Sustainable Agriculture News – Mid July 2015

CONGRESSIONAL NEWS

What’s in the Senate Funding Bill for Sustainable Agriculture?

The agriculture appropriations bill advanced today by the Senate Appropriations Committee provides $20.51 billion to fund the activities of the USDA and the FDA for FY16. Total funding in the bill is $65 million lower than this year’s funding levels, and $24 million below what the President requested for next year. The bill sailed easily through both the Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee and full Appropriations Committee this week, but whether or not it will reach the Senate floor before the end of the fiscal year remains to be seen...

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DARK Act Approved by the House Agriculture Committee

On July 14, the House Agriculture Committee approved the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2015, also known as the “Deny Americans’ Right to Know” Act by opponents. The passage of the most recent version of the bill gives more authority to USDA AMS to oversee voluntary non-GMO labeling programs, while continuing to restrict federal and state actions to require labeling of foods containing GMOs and even expanding the scope of its preemptive reach to all state and local-level regulations over the planting of GMO crops...

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Cover Crop Survey Confirms Benefits and Points to Future Research

For the third year in a row, the results of an annual cover crop survey of farmers around the country confirm the benefits and expansion of cover crops on U.S. cropland. USDA’s SARE program released the results of the 2014-2015 Cover Crop Survey, which assessed the benefits, challenges, and scale of adoption of cover crops, as well as demand for cover crop seed across the United States. The three most-cited benefits among cover crop users of using cover crops were: increased overall soil health, increased soil organic matter, and reduced soil erosion...

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FOOD HUB REPORTS

Study Aims to Help Food Hubs Become More Profitable

A new report on food hubs released on July 14 provides data that can help assess successes, needs, and opportunities of regional food hubs. Published by NSAC member group The Wallace Center at Winrock International (The Wallace Center) in conjunction with the Farm Credit Council, Farm Credit East, and Morse Marketing Connections, the report was developed to both highlight factors affecting the profitability of regional food hubs and help them improve their profitability...

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Food Hub Report Series Launched by USDA

Filling a gap in information on operations and best practices from food hubs, the USDA Rural Development mission area launched a new technical report series called Running a Food Hub with the first report just released. The report offers practical advice, such as recommending a diversity of products and creating operational advantages through partnerships or existing infrastructure in a region, as well as featuring characteristics common to the featured food hubs...

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FARM TO SCHOOL NEWS

Local Food is Taking Root in Michigan Schools

With Farm Fresh Food Days and school gardens, Michigan schools are changing the way their students eat, one bite a time! Behind these exciting programs is a community-wide effort to bring the farm to the school, promote healthy decisions, and boost the economic impact schools can have on local farms. The project was started with funding from the Chelsea Area Wellness Foundation, through the 5 Healthy Towns Project...

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