Thursday, September 16, 2010

Food Safety Legislation to be Voted on



The Food Safety Modernization Act (S. 510) could reach the Senate floor as early as tomorrow. NSAC has been able to win several improvements to the bill but more changes are needed to avoid serious harm to family farm value-added processing and the emergence of local and regional food systems.

S.510 would considerably ramp up FDA regulation on farms that even minimally process their crops and sell them to restaurants, food coops, groceries, schools and wholesalers. An amendment sponsored by Senator Jon Tester (D-MT) would exempt small farm and small food processing facilities as well as small and mid-sized farmers who primarily direct market their products to consumers, stores or restaurants within their region.

Please call your Senators today and ask them to support the Tester Amendment.

It's easy to call:

  • Go to 's Congressional Directory and type in your zip code.
  • Click on your Senator's name, and then on the contact tab for their phone number. You can also call the Capitol Switchboard and ask to be directly connected to your Senator's office: 202-224-3121.
  • Once connected ask to speak to the legislative staff person responsible for agriculture. If they are unavailable leave a voice mail message. Be sure to include your name and phone number.

The message is simple.

"I am a constituent of Senator___________ and I am calling to ask him/her to support the Tester Amendment and to include the Tester language in the Manager's Amendment to the food safety bill.

The Tester Amendment will exempt small farm and food facilities and farmers who direct market their products to consumers, stores or restaurants. We need a food safety bill that cracks down on corporate bad actors without erecting new barriers to family farms and the growing healthy food movement. Our continuing economic recovery demands that we preserve these market opportunities for small and mid-sized family farms. "

Report your Call:

Click here and tell us how your call went.

Learn More:

Most sustainable agriculture and family farm groups think the Senate bill with changes won by NSAC is a very significant improvement over the companion bill passed by the House of Representatives (HR 2749) last year. The changes listed below will be included in the bill that goes to the Senate floor for a vote. We can't support the Senate bill, however, unless the Tester amendment is also adopted. We strongly oppose the companion House measure, and stand ready to defend the "good amendments" to the Senate bill when it goes to conference with the House
later this year.

The best way to ensure that the Tester provision is included with the final bill that emerges from conference is for it to be included in the Manager's Amendment as it goes to the floor of the Senate. The Manager's Amendment includes all of the language that has the support of the three Democrats and three Republicans who are sponsoring the bill. Please call your Senator and request that the Tester language be added to the Manager's Amendment.

The Manager's Amendment to S.510 already includes the following important improvements to the bill that have been backed by NSAC:

  • Sanders (D-VT) amendment (requiring FDA to write regulations to determine low risk on-farm processing activities that can be exempt from regulatory requirement);
  • Bennet (D-CO) amendment (to reduce unnecessary paperwork and streamline requirements for farmers and small processors);
  • Stabenow (D-MI) amendment (to create a USDA-delivered competitive grants program for farmer food safety training);
  • Boxer (D-CA) amendment (to eliminate anti-wildlife habitat language from the bill); and
  • Brown (D-OH) amendment (on traceability requirements, including exemptions for direct marketing and farm identity-preserved marketing).

For more information on the Senate Food Safety bill, read our latest information alert here

Read our Food Safety Policy Brief here.

Re-posted from the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition

Friday, September 10, 2010

New ATTRA resource maps small scale poultry processing availability by state

Interest in specialty poultry production is growing in the U.S. Many small farmers raise poultry with outdoor access, or they may raise a heritage American breed. Many consumers would like to buy poultry meat and products from these specialty birds. However, there are few processing facilities that provide poultry processing services for independent producers. Very large poultry processing plants are usually only set up to process their own birds. Therefore, some small meat processing plants have added poultry processing to their services, or entrepreneurs have built dedicated poultry processing plants. Since it is expensive to build a processing plant, some producers share resources and put together mobile processing units. Some of these plants are USDA-inspected with inspectors are present during processing. If your birds are processed at a USDA plant, you have various options for selling the carcasses or products. For example, you can sell to the public, stores, restaurants, across state lines, etc. Some of these plants are state-licensed plants where inspectors may not be present during processing, and you may have fewer options for selling the carcasses. Some plants offer special types of processing such as cut-up or further processing (sausage, jerky), air chilled, kosher, halal, or certified organic.

