On January 12-13, 2017, The Wisconsin Local Food Network (WLFN) will hold its 11th Annual Summit at the Radisson Hotel in La Crosse, Wisconsin convening stakeholders from across the Wisconsin food system for learning, networking, and community building.

WLFN is a network of individuals and organizations that works towards a Wisconsin food system that supports a strong food infrastructure that helps local communities and businesses thrive, sustainable farms of all sizes, and affordable access to healthy locally grown food for ALL Wisconsin residents. With a long-standing partnership with UW-Extension and other food and agriculture groups, WLFN is the leading coalition of food advocates in the state.

The Summit, held annually since 2007, brings together community organizers, agency staff and advocates, educators, students, local food producers, processors, distributors, businesses, and eaters to learn, network, and help shape our local food systems.

Click here if you would like to see the e-news with all the details including the Pre-Summit Vernon County / Viroqua Experience, the La Crosse Food Tour on Thursday morning, the reception, networking dinner, opportunity to network with and converse with local food leaders from five (5) states, and things like carpooling and seeking or offering room shares.

In past Summits, WLFN has introduced concepts of Open Space, Networking, and Collective Impact throughout the schedule, encouraging participants to come together to discuss key issues surrounding the Wisconsin food system and to think creatively about how we can come together to collectively shape a strong, equitable food system.

This year’s closing general session will be a Wisconsin Food System Convergence. This will be a forum to solicit input from food system stakeholders on how to create a sustainable, good food movement throughout our state. The Convergence will build on all the great work that has been done in the past, and through a modified process of Appreciative Inquiry, will seek to chart a coordinated path forward. Join us to share your input on how to more effectively work together to build a food system that makes it easy to grow, sell, access, and eat healthy food for all people in Wisconsin.

“We are very excited for the closing general session,” said Kathleen Hein, WLFN Board Chair. “It will bring together the work we have done together over the last decade and start to chart a course forward for the next 10 years to engage more people and spark more connections throughout the state.”

“For those who have felt things may have moved too slowly in the past as it relates to action, we’ve heard you and the Convergence is our promise to ensure work between Summits,” said Angela Rester, former WLFN Board Director and currently managing WLFN. “The Wisconsin Healthy Food Systems Alliance partnered with us this year and have given an extra boost to ensuring next action steps between Summits.

Early bird registration rates are available until midnight CST Wednesday, December 21 and discounts are available for farmers and students (high school, technical college, and other higher learning institutions). Registration scholarships are also available for anyone wishing to participate but hasn’t the means or all of the means to do so. To register for the conference or to learn more about WLFN, please visit the Wisconsin Local Food Network website at

Volunteers are needed to serve as room hosts and monitors, set-up and take-down, support for IT needs, registration, and new this year, we need about 20 folks to serve as table moderators during the Convergence.  If you would like to learn ways that you can be engaged as a volunteer at the Summit or to help spread the word, please contact Angela Rester at or 262-488-4747.

Let’s Fix FSMA For Good the Second Time Around!

WLFN FSMA Pic RESIZEWLFN has just released it’s latest Policy blog on the current comment period for the re-proposed rules of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).

This blog post will direct you to all the resources you need to effectively comment and effect change on FSMA — comment period closes December 15th so act now!

Many of us remember that around this time last year the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) was in the process of trying to finalize a myriad of rules relating to food safety under the auspices of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), which became law in 2011. This represented the first time since 1938 that significant food safety reform had been undertaken in the United States.

The charge of overhauling food safety in the United States is a herculean task and one that will have significant ramifications for producers and processors in the future. This is why it is imperative that FSMA be implemented and enforced correctly with an eye towards achieving equitable results for all producers, especially small and mid-size producers who will bear the brunt of the burden with the rules as they are currently written.

The first go around of the Food Safety Modernization Act was rife with vagaries, redundancies, and inconsistencies. Two rules in particular – The Produce Rule and the Preventive Controls Rule – put an inequitable burden on small and mid-sized farms, particularly diversified operations, threatening to handicap present and future progress in developing local food systems and use of organic and other sustainable agriculture approaches. So many regulations in the first iteration of FSMA were unpalatable to the public that almost 22,000 individuals and organizations submitted feedback to the FDA – many, like the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC), were laudably noted for their grassroots campaigns educating the masses on the deleterious effects those complicated regulations could potentially have on small farms.

Because of this feedback, the FDA went back to the drawing board and re-drafted these regulations. This is the current situation we all find ourselves in and once again it is time to take action. Some adverse provisions of the two rules were revised or removed completely, illustrating that the FDA listened and responded to some of the concerns of commenters. However, too many of those adverse provisions remain such as definitions of farms vs. facilities that would require many small farms to be regulated out of proportion to their operation’s food safety risk, costly water testing criteria that are not rooted in science, other costly regulatory burdens on the modest profits of small farmers, and lack of clarity about impractical impositions on small processers and farmers’ markets to name a few. If you’re interested, you can read more on what’s been fixed and what is still detrimental to small farms and local food systems in this National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition article on top FSMA fixes and fails.

NSAC staff has been hard at work pouring over the re-proposed Produce Rule and Preventive Controls Rule and has launched a one-stop website with information, resources, and sample comments to get you everything you need to fix FSMA once and for all. After this comment period, the agency will read over the comments and begin publishing final rules later this year.

It’s not hard to comment and the deadline for submitting comments to the FDA is December 15th

Learn more, comment today, and #FixFSMA!

Spread the word and visit to stand up for healthy farms and healthy food!

The post can also be found on WLFN’s ‘Policy, Outreach, and Education‘ page.