USDA Awards Grants to Support Schools Serving Healthier Meals and Snacks

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will be awarding over $30 million in grants to help schools prepare healthy meals for their children. Twenty-five million dollars in grants will help schools purchase needed equipment to make preparing and serving healthier meals easier and more efficient, and up to $5.5 million will provide additional training for school food service professionals.

“Schools are successfully serving more nutritious meals to America’s students, and healthier meals mean healthier kids. We’re working to do everything we can to support schools as they work to provide kids the nutrition they need to learn and develop into healthy adults,” said Vilsack. “These grants will help schools obtain better equipment and additional training for their hardworking school food service professionals. With doctors, parents, teachers and schools all working together, we can make sure we’re giving our kids the healthy start in life they deserve.”

Since 2009, USDA has provided $185 million in kitchen equipment funding to states and schools participating in the National School Lunch (NSLP) and School Breakfast (SBP) Programs. USDA provides the funding to states, which then competitively award grants to school districts in order to purchase necessary equipment, giving priority to high-need schools where 50 percent or more of the enrolled students are eligible for free or reduced price meals.

The school equipment grants announced today are another example of how USDA is supporting schools as they implement the new meal standards resulting from the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. USDA works closely with schools to address implementation challenges, and provides funding, training and technical assistance to overcome barriers.

To further assist school food workers USDA is also announcing the availability of up to $5.5 million in Team Nutrition training grants for FY2015. These grants are only open to state agencies administering the NSLP, SBP, the Summer Food Service Program, or Child and Adult Care Food Programs. Through a competitive grants process, Team Nutrition training grants will be funded for the period of September 30, 2015 – September 30, 2017. State agencies may apply for up to $350,000. To apply for the grants, state agencies should visit www.grants.gov.

These competitive grants focus on the implementation of Smarter Lunchrooms – an innovative strategy using behavioral economics to encourage healthy eating in the cafeteria – as well as the healthier meal standards, HealthierUS School Challenge, USDA Foods, nutrition education, and wellness activities in schools and child care institutions. These funds may be also used to assist the state agency in providing training and technical assistance to school staff in creating Smarter Lunchrooms.

The Team Nutrition Training grants are two-year grants that have been awarded to state agencies on an annual basis since the inception of the program in 1995. They serve as key delivery systems for supporting the implementation of USDA’s nutrition requirements for meals served in schools and child care centers.

USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service administers America’s nutrition assistance programs including the National School Lunch and School Breakfast programs, the Child and Adult Care Food Program, the Summer Food Service Program, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). Together these programs make up the federal nutrition safety net.

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FDA Update on Food Safety

FDA Announces Competitive Grant Program with NIFA to Fund Food Safety Training, Education and Technical Assistance

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) today announced that it has joined with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) in a collaborative partnership to administer and manage the National Food Safety Training, Education, Extension, Outreach, and Technical Assistance Program.

Recognizing the importance of and need for food safety training for small farm owners and food processors, the FDA and USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) are announcing a grant program that will provide funding so that these critical groups receive training, education and technical assistance consistent with standards being established under the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). This is one of several education and outreach efforts associated with the implementation of FSMA.

Priority will be given to those submitting grant applications to train owners and operators of small and medium-size farms; farmers just starting out in business; socially disadvantaged farmers; small food processors; small fruit and vegetable wholesalers; and farms that lack access to food safety training and other educational opportunities. A Federal, State, or local agency, State cooperative extension services, non-profit community based or non-governmental organizations, institutions of higher education, tribes and tribal stakeholders or a collaboration of two of more eligible entities are among the entities eligible for funding.

Education and technical assistance projects are an essential element in the FSMA implementation strategy. Such efforts will help ensure widespread voluntary compliance by encouraging greater understanding and adoption of established food safety standards, guidance, and protocols. They also facilitate the integration of these standards and guidance with a variety of agricultural production systems, encompassing conventional, sustainable, organic, and conservation and environmental practices.

Meeting the technical assistance needs for produce safety will require an investment well beyond what is being announcing today. This grant program underscores the commitment of both agencies to working with the grower community, Cooperative Extension Services (a nationwide education network), our state and tribal government partners, and institutions of higher education to more fully define the need and strategies for meeting it.

FDA is first issuing a request for applications for the establishment of a National Coordination Center (NCC) for Food Safety Training, Education, Extension, Outreach, and Technical Assistance Program. Once funding is available, separate requests for applications for the establishment of Regional Centers will be forthcoming.

