kathleen merrigan

  Much has been made of the USDA Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food Compass. We at FarmPlate approached the new tool with a healthy skepticism, particularly the map, which attempts to show all of the projects that the USDA has helped to fund in the last several years. While we’re still not impressed with the clunkiness of the map (its user guide is seven pages long, though they promise ongoing improvements), the rest of the site is surprisingly user-friendly, and in some cases downright inspiring. One part that tickles our fancy is a convincing argument about why local agriculture is so beneficial called “The What and Why of Local Foods,” particularly the parts where the USDA is...
On Friday, the USDA announced the 298 recipients of funds from the Value-Added Producer Grant (VAPG) program, totaling over $40 million and impacting 44 states and Puerto Rico. Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan made the announcement at the Local/Regional Food System Conference in Chicago. Funds may be used for feasibility studies or business plans, working capital for marketing value-added farm products and for farm-based renewable energy projects, according to the USDA. Some of the great businesses receiving awards include the following (click on them to learn more about their business): Living Water Farms • Strawn, Illinois  Agriberry • Studley,...
Organic dairy standards have gotten a makeover from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The new guidelines, which will require that dairy producers meet more stringent criteria in order for their milk to be certified organic, will go into effect on June 17, 2010. The amendments to the National Organic Program state that animals must be pastured for at least four months of the year to be approved as organic milk producers. During the four-month grazing season, 30 percent of their diet must come from pasture grass. Dairy farms in temperate climates will be expected to pasture their cows for more than the four months specified in the guidelines. USDA Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan stated...
Target will no longer sell farm-raised salmon in any of its stores nationwide. Instead of sourcing from salmon farms, Target will stock only Alaskan, wild-caught salmon in its fresh, frozen and smoked seafood sections. The company cited environmental reasons behind the decision, which was announced last week. Target consulted conservationists with the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch to determine how to make their seafood offerings more environmentally conscious. Farmed salmon, Target argues, can increase pollution, chemicals and parasites and hurt native salmon in surrounding areas. Julie Packard, executive director of the Monterey Bay Aquarium, said “Target's decision to source...
Nineteen inches of snow and the White House Kitchen Garden is still growing. Fresh off the success of the fall harvest, Michelle Obama's garden was prepped for the winter growing season with hoop houses just days before this weekend's record snowfall. A hoop house is constructed using metal bars and then stretching fabric or plastic tightly around the outside of the structure, creating a temporary energy-efficient greenhouse. The sun warms the hoop house, and the structure protects and insulates crops from snow and frost. Hoop houses also improve soil and water quality. Volunteers and USDA staff planted spinach, lettuce, carrots, mustard greens, chard and cabbage, as well as a crop of rye...
Regional News Oct. 15: The Flack Family Farm in Enosburg Falls, Vermont, has been producing a Vermont-grown version of kimchi, the traditional Korean food made of pickled vegetables. Burlington Free Press Oct. 17: Pete's Greens, one of FarmPlate's cultivators, is supplying produce to a new market in Somerville, Mass. Sherman Market sells only organic and farm-fresh foods. Somerville News Oct. 18: FarmPlate cultivators Sugarsnap Farm and Pitchfork Farm coexist with a bio-plant in Burlington, Vermont. The Republican Oct. 19: The Brattleboro, Vermont, YMCA will attempt to influence policymakers to encourage healthy behaviors through environmental and policy change. Brattleboro Reformer