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Agriculture briefs

U.S. schools, including a number on the North Coast, together spent more than $350 million on locally grown food last year, the Agriculture Department reported in its first-ever Farm to School Census.

An estimated 43 percent of the nation's public school districts have a farm to school program in place. Another 13 percent of those surveyed said they plan to launch such a program.

In California, 307 of the 551 responding school districts reported they purchase food from local farms. Those districts educate an estimated 2.5 million of the state's 6.2 million public school students.

In Sonoma County, participating districts included Santa Rosa, Cotati, Sonoma Valley, Rincon Valley, Healdsburg, Sebastopol and Wright.

In Mendocino, the districts included Ukiah and Fort Bragg. In Lake County, they included Konocti and Lakeport.

Nov. 7 workshop on how to get funds for specialty crops

A Nov. 7 workshop in Santa Rosa will offer details on how farmers, food distributors and others can apply for federal funds to promote specialty crops.

The grants, funded by the federal Farm Bill, are awarded under a competitive process. The aim is to boost sales of such specialty crops as fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture and nursery crops.

The free, two-hour workshop is one of five to be held around California by the state Department of Food and Agriculture. It will begin at 1:30 p.m. at the Sonoma County Agricultural Commissioner's Office, 133 Aviation Blvd., Suite 110.

To register, send an email to grants@cdfa.ca.gov.

Nov. 13 seminar on safety rules for farm workers

Experts from Cal/OSHA Consultation and the State Compensation Insurance Fund will speak Nov. 13 in Santa Rosa about the rules and practices in place to prevent injury and death to farm workers operating in confined spaces.

The seminar will be held from 9 a.m. to noon at the Sonoma County Farm Bureau, 970 Piner Road.

The seminar will summarize state enforcement activity during the past two years and discuss audits seeking to ensure that companies are complying with the rules.

Cost is $25 for Farm Bureau members and $55 for non-members. To make reservations, contact 544-5575 or info@sonomafb.org.

— Compiled by Robert Digitale. Submit items to robert.digitale@pressdemocrat.com

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