Utah Department of Agriculture and Food

3-2-1 crunch! At approximately 10:20 am on Oct. 17, 2018 it is estimated that more than 100,000 Utah children and adults bit into an apple at the same time. If the old adage is true a lot of doctors were able to take the day off. The simultaneous Apple Crunch, as it was called was organized by the Utah State Board of Education (USBE), with assistance from the Utah Department of Health and UDAF as a fun way to celebrate National Farm to School Month. However, the fun activity underscores a more serious issue that state legislative, school, health and agriculture officials want to address: the lack of local food in Utah schools. 

"We don't do a lot of farm to school in Utah schools right now," said Kate Wheeler, child nutrition and farm to school specialist, USBE. There are several reasons for the lack of local farm fresh food in local schools, including cost and procurement system issues. While the challenges are great, the Utah Farm to Fork Task Force, organized by USBE, the Local Food Advisory Council, led by Rep. Stephen Handy (R-Layton) and Sen. Gene Davis (D-Salt Lake City), the Utah Farm Bureau, and the Utah's Own program at UDAF are all working on creative solutions to increase the amount of local food in schools. "It's something we like to call a triple win. Kids win, farmers win and communities win. So kids get access to really nutritious food, combined with agriculture education it makes them more likely to eat fresh fruits and vegetables.," Wheeler added.

USBE tracked purchases of apples by schools and daycare facilities for the Apple Crunch Day and estimates about $30,000 was spent on local Utah apples for the day. Imagine if all those schools were buying apples, other produce, meat, dairy and other Utah foods daily. It would be a great financial benefit to local farms and the Utah economy. 

"it's one of the top issues we are looking to address in the Local Food Advisory Council," said Rep. Handy. He took a few minutes out of his busy day during monthly Interim Committee meetings to join 85 kindergarten students who descended on the Capitol Rotunda to eat and learn about apples. After the crunch the children got to participate in farm themed activities, and, of course, finish eating those yummy apples supplied by Mountainland Apples. 

 

State egg producers, graders, inspectors and other officials from the FDA, Health Department, USDA/APHIS/VS, Utah Veterinary Diagnostic Lab, an outside Veterinary Poultry Consultant and Utah Department of Agriculture and Food (UDAF) came together October 17 for the Annual Utah Egg Quality Assurance Plan Training, held at the UDAF office.

“This training is required by our plan and is an important part of our efforts to ensure our poultry in the State remain disease free and  provides assurance that consumers are getting safe, wholesome, quality eggs, egg products, and poultry,” said Dr. Robert Erickson, field veterinarian for the UDAF Division of Animal Industries. “This and other trainings ease our job of enforcing uniformity and compliance to match industry standards.”

Utah’s egg industry consists of 3.6 million egg-laying chickens that produce one billion eggs annually. That represents nearly $150 million in revenue and nine percent of Utah’s agricultural industry.

Topics covered in the training included poultry rodent control, disease and foodborne outbreak prevention, biosecurity, food safety, assessment guidelines and updates to those guidelines. 

In May, UDAF’s Egg and Poultry Grading team received Governor Herbert’s Award of Excellence at a special ceremony at the Capitol. The recognition was given for consistently demonstrating outstanding contributions to consumers of Utah, seven days a week and including holidays.

Due to our climate and the seasonal nature of fruits and vegetables, the average Utahn might be hard pressed to spend one full week much of the year eating mostly or 100 percent locally grown or produced food. But mid-September? If ever there is a time to try a local only diet for a few days, it is this week. September 8-15 is designated nationally as Eat Local Week. In Utah, as in much of the country this is peak harvest time, a perfect time to give it a try.

Where to Buy Local Foods?

You can start at the grocery store by looking for the Utah's Own Logo on everything from cheese to salsa to chips and sauces. Go to the Utah's Own website for a list of companies and brands. While you are at the grocery store, check the dairy case and meat counter for local products. You can find local milk, cheese, and meat in some stores. Some stores also try to carry as much local produce this time of year as possible. If it's local it should say.

