As demand for local food continues to grow, so do opportunities for America’s farmers to market fresh food directly to the consumer. According to statistics from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, farmers markets and farm stands account for roughly $2 billion of the $3 billion that Americans spend annually on farm-direct products. This revenue, in turn, supports the livelihoods of more than 165,000 mostly small and mid-sized farms and ranches.

On August 4, the Union Station Farmers Market hosted several USDA officials during a kick-off event celebrating National Farmers Market Week. The market was one of 10 nationwide the agency chose to feature. The Union Station Farmers Market began in 2016, and currently hosts 19 farmers selling a wide variety of products, including sweet corn, peppers, peaches and plums. In the most recent season, Union Station Farmers Market generated $400,000 in revenue for participating growers.

European ruling a setback for gene editing

Gene-edited crops should be subject to the same stringent regulations as other genetically modified organisms, Europe’s highest court ruled on July 25.

The decision, handed down by the Court of Justice of the European Union in Luxembourg, is a major setback for proponents of gene-edited crops. Many scientists had hoped that organisms created using precise gene-editing technologies such as CRISPR-Cas9 would be exempted from existing European law that limits the planting and sale of GMO crops.

Instead, the court ruled that crops created using these technologies are subject to a 2001 directive. That law was developed for older breeding techniques, and it imposes high hurdles for developing GMO crops for food, according to a report in Nature Magazine.

“Government policies should encourage scientific innovation without creating unnecessary barriers or unjustifiably stigmatizing new technologies,” said U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue in a statement. “Unfortunately, the ECJ ruling is a setback in this regard in that it narrowly considers newer genome editing methods to be within the scope of the European Union’s regressive and outdated regulations governing genetically modified organisms.”

In the U.S., gene editing is not subject to the same strict regulation as genetic modification.

Chinese sorghum buyers visit Texas, Kansas

In an effort to encourage more U.S. sorghum sales to China, the U.S. Grain Council, the United Sorghum Check-off Program, the Kansas Grain Sorghum Commission, the Texas Grain Sorghum Association and the Kansas Corn Commission hosted 11 Chinese buyers this summer. The tour included multiple stops in Kansas and Texas, highlighting the entire sorghum value chain. Feed grain officials are able to use funding from the Market Access Program and Foreign Market Development programs to further relations with trading partners around the world and facilitate the continued expansion of international sales.