Rhode Island Agricultural Partnership

By treatyrockbeef - Last updated: Thursday, March 24, 2011 - Save & Share - Leave a Comment

Farmers Market Friends:

Congratulations !!  You are participating one of the most successful experiments in the reclamation and preservation of local foodstream in our nation today.  The Rhode Island Agricultural Partnership is composed of a group of dedicated professionals with a single goal – planning and executing the future vision for healthy productive farmland and coastal waters in the face of growth, development and economic pressure.

Members of the Steering Committee include farmers, nurserymen, representatives of state agencies & agricultural land trusts and advocates for ag industry support and educational organizations.  The group has retained the American Farmland Trust to guide the development of a Five-Year Strategic Plan for Rhode Island’s Agriculture.  The news is exciting but points to a need keep productive land in productivity, reclaim forest land where appropriate and build connectivity and information flow between farmers, governmental regulating bodies and funding sources such as NRCS (National Resource Conservation Service) that can cost-share in the development of sustainable farming methods.

There are also really exciting things happening with local commercial fishery – the brand new “Trace and Trust” program allows commercial fishermen to pool their permits and take turns fishing local areas at sustainable levels, direct marketing amazing fresh local product to a collaborative of chefs who in turn make the commitment to support them.  The lots of fish are tagged with some sort of chip or bar code that can be remotely monitored to confirm that a known product came from a known location.  Sounds like voodoo to me but 4 or 5 chefs I know are chattering like schoolgirls with excitement for the program.  Just this past weekend the first deliveries came into Providence restaurants – Atlantic cod, skate wings, yellowtail flounder and herring.  Get yer napkin on !!

I have enclosed the overview summary of the RIAP 5-Year Plan,  This week’s FARM FACT that will save you 10% on your Treaty Rock Farm purchase of 100% grass-fed and dry-aged beef raised LOCALLY, NATURALLY & HUMANELY at the South Kingstown Farmers Market next Saturday 3/26 is highlighted below and speaks to the bright spot of the local food scene in our otherwise dismal economic picture.  While the total value of our little state’s agricultural production is much lower than in big states like Pennsylvania or Kansas, the relative impact seen through our small lens is incredible and should not be underestimated.  Everything in our state is local and our work creates great healthy food that keeps your neighbors working.  The individuals producing and niche-marketing the right thing to the right people are doing great.  Thank you for enabling me to be one of those individuals.

Background

Three decades ago, many government officials and people in Rhode Island considered agriculture a dying sector. In recent years, however, we have seen a significant
agricultural upturn in Rhode Island. The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports that from 2002 to 2007, the total number of farms in Rhode Island grew from 858 to 1,219, an
increase of 42 percent, 10 times higher than the 4 percent increase nationwide
. The market value of agricultural production climbed from $55.5 million to $65.9 million.
Income generated from agritourism activity increased from $23,000 in 2002 to $689,000 in 2007. In a time of bad economic news, Rhode Island agriculture offers good news.

The public demand for local food and increased concerns about food security have created a new environment that helps local farmers, but it doesn’t fully explain why
Rhode Island agriculture is faring better than agriculture in other New England states. We believe that the growth can be attributed in large part to the entrepreneurial efforts of
Rhode Island farmers to maximize their profits by retailing directly to consumers via farm stands, farmers’ markets and Community Supported Agriculture and to the recent
formation of commodity cooperatives and associations, such as the Rhode Island Dairy Cooperative and the Rhode Island Raised Livestock Association, which have enabled
member farms to increase both their marketing and distribution capacity and their negotiating strength with processors and distributors. The growth is also due to various
private, nonprofit organizations that have come forward, with encouragement from the Rhode Island Division of Agriculture, to connect farmers with consumers and to
complement the work of state and Federal agencies.

Keep up the good work.  Your farmer and the land thanks you.

Respecting the Protein,

PMB

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