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Brian's Latest Blog Post - What's In a Farm?

Posted by at Nov 20, 2013 10:08 AM |

Back when the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) first started to move through Congress in 2009, none of us really anticipated that we’d be fighting over four years later to preserve the very idea of a “farm” as defined in the new law.


PASA Member Sara Runkle & Great Bend Farm in the News

Posted by at Nov 08, 2013 11:05 AM |

Read the full Reading article regarding PASA member Sara Runkle.

Brian's Latest Blog Post - There's Something Happening Here

Posted by at Nov 01, 2013 05:33 AM |

The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) comes at a time when public interest in knowing more about where and how our food is raised is greatly accelerating.  With that trend, a plethora of new organizations and community-driven efforts aimed at encouraging healthier, locally grown food is also coming into prominence. READ THE FULL BLOG POST HERE.

PASA Business Member - Kreamer Feed Inc / Nature's Best Organic Feeds Opens New Organic Mill

Posted by at Oct 28, 2013 09:44 AM |

The company celebrated its 66th anniversary last week and also opened a new organic grain mill. Read the full article here.

Brian's Latest Blog Post - Consider the Bees of the Field

Posted by at Oct 22, 2013 06:42 AM |

{Blogger’s note: This post completed with the very welcome assistance of my colleague Jo Ann Baumgartner, director of the Wild Farm Alliance located in Watsonville, California. Jo Ann can be reached at}

I was honored to be asked this year to address the annual conference of the Eastern Apicultural Society (EAS) held in early August in West Chester, Pennsylvania.  With well over 500 professional beekeepers and bee scientists present, it was also a tremendous opportunity for me to learn something about a topic with which I had very little previous experience. I was both amazed and a bit alarmed with what I learned.


Food Safety Webinar Recording Now Available

Food Safety Webinar Recording Now Available

Posted by at Oct 22, 2013 05:55 AM |

Weren't able to attend the webinar hosted by the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) on October 10th?

The recording is now available for viewing here.

The Time is Now to Take Action & Comment on the Proposed Food Safety (FSMA) Rules

The Time is Now to Take Action & Comment on the Proposed Food Safety (FSMA) Rules

Posted by at Oct 16, 2013 11:10 AM |

A message from PASA's Executive Director, Brian Snyder:

You've been hearing about this from us for almost 10 months now, but THE TIME IS NOW TO TAKE ACTION AND COMMENT ON THE PROPOSED FOOD SAFETY (FSMA) RULES by the November 15 deadline. Keep in mind it is not likely another chance to affect these regulations this deeply will come around in our is indeed critical that you express yourself now!

A very strong coalition of sustainable and organic farming leaders, working through the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC), has been pouring through the thousands of pages provided by FDA to understand what's going on, and while no one fully understands, our team as a whole has the most thorough knowledge of the proposed rules and implications that I've seen out there anywhere.

The most significant issues needing attention have been boiled down for you - particularly the farmers - so that you can choose among them for comment, or maybe work down the list and do them in several pieces over the remaining time. You can file comments as often as you wish (by November 15), but keep in mind that issues of relevance to both the Produce and Preventive Controls rules (as with exemptions) must be filed in both places to be considered separately.

For your convenience, NSAC has also developed templates for both farmers and consumers to follow, at least to get you started.  These, and several other helpful documents, are available on our website. There is also a petition to sign, sponsored jointly by NSAC and Farm Aid - we suggest that everyone do that first, and then proceed to the issues page and templates to make more meaningful comments.  It is particularly important that farmers weigh in as thoroughly as you are able, since yours are the voices and stories that will carry the most weight.

In addition to all of the above resources, I also want to draw your attention back to the Write to Farm blog I started earlier this year to address food safety and other issues.  There are several posts there of relevance, including the most recent entitled FDA's Culture of Fear Threatens Food Safety.  Please consider discussing this issue of institutional culture as part of your comment introduction or summary, as it's probably the most important matter not otherwise covered in the actual written rules.  Other particularly helpful posts would be the following:

The Food Safety Saga and Why It Matters

Comments to FSMA Listening Session

Sustainable Food Safety

Safety Rules Cloud Beginning Farmers' Futures

Strawberries, Raspberries and Bagged Salads

Moment of Truth for Farmers with Food Safety

FSMA Rules Unfair to Farmers, Bad for Public Health

I can't emphasize enough the importance of not only taking action yourselves, but also getting this email, the information on the PASA and NSAC websites, the Write to Farm blog, the comment templates, and at very least the petition, in front of your neighbors, friends, colleagues, customers and other potentially interested parties, while there's still time to make a difference. If you use Facebook or Twitter, we suggest using the hash tag #fixFSMA as well.

