I was honored to accompany Governor Lincoln Chafee at the Rhode Island Agriculture Day held at the Statehouse in Providence. In my remarks to farmers, agriculture organizations, legislators, and government officials, I emphasized the Obama Administration’s commitment to Rural America, and complimented producers for being a model for the nation in direct marketing of agricultural products.
Ten percent of Rhode Island’s agricultural sales move through direct marketing channels such as farmers markets, roadside stands and CSA’s. In addition, Rhode Island has developed a successful Farm-to-School program and a Farm-to-Plate program with local restaurants.
While in Rhode Island, I toured numerous farms and quickly recognized the farmers’ commitment to family, tradition and their way of life. There are many partnerships that USDA enjoys with farmers and the Rhode Island Division of Agriculture.
The Specialty Crops Grant Program and Farmers Market Promotion Program have been instrumental in developing markets and supporting the “Get Fresh, Buy Local” initiative. NRCS and Rural Development Programs have also improved farm management and stimulated growth.
I want to leave you with a bumper sticker that I picked up while in Rhode Island – “No Farmers – No Food.”