Assistance for veterans returning to the farm

by George Looby, DVM

There has been a noticeable resurgence recently in the level of support given to new, beginning and young farmers from an increasing number of support groups and agencies. These groups includes federal, state, local and private agencies that have developed a wide variety of programs that encourage and provide direct assistance to this select group who have chosen to pursue careers in some area of agriculture. Included in this group are returning veterans who have served their country so well and now have chosen to hopefully fulfill long held dreams of a career in farming or a closely related field. This special group of citizens deserves the encouragement and support of everyone they left behind while giving up some of the best years of their lives to ensure the rest of us could carry on our own lives without fear. [Read more…]

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…]