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Chef Sam Kass, White House Assistant Chef and Senior Policy Advisor for Healthy Food Initiatives and Chef Bill Yosses, White House Chief Pastry Chef introduce the Chef Competition of the D.C. Farm to School and D.C. School Garden Week at the Savoy Elementary and Thurgood Marshall Academy shared campus in Washington, DC, Tuesday, October 12. At the event related to the Iron Chef competition local chefÕs and student sous chefÕs created healthy, delicious recipes using local apple varieties to be judged by the students themselves. Schoolchildren and a partnership of community organizations have responded to First Lady Michelle ObamaÕs goal to end childhood obesity by building school gardens, providing healthier foods in school meals, and helping kids connect with local food and agriculture.

Industry-in-Brief: Farmobile Launches Data Store, Sam Kass Joins Innit and Acre Venture Partners, more

April 8, 2016

Farmobile Launches Data Store

Farmobile, a farm data service selling hardware and offering farmers a neutral place to house their ag data, has launched the Farmobile Data Store. The Data Store offers farmers a way to sell their agronomic and machine data to vetted third parties on their own terms, according to the startup. Farmobile’s data standard, the Electronic Field Record (EFR), unifies and stores field data sets in a portable format, regardless of manufacturer or format. A completed EFR includes: planting date, crop, variety, and population, as well as harvest date, total production, average yield and average moisture. Farmobile is guaranteeing farmers, at least, $2 per acre for up to 250,000 acres of Minnesota farmland in total. All Data Store revenue is split evenly between the farmer and Farmobile. For more info click here. And to read more about Farmobile and a data privacy, click here.

Former White House Chef Sam Kass Joins Food Tech Startup and Acre Venture Partners

The White House’s former key foodie and food policy consultant Sam Kass has joined Innit, a food tech startup using sensors to measure a food’s temperature, weight, portion size, and other variables and crunches the numbers to determine the ideal temperatures and times needed to prepare certain dishes. Kass has become chief consumer experience officer for the startup.

He has also joined Acre Venture Partners as a partner, an investment firm that has backed a number of food tech companies, including cold-press juice device Juicero, which recently raised a $70 million Series B. This isn’t Kass’ first foray into the world of venture capital finance. He participated in meal delivery service company Sprig’s April 2015 $45 million funding.

Kass has an impressive resume. While at the White House, he worked on a number of national food policies including antibiotic use in meat, school lunches, and more. After a six-year stint and holding titles like the executive director of First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! Campaign, senior advisor to the president on nutrition policy, and assistant chef, Kass left the White House in 2015.

Major Moves in Organics

The US Department of Agriculture has released new statistics indicating that the number of certified organic operations has increased by 12 percent between 2014 and 2015. Even more promising for organic proponents, however, is a 9 percent boost in certified crop producers. The number of acres certified as organic cropland has been relatively static throughout prior editions of the USDA census. The increased percentage could be a boon for the organic industry, which often struggles with shortages of certain raw materials. Check out the statistics here.

And on the regulatory front, the National Organic Program’s (NOP) proposed organic, and livestock poultry welfare standard has been released, and the comments and criticisms are already reaching a fever pitch. Animal welfare advocates and members of the organic industry have been calling for a rule on animal welfare standards for quite some time. Current rules in the NOP govern things like antibiotic use in poultry and livestock and the type of feed that can be provided. They don’t, however, address animal handling and welfare practices. The proposed rule would give producers five years to come into compliance with the new standards, which cover things like animals’ access to the outdoors and minimum cage size requirements. The USDA will accept public comments on the proposed rule for 60 days, but some public interest groups are already seeking an extension. Check out the proposed rule here and send your thoughts to [email protected].

Wal-Mart Commits to Cage Free Eggs

Major retailer Walmart and it’s wholesale spin-off Sam’s Club have announced their goal to transition to a 100 percent cage-free egg supply chain by 2025. The company is also going to require all of their shell egg suppliers to obtain a certification from the United Egg Producers (UEP) Animal Husbandry Guidelines or an equivalent standard and submit to compliance monitoring from a third-party. Whether Walmart, one of the largest retailers in the country, can achieve this goal depends on regulatory changes, supply, affordability, and customer demand.

Cookie-maker Otis Spunkmeyer and snack-maker Snyder’s-Lance also announced his week that they are going cage-free.

TechAccel Expands UC Davis Grant Program

Technology Acceleration Partners, a private capital development company that invests in, acquires, and accelerates early-stage discoveries and technologies, is teaming up with major agriculture research institution University of California, Davis. TechAccel will invest up to $400,000 in the UC Davis STAIR-Plus Program, which is an expansion of the University’s successful Science Translation and Innovation Research (STAIR) Grant program. Sponsored by Venture Catalyst in the UC Davis Office of Research, the STAIR Grant program provides funding to UC Davis researchers for translational science and innovative research. The objective of the program is to enable researchers with Intellectual Property supported innovative research to demonstrate early proof-of-concept and commercial feasibility for technologies being developed with the intent of commercial translation.

Cuba Completes First US Ag Equipment Purchase

Cuba has completed its first purchase of American agriculture equipment since the White House removed some of the trade restrictions against the neighboring island. Instead of buying from a major multinational company like Caterpillar or John Deere, however, Cuba called upon Alabama-based family-owned corporation GulfWise Commercial. According to a license from the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security, GulfWise, an affiliate of Woerner Companies, can sell over $100,000 in smart planting and harvesting machinery to Cuba. John Kavulich, the U.S.-Cuba Trade and Economic Council President, says a government-run research facility will use the equipment to establish grasslands to prevent erosion while creating new pasture and improving recreational areas.

Other News That’s Fit to Chew:

  • The beef industry is preparing for a new FDA rule that will prohibit the use of antibiotics for growth promotion in livestock.
  • USA Today reports that big food companies like General Mills are showing a big appetite for acquiring food tech startups.
  • The FDA has finalized the next rule in the long series of regulations designed to implement the Food Safety Modernization Act. This recent law covers food safety in transportation.

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