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May 2016

Food Safety From Farm to Table

GUEST ARTICLE By Elanor Starmer

If you are a farmer interested in selling produce wholesale or direct to a retailer, restaurant or institution, you probably have food safety on the brain. A growing number of buyers require farms to demonstrate compliance with a food safety standard, often through an audit and certification program. That takes work for any farmer, but small and midsized farmers can face unique challenges in accessing and paying for food safety training, audits and certification. Luckily, USDA has a tool designed specifically for you.

You’ve likely heard of USDA’s Good Agricultural Practices, or GAP, program. Now we have an updated version. Our new GroupGAP program allows small and midsized farmers to band together and become GAP-certified as a group. A group certification can help cut individual producer costs while assuring buyers that participating farmers are following rigorous, trusted GAP protocols. Click here to read more

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Study Finds GMO Label Will Not Act as Warning Label

GUEST BLOG POST By Joanna Schroeder

Consumers have a right to know what’s in their food.

It was this statement that began a movement that included genetically modified organism (GMO) labeling initiatives. The first such “contains GM” labeling legislation (Act Relating to the Labeling of Food Produced with Genetic Engineering) was passed by Vermont and on July 1, 2016, the law goes into effect despite several failed federal attempts to block the law.

Along with the requirement to label GMs are some fears that consumers may stop purchasing these products. However, a recent study shows this may not be the case. The multi-year study revealed that GMO labelingwould not act as a warning labels and scare consumers from buying products with GMO ingredients. Jane Kolodinsky, professor and chair of the Department of Community Development and Applied Economics at the University of Vermont, conducted the research.  Click here to read more

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Shaping the Next Generation of Co-operators

GUEST BLOG POST by Marcus smith

In February, I had the opportunity to participate in the 2016 National Farmers Union (NFU) College Conference on Co-operatives (CCOC) in Minneapolis, MN. This annual event is designed to help shape the next generation of co-operative leaders, and my exposure to the co-ops, speakers, and other participants was a learning experience I will never forget! I’m particularly thankful to the New England Farmers Union (NEFU, a regional chapter National Farmers Union), for enabling me to attend the conference along with three other people from our region:

• Mikaela Allen, and employee from the Littleton Food Co-op in New Hampshire;
• Tyler (Riv) Gallagher, a student at Greenfield Community College in Massachusetts; and
• Avery Gratton and Paula Scharpf, staff at the Willimantic Food Co-op in Connecticut.

As a student at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, I have been focused on co-operative enterprise and sustainable food systems. I was appreciative of this unique opportunity to learn about the diversity of co-operative enterprises and their role in the economy. The insights offered on co-op development by employees and members of Peace Coffee, Seward Community Co-op and the senior housing co-op with whom we spoke were invaluable to my understand of the impact and potential of co-ops. I wish that more young people had the opportunity to visit these businesses, from small community co-ops to CHS, the nation’s largest agricultural co-operative and a Fortune 100 business. Click here to read more

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Member Profile: Spoiler Alert

Ugly but lovely, imperfect, misfit, cosmetically challenged, produce with personality — whatever you call it, the wonky fruits and vegetables movement has gained traction within the last year, and Spoiler Alert is working to help farmers make the most of their oddly shaped and blemished product.

We all know that a lot of great produce is often left in the fields because of cosmetic damage, irregular sizes, or lack of market. According to the ReFed report (Rethink Food Waste Through Economics and Data) that was released in early 2016 from a collaboration of 30+ businesses, nonprofits, foundations and government leaders committed to reducing United States food waste, 16% of food is wasted at the farm-level. That’s equivalent to 10 million tons and translates to $15 billion in lost financial value for farms every year.  Click here to read more

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USDA Launched its First Local Food Marketing Practices Survey

As demand for locally and regionally produced food continues to grow, farmers and ranchers are discovering new ways to access local markets, connect with consumers, and provide fresh, healthy food to their communities. To capture these trends, we are pleased to promote the inaugural Local Food Marketing Practices Survey, the first‐ever survey of farmers and ranchers conducted by USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) to produce benchmark data about local food.

What is the Survey? The Local Food Marketing Practices Survey confidentially examines the production and marketing of foods produced in 2015 by U.S. farmers and ranchers. Specific attention is given to production and marketing of local foods directly to consumers and to retailers that sell to consumers.  Survey questions include:

•    Value and volume of local food sales by marketing channel (i.e. farmers markets, CSAs, restaurants, food hubs, and more)
•    Production and marketing practices on local food farms and ranches
•    Federal farm program participation by local food producers

Why is the data important? The agriculture industry, all levels of government, and related businesses and organizations will use Survey results to increase understanding of the local foods sector. Data will indicate the number of U.S. agricultural operations that produce local foods, the value of local foods sales, production and marketing practices and local producer expenses. This will inform USDA and help with future implementation of many USDA programs that support local and regional food systems.

For more information, visit the USDA’s Ag Census website

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Safety on the Farm

When you make a mistake on the farm, most often you can learn from it and make corrections so it doesn’t happen again. Following these general safety guidelines can help you prevent accidents and keep you and your loved ones safe on the farm. Click here to watch a short video on general farm safety.



New Farm Safety Feature in Red Cross App


EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU)- A new feature on the American Red Cross first aid app will provide more resources for farmers with a special section to help farmers and their families avoid injuries.

Rural safety, the new feature, is aimed to provide advice to farmers and their families on how to treat common first aid emergencies.

“It was developed to give everybody that sense of learning,” Tracy Nelson said, the Red Cross Community Volunteer Leader for Eau Claire. “Most people realize there are accidents on the farm, but if you have review of those or you’re able to go in and talk to your kids about those, at least you’ll be up on that information.” Click here to read more

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Washington Corner

Read a roundup of May news from the capitol.
From National Farmers Union.

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Welcome New Farmers Union Members

Farm Members
Jennings Brook Farm, Steven and Maggie Jennings
Killdeer Farm, Jake and Liz Guest

Business and Organizational Members    
Farm to Institution New England
Spoiler Alert
Dirt Capital Partners

Individual Members
Taylor Gallagher
Don Persons
John Campanelli

 The Farmer’s Share













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Tools for Growth

Check out our resources page, full of programs and services to help producers in our region. Here are upcoming educational programs that might interest you.

National Farmers Union Action Center
National Farmers Union (NFU)’s online advocacy tool, the NFU Action Center, allows users to keep track of key issues affecting family agriculture and rural communities, and take action on these issues with the click of a button.

New Entry Sustainable Farming Project
This organization has a wealth of information for beginning and immigrant farmers, including content on business planning, farm purchasing and leasing options, and trainings.

Northeast Vegetable and Strawberry Pest Identification Guide
Farmers and gardeners will want to check out this guide to pest management for vegetable and fruit growing. Created by extension professionals throughout New England.

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Upcoming Events

Please check the calendar on the New England Farmers Union website. We will post information about events that we will attend, and events that are of interest to our members. Please send along information if you have an event you would like us to post.

Consumer Cooperative Management Association Conference June, 9-11 • Amherst, MA

NOFA MA Summer Conference: Cultivating The Organic Grassroots Movement August, 12-14 • Amherst, MA

NESAWG’s It Takes A Region Conference November, 10-12 • Hartford, CT

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