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Director’s Message – December 2018

 

As the year comes to a close and we are getting ready for the holidays, buying gifts, planning menus and shopping for ingredients we hope you will keep local food and our farmers in your plans.  Keep our farmers in mind when you are making your holiday decisions – there are a wide variety of winter veggies and greenhouse greens available now, plus baked goods, jams & jellies, beer, and wine.  And don’t forget cheese! Whether shopping at a local farmers market or at a farm stand our region offers so much!

We also hope that you will support SEMAP in your year-end giving.  Please help us keep healthy local food at the core of our community and donate to SEMAP’s Annual Fund.  We need everyone’s support and collective effort, to keep our impact strong! Thank you for your support.

At the time I am writing this, the Farm Bill is waiting for the President’s signature after surprisingly positive and very rapid votes by both the House and Senate.  Most of items that made it into the bill are positive and a few are intriguing.  Under the intriguing aspect: U.S. farmers and ranchers will have access to USDA funding to promote agricultural trade with Cuba and a livestock vaccine bank.  Successes are grant funding for indoor and urban agriculture, more leeway for clearing diseased or insect-damaged forests and bringing back the top USDA position on rural development.  Especially heartening is the nod to long-time Ag supporter from Massachusetts: the 2018 Farm Bill renames FINI (Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive) to be the Gus Schumacher Nutrition Incentive Program, honoring the work of the former US Undersecretary of Agriculture.  The bill also proves the FINI program with permanent funding.

We’re looking forward to a busy, productive, and exciting 2019.  We are excited about our incoming board members adding to our vibrant board, a renewed focus on land access, local meat and seafood, and the federal recognition of hemp as an agricultural crop.  We are continuing to assist farmers in improving their marketing and business planning.  Our first workshop in 2019 is on creating and improving marketing plans with Myrna Greenfield of Good Egg Marketing.  Look for our upcoming events here.

Wishing you all the time to slow down, reflect, and relax this winter season.

With thanks,
Karen Schwalbe
Executive Director