Food News: New York Sees Record-Breaking $1.7 Billion Increase in Agriculture, and School Nutrition Officials Call for Local Food in Cafeterias

Here are some recent news stories you might have missed:

New York Times: Obesity Rises Despite All Efforts to Fight It, U.S. Health Officials Say
The most recent national federal health survey shows that the adult obesity rate has risen from 35 percent to 38 percent. Although the change is not statistically significant, the increase comes as a disappointment to health professionals who hoped that a decline in soda and sugar consumption would have a larger impact. Although child obesity rates have remained stable and even showed a decline amount the youngest children, low-income adults of color continue to have the greatest risk of obesity. Read more at the New York Times.

National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition: Massive Year-End Funding Bill a Mixed Bag but Includes Significant Wins for Sustainable Agriculture
The appropriations package for Fiscal Year 2016, a collection of 12 individual spending bills, will most likely include significant funding for agriculture. The draft bill includes $21.75 billion in discretionary funding for the USDA and FDA, which will be used for research, education, extension and food safety outreach; rural development and farm loan programs; and conservation and energy programs. The House and Senate are expected to pass the bill this weekend; however, Congress has yet to reauthorize the Child Nutrition Act, which was not included in the appropriations package. Learn more about the bill at NSAC.

Press and Sun-Bulletin: Expand New York’s Farm to School Program
The New York School Nutrition Association (NYSNA) is advocating for an increase in meal reimbursement rates for schools that buy from local farms. In an editorial in the Press and Sun-Bulletin, NYSNA Executive Board member Marc Bordeau notes that school lunch and breakfast is an important opportunity for children to learn healthy eating habits and for schools to help combat childhood obesity. NYSNA proposes that schools’ reimbursement rates be tied to the amount of New York State agricultural products they purchase, which will promote the consumption of fresh, healthy foods while bolstering the agricultural economy. Read more about NYSNA’s proposal at the Press and Sun Bulletin.

New York State Office of the Governor: Governor Cuomo Announces Growth of New York Agricultural Sales Outpaces National Average
New York State agricultural sales are up 36 percent, compared to 32 percent nationally. Last year, farmers in New York State set a new record for sales, totaling $6.36 billion—about half of which was generated through dairy sales. Cattle and hay production have shown the greatest growth, up 132 percent and 173 percent respectively. Poultry and eggs, honey and peaches have also seen significant growth. Visit the Governor’s website for more information on New York State agriculture.

National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition: Understanding FDA’s New FSMA Rule for Produce Farms
The FDA has finalized the Produce Safety Rule, a component of the Food Safety Modernization Act that sets food safety standards for farms to minimize contamination of fresh produce during growing, harvesting, packing and holding. The rule includes new standards in labeling, recordkeeping, employee training and hygiene, soil amendments and water, among others. Typically, farms that grow produce that is often eaten raw and gross more than $25,000 in produce sales annually will need to comply with the new standards. Read NSAC’s two-part series for more information on the rule.