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Posts Tagged ‘usda’

FOG partners with the USDA to make organic certification more attainable for farmers

As 2015 comes to a close, we reflect on our amazing accomplishments this year through Moving Mondays, a campaign that spotlights how we are making efforts to improve the food landscape in Florida.

We encourage you to join with us as we continue this invaluable work.

Last month, we partnered with Little Bean Productions and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Organic Program to launch a video series called Organic Certification Made Simple: Bite by Bite as part of the USDA Sound and Sensible Initiative, a campaign that aims to make organic certification more accessible, affordable and attainable.

The multi-part series provides a step-by-step overview of organic production requirements and the process of organic certification—by farmers, for farmers.

Featuring both farm footage and animation, the videos aim to be easily digestible and succinct; each video covers a different topic so viewers can pick and choose to watch the videos that correspond directly with their interests or questions. Viewers can watch the whole series to get a holistic overview of the entire certification process.

Throughout the 26 videos, farmers discuss their firsthand experiences with obtaining organic certification and why they decided to pursue it.

We were one of 14 organizations awarded a project contract with a goal to advance the USDA National Organic Program’s (NOP) Sound and Sensible Initiative by identifying and removing barriers to certification and streamlining the certification process.

Our work has impacted farmers, consumers and the community. When you support FOG, you support family farmers throughout Florida and beyond.

Won’t you join with us in 2016 as we change Florida’s food landscape?

Florida Organic Growers partners in launch of video series to help demystify organic certification

Florida Organic Growers (FOG) and Little Bean Productions have cooperated with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Organic Program to launch a video series called Organic Certification Made Simple: Bite by Bite as part of the USDA Sound and Sensible Initiative, a campaign that aims to make organic certification more accessible, affordable and attainable.

The multi-part series provides a step-by-step overview of organic production requirements and the process of organic certification—by farmers, for farmers. Featuring both farm footage and animation, the videos aim to be easily digestible and succinct; each video covers a different topic so viewers can pick and choose to watch the videos that correspond directly with their interests or questions. Viewers can watch the whole series to get a holistic overview of the entire certification process.

“Our series is meant to help direct-market growers who are using sustainable practices understand that getting certified organic may not be a huge stretch for them,” said FOG Executive Director Marty Mesh, “and many consumers and wholesalers are looking for certified organic products, so getting certified could open up markets for them and make their businesses more viable.”

Throughout the 26 videos, farmers discuss their firsthand experiences with obtaining organic certification and why they decided to pursue it. One segment follows a direct market farmer on his journey through the organic certification process to show viewers how the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) organic regulations translate to practices on the ground.

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“Many see organic certification as a daunting process, but Bite by Bite is full of visually engaging practical information while highlighting peer-to-peer communication with all the organic farmers we feature,” said Shelley Rogers of Little Bean Productions, director/producer of the series.

FOG was one of 14 organizations awarded a project contract with a goal to advance the USDA National Organic Program’s (NOP) Sound and Sensible Initiative by identifying and removing barriers to certification and streamlining the certification process.

To view the video series, please click here.

Funds for EBT machines in Florida expire September 30!

EBT LOGO2 Hoe Down 005

Attention Florida farmers markets and farmer – just over a month left to apply for SNAP authorization and a state-funded EBT machine!

Florida was allocated $78,749 to purchase electronic benefit transfer (EBT) machines for farmers markets. This money MUST be used before September 30th, 2013. So far, only $19,908 have been spent! We have $58,841 (74.72%) remaining!

In May of 2012, $4 million was appropriated for the purchase or rental of a wireless device and related SNAP fees for markets across the US. The purpose of the funds is to increase the availability of point-of-sale (POS) equipment in farmers markets not currently participating in SNAP. These are two-year funds, and must be used by September 30, 2013. The USDA funds can be used to cover the purchase price or rental fees of a wireless POS device, a one-time account setup/application fee, and monthly wireless fees (necessary to operate SNAP on the device). EBT transaction fees, cost of tokens, signage, and promotional materials are not eligible to be covered by the funds. Devices purchased or rented with federal funds may also accept commercial debit/credit cards.

Previously, the funds were only available to farmers markets. In May of 2013, USDA announced that the funds would also be made available to individual farmers if the farmer participates in a market that does not currently offer SNAP access. Check out this information sheet to see if you or your market is eligible, and learn more about the process

Additionally, your market might be eligible to participate in Florida Organic Growers’ (FOG)’s new program, Fresh Access Bucks, a double value coupon program that allows SNAP users to double their food dollars for Florida grown fruits and vegetables at farmers markets statewide.

