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

Over a half million students statewide offered farm-fresh, local food last year

Estimated Farm to School food purchases surpassed $1.3 million in 2011

By Andrew Ranallo      
Published March 16, 2012

Used under creative commons license from USDAgov.

MINNEAPOLIS – Schools serving over 558,000 students—or more than 68 percent of the state’s K-12 student population—are now engaged in Farm to School according to a pair of surveys released today by the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP) and the Minnesota School Nutrition Association (MSNA). Farm to School efforts make locally grown vegetables, fruits and other healthy choices an integral part of school meals while creating new opportunities for family farmers.

The surveys gathered feedback from school food service leaders and local farmers, and serve as a snapshot of Farm to School from both perspectives. Participation in Farm to School has risen from fewer than 20 districts in 2006 to 145 in 2011. IATP estimates that $1.3 million of Farm to School foods were purchased by Minnesota school districts last year alone.

“The numbers speak for themselves,” says IATP’s Local Foods Program Director, JoAnne Berkenkamp. “As they continue to grow, so do Farm to School’s benefits: more students eating fresh, healthy foods, more farmers selling to nearby schools, and more of our food dollar circulating in the local economy.”

“Not only is Farm to School important from the standpoint of improving the diets of Minnesota’s students, the program has become increasingly important to Minnesota’s family farmers,” says Dave Frederickson, Minnesota’s commissioner of agriculture. “I see those dual benefits continuing to increase into the future.”

Farmers cite their desire to educate children, increase access to locally grown food, build community relationships, and diversify their markets as key reasons for supporting Farm to School. Doug Peterson, president of the Minnesota Farmers Union, goes on to say that “All members of a community benefit from healthy food and a healthy local economy. Educating students about where food comes from and how it is grown should be a goal of all schools in Minnesota.”

“What our students eat directly affects their ability to perform in the classroom,” says MSNA President Allison Bradford. “Efforts by Minnesota schools and producers to work together and put farm-fresh foods on lunch trays around the state are helping MSNA fulfill its vision of making quality, nutritious foods available to all students as an integral part of their education.”

Looking ahead, 99 percent of participating school districts say they plan to either continue their Farm to School activities at a similar level or expand them, pointing to continued growth and enthusiasm for Farm to School.

Read Farm to School In Minnesota: Fourth Annual Survey of School Food Service Leaders.
Read Grower Perspectives on Farm to School: A Survey of Interested Farmers, Ranchers and Other Producers.

Full survey results and a list of participating school districts is available online at Read more about IATP’s Farm to School efforts at


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