But for a lot of people the real joy of shopping for local food comes from other venues. Roadside stands and on-farm stands and stores are great places to get local produce and other local foods. And then, of course, there are farmers markets. The Utah's Own website has a list of farmers markets and farm stores. Check it out and get to a market this week. Many of the market booths are even staffed by the main farmer or a contributing member of the farm family. Talk about knowing where your food comes from.

What to Buy?

Finally, we get to talk about the food choices. The following list is not comprehensive, but it is a start. I'm going to stick to the seasonal produce that is in season now, but know that most of the year you should be able to find local beef, pork and poultry, local cheese and other dairy, local honey and so many wonderful Utah's Own packaged/processed foods.

Okay, on to the seasonal produce list:

  • Apples
  • Arugula
  • Basil
  • Beans
  • Beets
  • Broccoli Raab
  • Cabbage
  • Cantaloupe
  • Carrots
  • Chard
  • Cilantro
  • Collard greens
  • Corn
  • Cucumbers
  • Eggplant
  • Fennel
  • Garlic
  • Grapes
  • Green onions
  • Kale
  • Lettuce
  • Melons
  • Mint
  • Mushrooms
  • Onions 
  • Oregano
  • Parsley
  • Peaches
  • Pears
  • Peppers
  • Pumpkins
  • radishes
  • Raspberries
  • Radishes
  • Rosemary
  • Shallots
  • Spinach
  • Squash (summer and winter)
  • Thyme
  • Tomatoes
  • Watermelons

Though it may not be everything that can be eaten, there are a lot of choices this time of year. Go out and discover local food for yourself this week.

 

 

The Utah State Fair is a great place for people to make the connection between farm and food

By Doug Perry

Sometimes the space between food produced and food consumed seem vast and disconnected – almost like foreign countries. And yet the heart and soul of our nation has always been found across the vast open lands of our farms and ranches. Urbanites find great comfort in that.

But Utah’s harvest season, prominently celebrated at the Utah State Fair in Salt Lake City, is where the two paths cross. Where the producer and consumer become better acquainted and reminded of each other’s value. And where we all share in the successes of another blessed year of agriculture and food.

Since 1856 the Utah State Fair and its country cousins, the county fairs, serves as an important and much-anticipated highlight of farmer and rancher accomplishments. It’s an annual conference for agri-producing peers, sharing in best practices, networking, and experiencing a common bond and passion.

But others in Utah delight in the fair, too. Historically, it’s served as a premier state and community social event, marked by carnival rides, a rodeo and entertainment, and of course food. But there’s also friendly competition between farmers, homemakers, and artists that leave us all marveling at the skills and techniques our Utah family, friends, and neighbors have mastered.

The Utah State Fair seems to be growing and getting better each year. Governor Herbert’s leadership and a generous donation by the LDS Church led to a new 10,000-seat arena that has expanded capacities and the types of shows that can be accommodated.

 

Here’s just a sampling of what this year’s fair offered:

  • Utah Department of Natural Resource (DNR) featured its annual fishing pond - this year stocked with catfish and plenty of volunteers on hand to assist children with their catch and release. “We get lots of interest from kids, the banks are very crowded by 5 or 6 pm,” said one DNR volunteer.
  • Next door was another hands-on experience called Barnyard Friends. Here, small children delight in a sow and her eight piglets lying close together and near the fence so they can be touched as they nap the afternoon away, oblivious to the loads of attention they garner. The exhibit also included calves, goats, sheep, and various chicks at all stages – unhatched eggs incubating to only days old.
  • The competition barns were bustling with activity throughout the week, where hundreds of FFA, H4, and other kids competed in livestock showmanship and quality events. “The judges are looking for sheep that are well-fed and muscular so I give them lots of hay and grain throughout the year,” said Sarah Shaw, of Sevier County. “But they also need to see that my sheep have connected and are comfortable being handled by me so I do lots of things to prepare them for that also.”

