better food and farm future.
We made an infographic (attached jpg file) to help illustrate some of the big wins and losses in the final bill. But what’s most important to know is this: these wins are thanks to you.
As just one example, you stood up for the “stranded programs” in the farm bill – a set of innovative, job-creating programs that were stripped of all funding in 2013. Thanks to your thousands upon thousands of persistent calls, emails, and letters, Congress listened. The new Farm Bill invests over $1.2 billion over the next five years into once-stranded programs like the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program, National Organic Certification Cost Share, the Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program, and many others. These programs will create jobs through food and farming, invest in the next generation of growers and in sustainable growing methods, rebuild rural communities, and increase healthy food access.
You’ll see some losses on the list, too – and, frankly, they’re big ones. You joined us in calling for critical reforms, including common-sense, bipartisan subsidy payment limits, but unfortunately Congress caved completely, despite intense grassroots pressure. But we won’t give up – and nor should you! We’ll double down this year – and the next, and the next – to keep fighting for better food and farm policy, including meaningful reform.
We will need advocates like you to help make sure the roll-out of this farm bill really works on the ground, and that its investments reach the hard-working farmers and families across our nation who need it most. Plus, there’s more on the horizon this year that matters for farmers and eaters, including annual funding negotiations in Congress for critical food and farm programs and the FDA’s in-progress Food Safety Modernization Act rules.
Are you ready to help us keep up the fight? Take a look at the infographic here, learn more about the sustainable agriculture community’s wins and losses in the bill [link to take action page, which will direct folks to blog posts, etc], and share this image with your friends and family [share tool].
We couldn’t have achieved any of this without you – and our work together is not yet done. Thank you for everything – we can’t wait to keep working with you in 2014 and beyond!
Thanks for all you do,
Sarah and Shavaun, The NSAC Grassroots Team
“Agricultural Co-existence” Must Include Protecting Organic and Non-GMO Farmers Against GMO Contamination!
In November, USDA posted a notice in the Federal Register, asking for public comment on “Enhancing Agricultural Coexistence” among organic, non-GMO conventional,and GMO crop farmers. The FR notice includes four questions about education, communication, and outreach aimed at improving mutual understanding – but the questions evade the most important issues:
- How to prevent contamination of organic and non-GMO crops by GMO pollen or seed
- How to protect organic and non-GMO farmers from market and financial losses resulting from GMO contamination beyond their control
- How to fairly compensate organic and non-GMO farmers in the event that they suffer losses from GMO contamination
Have you experienced GMO contamination of your organic or non-GMO crops by GMO pollen from a neighboring farm, resulting in financial losses?
Have you incurred additional expense in order to protect your crops from GMO contamination?
Have you been forced to change your cropping plan, or otherwise restrict your production options because of GMO crop production on nearby farms?
If any of these is true for you, your stories are vital to our efforts to inform the USDA about the actual extent and seriousness of GMO contamination in organic and non-GMO crops. In addition to submitting your story and comments to USDA, the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) would like to hear your story. Contact Mark by e-mail (email@example.com), or call NSAC at 202-547-5754, and ask to speak with Ariane or Sarah.
Even if you did not answer “yes” to the above questions, but are concerned about this issue, send your comments to USDA by March 4! Urge USDA to address GMO contamination directly and frankly, and to compensate affected farmers fairly.
For more information, and to submit comments, visit http://www.nationalorganiccoalition.org/usda-requests-public-input-on-agricultural-coexistence , or see How to Comment section below. If you would like to submit anonymous comments, NOC includes a link to do so.
Background and More on the Issues
In 2011, USDA re-convened the Advisory Committee on Biotechnology and 21st Century Agriculture (AC21), which made recommendations in five major areas regarding agricultural “coexistence” – compensation, stewardship, education and outreach, research, and seed quality.
Some of these recommendations included investigating an appropriate compensation mechanism for dealing with economic harm caused by GE contamination such as the possibility of offering crop insurance to organic and non-GMO farmers. Other recommendations focused on identifying ways to foster communication and collaboration among those involved in all sectors of agriculture production, including conversations among neighboring farmers regarding planting dates to prevent cross-pollination. To access all AC21 documents go to: http://tinyurl.com/AC21DOCS
USDA is asking for input on more than a dozen questions about education, collaboration, and outreach. The department seeks input on coexistence practices, and, specifically, how the department can support communication between farmers.
As discussed above, USDA’s questions are missing the point – we need to guide them back to the heart of the matter!
And, asking organic and non-GMO farmers to purchase crop insurance to protect themselves from GMO-related losses is like asking pedestrians to carry additional insurance in case they are injured by a motor vehicle! Those who own, use, and beneft from GMO crop technology should shoulder the burden of compensating non-GMO farmers for such losses.
GMO contamination is posing an especially severe and growing burden on the organic and non-GMO crop seed sector. Crops most likely to be affected are corn (including sweet corn, popcorn, and heirloom flour and ornamental corn, as well as grain and silage corn); soybean (including edamame as well as grain and forage soybean), canola (which may cross with closely related brassica vegetables), and cotton. In addition, USDA has recently approved commercial production of GMO sugar beet (which will cross with table beet, leaf beet, and chard), and alfalfa.
Organic and non-GE farmers and handlers have shouldered the burden of contamination for too long. USDA must use its authority to:
- Prevent GMO contamination
- Fully investigate the state of contamination in our seed and food supply
- Reform the current regulatory framework overseeing GMOs
- Reject the proposal to force organic and other non-GMO producers to purchase more crop insurance to protect themselves from contamination
- Address the broader economic and environmental issues related to “coexistence” and contamination
How to Comment
Comment ONLINE at: Regulations.gov and search for: APHIS-2013-0047-0061
Submit SNAIL MAIL comments to: Docket No. APHIS–2013–0047, Regulatory Analysis, and Development, PPD, APHIS, Station, 3A–03.8, 4700 River Road Unit 118, Riverdale, MD 20737–1238.
Farmers & Handlers: If you would like to send an ANONYMOUS COMMENT outlining your experiences and costs, please go to: http://tinyurl.com/AC21Story
Questions? Call Liana Hoodes, NOC ED at (914) 443-5759 or email Liana@NationalOrganicCoalition.org