Action Alert: Senate Votes Today on Farm Bill

Heads up from New England Farmers Union! The Senate will begin voting today on a list of amendments to the farm bill. There are some very good things in this bill for New England and at least two amendments that would make it even better. Please call your Senators TODAY and ask them to support [...]

Farm and Food Bill on the Senate Floor

The Senate began consideration of a farm and food bill yesterday. The biggest issues on the threshing floor of the Senate is separating wheat from chaff between Northern and Southern farmers over safety net programs and the question of costs for the federal food stamp program, which makes up about 80 percent of the $100 [...]

Just In: USDA Farm to School grant applications available

USDA request for applications (RFA) are now available for the new Farm to School grant program. The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 is in its first funding cycle for grants planning or implementing new or expanded Farm to School programs. USDA expects to award up to $3.5 million to support access to local foods [...]

Shutdown: What about the USDA?

By Miryam Ehrlich Williamson I checked with the USDA today to see what programs and services will continue to operate if a budget compromise isn’t achieved by Friday night. The agency official I spoke with, who asked that I identify him that way, told me plans are not final, but that “in the event of [...]

Vilsack: For Farmers, 2010 Was a Very Good Year

By Miryam Ehrlich Williamson Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack was on NPR’s Weekend Edition recently, talking about how agriculture fared in 2010 and what’s on his mind as work begins on the 2012 Farm Bill. Speaking with host Liane Hansen, Vilsack said 2010 saw a 34% increase in net farm income, thanks largely to exports of [...]

Raw Nerves Over Raw Milk

By Miryam Ehrlich Williamson The big guys in the dairy industry, The International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) and the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF), have their long knives out for rural dairy farmers who sell raw milk locally. We needn’t be surprised. We’re seeing the convergence of two social trends: a growing concern among people [...]

USDA Awards Specialty Products Block Grants

By Miryam Ehrlich Williamson  The USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service has announced $55 million in Specialty Crops Block Grants to support 827 projects in the specialty crop industry – people who produce fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture, and nursery crops, including flowers. Block grants go to states to fund projects proposed by local entities [...]

Fresh Produce for Food Stamps: Good News/Bad News

By Miryam Ehrlich Williamson Good news first: A federal program intended to boost sales of fresh fruits and vegetables will target low-income families in Hampden County, Massachusetts, in the state’s southwestern corner. Several thousand of the region’s 50,000 food stamp recipients will get a 30% discount off the price of fresh produce that they buy [...]

E15, or How to Grow the Dead Zone

By Miryam Ehrlich Williamson The Environmental Protection Agency decided in December 2009 not to decide until mid-2010 whether to allow a 50% increase in ethanol in gasoline. Gas is currently required to be 10% ethanol (E10). Allowing a maximum of 15% (E15) does not mean 15% will be required, only allowed – at least for [...]

A Free Pass for Senate Republicans

By Miryam Ehrlich Williamson The best lack all conviction, while the worst Are full of passionate intensity. –William Butler Yeats, “The Second Coming” With the help of Democrats in the White House and the Senate “leadership,” Republicans have killed hope for legislation on climate change, or even meaningful energy efficiency, for this year and probably [...]