New Data on Local Food Marketing Practices from the USDA

USDA news release indicates growing importance of food hubs to expansion of local / regional food systems

From the first-ever benchmarking survey on local food marketing practices, conducted by USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service:

“More than 167,000 U.S. farms locally produced and sold food through direct marketing practices, resulting in $8.7 billion in revenue in 2015, according to the results from the first Local Food Marketing Practices Survey released today by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS).”

Read more survey results

A Day full of Promise for Ontario’s Small-Flock Growers and Supply Management Programs

(Artisanal Chicken Ranch, Part I)

After years of pressure from independent small-flock chicken farmers, as well as from NFU, PFO, Sustain Ontario, and Eat Local Sudbury, and after province-wide consultations on what to do with new growth opportunities, Chicken Farmers of Ontario has crafted a potentially marvellous new Artisanal Chicken Policy (pdf 276 kB), and released it yesterday.

CFO to grow local food communities with new ‘Artisanal Chicken’ program launch

BURLINGTON, ON – July 28, 2015 – Chicken Farmers of Ontario (CFO) has announced a portfolio of new programs that will support expanded business opportunities for chicken farmers and offer Ontario consumers even more choice in accessing locally grown, high quality chicken. The new business opportunities were developed following the recent farmer, public and industry ‘Allocating Growth’ consultations, and includes an ‘Artisanal Chicken’ program which will appeal to smaller, independent, family farmers looking to meet local markets. Read more

This means the former Small Flock Exemption policy —which remains at 300— is now the Family Food Program, language that will more clearly align with the intent of the exemption: on-farm consumption or farm-gate sales.

The Artisanal Chicken Program on the other hand “…is directed at those farmers who are interested in growing between 600 and 3,000 chickens annually for select target markets such as local farmer markets.”

The closing date for submissions for 2016 Applications is September 4, 2015.

CFO will also be creating a quota-based Local Niche Markets program for those wishing to graduate from the Artisinal Program “to support those larger niche or regional markets of 6,000 chickens or more per year”.

Gary Larson, 1983… And as with any such program, the devil will be in the details. There are already questions about the fine print—like how will “traditional methods” fly with On-Farm Food Safety Assurance and Animal Care Programs, to provide mutually acceptable, appropriate and complementary levels of on-farm safety, security and viability?

The dust has yet to settle on this newly released policy. Hopefully, we will have some answers to relay in Artisanal Chicken Ranch Part II…

Trends in U.S. Local and Regional Food Systems

The latest (2012) USDA numbers show that almost 8% of all US farmers are selling ‘local food’, with 70% of those selling direct-to-consumer (DTC). ERS census data analysis shows that 85% of these ‘local food farms’ have gross sales below $75,000 (US). The number of farms joining these ranks is slowing, as are the direct sales, which totalled an estimated $6.1 billion in 2012. However, farms with DTC sales are more likely to stay in operation than all farms not using DTC sales.

One cloud on the horizon: new ‘Produce safety’ and ‘Preventive controls’ rules under the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) may disproportionately affect these ‘local food’ farms. “DTC farms apply more manure than all non-DTC farms and thus could be disproportionately affected by any FSMA regulations on the application of biological soil amendments”. Read more

Agriculture 3.0: a New Paradigm for Agriculture

October 29, 2014 (from farmviability.wordpress.com)

Study Topic: As a 2013 Nuffield Scholar, Gayl is seeking to redefine what it really means to be sustainable in food and farming, by asking: ‘If Agriculture 1.0 is subsistence farming that uses traditional farming practices, and Agriculture 2.0 is industrial agriculture, which is creating serious health and environmental concerns in Canadian communities and communities world-wide, then what might Agriculture 3.0 look like, that offers farmers more choice and also addresses the many concerns about feeding 9 billion by 2050?

Findings:
•    Farm direct marketing is active and very much a part of a way of life for Europeans. Local food just is and does not need to be labelled, because it always has been the way of food in these countries, without having to think about it.
•    Despite poverty and employment issues, young farmers in Transylvania believe they are in the best place in the world “should something ever happen” to the global supply system. They also believe in preserving their landscape, one of the most biodiverse regions in Europe.

•    For agriculture to contribute to a healthy world, we need to go back to the basics, with a mission statement of nourishing communities, not feeding the world.

Read more