Action Alert

Fair trade or free trade? Let your voice be heard on Minnesota’s future!

The Obama Administration is negotiating two new mega trade deals (one with Pacific Rim countries, another with Europe) entirely in secret, with the goal of further expanding the NAFTA-model of free trade. These trade agreements could have major impacts on Minnesota's farmers, workers, small business owners and rural communities. They could limit Minnesota’s ability to support local food and energy systems and grow local businesses. In order to stay up to speed, Minnesota has set up a new Trade Policy Advisory Council (TPAC) to advise the state legislature and Governor.

TPAC wants to hear from Minnesotans: What concerns do you have about free trade? What role could TPAC play in the future? Now is your opportunity to have a say in our future trade policy. Complete the survey and let them know future trade negotiations should be public, not secret. Help ensure the voices of all Minnesotans are heard in the development of trade agreements and that they protect local control and our quality of life. The free trade model has failed for Minnesota and we need a new approach to trade. Help ensure the voices of all Minnesotans are heard before trade agreements are completed, and that they protect local control, our natural resources and our quality of life.

Please take five minutes and complete the survey. To find out more about these trade agreements, go to

Farm to Child Care: Opportunities and Challenges for Connecting Young Children with Local Foods and Farmers

Published June 18, 2012

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Used under creative commons license from USDA.


Across the United States, interest in locally grown food has skyrocketed over the past ten years. Procurement of local and regionally grown foods by colleges, hospitals, retailers and other large buyers has dramatically increased, while farmers markets and other “direct market” channels are flourishing. The USDA now estimates that the sale of locally grown foods is nearly $5 billion per year.1

Farm to School (F2S) programs have been an integral part of the local foods revolution by encouraging K-12 schools to incorporate locally grown, minimally processed foods into their meal programs while educating a new generation about local agriculture and the benefits of eating local. In Minnesota alone, participating public schools now serve nearly 560,000 students, or 68 percent of Minnesota’s K-12 population.

While Farm to School is now becoming mainstream across the country, we recognize that the seeds of obesity and diet-related chronic disease are often sown before children begin kindergarten. Reaching children, and fostering healthy eating habits, before their K-12 years is crucial if we are to bend the curve on the obesity crisis that our nation now faces. With the vast majority of our children spending a significant portion of their early years in child care, child care settings offer a critical opportunity to influence what kids eat and how they interact with food. At the same time, few child care food buyers purchase from farmers that grow for local and regional markets, thus limiting the benefit of the child care marketplace for local growers and local economies.

This report explores the feasibility of expanding Farm to Child Care (F2CC) initiatives, the dynamics that surround foodservice in various child care contexts, and lessons learned from early efforts around the country. While a portion of our analysis is particular to realities on the ground in Minnesota, we hope that this report will inform efforts more broadly.

In conducting this research, IATP interviewed a wide range of child care providers, educators, nonprofits and government entities across the U.S. (see the list of interviewees in the appendix) and reviewed available literature. The authors would like to thank all of the individuals who contributed to this report and who are working toward a food system that enables our children, farmers and communities to thrive.

To continue reading, download the entire report.

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