We need a flood of concern at FDA headquarters to make this point, that when it comes to food safety, local and sustainable food systems are part of the solution, not the problem!

Thanks, and feel free to be in touch with questions

Brian Snyder, Executive Director

PASA Board of Directions Election Results

Posted by at Oct 14, 2013 01:17 PM |

The Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture (PASA) recently held an election to fill five seats on our Board of Directors.

Our newly elected board members are: Andy Andrews, Scott Case, Barbara Gerlach, Jamie Moore (incumbent) and Dave Mortensen (incumbent). Brief biographies for each board member are included below.

Andy Andrews - Montgomery County
Andy is the Farm Director at Pennypack Farm in Horsham, PA. Pennypack is a nonprofit farm and education center that focuses on growing produce for its 500-member CSA and provides education on farming, gardening, and food preparation to the community. Since joining Pennypack in 2005, Andy manages farm operations pertaining to crop and animal production, supervises staff, and oversees the agricultural budget.

Scott Case - Centre County
Scott operates Patchwork Farm and Greenhouse in Aaronsburg, PA. Scott and his wife, Eda, have been running the farm for 22 years and are the second generation of Eda's family to do so. One hundred percent of their income comes from their farming operations. The farm operates a retail greenhouse that produces bedding plants, perennials, and organic vegetable transplants in the spring. During the summer and fall, production focuses on organic vegetables and selling through farmers markets and a local restaurant.

Barbara Gerlach - Bradford County
Barbara, along with her husband Charlie, own and operate Berry Fields Farm in New Albany, PA. The farm is a diversified, organic operation with vegetables, livestock and maple syrup. The marketing for their farm is unique, due in part to the remote location, and allows the focus to be on customers experiencing the farm through farm stays, on-farm dinners and the opportunity to take farm products home with them.  

Jamie Moore (incumbent) - Allegheny County
In 2000, Jamie Moore began his career with Eat'n Park Hospitality Group, a company that has 76 restaurants, 46 healthcare accounts and 44 college and business dining accounts throughout PA, WV, OH, MD, MI and NY. Jamie was instrumental in the development of Eat'n Park's local purchasing program called FarmSource. This program ensures 20% of all site's food supply is purchased in and around their communities.

Dave Mortensen (incumbent) - Centre County
Dave has been on the faculty at Penn State University since 2001. His research and teaching focuses on ecologically-informed agriculture and he's an active member of the transitions to organic team and sustainable agriculture working group. Dave's ecologically-based research has been highlighted in international journals, Congressional testimony and his selection to head up several national competitive grants programs in Washington D.C.

Brian's Latest Blog Post - FDA’s Culture of Fear Threatens Food Safety

Posted by at Oct 14, 2013 06:25 AM |

You really have to hand it to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).  They have accomplished a feat in the last 10 months that Secretary Tom Vilsack and his United States Department of Agriculture have not been able to do after five long years of trying . . . uniting America’s farmers of all stripes to stand up for each other and speak with one voice.


PA Young Farmers Launch Party

PA Young Farmers Launch Party

Posted by at Oct 11, 2013 05:40 AM |

To be held at: Everblossom Farm
6363 Carlisle Pike, East Berlin, PA 17316
Saturday, October 26th
Beginning at 6:00pm

Come socialize, network, mingle and enjoy an evening with other young farmers in south-central PA at the beautiful Everblossom Farm. We hope this event serves as the launchpad for a regional chapter of the National Young Farmers Coalition (NYFC), bringing together young and beginning farmers from our region and beyond.

PLUS: Our event will be participating in the NYFC/National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition National Day of Action to Save Local Farms! The FDA has recently released draft rules to the new food safety law, and we want to make sure our voices are heard! Join us in a discussion about these new rules, then write and send in your comments.