If you have further questions about this funding, EBT at farmers markets or the Fresh Access Bucks program, please feel free to contact Carmen Franz at FOG at carmen@foginfo.org.

USDA Farmers Market Promotion Program Analyzed: New Reports Find Positive Effects on Producers, Consumers and Communities

The Farmers Market Coalition and Market Umbrella have released the results from a survey of Farmers Market Promotion Program (FMPP) grantees from 2006 through 2011.

Between 2006 and 2012, FMPP has provided 575 grants ranging from $2,000 to $100,000 to support a wide array of farmers market and direct farm marketing programs at local, regional, and state levels. Demand for the program is high, with only 21% of applications funded between 2006 and 2012.

Read more…

Join FOG and WFA to discuss the FDA’s new proposed rules

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To all QCS Florida and Florida Organic growers,

You are invited to a meeting on Thursday, January 17th at 1:30 pm, at the DoubleTree Hotel in Downtown Orlando with FOG and partner Wild Farm Alliance to discuss:
•     What is in the FDA’s proposed rules that relates to wild and domestic animals, compost and manure.
•     Your input on the attached illustration and descriptive key that will be part of a USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) technical note about Co-managing for Food Safety and Conservation Objectives in Specialty Crops.

As you probably know, FDA released the proposed food safety rules last Friday. There are two parts, but the one most relevant to the co-management of food safety and conservation is Standards for the Growing, Harvesting, Packing, and Holding of Produce for Human Consumption. To see a summary, go to: http://www.fda.gov/Food/FoodSafety/FSMA/ucm334114.htm To download the full rules, go to this link and scroll down to the FDA section:http://www.ofr.gov/inspection.aspx#special

Some of you may have helped Wild Farm Alliance earlier with their survey and/or hosting a farm tour. They have now drafted a lengthy technical note, and rather than ask for your input on all of that during your busy season, they would like your feedback on the attached illustration and descriptive key. They have incorporated feedback on this illustration from some of our other project advisors, including FDA, and now need to check with growers like you to see if this makes sense.

If you are interested and would be available for the Thursday January 17th meeting in Orlando, please RSVP tomarty@foginfo.org. There is a $9.00 daily parking charge at the hotel and that parking charge can be reimbursed after the meeting.

If you are not available but would like to be part of a conference call at the end of the month, please let me know.

Best,

Marty Mesh

Attachments:
WFA-NRCS Illustration
WFA-NRCS Illustration Key

Cost Share Deadline September 30, 2012

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$$ Last Chance for Organic Farmers to Apply $$

 

Did you know that if you’re certified organic you are entitled to be paid back for 75% of your fees, up to a maximum of $750? You are, but the deadline to apply for the 2012 Florida Organic Certification Cost Share Program is the end of this month.

Florida Organic Growers administers this program as part of our appreciation and support for your efforts in the continued success of the organic industry. We hope this program will help ease financial pressures you may experience during the process of becoming certified organic. You can use your reimbursement to assist with your certification fees or as an opportunity to expand your business.

It is easy and fast to apply, simply fill out the application on our website, send that along with a W-9 form, and a copy of your organic certification. We’ll also need a document from your certifier showing all the money you paid that you can be reimbursed for this past year. You can send them through e-mail at costshare@foginfo.org, fax at 352-377-8363 or by mail to:

Florida Certified Organic Growers & Consumers, Inc.
Attention Cost Share Department
P.O. Box 12311 Gainesville, FL 32604

Applications are due by September 30th, 2012, so apply today! If you have any questions we’re here to assist you from 9am – 4pm Monday through Friday, so don’t hesitate to give us a call at 352-377-6345, ask for Danielle or e-mail me directly at OfficeManager@foginfo.org.

Thank you again for everything that you do! 

NOP Handbook Updates

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The USDA National Organic Program (NOP) has updated the audit checklists and Sunset dates sections of the NOP Handbook.

National List Sunset Dates

The National Organic Standards Board must review all substances on the National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances every five years and recommend renewing, removing, or changing each listing. This process is commonly referred to as “Sunset review.”

NOP 5611 provides the public with an easy way to identify the Sunset or expiration date for all substances included on the National List. This resource now reflects the expiration dates established by the Sunset 2012 Final Rule, except those that are effective October 21, 2012.