It’s almost Fall and I hope you are enjoying the bountiful harvest from your local farmer’s markets. Throughout the growing season our farmers have endured all types of challenging weather conditions; from droughts and fires to hurricanes and floods. As I reflect on my own backyard harvest of blueberries, apples and other delights, it is small but builds respect for farmers who expend enormous efforts to provide our food throughout the year. Recently, I was in California’s central valley and was amazed to see miles upon miles of raisins drying on brown-paper sheets between the rows of vines on the valley floor. I hope your yard has produce delicious treats this year and you are more determined to have a successful garden next year. Our FMNP budget year is coming to a close and I want you to know your Board has worked hard to serve our member states and the farmer community at large. We are also grateful to our Executive Director, Phil Blalock, for his leadership and guidance. I would like to share our progress with you so far this year.
1. We are continuing to explore ways to increase the future appropriations for FMNP and SFMNP and have responded to inquiries from decision makers in Washington. Certified farmer’s markets are vital to improving the health of our communities by increasing access to fresh and nutritious produce, and there is a lot of congressional support for farmer’s markets. The outcome of the Farm Bill is hard to predict and it appears to be delayed until the new congress is in session so we will likely operate with a continuing resolution for the first half of the new fiscal year. We remain positive and encourage you to contact your representatives as private citizens and make sure your voice is heard.
2. Please visit our website at www.nafmnp.org for the latest association news and events. Our website is always getting better and is a valuable tool in keeping in touch. You are all customers and webmasters, so feel free to share your ideas about the website. I hope you have used our member states contact list on the website as it was updated this summer. Also, in gearing up for our annual conference in October, check out the photos tab for a snapshot of last year’s conference activities. If you are attending our annual conference next month and have a special interest in capturing our speakers, networking and events, please let us know and you’ll be our official paparazzi for the conference!
3. The national FM survey has been completed and we received responses from each and every state, tribal organization and territory. Kudos to California’s Vivian Ell for all her efforts constructing the survey and tabulating the results. Thank you for your participation in completing the surveys; we will be presenting the results at the annual conference.
4. Our NAFMNP Board has reviewed the NAFMNP Policy and Operations Manual and identified areas to improve, such as clarifying the Board member’s duties and expectations, as well as how to ensure we are making progress on our priorities. We will share more details at our business meeting at the conference.
5. Our NAFMNP conference committee is eager to present to you the annual conference in San Francisco on October 24-27. I am sure you’ve heard or seen notes from our conference lead Cydney Mayo. She is looking forward to meeting you and if you have questions; please contact her directly at 916-928-8681. The hotel is fully booked and we are looking for other hotels that can accommodate us. Also, we’ve planned some networking opportunities after hours that includes bus and boat tours and a special event including our new farmers market band! If you are an early riser, be sure to join the group at 6:00 am each day for a morning walk and mini-tour of many interesting hot spots around the area.
6. For all states participating in the FMNP and SFMNP programs, you may be wondering about what is happening with the next State Plan. Just like the mailman, neither rain, wind or gloom of night will delay the need to complete this important document. We hear there are no substantial changes from last year, so feel free to work on it now and remember the due date is mid-November.
If you are coming to the Annual Conference and looking for some gifts for important people in your life, how about purchasing one of our association T-Shirts! You can either purchase on our website now or buy one at the exhibit tables, just in time for the holidays! As always, I encourage each of you to pick up the telephone and speak with a farmer to say, “hello.” They always have program ideas and stories to share and provide us great motivation to continue our work for the well-being of our communities. I look forward to seeing you in San Francisco.
2012 NAFMNP President