We'll be providing some beer and a jam/bluegrass band composed of local farmers. You provide a potluck dish to share, and your ideas about connecting with other farmers and strengthening our community.

We'll have some time to discuss our ideas about a local chapter, go over the results of our survey conducted over the summer, and to look forward to future events.

Plus, NYFC will be facilitating a brief discussion and letter writing event to send comments to the FDA in response to the recently released new draft rules of the Food Safety Modernization Act! Make your voice be heard!

6:00 - 7:00 pm - Mingle, eat, band's 1st set, write letters
7:00 - 8:00 pm - Discuss survey results + forming chapter + next steps
8:00 - ?? - 2nd set, more eating, drinking, party

Do I have to be a YOUNG FARMER to attend?

NO! All ages and occupations welcome, as long as you are eager to join a coalition of farmers and food advocates working to support young and beginning farmers!

For more information, click here!
Contact Emily Best, 724-679-3479

PASA North Central Region - 2nd Annual Barter Fair

PASA North Central Region - 2nd Annual Barter Fair

Posted by at Oct 08, 2013 09:32 AM |

PASA members Leah Tewksbury and Phylleri Ball are coordinating the 2nd Annual North Central Region Barter Fair. The barter event will be held Saturday, November 2nd from 12:00pm-2:00pm in the Professional Development Center at the Pennsylvania College of Technology campus in Williamsport (Lycoming County).

2nd Annual Barter Fair
Saturday, November 2
12:00pm - 2:00pm
Professional Development Center

Pennsylvania College of Technology

1 College Ave
Williamsport, PA 17701

The event room is located on a first floor of the Professional Development Center, near easily accessible parking in the Le Jeune Chef parking lot; there will be signs posted to direct participants. Bring a wagon to pull items inside, if that is easier. Each participant will have a 6-foot table space to display their wares for trade. Produce, meat, bakery items, cheese, soaps, canned goods, fiber products, and other farm produced products are welcome. The number of similar goods will be restricted, so variety is encouraged. RSVP early to improve your chances of participation. Please be prompt to set up your space so that as many participants as possible can view your products before the barter commences.

To reserve your space, contact:
Leah Tewksbury or 570-437-2620.

Your RSVP should include the following information:
- Identify your name, farm name, and contact information.

- List the main products you will bring for barter.

Requirements of Participation:
- Items need to be producer raised or handcrafted.
- Current member of PASA, residing in the North Central Region.

- Products grouped in $5 or $10 increments, to facilitate making trade agreements.

- Participants are asked to barter and avoid the use of cash.

Questions regarding the Barter Fair can be directed to Leah Tewksbury at 570-437-2620 or Phylleri Ball at 570-998-2221.

Greater Lehigh Valley Buy Fresh Buy Local® Chapter To Host Harvest Event

Greater Lehigh Valley Buy Fresh Buy Local® Chapter To Host Harvest Event

Posted by at Oct 07, 2013 12:07 PM |

Sunday, October 27th
Allentown Brew Works
812 W Hamilton St, Allentown
1 - 4 PM; 12 - 1 PM VIP Hour

Join us for the sixth annual Lehigh Valley Harvest fundraiser! Over 30 restaurants, farms, wineries, breweries, and other local food providers will give participants the opportunity to taste the Valley’s most imaginative cuisine from its finest chefs, most dedicated farmers, and freshest locally grown ingredients.

“We are inviting people to come out and taste the wonderful flavors of fresh, locally grown food,” says Lynn Prior, Director of the Greater Lehigh Valley chapter of Buy Fresh Buy Local®.  Each restaurant will offer a menu item containing at least two ingredients sourced from farms within the Lehigh Valley. Local farmers, wineries, breweries, and specialty food producers will also be present providing samples of their distinctive products.

In addition to great food, attendees will be invited to watch demonstrations on preparing and preserving the harvest. And a silent auction will offer the chance to win one of many food-related and locally made prizes. VIP attendees will receive limited early admission, a special welcome cocktail, guided wine and beer pairings, and entry in an exclusive VIP raffle.

Tickets are available for purchase online or at participating locations ($25 in advance / $30 at door; Students, Seniors:  $20 (must provide ID at door); VIP Tickets:  $75).