 

  • Dairy West and Meadow Gold probably got the award for most unusual display this year, sculpting three near-life-size cows doing jazzer-size out of butter. Following the theme “Dairy Doing a Body Good,” sculptors Debbie Brown and Matt McNaughtan. For Debbie this was actually her 21st butter sculpture. "We come up with a winning design and then (we'll) kind of sketch out some ideas of how we can make it work for our cooler," she said.

 

  • Moving right along, most families with small children don’t miss the Little Hands on the Farm exhibit, an award-winning favorite of children, ages 2 to 10 where they begin to understand the connection from farm to grocery. Hands on the Farm is sponsored by Utah’s Own and gives kids the chance to gather eggs, pick apples, visit a grain silo, pluck vegetables from the garden, and more.

 

  • For the last 40 years, the Cattleman Association and Utah Beef Council have sponsored “Utah Beef Feast,” and come-and-get-it-while-it-lasts lunch barbecue that draws fair-goers in almost entirely on smell alone. “We’ve been come here for a long time. We have lots who know we’re here and relieved to eat anything other than a corn dog,” jokes Daniel Crozier, Cattlemen’s second vice president.

 

  • And, finally, what fair would be complete without the myriad of competitions for top crops - corn, squash, carrots, tomatoes - you name it and there’s probably someone awarded first prize for it. But, homemakers are also battle it out with their amazing offering of canned fruit and pickled goods, along with a wide assortment of baked goods such as cookies, cinnamon rolls, bread, and pies of every sort.

 

The 2018 Utah State Fair was, and has always been, a great celebration of agriculture and farming. The connections and bonds created are an important part of our state’s culture, both past and present.



September 4, 2018

Please see the excerpts below from a USDA news release with information on how qualified farmers hurt by recent trade tariffs can apply for mitigation funds:

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today launched the trade mitigation package aimed at assisting farmers suffering from damage due to recent tariffs placed on select agricultural products by multiple foreign nations.  Producers of certain commodities can now sign up for the Market Facilitation Program (MFP), while USDA will also begin to purchase identified commodities under a food purchase and distribution program.  Additionally, USDA has begun accepting proposals for the Agricultural Trade Promotion Program (ATP), which will help American farmers find and access new markets for their products.  In total, USDA will authorize up to $12 billion in programs, consistent with World Trade Organization obligations. 

Perdue announced in July that USDA would act to aid farmers in response to trade damage from unjustified retaliation.  President Trump directed Secretary Perdue to craft a short-term relief strategy to protect agricultural producers while the Administration works on free, fair, and reciprocal trade deals to open more markets in the long run to help American farmers compete globally.  These programs will assist agricultural producers to meet some of the costs of disrupted markets.

USDA provided details in August of the programs to be employed:

  • USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) will administer the Market Facilitation Program (MFP) to provide payments to corn, cotton, dairy, hog, sorghum, soybean, and wheat producers. An announcement about further payments will be made in the coming months, if warranted. 
     
  • USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) will administer a food purchase and distribution program to purchase up to $1.2 billion in commodities unfairly targeted by unjustified retaliation. USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) will distribute these commodities through nutrition assistance programs, such as The Emergency Food Assistance Program and child nutrition programs.
     
  • Through the Foreign Agricultural Service’s (FAS) Agricultural Trade Promotion Program (ATP), $200 million will be made available to develop foreign markets for U.S. agricultural products. The program will help U.S. agricultural exporters identify and access new markets and help mitigate the adverse effects of other countries’ restrictions.

Note: USDA is currently working to determine how to address market disruptions for producers of almonds and sweet cherries. 