This list is a joint effort of several nonprofit organizations that assist small poultry growers, including Heifer International and American Livestock Breeds Conservancy. This list was originally started by American Livestock Breeds Conservancy. Please help us maintain and expand this list. Use our Poultry Processor Listing Form to submit or update your entry, or if you are aware of a plant that may want to be listed, please send us an email or call and we will contact the plant. Go to to view this resource.

Related ATTRA publications: Small-Scale Poultry Processing, Growing Your Range Poultry Business: An Entrepreneur's Toolbox

Contact Terrell Spencer, 800-346-9140 for more information.

United Plant Savers to Host Conference in Meigs County

United Plant Savers Planting the Future Conference:
“A Conference on the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Native Medicinal Plants”

When: Saturday October 2nd from 9 to 5

Where: UpS Goldenseal Sanctuary, Rutland, Ohio

What: Our conference focuses on the cultivation, conservation and sustainable use of our native medicinal plants. There will be hands-on classes with herb growers on cultivation of herbs, many herb walks, classes on herbal medicines and more! United Plant Savers’ Goldenseal Sanctuary is incredibly abundant in native medicinal plants, and is maintained as a botanical wildlife preserve, educational and research center and sustainable land-use model.

Who: Teachers include Robert Eidus of NC, Glinda Watts of TN, Camille Freeman of MD, Paul Strauss, Chip Carroll, Rebecca Wood, Cindy Parker, George Vaughn, Hank Huggins and Maureen Burns-Hooker of OH and Betzy Bancroft of VT.

Sponsors include Mountain Rose Herbs, Herbal Sage Tea Co., Twelve Corners Herbs and
Mushroom Harvest

Registration information is available on
Registration cost is $40 for current UpS members and $50 for non-members. Student discount and work study are available.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Chesterhill Produce Auction a Rural Appalachia Case Story

"Chesterhill Produce Auction, A Rural Appalachia Case Story," has been completed by the Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs at Ohio University. This document is a product of Rural Actions' collaborative Sustainable Agriculture work with the Central Appalachian Network (CAN)funded by the Ford Foundation, and the Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation. CAN, a collaborative made up of Rural Action and Acenet in Ohio, along with groups from Virginia, West Virginia, Kentucky and Tennessee, is interested in sharing "practical knowledge" from regional projects. The CPA case story is one of these efforts.

Based on extensive interviews with a cross section of stakeholders, this document takes a clear eyed, well documented look at the first six years of the CPA with the social and economic contexts of the project well highlighted. Anyone with an interest in local food systems or rural development will find this document useful in revealing the confluence of events necessary to start and hold a project of this nature together.

With the growing interest in local food as an economic driver, along with an increasing awareness of Ohio's large Anabaptist population and its positive impact on our rural economies, this is a very timely document. Edited by Robin Lindquist-Grantz it includes timelines of the project, as well as lessons learned, and delves deeply into the details of the operations of the CPA which makes for very interesting reading. A map created by Cartographer Matt Trainer of the Voinovich School shows where the CPA food is coming from and going to and helps to illustrate the wide spread draw of this rural food destination. Beautiful photographs by Christina Baird of Ohio University set off the interesting text.

Click here to download a copy of this case story. For more information contact Tom Redfern at

Monday, March 1, 2010

High Tunnel Construction and Management Workshop

High Tunnel Construction and Information Workshop

On Monday March 22, 2010, from 9:30am to 12:00pm, Rural Action, in partnership with the Central Appalachian Network, will be hosting a workshop on High Tunnel construction and management. The workshop, sponsored by the Ohio Environmental Education Fund, will be presented by Anthony Flaccavento, an Organic Farmer and Author from Virginia, and is free and open to the public.

