vol. 2, #1
january, 2007

website links:

field of flowers
in this issue...

if your email version is hard to read, please refer to the webpage version:   http://www.westernsawg.org/newsletter11.htm         

also, all past issues are at  http://westernsawg.org/enews.htm      


 announcing:  wsawg 2007 annual meeting
        we are planning to have our 2007 annual meeting of member organizations and engaged individuals in conjunction with the new mexico organic farming conference, to be held in albuquerque, nm, february 15, 16 and 17.  we invite you to join us, and to help us steer an effective course for the wsawg, as well as attend this premier conference for organic agriculture.   our annual meeting will be thursday evening, the 15th. to encourage you, we are making an offer (below).

      the keynote speaker for the conference is miguel altieri, who is renowned for developing the concept of "agroecology".   in the two days of the conference, you will have the opportunity to choose among 25 - 90 minute workshops covering crop agronomics, livestock, organic production methods, marketing and certification.   in addition, wsawg will offer 2 workshops (thursday and friday evenings) on the 2007 farm bill process and issues, including the national campaign for sustainable agriculture's organic action plan.   the full agenda pdf (with registration information) is posted here:  www.westernsawg.org/events.htm
      our offer to you     registration for the conference is $100 which includes a local, organic lunch on saturday.  [if you plan to eat lunch on saturday, you must call 505-473-1004 to register for the conference by feb. 1 and get a room at the conference hotel: 1-800-262-2043 or a cheaper hotel nearby: howard johnsons, 1-505-828-1600.]
      if you represent an organization, either currently a member of wsawg or willing to join, we will cover your registration and one night's lodging - - a $189 value - - but you must renew your membership with wsawg, and attend our annual meeting of members, which will be held thursday evening at the hotel, starting around 6 p.m.   if you are an individual, we will offer you $150 to help cover expenses, (agency - $165).   our membership categories are:  individual - $30, affiliate (agency) institution - $45, grassroots organization - $60.  www.westernsawg.org/members.htm  we will reimburse our offered amount to you at the annual meeting.    
     please join us in new mexico.   we need your input for this important time of crafting a new farm bill.   please rsvp to me that you are accepting our offer and that you will register yourself, both with the conference and a hotel.       for more conference information, contact le adams:   ladams@cybermesa.com   or joan quinn:   joan.quinn@state.nm.us


farm bill update -  

                the farm and food policy project ffpp report  seeking balance in u.s. farm and food policy, released january 22 at a press conference. the report has been endorsed by nearly 400 organizations across the country, and is available online.   www.farmandfoodproject.org
                the 2007 farm bill: laying the groundwork for more clean energy development - elpc is leading the national advocacy campaign to expand and improve clean energy development programs. they have drafted a policy platform of priorities, and are working closely with key congressional committee leaders to develop a framework for comprehensive clean renewable energy and energy efficiency programmatic approaches.  www.farmenergy.org

                sac/msawg farm bill campaign conference and fly-in:  washington dc, our march 6-8 sustainable agriculture farm bill summit and lobby day � �roots to reform� � is looking for farmers!  we are asking all member and partner groups to recruit their farmer leaders to come to dc.  scholarship help for farmers is available.  contact  margaret huelsman mhuelsman@msawg.org or (317-536-2315) as soon as possible.

                farm bill debate coming to the church near you  christian activists are mobilizing churches to get involved in the debate over the next farm bill.  bread for the world, a christian anti-hunger group, plans to distribute thousands of educational kits to churches around the country in hopes of getting congregants to urge members of congress to overhaul federal agricultural and nutrition programs.  the "seeds of change" kits will include a handbook, dvd and bulletin inserts. the goal is to generate 150,000 letters to key members of congress. the message will be this: america has a moral obligation to change the way it subsidizes farmers and put more money into conservation, nutrition and rural development. bread for the world claims 59,000 members, including churches from 45 denominations. it also is part of the ffpp coalition, (see above).

                usda secretary johanns released his department's 2007 farm bill proposal to the public, jan 31.  the proposal, fact sheet, powerpoint, and press release is available at: http://www.usda.gov/wps/portal/usdahome    


fda approves cloned animals:  on december 28 the food & drug administration released for public comment its draft risk assessment on animal cloning, posted on the web at  www.fda.gov/cvm/cloning.htm.  in addition to the draft risk assessment, fda also posted a proposed risk management plan, a draft guidance for industry, and other companion documents.  the agency will be taking public comments on the issue until march 28, 2007.  fda has determined from a limited base of scientific studies that risks of human consumption of cloned animal food products are not significantly different from consumption of food products from conventional animals.  the agency also proposes that no label be required for cloned animal food products, contending that consumers� personal health, ethical objections, or concerns about the impact of cloning on the health and welfare of domestic animals are not within fda�s purview. the nation�s largest organic cooperative, organic valley, is asking usda to clarify whether cloned animal will be excluded from the organic food supply.  george siemon, the organic valley ceo, stated that cloned animals should be dealt with as genetically modified organisms, which should not be eligible for a usda organic label.    see �call to action� below.

