Across the nation there is a strong interest to supply healthy, local foods to schools while supporting regional farmers and the local economy. Photo: Auburn University College of Agriculture.
Thanks to a recent grant from USDA, the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection is now in better position to help get locally grown potatoes, carrots, apples, broccoli, and cheese onto school lunch plates. In Wisconsin, and across the nation, there is a strong interest to supply healthy, local foods to schools while supporting regional farmers and the local economy. USDA is helping create economic opportunities for producers by supporting projects that increase access to fresh, healthy food for students and consumers, and connect rural and urban communities.
Today Secretary Tom Vilsack announced more than $35 million in grants to help ensure the livelihoods of our nation’s farmers and ranchers while strengthening rural economies around the country. These grant programs play an important role in American agriculture and in communities by supporting local and regional food systems and giving farmers and ranchers the chance to explore new market opportunities. Read more »
A 2011 FSMIP grant awarded Michigan State University matching funds to develop a pilot project to explore ways to improve local and regional beef production and marketing systems. Photo courtesy of Michigan State University.
It is amazing to see such an array of meats available in today’s grocery stores. Traveling across the country in my role at USDA, I hear from so many folks that want to know where their beef comes from, what the animal was fed or how was it raised. I also know farmers have a real commitment to their crops and animals and are happy to share their stories with customers.
Farmers markets are one way for small producers to tell consumers directly where their products were grown or raised. However, mid-sized farms face unique challenges as they are too large to dedicate the time and resources to participate in farmers markets, but too small to compete effectively in large commercial markets. New technology could make connecting consumers to mid-sized farmers easier no matter where meat is purchased. Read more »
With over 11,000 dairy farms, more than a million cows, and over 200 dairy plants, Wisconsin produces more than 25 percent of all cheese in the United States. Photo courtesy of Yelp Inc.
’Tis the season for good cheer, holiday festivities and cheese plates. There are seemingly endless varieties to enjoy – Gouda, Blue, Cheddar, Asiago, Feta, Muenster and many more. Hardworking American dairy farmers and cheese artisans make these delicious products. A strong dairy sector not only provides us with delicious food for the holiday table, it also has a great impact on rural America and local economies.
My agency, USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), has a long history of working with the dairy industry, state governments and stakeholders to help farmers and producers. I’ve actually been able to see first-hand how AMS programs services benefit dairy operations. In August, I toured two Wisconsin dairy farms – Rosendale Dairy, a large farm with over 8,500 cows, and R&G Miller & Sons, an organic dairy farm with about 260 milking cows. Read more »
Brewing tanks from a craft brewery. Massachusetts used a USDA Federal-State Marketing Improvement Program grant to help local farmers tap into the $14.3 billion craft brewing industry. Photo courtesy Greg Peverill-Conti.
Over the years, the way we look at food in America has changed and evolved. As people explore new tastes, adjust their diets and become more familiar with new ingredients, it is up to farmers and ranchers to stay innovative and responsive to new demands. Through my role at USDA I often visit with farmers and ranchers about what it takes to grow their businesses, to remain competitive in a global market, and how USDA is an important partner to help meet these challenges.
The Federal-State Marketing Improvement Program (FSMIP), administered by USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), is designed to support research projects that improve the marketing, transportation and distribution of U.S. agricultural products. FSMIP is a collaboration between Federal and State governments that puts matching funds from each towards projects that bring new opportunities for farmers and ranchers.
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Fresh broccoli in bins at the Orange County Food Bank. With a Federal-State Marketing Improvement program grant, the California Association of Food Banks was able to dramatically expand its Farm to Family program and bring more nutrient-dense foods to area food banks. Photo courtesy Ron Ploof
Sometimes it can take a while to turn a good idea into a successful venture. At USDA, we understand the value of research, and by providing resources to get things started at the local level, we often see amazing results that have positive impact for farmers, agribusinesses and consumers across the country. Read more »
Shearing time at Cider Hill Farm in North Haven Island. This photo will be featured in the online Maine Fiber Resource Guide. Photo courtesy of Maine Fiberarts, Topsham, Maine
In an age where shopping malls and retail establishments dominate many urban, suburban, and rural neighborhoods, most people’s knowledge about fibers comes from their clothing tags. However, Maine Fiberarts is working hard to change this. Read more »