 

This Request for Application can be found at: http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/rfa-files/RFA-FD-15-003.html

More information on the NIFA can be found at: http://www.nifa.usda.gov

You can find additional information on the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act at: http://www.fda.gov/Food/GuidanceRegulation/FSMA/default.htm

For more information on FDA’s Food Safety Modernization Act, visit http://www.fda.gov/fsma.

 

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Governor Brown Commemorates California Pollinator Week

Source: CDFA

OFFICE OF THE GOVERNOR

                                                      California Pollinator Week

Pollinator species such as birds and insects are essential partners to farmers and ranchers in producing much of our food supply. Pollinators also provide significant environmental benefits that are necessary for maintaining biodiversity and healthy ecosystems.

The health of our national forests and grasslands depends on pollination. These open spaces provide forage, fish and wildlife, timber, water, mineral resources and recreational opportunities for our communities and the vital industries that serve them.

The State of California provides producers with conservation assistance to promote wise stewardship of lands and habitats, including the protection and maintenance of pollinators on working lands and wild lands.

As Governor of the state of California, I urge all citizens to recognize the important role that pollination plays in our state’s economy and ecosystems.

Sincerely,
EDMUND G. BROWN JR.

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June 16 – 22 is Pollinator Week!

Pollinator Week was initiated and is managed by the Pollinator Partnership.

Seven years ago the U.S. Senate’s unanimous approval and designation of a week in June as “National Pollinator Week” marked a necessary step toward addressing the urgent issue of declining pollinator populations. 

Pollinator Week has now grown to be an international celebration of the valuable ecosystem services provided by bees, birds, butterflies, bats and beetles. The growing concern for pollinators is a sign of progress, but it is vital that we continue to maximize our collective effort.  The U.S. Secretary of Agriculture signs the proclamation every year.

The Pollinator Partnership is proud to announce that June 16-22, 2014 has been designated National Pollinator Week by the U.S. Department of Interior.

The Pollinator Partnership is also proud to announce that June 16-22, 2014 has been designated National Pollinator Week by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Pollinating animals, including bees, birds, butterflies, bats, beetles and others, are vital to our delicate ecosystem, supporting terrestrial wildlife, providing healthy watershed, and more. Therefore, Pollinator Week is a week to get the importance of pollinators’ message out to as many people as possible.

It’s not too early to start thinking about an event at your school, garden, church, store, etc. Pollinators positively effect all our lives- let’s SAVE them and CELEBRATE them!

For more information, please visit pollinator.org

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USDA Launches New “Healthy Eating on a Budget” Section of ChooseMyPlate.gov Site

Source: CDFA

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has unveiled Healthy Eating on a Budget – the newest addition to ChooseMyPlate.gov. Consumers continue to want more information about how to make better eating decisions with limited resources.

To meet this need, the USDA’s Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion (CNPP) developed the new resource to include easy-to-use and insightful information about planning meals, shopping smart in the grocery store, and preparing foods that save money and time in the kitchen.

“Although healthy foods aren’t always more expensive, many low-income people face time and resource challenges when it comes to putting healthy food on the table,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “Promoting nutritious food choices can have a positive impact on improving the health and diet quality of Americans. USDA offers a broad spectrum of strategies to empower low-income families to purchase healthier foods.”

Consumers who visit the Healthy Eating on a Budget section of ChooseMyPlate.gov will learn ways to plan, purchase, and prepare healthy meals. The new web pages provide families with tips and strategies to help save money and plan a healthier diet.

The new section includes the latest addition to the MyPlate 10 Tips Nutrition Education Series, Save More at the Grocery Store which emphasizes simple-to-use tips to help consumers make decisions as they walk down a supermarket aisle. Dozens of additional strategies are featured in the new section including using unit pricing, reading food labels to compare items, and checking sales on store brands.

“This resource not only demonstrates that it is possible to eat healthfully on a budget, but it shows how,” said CNPP Deputy Director Jackie Haven. “These new pages complement our existing resources on ChooseMyPlate.gov, allowing consumers to figure out how to improve their nutrition, and how to make it affordable.”

Healthy Eating on a Budget supports other initiatives in progress at USDA to encourage healthy eating among more Americans.

With so many food options available, it is often difficult for consumers to determine the best foods to put on their plates when the budget is tight. Healthy Eating on a Budget provides practical information to help more Americans understand their options and supports USDA initiatives to help families make healthy eating a priority in their daily lives.

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Golden Rice Refusal Kills Millions

Source: Don Curlee, Hanford Sentinel

A University of California report has exposed the injustice that prohibits a genetically engineered additive to rice. Without it, the death of millions of children has occurred, notably in Africa and India.

The researcher opinion lays the blame for the international prohibition of producing golden rice through genetic engineering on powerful forces that hide behind environmentalism.