Market Facilitation Program

The sign-up period for MFP is now open and runs through January 15, 2019, with information and instructions provided at www.farmers.gov/mfp.  The MFP provides payments to cotton, corn, dairy, hog, sorghum, soybean, and wheat producers who have been significantly impacted by actions of foreign governments resulting in the loss of traditional exports.  The MFP is established under the statutory authority of the Commodity Credit Corporation CCC Charter Act and is under the administration of USDA’s FSA. Eligible producers should apply after harvest is complete, as payments will only be issued once production is reported. 

A payment will be issued on 50 percent of the producer’s total production, multiplied by the MFP rate for a specific commodity.  A second payment period, if warranted, will be determined by the USDA.

Market Facilitation Program

 

 

Commodity

 

Initial Payment Rate

Est. Initial Payment**

(in $1,000s)

Cotton

$0.06 / lb.

$276,900

Corn

$0.01 / bu.

$96,000

Dairy (milk)

$0.12 / cwt.

$127,400

Pork (hogs)

$8.00 / head

$290,300

Soybeans

$1.65 / bu.

$3,629,700

Sorghum

$0.86 / bu.

$156,800

Wheat

$0.14 / bu.

$119,200

Total

 

$4,696,300

** Initial payment rate on 50% of production

MFP payments are limited to a combined $125,000 for corn, cotton, sorghum, soybeans, and wheat capped per person or legal entity.  MFP payments are also limited to a combined $125,000 for dairy and hog producers. Applicants must also have an average adjusted gross income for tax years 2014, 2015, and 2016 of less than $900,000. Applicants must also comply with the provisions of the Highly Erodible Land and Wetland Conservation regulations.

For more further information or to locate and contact local FSA offices, interested producers can visit www.farmers.gov.

Food Purchase and Distribution Program

Beginning this week, USDA’s AMS will issue pre-solicitation notices through GovDelivery for targeted commodities.  These notices will outline products USDA intends to purchase and will continue over the next several weeks. AMS will purchase products over four quarters in the new Federal fiscal year, which starts on October 1, 2018.  The materials purchased may be adjusted between quarters to accommodate changes due to growing conditions, product availability, market conditions, trade negotiation status, and program capacity, among other factors.

To expedite first quarter purchases, AMS will focus on products currently purchased for nutrition assistance programs given the existence of qualified USDA suppliers and specifications for these products. Examples include various forms and varieties of apples, pork, beef, dairy, blueberries, grapefruit, oranges, pears, cranberries, plums/prunes, walnuts, potatoes, rice, kidney and navy beans.  By purchasing known commodities first, AMS can procure commodities that have been sourced in the past with maximum speed and impact.

Food Purchases

Commodity

 Target Amount (in $1,000s)

Apples

$93,400

Apricots

$200

Beef

$14,800

Blueberries

$1,700

Cranberries

$32,800

Dairy

$84,900

Figs

$15

Grapefruit

$700

Grapes

$48,200

Hazelnuts

$2,100

Kidney Beans

$14,200

Lemons/Limes

$3,400

Lentils

$1,800

Macadamia

$7,700

Navy Beans

$18,000

Oranges (Fresh)

$55,600

Orange Juice

$24,000

Peanut Butter

$12,300

Pears

$1,400

Peas

$11,800

Pecans

$16,000

Pistachios

$85,200

Plums/Prunes

$18,700

Pork

$558,800

Potatoes

$44,500

Rice

$48,100

Strawberries

$1,500

Sweet Corn

$2,400

Walnuts

$34,600

Total

$1,238,800

Agricultural Trade Promotion Program

Applicants may now submit proposals for the FAS $200 million ATP Program.  FAS will accept applications on a rolling basis until November 2, 2018. Details regarding ATP and how to apply are available at https://www.fas.usda.gov/programs/agricultural-trade-promotion-program.  

The aim of the program is to assist American agricultural exporters in identifying and accessing new markets and to help mitigate the adverse effects of other countries’ restrictions.  ATP is meant to help all sectors of U.S. agriculture, including fish and forest product producers, mainly through partnerships with non-profit national and regional organizations.