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Posted By: Food Democracy Now on May 11th, 2010

WASHINGTON — Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that USDA is accepting grant applications to assist small, socially disadvantaged agricultural producers and cooperatives in rural areas.


“Helping small agricultural producers better market their products creates economic opportunity and these grants will help small business owners add profit and efficiency to their operations so they can grow and create jobs,” Vilsack said.

Posted By: Food Democracy Now on May 07th, 2010

by Nate Jenkins

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — The federal government is conducting an investigation into whether the handful of large meatpackers that slaughter most of the nation's cattle are illegally or unfairly driving down cattle prices, according to an official representing independent beef producers nationwide.

Posted By: Food Democracy Now on May 02nd, 2010

BY Charlene M. Shupp Espenshade


WASHINGTON — Rural America is in a “silent crisis,” USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack said at the Cosmos Club on Monday. It is a crisis that, if left unchecked, could have consequences far beyond the countryside.


”There is not an appreciation for the role (farmers) play in our economy,” Vilsack said.


It is from agriculture that this country was started, where the country’s values are rooted, he said, speaking to a national gathering of agricultural journalists.

Posted By: Food Democracy Now on May 01st, 2010
USDA Foods Logo
WASHINGTON, April 30, 2010 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced USDA’s plan to purchase $161.4 million in a wide variety of foods for federal food and nutrition assistance programs.


The purchases will be for up to $40 million of beef products...
Posted By: Food Democracy Now on Apr 30th, 2010

Posted By: Food Democracy Now on Apr 29th, 2010

By Susan Schneider

As was reported today by Keith Good in his online Farm Policy report, Senators Saxby Chambliss (R-Georgia, Ranking Minority member of the Senate Agriculture Committee), John McCain (R-Arizona) and Pat Roberts (R-Kansas) recently sent a letter to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack challenging the USDA’s “Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food” program. While the letter requests information, its assault on the program is clear. The letter notes that "[w]hile the concept of educating consumers about production agriculture is a worthwhile endeavor, we have serious misgivings about the direction of the Know Your Farmers program.” The Senators complain that the program does not direct funding to "conventional farmers" but instead is "aimed at small, hobbyist and organic producers whose customers generally consist of affluent patrons at urban farmers markets.”

Posted By: Food Democracy Now on Apr 28th, 2010

Supreme CourtBy P.J. Huffstutter


The battle over genetically modified crops is being waged before the U.S. Supreme Court -- the first time the nation’s highest court is specifically weighing in on genetically modified organisms  and the federal approval process that allows them to roll out from the laboratory to the nation’s farm fields.


The fight is between seed giant Monsanto Co. and Geertson Seed Farm, a far smaller Idaho-based rival, and the case revolves around whether Monsanto should be prevented from selling its genetically engineered Roundup Ready alfalfa seeds.

Posted By: Food Democracy Now on Apr 28th, 2010

rural America

WASHINGTON, April 21, 2010 - Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today testified on the status of the current Farm Bill and the upcoming 2012 Farm Bill before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Agriculture. In his remarks, Vilsack provided a national perspective on the challenges facing rural America based on his travels to rural communities throughout the country. He also discussed the state of agriculture today, the need for a strong farm safety net, and new approaches to create income opportunities and generate wealth in a stronger, more prosperous rural America for generations to come.


Below are excerpts from Secretary Vilsack's prepared testimony:
Posted By: Food Democracy Now on Apr 27th, 2010

WASHINGTON — Supreme Court justices on Tuesday sharply questioned a lower court's decision that has prohibited biotech giant Monsanto Co. from selling genetically engineered alfalfa seeds, possibly paving the way for the company to distribute the seeds for the first time since 2007.


The case has been closely watched by environmentalists and agribusiness. A federal judge in San Francisco barred the planting of genetically engineered alfalfa nationwide until the government could adequately study the crop's potential impact on organic and conventional varieties.

Posted By: Food Democracy Now on Apr 27th, 2010
Baby BottleWASHINGTON, April 27, 2010 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture today announced the correction of a 2006 decision by the National Organic Program (NOP) regarding “accessory nutrients” in organic processed food. The new interpretation of the National Organic Standards is based on new information from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Posted By: Food Democracy Now on Apr 26th, 2010

Organic Butterflies

As organic farmer, organic inspector, member of the NOSB, and as one of original candidates on Food Democracy Now!'s list of sustainable Secretary of Ag picks, Jim Riddle takes his experience and provides insight as to why GMO's simply have no place in organic food production.


By Jim Riddle

Despite fundamental differences in what they represent, there are occasional calls to allow the use of genetic engineering  (which produces genetically modified organisms, known as GMOs) within the USDA National Organic Program. GMO varieties are currently most widespread in corn, soybean, canola and cotton crops, in dairy production, and in minor ingredients, such as dairy cultures, used in food processing, but new products are being introduced and commercialized.

Posted By: Food Democracy Now on Apr 25th, 2010

50 Land InstituteAs our attention turns toward the 2012 Farm Bill, it's appropriate to look at a farm bill that has an eye toward the future - 50 years into the future, to be exact. Wes Jackson, founder of The Land Institute in Salina, Kansas, has bigger ideas than just the traditional and myopic 5-year Farm Bill. An exceptional and forward-thinking individual, Wes, a plant genetist by trade, has put together the 50-year Farm Bill, using the 5-year Farm Bill as a tool for incremental change toward the transition to perennial grains and grasses, which hold the potential to preserve the soil and also feed us through a drought. (Yes, corn is a grass.)

Posted By: Food Democracy Now on Apr 21st, 2010

foodinc logoIf you haven't yet seen the Oscar-nominatied blockbuster Food inc., now's your chance. Just in time for Earth Day, PBS airs the celebrated movie tonight on its acclaimed weekly documentary series POV, helping spread the message of reform in our food system to millions of Americans hungering for change.


With Food Inc., director Robert Kenner has created a powerful film that lifts the viel off some of industrial agriculture's most harmful practices, including the negative impacts of pesticides, the rise factory farms and antibiotic resistance and agribusiness's endless campaign to gobble up profits while driving family farmers off the land.


For local listings, click here and here to watch the trailer. Happy Earth Day!


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