California, one of the world’s major rice producers, is ready to supply the vitamin enriched product, especially for export.

The UC report appears in the current issue of the university’s respected Update, a bi-monthly publication compiled by the Agriculture and Natural Resources Department.  The authors are Justus Wesseler, professor for Agriculture and Food Economics at Technical University, Munich; Scott Kaplan, research assistant at Energy Biosciences Institute at UC Berkeley, and David Zilberman, professor in the Agricultural and Research Economics department at UC Berkeley.

The GE process for folding vitamin A into rice, transforming it to golden rice, has been well understood since 2000, but efforts to gain approval have been opposed by powerful regulators, particularly in India and Bangladesh.

Both countries are known for the staggering incidence of disease, disabilities and lagging development resulting from a lack of vitamin A in the diets of their citizens.

The authors of the UC report point out that the creation of golden rice could have saved millions of lives and avoided blindness, vulnerability to childhood infections, anemia and poor growth in millions since the engineering process for adding the vitamin was discovered in 1999.

The researchers recall that the nearly worldwide objection to creating golden rice was led by Greenpeace.  It was perhaps the most notorious radical environmentalist group at the turn of the century, characterized by a series of risky, but widely reported escapades aimed at derailing broadly-accepted programs and activities that were in the news.

The movement’s objections were always based on what it perceived as dangers to the environment.

patrickmooreChairSpokesperson
Dr. Patrick Moore, Chair and Spokesperson, “Allow Golden Rice Society”.

A 2012 Greenpeace publication states, “If introduced on a large scale, golden rice can exacerbate malnutrition and ultimately undermine food security.” Authors of the UC report elaborate by saying that Greenpeace fears that golden rice may accelerate the adoption in developing countries of other GE crops perceived by Greenpeace and others to be very dangerous.

The report also refers to the 180-degree turnabout by former Greenpeace leader and co-founder Patrick Moore, who now promotes a group called “Allow Golden Rice Society.” He has recognized that the poor have paid the majority of the price of the fight against GE technologies. Dr. Moore published a book in 2011 called, “Confessions of a Greenpeace Dropout: The Making of a Sensible Environmentalist”.

The UC report says that a large and growing body of literature indicates that GE varieties have produced a significant amount of real benefit throughout the world.

Publication of the report seems to be an invitation to everyday environmentalists, often fans of radicals and extremists like Greenpeace, to back off a bit and realize the harm and human suffering that have resulted from blocking the humanitarian approval of golden rice.

“Even though GE has been introduced in few crops, its impact on agricultural production is immense because it has increased productivity substantially,” the UC report states. “Furthermore, its impact on productivity has been higher in developing versus developed countries … (but) … its potential has not been realized.”

The UC paper suggests that policies regulating GE technologies need to be reassessed. Perhaps that reassessment needs to begin with a bunch of hangers-on environmentalists in your community and mine who haven’t yet determined that many environmentalist beliefs and policies have nothing to do with human welfare.

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California Certified Crop Adviser Exam Signup Open

Crop advisers in California and Arizona have the opportunity to register for the August 1, 2014 Certified Crop Adviser (CCA) Exam until June 20, 2104.  The exam will be given in Sacramento, Salinas, Tulare and Yuma.

Registration for the exam is available at  https://www.certifiedcropadviser.org/exams/registration.

There are over 850 active CCAs in California and Arizona that are playing an important role in helping growers with the efficient and environmentally sound use of fertilizer and crop management.

Many California CCAs recently completed the University of California/California Department of Food and Agriculture Nutrient Management Training Course which qualified them to complete nitrogen management plans for growers that are or will be required by the various California Regional Water Quality Boards.

“The California CCA program is the fastest growing CCA program in North America with more 200 individuals taking the January exam and we expect a large group to take the upcoming exam.

An exam preparation course has been scheduled in Sacramento on July 8 to help candidates prepare for the test”, said California CCA Chairman, Mike Huffman, The Lyman Group.   Registration for the exam prep course is available at https://capcaed.com/continuing-ed-seminars/july-8-2014-sacramento-ca-cca-exam-prep-workshop/.

More information on the California CCA program is at www.cacca.org.   You can contact Steve Beckley at (916)539-4107 or sbeckley@aol.com for more information.  The California CCA Program is also on Facebook.

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Agriculture Business Resources announces 2014 Specialty Crop Schools

Two short agriculture business courses will be offered in 2014 for agri-business professionals who want to learn about the scope and intensity of fruit, nut and vegetable production in California.