High tunnels, also commonly referred to as “hoop houses”, are unheated greenhouses that can help market gardeners extend their growing season so that they can increase production and improve the profitability of their farms. Unlike commercial greenhouses that cost up to $20 per square foot to construct, high tunnels can cost as little as $0.50 per square foot.

High tunnels provide a warmer production environment, thus offering the advantage of starting crops earlier in the spring and harvesting them later in the fall. They also provide protection from adverse weather and temperature as well as decreased incidence of pest and disease problems, resulting in improved quality of crops, greater economic benefits and increased local produce sources for surrounding communities.

High tunnels are increasingly being used all over the nation, including at the White House, where they have been built to continue producing vegetables such as spinach, lettuce and carrots among others. Further, Governor Ted Strickland has made commitments to increase the percentage of food bought and produced locally – high tunnels will help contribute to this goal.

Strickland’s goal is also in conjunction with the “Know your farmer, know your food” initiative underway with The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), which has been helping farmers fund the construction and use of high tunnels to help reduce pesticide use, keep vital nutrients in the soil, extend the growing season, increase yields, and provide other benefits to growers.

This workshop will provide the necessary knowledge to put to use the advantages of high tunnel season extension. The agenda for the workshop will include detailed explanations and discussions by Anthony Flaccavento, covering: Site selection; materials needed; construction; seed varieties and selection; planting and crop management; and heating and frost control.

The workshop will be held at Ura Hershberger’s Farm, located at 1897 Hilaman Rd. Stockport OH, 43787. It will go on rain or shine, so make sure to dress appropriately. Following the workshop there will be a meeting and light lunch from 12:00-1:00pm for producers who may be interested in participating in the Chesterhill Produce Auction, which will begin May 20th.

For further information contact Tom Redfern at 740-767-2643, or

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Upcoming Webinar to Discuss Innovative Strategies for Building Agricultural Value Chains

Demand for organic and sustainably produced food has been growing rapidly for nearly two decades. In the past several years there has been a comparable surge in demand for locally or regionally produced food. For many regions of the country, however, building a supply to meet that growing demand has proven to be very challenging. In response, a number of innovative organizations and businesses have launched or expanded “value chains” to increase the supply and availability of healthy, sustainably produced foods in their region.

In this webinar, National Good Food Network (NGFN)Advisory Council member Anthony Flaccavento will share the results of a survey of these innovative value chain organizations,highlighting common challenges and strategies employed, as well as unique approaches some have developed. A sampling of the experiences of nearly two dozen groups, in Appalachia, the Northeast, the Midwest and other regions will be offered in the form of short case studies, and a recently completed Toolkit for building value chains will be briefly described. There will be approximately 35 – 40 minutes of presentations, followed by 20 – 25 minutes of Q & A through the webinar.

The National Good Food Network and the Central Appalachian Network are co-sponsoring this webinar with support from the Ford Foundation’s Institute for International Education. Rural Action is a founding meber of the Central Appalachian Network, along with our partner Acenet.

The National Good Food Network Webinar will take place Feb 11, 1:00-2:00pm ET. Learn more at Click here to Register

This Webinar will be a great opportunity for anyone interested in our regional food system!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Foodshed meeting with Rural Action, the Wilds and Ohio University

On Jan. 20, Rural Action met with representatives from the Wilds and Ohio University to discuss issues and ideas concerning our foodshed. Attending were; Robert A McBurney, COO the Wilds, Todd Crow, Executive Chef and Food Service Coordinator, Bobbie Dozer, Director of Visitor Operations, Shana Byrd, Restoration Ecology Program Coordinator, the Wilds, Matt Rapposelli, Executive Chef, Ohio University, and Bob Fedyski, Rural Action Sustainable Ag., Local/Institutional Foods.

