the irresistible fleet of bicycles

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a helpful pdf publication by the usda: food value chains

Food Value Chains


This document is designed to provide guidance on how food value chains are initiated and structured, how they function, and the benefits they provide to participants.  It addresses which characteristics are desirable—and not—when seeking appropriate value-chain partners, and provides examples of how participation in a food value chain can be advantageous to all members. Special attention is devoted to exploring how values-based operating principles are defined and maintained in a food value chain and how these values are successfully communicated to buyers and to the public. The document also addresses the issue of shared leadership and succession-planning strategies within value-chain partnerships.



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hurry and nominate a “champion of change” to go to the white house

The White House will be hosting a Champions of Change event to celebrate local agriculture leaders who are taking innovative approaches to support American farming and ranchingboth now and in the future.  These leaders will be invited to the White House to celebrate their accomplishments and showcase their actions to support the future of agriculture.

Today, we’re asking you to help us identify these standout local leaders by nominating a Champion of Change for the New Generation of American Agriculture by noon on Friday, April 18. These Champions may be:

  • 13760947455_ba1fe78231Beginning farmers and ranchers using innovative practices and techniques to create productive and sustainable farms and ranches that will feed people at home and abroad long into the future.
  • Producers, foresters, small-business owners, and scientists using Farm Bill programs to drive agricultural productivity and economic competitiveness.
  • Local leaders that are working to build new opportunities for those who want to work on the land, create innovation in the field of agriculture, support diversity in agriculture, and connect a new generation to their food, fiber, fuel, and agricultural neighbors.

Click on the link below to submit your nomination (be sure to choose “Future of American Agriculture” in the “Theme of Service” field of the nomination form).

Nominate a Champion of Change for the Future of American Agriculture

- See more at:

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SARE library

SARE’s Library of Publications is Now Available on USB Drives.USDA

Whether you are in the field, on a flight or simply without an internet connection, SARE’s library of publications is just one click away. Now available on convenient USB drives, all of SARE’s publications, program materials, videos and selected regional materials can be easily accessed wherever you are. The drives are sold individually for $5 and in bundles of 10 for $40, plus shipping and handling. Order your USB drives now!

Browse SARE’s entire library of 13 books, 13 bulletins, 14 fact sheets and 15 videos, including:
Building a Sustainable Business
Managing Cover Crops Profitably
Clean Energy Farming
Profitable Poultry
Sustainable Control of Internal Parasites in Small Ruminant Production
Organic Insect Management in Sweet Corn
2013/2014 Report from the Field
…and more!
This easy-to-use USB drive is part of SARE’s ongoing effort to make its research and education materials more accessible and easily shared. Visit to see what is included and to learn more about ordering USB drives and other SARE publications.

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young farmers: join the nop and hold the usda’s feet to the fire!


The USDA Agricultural Marketing Service’s National Organic Program (NOP) is the team that develops and enforces national standards for organically-produced agricultural products. They support consumer confidence that products with the USDA organic seal meet consistent, uniform standards.

In 2014, the NOP will be recruiting for multiple positions, including: Policy Analysts, Accreditation Managers, and Materials Specialists; Compliance and Enforcement Specialists; Communication, Outreach, Training Specialist; and Program Analysts and Administrative Support. Learn more about the NOP and its upcoming recruiting by clicking on this FLYER.

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usda press release: organic markets are growing, 2014 farm bill funding helps access these markets

USDA organic

In today’s press release, the USDA has announced new figures that show the organic industry continues to grow domestically and internationally. Certified organic farms and businesses in the United States have witnessed a 245% increase since 2002 while consumer demand continues to increase exponentially. To help producers further access these markets, the 2014 farm bill has included provisions to support the organic community, including:

  • $20 million annually for organic research, agricultural extension programs and education.
  • $5 million to fund data collection on organic agriculture for policy reform.
  • Expanded options for organic crop insurance
  • Expanded exemptions for organic producers who are paying into commodity “check off” programs, and authority for the USDA to consider an application for the organic sector to establish its own check off.
  • Improved enforcement authority for the National Organic Program to conduct investigations.
  • $5 million for a technology upgrade of the National Organic Program to provide up-to-date information about certified organic operations across the supply chain.
  • $11.5 million annually for certification cost-share assistance, which reimburses the costs of annual certification for organic farmers and livestock producers by covering 75% of certification costs, up to $750/year.

For more information,  check out the USDA Organic Resources Page

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new data!

The 2012 Agriculture Census is out.  Download the PDF: 2012 Census.
It’s jam-packed with interesting statistics, so dig in! 

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• Fewer female operators

• More minority operators

• Average age of farm operators continues to increase

• Fewer beginning operators

• Fewer small farms

• More reported farming as their primary occupation

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discrimination at the USDA continues

Susan A. Schneider
Professor of Law and Director, LL.M. in Agricultural & Food Law
University of Arkansas School of Law

The New York Times published an article last week titled, U.S. Opens Spigot After Farmers Claim Discrimination. I read the article with interest, as I have been teaching advanced law classes in Agricultural Finance & Credit for many years in the LL.M. Program in Agricultural & Food Law. I teach a unit on USDA discrimination each year in my class.