The June 14-17 session in the San Joaquin Valley and the October 6-9 session in the Salinas Valley will provide outstanding opportunities to delve into California specialty crop agriculture with its unique challenges and opportunities.

The format of the classes will be of value to those new to horticultural crop production as well as seasoned agri-business professionals.

The three-day courses, organized by Visalia-based AgBusiness Resources, have been specifically designed to equip participants with a broad understanding of intense crop production in these unique farm settings.

The San Joaquin Valley session will focus on some of California’s most iconic crops – almonds, citrus, grapes and stone fruit as well as processing tomatoes and Asian vegetables. In the Salinas Valley, lettuce, cole crops, artichokes, strawberries and wine grapes will be featured.

Both Crop Schools will include field visits to farms, processing facilities and research centers as well as classroom time with growers, pest management experts and university scientists.

Representatives from the food, chemical, fertilizer, equipment, packaging, financial, transportation and environmental monitoring industries are encouraged to participate.

Pest Control Advisors and Certified Crop Advisors in attendance will have access to 15 PCA and 15 CCA continuing education units.

Participants at the inaugural 2013 Specialty Crop School benefited from the extensive knowledge and experience of growers, crop managers and other professionals in the agricultural supply chain.

Due to the favorable response and interest expressed last year by attendees at the San Joaquin Valley event, a coastal session has been organized for 2014.

Class sizes will be limited and seats are available on a first come first served basis. For complete course topics and registration information for both schools, go to www.specialtycropschool.com.

For media inquiries: Email Cecilia Parsons at Ceciliaparsons8@gmail.com or call at 559-920-4936

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Scholarships Available for the 2014 – 2015 School Year

Source: The Fresno County Farm Bureau 

Proteus offers academic scholarships

Proteus is now accepting applications for its Standard and William Maguy Scholarships for the 2014-15 academic year.

The $500 Standard Scholarship is open to full-time college students or those planning to enroll as full-time students for the 2014-2015 school year, who are low-income status, farmworkers, dependent of a farmworker, or who have been served by a Proteus program in the past two years.

This scholarship program targets new or continuing students enrolled in two or four-year colleges, or accredited post -secondary institute.

The $1,000 William Maguy Scholarship is open to full-time students who have completed at least two years at a university or community college.

This scholarship will be given to a person who exemplifies the larger-than-life quality of Proteus’s former CEO, William Maguy, who focused on empowering and serving people.

Those interested in applying should have a GPA of 3.0 or higher and demonstrate their community involvement in organizations that serve others.

All applicants’ primary residence must be in, Kern, Kings, Fresno, or Tulare counties.  The deadline to apply for the Standard Scholarship is April 2, 2014, and the deadline to apply for the William M. Maguy Scholarship is April 30, 2014.

For more information, or to download the application at http://www.proteusinc.org/.

 

Charles P. Lake Rain for Rent Scholarship now available

Twenty scholarships in the amount of $1,500 will be awarded to students to help them pursue a career in agriculture, engineering or construction management.

Applications will be accepted through Friday, April 18, and must be submitted to the Fresno County Farm Bureau, 1274 W. Hedges Ave., Fresno, 93728. To read/print the Charles P. Lake/Rain for Rent Scholarship Brochure, please visit, www.rainforrent.com/company/scholarship.aspx.

Scholarship applicants must have completed their freshman year at an approved college/university and must be currently enrolled for the next school year.

Junior college students who are registered as sophomores and fall within the requirements may apply.

To obtain a scholarship application, please contact Katie Rodgers at 559-237-0263 or info@fcfb.org.

 

Farm Grown scholarships available for 2014 high school graduates

The Gar and Esther Tootelian Charitable Foundation Farm Grown scholarship applications are now available for graduating high school seniors.

The successful candidate will be awarded $1,000 each year and an honorable mention finalist will receive $500.

Candidates must be high school seniors graduating in 2014 who will pursue a degree in an agriculturally-related field.

Applicants must be in good standing and go to school in Fresno, Tulare, Kings, Merced, Madera, Mariposa or Kern counties.

For more information and to apply, click here.  The deadline to apply is April 1.

 

Friends of the California State Fair Scholarship available

The Friends of the California State Fair Scholarship Program awards California’s most promising students with scholarships ranging from $500 to $5,000.

This year, they will award more than $34,000 in scholarships to deserving California students.

College students and graduating high school seniors who exhibit academic excellence, leadership potential, civic engagement and a strong sense of personal commitment to continuing education are eligible to apply.

The deadline is March 7. For more information, or to apply, visit www.bigfun.org.

 

Central Valley Chapter California Women for Agriculture Scholarship available

The Central Valley CWA is pleased to announce the call for 2014 scholarship applications.

