Business and Financial

Here’s a developing list of resources related to creating virtual farm tours and other farm events.

Virtual Farm & Food Experiences webinar. Univ of Vermont and International Workshop on AgriTourism. Visit the latter for more webinars. Sponsored by Yonder, a new agritourism and farm stay platform. Also see the resources from the webinar: Eleanor Leger, Eden Specialty Ciders, Vermont, USA and Caroline Millar, Balkello Farm and Go Rural, Dundee, Scotland.

Pony Power Therapies in New Jersey. Webinar recording of farm tour.

This is our list of our bests for 2020.. we begin this blog post on Dec 7 and will add to it as we approach year end..

Best Report: The Food system: Concentration & Its Impacts by a respected group of authors including our own Douglas Constance from Sam Houston State University. Report presentation video.

Best Books we read: Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World by Anand Giridharadas. Gratitude to the National Good Food Leadership Network book club for including this book. Grain by Grain, another winner by Elizabeth Carlisle with Bob Quinn takes the reader through the long process to establish sound, durable businesses based on values of nutrition and retention of footways that are good for people and planet.

Best Virtual Conference: Mission Capital Data Institute Conference. The combination of pre-recorded 15m sessions coupled with 45m live sessions was a lively experience. This is one of the few conferences where I went back and viewed recordings of sessions I’d missed. The main benefit was the relevant topics including How to Make An Infographic and How to Use Pivot Tables in Excel. The agenda was laid out clearly and it was pretty easy find sessions. I found myself rushing a bit from session to session – not that different from in person life. -SB

Best New Way to Think About Food System VisionFood System Vision Prize Themes from OpenIDEO When we look at our work from different perspectives, we see more open doors to creating the new food system we want. (1) Traditional Wisdom & Practices (2) Community-informed Policy (3) Hyper-localization (4) Human-first Technology.

Best Indicators of a Shift in Academic Thinking About Food Systems – National Academy of Sciences workshop “Healthy People, Healthy Planet: Building a More Sustainable, Resilient, Equitable, and Nourishing Food System – A Workshop“, July 2020. The introduction by Dr. Patrick Stover, Dean Texas A&M AgriLife describes changed expectations of our food systems shifting to a more systemic analysis focused on long term health and environmental impact. Dr. Stover draws on the 2015 report, “A Framework For Assessing Impacts of the Food System” as the basis for this shift in expectations. Dr. Ricardo Salvador of the Union of Concerned Scientists walks through one example (among many) of COVID-19 among meat packing plant workers to demonstrate that scientists cannot legitimately address food as system without considering work welfare. Watch the videos here. Stover Salvador

Best New Government Resource – The USDA Agricultural Marketing Service Transportation and Marketing Program webinars and resource listings during COVID-19 have been excellent resources, highlighting outstanding COVID responses for us all to leverage across the nation. The website design highlights sharing of the multitude of local food resources offered and gathered by this critical front line agency.

Local Food As Economic DevelopmentWorking Landscapes video. Food processing for schools and rural communities in Warren County, North Carolina. Worth a watch for economic development professionals! they used in depth participatory process called “Community Voice“.

From our friends at The Counter, this excellent overview of the history of Black farmers and current actions to dismantle racism in our food system.

Farmers market managers take note and count on us at the Texas Center for Local Food to support your shift to a more diverse customer base. “… the recent movement in the U.S. to promote healthier and more sustainable eating by supporting local farmers’ markets among other things was overwhelmingly white. So though there has been a boom in farmers’ markets in recent years — they grew by 76% from 2008 to 2014, and another 6% since then, according to the USDA — they typically serve affluent white populations and too often have erected barriers that discourage farmers and other vendors of color.

Black farmers’ markets work to “redesign the food system”

This guide was written for farmers up north in Minnesota and Wisconsin and has ideas you can use here in Texas. Hey Texas farmers and ranchers, add your comments below to share your ideas.

Are you a farmer interested in diversifying into on-farm food service and serve meals on your farm?  As local food fans continue to flock to on-farm dining experiences, from multi-course farm-to-table meals to family-friendly pizza nights. This opens up opportunities for farmers to launch dining experiences on their family farms and add an income stream. 

A new free publication, Come & Get It: What you need to know to serve food on your farm  is a 120-page guide with case studies of nine successful farm businesses. Spearheaded by Renewing the Countryside, this project created publications specifically for Wisconsin and Minnesota to help navigate and understand various regulations.  

Texas farmers. Share your ideas for increasing farm income using agri tourism. Add your comments below

We got an email about this tree program and want share it with all of you! Texas A&M has announced its 2020 Fruit Testing Program. Orders are begin taken through May 15, 2019 may order fruit trees to be made available starting January 2020.

Dr. David Byrne, director of the stone fruit breeding program at Texas A&M University is making 27 selections of peaches and nectarines available to growers in Texas for evaluation beginning in 2020.

Who can participate?: Any person interested in peaches and nectarines can participate—those with commercial growers, those with home plantings, and those who have never grown a peach or nectarine before.

A minimum of two trees and a maximum of ten trees of each cultivar can be ordered for testing. The cost per tree is $8.50.

How to participate:

  1. Identify your chill hour zone.
  2. Review variety information.
  3. Complete the TAMU Stonefruit Testing Program order form (PDF) (a minimum of 2 trees and a maximum of 10 trees is required for any variety a grower wishes to obtain). It looks like you have to mail a check and the paper form.
  4.  Get ready to plant in 2020

Contact Dr. David Byrne for questions. Email: dbyrne@tamu.edu

As Walmart works to build its own beef supply chains, Bloomberg reports that Walmart has made deals with Texas’ 44 Farms (of Cameron TX) and Mc6 Cattle Feeders to supply beef to 500 Walmart stores. Interesting that the pic in the article shows apparently happy cattle on lush green grass. We suspect the reality of these cattle’s lives may be quite different. Plus it appears that the cow-calf and operations are in Texas but the feedlot, slaughter and packing may be elsewhere. How much money will stay in Texas from this new deal?

Farm to Institution New England (FINE) has released the new report Campus Dining 201: Trends, Challenges, and Opportunities for Farm to College in New England. The report summarizes the results of FINE’s 2018 survey of New England colleges and universities with dining services.

Results show that 93 percent of responding colleges reported purchasing local food for their dining services. On average, responding colleges spent more than a fifth (21.5 percent) of their annual food budget on local food (spending $67.7 million on local food). Read the full report for more information on specific food items that colleges are sourcing locally and those they report are difficult to source locally; procurement goals; distributors used; self-operated colleges and food service management companies; and much more. 
Download their new research report to learn more!

It’s not just violence and poverty that Central Americans are fleeing. It’s also climate change. In this NY Times article, you’ll read about how the temp in Central America has increased 2 degrees F, how the rains are off schedule, and how coffee won’t grow in the heat like it has for so many years. Farmers are heading north.

In 2017 the World Bank reported that climate change could cause 1.4M people from Mexico and Central America to migrate north. Agriculture in Honduras employs 28% of the labor force. With so many farmers and farm workers leaving, now there’s a farm labor shortage in Honduras.

The U.S. provides aid to Honduras and other Central American countries. The U.S. President has proposed to cut off all aid, apparently believing the lack of funds will prevent migration. It appears that exactly the opposite will happen: cutting off U.S. aid will only make the situation more desperate for Central American farmers.

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