Proceeds will benefit both the Greater Lehigh Valley chapter of Buy Fresh Buy Local® and the Seed Farm, along with their programs to improve the Lehigh Valley local food economy. Call BFBL-GLV at 610-703-6954 or visit

Food Safety Reform a Burden to Small Farms

Posted by at Oct 07, 2013 10:58 AM |

PASA's own Jim Crawford, Nick Maravell & Brian Snyder are included in this article featured by the Red Bluff Daily News. Read the full article here.

Two Upcoming Webinar Opportunities to Learn More About Proposed Food Safety Regulations

Posted by at Oct 04, 2013 01:36 PM |

PASA's partners at the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) will be hosting a webinar entitled: Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA): Learn More and Speak Out! - Thursday, October 10th; 4:30-6:00pm EST. They will walk folks through FSMA, the issues & how to take action. Registration is limited for this webinar, so please register today! For those unable to attend this session will be recorded, and available for later viewing.

PASA's partners at the Farmers Market Coalition, will be hosting a webinar on Tuesday, October 15th at 4:00pm EST. This session will explain how proposed food safety regulations will affect farmers markets and direct marketing farmers, as well as how to submit comments to make your voice heard. Sarah Hackney, Grassroots Director of NSAC will be presenting. This webinar is open to everyone, so please invite people in your network, especially farmers. Register here for this webinar.

PASA Member, Thomas Calvert, Enshrined in KILE Hall of Fame

Posted by at Oct 04, 2013 12:35 PM |

PASA Member, Tom Calvert of Berlin, Somerset County, was inducted into the Pennsylvania Livestock Association Hall of Fame Oct. 3 during the 57th Keystone International Livestock Exposition in Harrisburg.


Now is the Time for Farmers and Concerned Consumers to Comment on Massive New Food Safety Regulations

Now is the Time for Farmers and Concerned Consumers to Comment on Massive New Food Safety Regulations

Posted by at Oct 03, 2013 11:34 AM |

For Immediate Release

October 3, 2013
For more information: Ariane Lotti, 202-547-5754

Washington, DC, October 3, 2013 – Today, the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) launched a campaign to improve deeply flawed federal food safety regulations that will have a huge impact on farmers and the availability of high-quality local food products.  The NSAC campaign provides farmers, concerned consumers, and farm, food, and public health organizations with information and resources to be able to effectively comment on the proposed regulations.

The deadline for public comments to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on the proposed rules is November 15 – just over six weeks away.

The regulations are part of the implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) passed by Congress in 2010.  The regulations set new standards for produce farms and new requirements for food facilities – including farms – that handle or process food for human consumption.  FDA is proposing standards that undermine sustainable and organic production practices, subject many farms to regulations designed for industrial facilities, and may well prove too costly for farmers to implement and stay in business.  Given the magnitude of the problems with the rules, NSAC is calling on FDA to issue a new, heavily revised set of proposed rules for both produce farms and preventive controls in facilities.

“FDA’s food safety regulations will impact the agricultural landscape for decades to come,” said Brian Snyder, Executive Director of NSAC member-organization Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture and co-chair of NSAC’s Food System Integrity Committee.  “At stake in these regulations is nothing less than the ability of family farmers and local food businesses to supply burgeoning consumer demand for fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as value-added products like artisan cheese and other preserved farm products.”

Information about the proposed regulations, who is affected, and what the top issues are, as well as instructions for how to submit comments to FDA are available at NSAC’s FSMA Action Center (

“Wading through hundreds of pages of detailed and complex regulations can be intimidating, and understanding how the rules will affect farmers can be very confusing,” noted Sarah Hackney, NSAC’s Grassroots Director.  “To help, we are sharing resources that explain the regulations in plain language and highlight top issues for farmers and consumers so that everyone can weigh in with FDA during this critical time.”

FDA released the proposed regulations in January of this year and has extended the public comment deadline twice.  The deadline for public comments on the proposed regulations for produce safety and for food facilities is November 15, 2013. FDA must respond to all public comments properly submitted by the deadline.   

“FDA is actively seeking input from farmers about how to improve the regulations before the agency makes them final,” explained Dave Runsten, Policy Director with NSAC member-group Community Alliance with Family Farmers and the other co-chair of NSAC’s Food System Integrity Committee.  “It is paramount that farmers and people who care about how and where their food is grown comment on the draft rules by the November 15 deadline.”

