The Farm to School Connection

by Lorraine Strenkowski

Launched by the National Dairy Council and the National Football League in collaboration with the USDA, the “Fuel Up to Play 60” is the largest in-school nutrition and physical activity program in the nation. The program was designed to provide funding for schools looking to improve their access to nutrient-rich foods like dairy and local produce and to introduce “60” minutes of physical activity opportunities. This program is now in more than 73,000 schools nationwide.

New England hosts 3,600 of those programs with over 1,000 in Connecticut alone. Funding for “Fuel Up to Play 60” in Connecticut comes from dairy farm families through the Connecticut Milk Promotion Board, in partnership with the New England Dairy & Food Council. [Read more…]

$50 Million Anti-trust case in Federal Court

CEWN-MR-1-MILK LAWSUITby Bethany M. Dunbar

BURLINGTON, VT — A group of dairy farmers who sued their milk cooperative in an anti-trust case in federal court are divided on a potential $50 million settlement. Some involved would like to accept the settlement and have the six-year-old case finished, saying the case is a distraction to the co-op’s real purpose and taking time away from programs that could help farmers. Others say it is unfair and that the lawyers would make more money on it than the farmers. “Farmers want justice,” testified Claudia Haar, who farms in a small town in central New York State. The proposed settlement amount is so small in comparison to the damages that have been done, she said, it would be “like getting a dead calf back from a crooked cattle dealer who has just stolen your whole herd.” [Read more…]

Direct marketing of local foods

by Tamara Scully

Annual sales of direct-marketed local foods has decreased by at least $123,000 during the 2007-2012 period, in northern New Jersey, New York City, and in many portions of New England, particularly along the coast, according to a recently released USDA report. Eastern Pennsylvania and the Southern Tier region of New York State were a part of this trend as well. While the majority of the country saw no major changes in direct-to-consumer local food sale dollars, a few pockets of very large increases were scattered across the nation, including in the northernmost regions of Maine.

“Foods sold through direct or intermediate marketing channels” are defined as local food for the purpose of the USDA’s Economic Research Service study, Trends in U.S. Local and Regional Food Systems: Report to Congress, which was released on Jan. 28, 2015, Sarah Low, ERS Economist, said. Farms selling via these distribution channels are considered to be local food farms, for the purpose of the report. [Read more…]

From cow bells to wedding bells: Liskeys transform an old barn into an event space

CM-MR-2-Cross-Keys-1by Karl H. Kazaks

HARRISONBURG, VA – On many farms there’s an old barn or building that’s no longer serving its original purpose. That is strikingly true at Tim and Karen Liskey’s dairy farm, where their 100-year-old bank barn was renovated into an event space known as Cross Keys Barn. “I love weddings,” said Karen Liskey, she will be facilitating plenty of them in the future. The first wedding to take place in the newly renovated barn was last year, their daughter, Rosemary’s wedding. The upper level, the old hay area, is now a 3,220 square foot room with a vaulted ceiling, perfect for receptions. The lower level of the barn is enclosed on one side, with exposed limestone, it’s now a pre-function area. [Read more…]

Good agricultural practices affecting produce sales

CEW-MR-3-GAPS1Aby Elizabeth A. Tomlin

October 2015 will mark the first time an FDA court mandated rule will affect producers of fresh produce in the marketplace.

“This is coming!” said Produce Safety Alliance Program Director Elizabeth A. Bihn, Ph.D. “Don’t panic, but do something now so it doesn’t hit you like a freight train when it happens!”

Bihn was speaking at a 2015 ENYCHP Good Agricultural Practices Farm Food Safety Training Program, where producers and farmers’ market managers drove for hours in inclement weather to attend the 2-day workshop. [Read more…]