Discrimination in the delivery of USDA programs is a painful and complex subject. I was alarmed to see errors, omissions, and misleading references in the Times article. I am very disappointed that the author appeared more interested in producing a salacious story than in treating the issue with the respect and depth that it deserved. I offer corrections and additional information. Continue reading

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remembering the ‘people’s department’

Via the Organic Seed Alliance:
There shall be at the seat of government a Department of Agriculture, the general design and duties of which shall be to acquire and to diffuse among the people of the United States useful information on subjects connected with agriculture, rural development, aquaculture, and human nutrition, in the most general and comprehensive sense of those terms, and to procure, propagate, and distribute among the people new and valuable seeds and plants.

– Department of Agriculture Organic Act (May 15, 1862)

It is also the intent of Congress to assure agriculture a position in research equal to that of industry.

– Morrill Act (July 2, 1862)

This year marks the 150th anniversary of two laws that significantly transformed U.S. agriculture. The first law launched the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which President Abraham Lincoln, in his last address to Congress, called “the people’s department.” He placed the farmer’s interest above all others. The second law, the Morrill Act, established our land grant university system, intended “to teach such branches of learning as are related to agriculture.”

The new infrastructure established through these laws aimed to expand U.S. agriculture for the sake of prosperity and security – to further research, education, and innovation, and make advancements accessible to all. Continue reading

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2.0 for usda’s local food project

On July 17, USDA is proudly unveiling the 2.0 version of the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food Compass, a digital guide to local food systems and USDA programs that support them. 

You are invited to participate in an exciting launch event on Tuesday, July 17 at 3 pm ET.  The USDA and the White House will host a Google+ Hangout with USDA Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan, White House Director of Office of Public Engagement Jon Carson and six women leaders – producers, small business owners, and others – to explore local foods through the voices of women.  This virtual event can be viewed on or on the White House Google+ Home page live at 3pm ET.  Invite your lists, watch the event and participate by sending Twitter questions ahead of time via #WHHangout or posting them on the White House Google + page during the event. Continue reading

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usda at 150

USDA at 150: Farms, food, jobs
By Val Dolcini

One hundred and fifty years ago, in the midst of a great Civil War, President Lincoln signed legislation to establish a Department of Agriculture to “acquire and to diffuse among the people of the United States useful information on subjects connected with agriculture … and to procure, propagate, and distribute among the people new and valuable seeds and plants.”

Armed with these broad mandates, the “People’s Department,” as he called it, set about to serve American farmers and a mostly rural American landscape.

At that time, half of all Americans lived on farms, compared with about 2 percent today. The U.S. population in 1862 was about 31.4 million and today, that number has increased tenfold to almost 313 million people. Continue reading

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young farmers ready for new usda microloans

The National Young Farmer’s Coalition (NYFC) applauds the USDA’s announcement today that the agency will offer microloans to farmers. This new loan program will enable Farm Service Agency officers to make loans up to $35,000 with half the paperwork of existing programs and with more flexible requirements. The microlending program is designed to help beginning farmers launch new farm businesses.

“Young farmers are ready, willing and able to build new farm businesses,” says Lindsey Lusher Shute, Director of the Coalition, “now they’ll also have the investment they need make those businesses a success.” Continue reading

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USDA report on farm income

this article was originally posted on the blog of the National Young Farmers Coalition.

USDA Report Shows Local Farms Earned $4.8 Billion in 2008

A new report by the USDA’s Economic Research Service, “Direct and Intermediated Marketing of Local Foods in the United States,” has some important implications for those interested in farming or marketing local foods to consumers.  The USDA studied local farm production and sales during 2008, then compared farms that sell directly to customers with those that sell their products through an intermediary such as a supermarket or a restaurant.  The study found that marketing local foods–both those sold directly to consumers and those sold through an intermediary–earned a total gross revenue of 4.8 billion dollars that year.  Farms selling their food solely through intermediary markets made 2.7 billion dollars in local food sales that year, about three times more than was sold directly by farmers to consumers through farmers’ markets, roadside stands, and CSAs.   The report notes that as much as two-thirds of local foods are marketed through supermarkets or restaurants. Selling local foods through intermediate outlets such as supermarkets or restaurants may also require less labor because the farmer need to spend time at intermediate outlets, such as farmers’ markets do.

Continue reading

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tell congress to finish the GIPSA rule

via the Center for Rural Affairs:
Despite lots of action from folks like you who want farmers to have a fair shot to make a living from raising livestock, Congress this week blocked almost all of the livestock fairness rule, or “GIPSA rule,” from moving forward.

This is not what democracy looks like. But we’re not giving up. Sign here!

How did this happen? The meatpackers didn’t like the proposed GIPSA rule because it would mean they’d have to treat independent family farmers fairly. They lobbied congress to block the final rule by changing the bill that funds the Department of Agriculture.  (You can read more details on how this happened here). Continue reading

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good to keep these struggles in mind

Love v. Vilsack could be settled by legislation
Back in 2000 Rosemary Love of Harlem, Montana brought a discrimination lawsuit with other women farmers alleging

they were denied loans by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) because they are women. The suit is known as Love v. Vilsack, and if this suit sounds familiar it is because African American farmers, Native American farmers, and Hispanic farmers have brought similar discrimination lawsuits against the USDA.

Now, as Jerry Hagstrom reports for Agweek online, House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee Chair Rosa DeLauro (CT) has introduced legislation that “finally could bring settlement of a discrimination lawsuit” filed by Love and the other women farmers. Continue reading


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