Scholarships are offered to high school and college students studying for careers in agriculture-related fields.

The applications must be received by mail on or before March 28, 2014.  No hand-deliveries or email applications will be accepted.

For more information, or to download the application, click here.

 

San Joaquin Valley Quilters’ Guild Scholarships available

The San Joaquin Valley Quilters’ Guild is pleased to offer one $500 scholarships to students interested in fiber related arts.

Qualified applicants include those focusing on fiber as an art medium or those with skills in costume or clothing design or textiles and textile conservation.

High school seniors and college students may apply.

Preference will be given to students enrolled at least halftime in a Fresno County college or university.

Application, two recommendations and a photo of the applicant must be postmarked by April 1 to receive consideration for this year’s scholarship.

Email the 4-H program coordinator at evillalobos@ucanr.edu for a scanned copy of the application.

 

Fresno-Kings County Cattlewomen’s Association Scholarship available

The Fresno-Kings County Cattlewomen’s (FKCCW) Association is offering a scholarship.

Applications and information are available online at http://www.fkccw.com/.

 

4-H Scholarships available

There are a number of scholarships available to 4-H members and alumni.

Visit http://ucanr.org/scholarships for more information about Fresno County 4-H, California 4-H or other scholarships.

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Fresno State explores new opportunities in agriculture

Commentary by Joseph I. Castro

Source: California Farm Bureau Federation

At the end of my first 100 days as president of California State University, Fresno, I announced the formation of the President’s Commission on the Future of Agriculture and charged it with the task of identifying opportunities and strengthening industry partnerships to make Fresno State’s agricultural programs and facilities among the best in the nation.

There is no doubt that California agriculture has transformed itself over the decades, born of a necessity to address endless challenges such as the current, devastating drought.

Fresno State, located in the heart of the No.1 producing region in the nation, is geographically poised to take the lead in making sure the agricultural industry has the tools it needs to be cutting edge and remain economically successful, whatever the challenges that lie ahead.

I created this commission to fulfill my vision for Fresno State to become the front-runner in providing California agriculture with its future employees, industry leaders and innovators in production agriculture and food processing.

Fresno State’s Jordan College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology is proud of its programs that provide quality education and applied research in agriculture and food technology, but we can do more.

We must help our students excel in a changing agriculture and food industry, and ensure Fresno State will be even stronger for the next generation of students.

My commission is designed to do just that: identify industry needs and make recommendations on how Fresno State’s agricultural programs—defined to include intersections with science, math, engineering, business and other areas—can be among the very best.

Co-chaired by dairyman, attorney and industry leader George Soares of Hanford and Fresno State Interim Provost Andrew Hoff, the commission includes agribusiness and industry leaders from throughout the valley, plus university representatives, who are charged specifically to:

  • Review Fresno State’s academic, applied research and public service programs that are focused on agriculture and/or serve the needs of the agricultural industry;
  • Identify areas of opportunity where Fresno State’s agricultural programs and facilities can be among the best in the nation;
  • Recommend strategies to strengthen partnerships among Fresno State, government agencies, private foundations, individual philanthropists and the agricultural industry in support of campus agricultural programs.

Commission members include Darius Assemi, Granville Management Inc., Fresno; Kim Ruiz Beck, Ruiz Food Products Inc., Dinuba; Barry Bedwell, California Grape and Tree Fruit League, Fresno; Carol Chandler, Chandler Farms, Selma; Octavia Diener, Fresno State Foundation Board, Fresno; Ryan Jacobsen, Fresno County Farm Bureau, Fresno; David Mas Masumoto, Masumoto Farms Inc., Del Rey; Marvin Meyers, Meyers Farming, Firebaugh; Dennis Parnagian, Fowler Packing Co., Fresno; Pat Ricchuiti, P-R Farms Inc., Clovis; Mario Santoyo, Friant Water Authority, Lindsay; Bill Smittcamp, Wawona Frozen Foods, Clovis; Peter Weber, Regional Job Initiatives, Fresno; and Dennis Nef, Susan Elrod, Ram Nunna and Lynn Williams, all of Fresno State.

The commission has met and is actively engaged in examining ways for the Jordan College to achieve its full potential.

A preliminary report of the commission’s findings and recommendations will be available in early May.

This is an exciting time for Fresno State agriculture, its students, faculty, alumni and industry partners.

I encourage our alumni and friends of the university, in particular, to become part of this very important effort. I hope you will contact me with your ideas and suggestions.

(Joseph I. Castro is president of California State University, Fresno. He can be contacted on Twitter via @JosephICastro.)

 

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