“The agency needs to listen carefully to the concerns of farmers and fix the regulations so that they allow farmers to use sustainable farming practices, ensure that local food and farms can grow and thrive, and provide options that treat family farmers fairly,” said Ariane Lotti, NSAC’s Assistant Policy Director.  “Given the substantial problems in the proposed regulations and the lasting impacts these regulations will have, we join the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture and the United Fresh Produce Association in urging FDA to issue a set of second proposed rules so the public can meaningfully comment on what we hope will be a major overhaul of their initial drafts.”



The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition is a grassroots alliance that advocates for federal policy reform supporting the long-term social, economic, and environmental sustainability of agriculture, natural resources, and rural communities.

PASA is Hiring! View & Share the Eastern Region Member Services Job Posting

Posted by at Oct 03, 2013 04:49 AM |

PASA is seeking a Member Services Manager for our Easter Region. This position is based from our Chester County, PA office location.

Read the full job description here.

Brian's Latest Blog Post - FSMA Rules Unfair to Farmers, Bad for Public Health

Posted by at Oct 02, 2013 11:01 AM |

The following list of talking points with respect to the newly proposed FSMA rules was developed by my colleague Roland McReynolds at the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association, and is meant to be helpful to anyone who will be talking about the rules or making official comments to the FDA by the November 15 deadline. For more information, please see other posts on this blog, or go to the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition website.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has proposed regulations for farms and food businesses under the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).  Everything from salad and salsas to cheese and u-pick fruit will be affected, and the costs will force thousands of American farmers and local food makers out of business, destroying job growth in agriculture.  The rules are unscientific, and will damage public health by reducing consumers’ access to fresh, healthy produce and minimally processed foods, and by discouraging soil and water conservation practices on farms.


PASAbilities Award Nominations Due Sept 30

Posted by at Sep 30, 2013 05:31 AM |
PASAbilities - Nominations Needed for Sustainable Ag Leadership Awards for 2014
Deadline is today!

One of the highlights of our annual Farming for the Future Conference is the presentation of the Sustainable Ag Leadership Awards exemplifying the spirit of sustainability in agriculture and food systems.

The PASA Board of Directors is currently accepting nominations for two leadership awards, one to an individual farmer (or farming couple) and another to a business proprietor. Award winners will each be asked to prepare a 18 to 20-minute presentation for one of the plenary sessions at our conference in February 2014 and will receive a plaque and modest cash prize.

The PASAbilities series is designed with three distinct objectives in mind:
•    To hear the stories of our successful leaders and innovators in the sustainable ag community.
•    To inspire farmers and business owners in the audience to improve their operations and/or begin transitioning to more sustainable management.
•    To provide outreach to the public in promoting sustainable agriculture.
Announcements of awards will be made approximately one month in advance of the conference. 

The Organizational Leadership Committee of the Board of Directors will be receiving and reviewing the nominations for awards.

Nominations are being accepted for either category (farm or business) via this web form. All nominations should be received by September 30, 2013.

Thanks for your nominations!

Past Sustainable Ag Leadership Award Winners
Preston Boop
Tim Bowser
Terra & Mike Brownback
Hope & Roy Brubaker
Jerry Brunetti
Herbert Cole
Mary Seton Corboy
Moie & Jim Crawford
Ron Gargasz
Sheri & Steve Groff
Paul Keene
Mary-Howell & Klaas Martens
Kim Miller
Anne & Eric Nordell
Cass Peterson & Ward Sinclair
Robert Rodale
Joel Salatin
Lucy & Roman Stoltzfoos
Kim Tait
Linda & Don Weaver

Past Sustainable Ag Business Award Winners
East End Food Cooperative
The Fertrell Company
Frankferd Farms Foods
Kimberton Whole Foods
Lady Moon Farms
Natural by Nature
White Dog Café

Brian's Latest Blog Post - Moment of Truth for Farmers with Food Safety

Brian's Latest Blog Post - Moment of Truth for Farmers with Food Safety

Posted by at Sep 26, 2013 05:25 AM |

It’s hard to believe, but many of my colleagues and I have now been working on food safety issues for well over four years, at least since the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) began to move through Congress in early 2009.  Throughout that time the road has been twisting and bumpy, with victories and losses...READ THE FULL POST HERE.

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