After introductions and asides, we began with Matt describing some of the benefits and adjustments that have occurred since beginning to work with the Chesterhill Produce Auction (CPA). Largely, the benefits are, through aggregation, a source of local food that could actually make a difference at Ohio U., fresher, more flavorful food, an opportunity to support the community, and, through the new relationships forged with the CPA, to work with the growers to increase their plantings to meet (or better meet) Ohio U.’s needs. Matt went on to say that they would deal even more with the CPA when, they can meet the demand.

Robert McBurney is very happy to work with RA, and is looking forward to creating a five-star experience through the Wilds that includes the best in locally sourced foods . He sees the parallels in our organizations, and feels using the fresh, local product is an opportunity to educate others to the benefits. He also sees it as a means to educate their camps on these same benefits, and possibly hold educational workshops with a focus on wellness through diet.

He continued that the Wilds currently is seeing 75,000 visitors per year, and with the coming introduction of their five-star camp, he wants to offer the best of local (foods and beverages [the Wilds enjoys a liquor license that covers their whole 10,000+ acres]), from the common too the exotic. Shana introduced the Shade Winery into the conversation, which expanded into a discussion about the Pawpaw beer, local distillery, and related products. This may turn into a great opportunities for Integration Acres, Shade Winery, and Kelly Sauber (Formerly with Marietta Brewery). The Wilds has a Pawpaw orchard, and is also very interested in the various cheeses now being produced by Integration Acres, as well as pawpaw and walnut products. When we told them about the Snowville Creamery, they are interested in utilizing their product (if feasible) and certainly bring Warren Taylor up to do a demonstration.

When the conversation turned to delivery, we began discussing options. At first we thought the Wilds might be able to inspire additional sales nearby, but they are pretty lonely where they are. When they learned that we have a truck, they offered to work something out to provide fuel (they make their own biodiesel) and service through their maintenance shop. They also offered to help us with food service connections at Zane State and more.

Having a strong working history with Hocking College, they (the Wilds) were interested to learn of the new culinary program (institutional), and in possibly acquiring interns through the program. I think it could be a great opportunity for young culinary students, and would also help educate them (interns) with the use of local, fresh products.

Matt had to leave for another meeting, so we talked for a short while after, then adjourned for a taste of Athens, at Casa Nueva. Todd, Robert, and Bobbie were very impressed with the history of ACEnet, the offshoot of Casa, and the conversation turned to processing food for in-house use. The use of ACEnet, and the HAPcap facility in Logan were discussed offering benefits for each. We also discussed the opportunity to be a part of agri-tours and the possibility to learn more about Fur Peace Ranch and tours linking them.

Take action to exempt organic farms from the Ohio Livestock Board

The following is a statement from Food & Water Watch. It does not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Rural Action Sustainable Agriculture or We welcome any differing opinions.

Tom Redfern, Sustainable Agriculture Coordinator, Rural Action
Bob Fedyski, Sustainable Agriculture, Local/Institutional Foods

"We need 200 comments by 9:30am Wednesday!

Take action to exempt organic farms from the Ohio Livestock Board Rulings

Don't Let Bureaucracy Sink Ohio's Organic Farms!

Help Protect Organic Farms in Ohio.

Last November, Ohio passed Issue 2 to create a new livestock board. With your help, we fought against this initiative because of concerns that the board would favor corporate agribusiness over smaller, sustainable farmers. We're still worried that this board will cause all kinds of problems, but right now we have a huge opportunity to protect Ohio's organic farmers from the livestock board. Can you contact your state legislators?

Legislators are planning on putting the costs of this unnecessary board back on Ohio farmers by placing a tax on feed for animals. This could be tough for all farmers in these economic times, but we're especially concerned about organic producers. Certified organic producers already face tough standards from the USDA and have to pay for their organic certification. Can you ask your state legislator to exempt organic farms from the board's rules and added fees?

Organic is part of the solution, and these farmers shouldn't be forced to pay for an unelected board that is likely to benefit factory farms.
Please contact your legislators today, and ask them to exempt organic farmers from the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board."

Thanks for taking action,

Alex, Sarah, Noelle and the Food Team
Food & Water Watch

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