Can I Sell Fresh-Squeezed Juice or Cider at the Farmers’ Market?

Raw juice and cider are potentially hazardous products that have been responsible for many illness outbreaks, so sale of raw juice and cider is very tightly controlled. Continue reading

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Looking for guidance on food safety rules, requirements and best practices for meals served at special events

One resource you should take a look at is “Come & Get It! What You Need to Know to Serve Food on Your Farm.”
Farms are viewed by the law as the same kind of venue as anywhere else — farmers have to abide by the same food & beverage service regulations as anyone else — so the regulatory information in that publication would also be useful for festivals and events.

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Is it legal to sell inspected primal cuts of meat directly off a mobile processing unit to restaurants and institutions?

 Yes, sale of inspected primal cuts would be legal, if a couple of conditions are met:
1. The mobile unit would have to have the correct licensing. There are a couple of ways to have mobility:  a mobile processing plant, or a mobile transport unit that would transport primal cuts from a brick-and-mortar processing plant to a buyer.

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Can Farmers’ Markets do Farm to School?

Yes!  MISA’s Aggregation of Farmers’ Produce fact sheet was developed in response to the experience of the Wabasha Farmers’ Market in doing Farm to School sales. It includes specific steps and templates for food safety protocols that were satisfactory to the Minnesota Department of Agriculture.  The Wabasha Market is now a licensed Wholesale Food Handler for their farmers’ market-based aggregation and distribution to schools, hospitals, and restaurants in the Wabasha area.

The fact sheet download link plus other inforomation:
https://www.misa.umn.edu/resources/local-food-sales-resources/aggregation-sale-farm-products

More about the Wabasha story is captured in a case study, available here:

https://mnlocalfoodregs.wordpress.com/case-studies/

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How Can I Find a Meat Processor for My Livestock?

Choosing a meat processor is a big decision. Start by making a list of inspected processors within what you consider a reasonable driving distance from your farm, and then do research.  Continue reading

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How can a student from outside the United States come to study at the Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture?

It is important to understand that the Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture (MISA) is one small organization within the University of Minnesota. MISA staff are involved in the Sustainable Agricultural Systems degree programs, but the courses and the degrees are offered through the University of Minnesota.

You would need to apply to become a student at the University of Minnesota, and then choose Sustainable Agricultural Systems as your minor degree program. Here is the link for finding more information about admission to the University of Minnesota:
http://twin-cities.umn.edu/admissions-aid Continue reading

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Insurance for Selling at Farmers’ Markets

The Minnesota Farmers Market Association (MFMA) offers insurance coverage for farmers’ markets and for vendors.

Generally, insurance for the markets covers injuries that may happen in the common market space.   Continue reading

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Does a Multi-Farm CSA Need a License?

It depends.

The right to sell products that you raise on your property (either owned or leased) without a license is protected by the Constitution of the State of Minnesota, Article 13, Section 7:
https://www.revisor.leg.state.mn.us/constitution/#article_13

If all of the farmers who produce products for the CSA are present at the place and time where customers pick up their CSA shares, then no license is needed.

That is often not the scenario, though. If one farmer is handling packing of the containers, or delivery of the CSA shares, or both — then it is not all product of that farmer’s farm.

A Stearns County District Court case in 2013 upheld the Minnesota Department of Agriculture’s position that farmers distributing the products of other farms, not their own, must be licensed for that activity of collecting and distributing products.  Case # 73-CR-12-2846; http://pa.courts.state.mn.us/   Continue reading

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What is being done to address the decline of nutrients in our fruits and vegetables?

The underlying problem is that of soil erosion and loss of topsoil.  This is a serious situation that is getting a lot of attention from us and our colleagues.  MISA has a formal partnership with the Sustainable Farming Association of Minnesota, which is very involved in bringing forward information and fostering discussion about soil health.  Through an organization related to MISA, called Green Lands Blue Waters, we are working with researchers and educators in Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, and Illinois to address the issue of soil erosion through development of new crops and cropping systems.
Please have a look at the following materials that provide a great deal of information about work being done to improve soil health and reduce soil and nutrient loss from farming systems.

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Environmental impact of livestock production

At MISA, we prefer a nuanced discussion of the role of livestock in agriculture and the environment.
Here’s the very quick-and-dirty sketch of our thinking on this topic:
– The major water quality problems in surface waters that receive agricultural runoff are excess nitrates, excess phosphorus, fecal coliform bacteria, turbidity, and hypoxia.  All of these problems can be mitigated or even reversed by cropping systems that feature continuous living cover (CLC); which means use of cover crops in tandem with annual crops like corn and soybean; and use of perennial crops in the system.
– Carbon stored in soil is lost when tillage occurs for the planting of annual crops like corn and soybean.  No-till systems can mitigate that to some degree, but these are not fully adopted by farmers.
– Carbon dioxide can be pulled from the atmosphere by growing plants and stored as soil carbon in agricultural cropping systems that employ perennial crops.
– The most established and likely pathway for an increase in acreage of perennial crops is for those to be forage crops, and for those forage crops to be utilized by a grazing animal.  Well-managed grazing of perennial grasses and other perennial crops can produce a saleable livestock product for the farmer while simultaneously sequestering soil carbon and reducing or nearly stopping agricultural runoff into surface waters.
– Thus, if we look at the potential benefits of perennial ground cover as opposed to the annual row-cropping of corn and soybean in terms of reducing runoff; AND the benefit in soil carbon sequestration from shifting more ground from annual crops to perennial crops; AND we look at the economic reality that dictates that a farmer must have a product of value to consumers to sell; THEN, on balance, a system that includes grazing livestock under good grazing management and using perennial forage is preferable to a system that excludes livestock.  We also like cover crops for their soil health, prevention of runoff, and prevention of leaching benefits; and using cover crops as forage for grazing livestock can also speed the integration of cover crops into a farmer’s cropping system.

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