                the organic center released an excellent report on the fda cloning proposal that would approve cloned meat and milk for human consumption by jim riddle.  jim's article specifically addresses how cloning relates to organic producers but also addresses issues relating to cloning that reach beyond organic interests.   access the report here


cloned ge�d cows - no prions - can be cannibals  - experts have long agreed that the fatal brain-wasting disease called mad cow is spread by the routine practice on industrial farms of feeding rendered animal parts to cows---essentially turning natural herbivores into cannibals. (this practice of course is banned on organic farms and in other countries.)   now, instead of discontinuing the practice of force-feeding cows blood, chicken manure, and slaughterhouse waste, scientists claim they have successfully genetically engineered a cow that will not contract mad cow disease, even when fed infected meat from mad cows.  the cows are born without normal nervous system prions, which are involved in the disease.  according to the researchers, the animals appear to be doing fine, so they �apparently don't really need those prions anyway�, (even though they are there as a result of millions of years of evolution and they don�t really know what their purpose is.).  dr. mae-wan ho and prof. joe cummins go behind the smokescreen to expose the project, which would perpetuate the intensive animal husbandry that created mad cow disease in the first place and is far from safe or ethical in terms of animal welfare.   http://www.i-sis.org.uk/cloned_bse-free_cows.php


another rbgh victory:  safeway's processing plants in both portland and seattle have now gone rbgh-free!  the plants produce fluid milk for all of oregon, sw washington and a few parts of northern california.  safeway packages two brands of milk, lucerne and dari-glen. apparently only lucerne will be labeled rbgh-free.  safeway is requiring that dairy farmers supplying them milk must sign affidavits stating they won't use rbgh.  also, chipotle mexican grill announced that it will now start serving only rbgh-free sour cream at its more than 530 restaurants.    from:  oregon psr campaign for safe food   www.oregonpsr.org   


livestock production = more greenhouse emissions than cars!  the un food & ag. org. (fao) has sent tremors through the livestock industry with a new report that states, "the livestock sector generates more greenhouse gas emissions as measured in co2 equivalent than transport.  it is also a major source of land and water degradation." for every calorie of meat consumed, at least ten calories of fossil fuels were required to produce that meat.  animal agriculture takes up 70% of all agricultural land, and 30% of the total land surface of the planet.  today, 70% of "slash-and-burned" amazon rainforest is used for pastureland, and feed crops cover much of the remainder. the ultimate ramifications of the report suggest that the average american can do more to reduce global warming emissions by adjusting their meat eating habits than by switching to driving the most fuel-efficient car currently on the market. (what if they did both?)  buy locally grown and sustainably produced meats, dairy and animal products.   http://www.fao.org/newsroom/en/news/2006/1000448/index.html

gmo wines  are coming. as with other genetically engineered food, there will be no labeling required on wines that, for the first time, will contain gene-altered yeast. the fda has carried out no studies of its own on the experimental yeast, and yet has approved it as "safe," based completely on data provided by the company selling the product. according to dr. joseph cummins, emeritus genetics professor at the university of western ontario, wine yeasts are unstable, and genetically altering them can lead to unexpected toxicity in the final product. genetically engineered yeast is banned in every nation in the world, other than in north america, so the use of the controversial yeast by a few large domestic wineries will likely damage the entire u.s. wine industry.    http://www.organicconsumers.org/articles/article_3682.cfm


farmers participating in carbon credit exchange program  that pays them for conservation measures that capture carbon in the soil. iowa farm bureau and the north dakota farmers union are both enrolling farmland across the corn belt in carbon-credit trading programs. the farmers union program has signed up 1.1 million acres to date, and will make its first sales on the chicago climate exchange in january. recent trading rates have compensated farmers between $2 and $4 per acre for no-till farming, grassland, and forest planting. dairy farmers have also traded methane-capturing measures at a rate of up to $30 per cow per year. http://www.chicagoclimatex.com/     





synthetic biology report   a new report by the etc group concludes that the social, environmental and bio-weapons threats of synthetic biology surpass the possible dangers and abuses of biotech.  the full text of the 70- page report, extreme genetic engineering: an introduction to  synthetic biology, is available free-of-charge:  www.etcgroup.org

 anaerobic digesters are gaining popularity across the country as a way to convert manure to methane, which can fuel an electrical generator. the technology provides a way to dispose of manure and avoid associated odors while generating usable energy. now, dairy farmers considering the technology can benefit from a series of new reports from the california energy commission (cec), which evaluate five dairy digester systems and provide useful information on lessons learned with those systems, challenges, and benefits. the five reports can be downloaded from the cec web site.

 report shows benefits of pasture-raised chicken and pork - the union of concerned scientists -  greener eggs and ham: the benefits of pasture-raised swine, poultry, and egg production, is available online in pdf. it provides an overview of alternative pork and chicken production systems and is a complementary report to ucs's greener pastures, which describes the benefits of grass-fed beef and dairy cattle.    http://www.ucsusa.org/news/press_release/greener-eggs-ham.html  

 book:  vitamin myth exposed - did you know the majority of topical vitamin e comes from an industrial chemical factory? did you know the body's immune system treats some synthetic ingredients in vitamins like poisons?  "vitamin myth exposed," by dr.brian clement of the hippocrates health institute gives basic background information about how pharmaceutical companies are taking the health out of modern day vitamins and supplements and selling you so-called "natural" products that are filled with synthetic chemicals.   http://www.organicconsumers.org/articles/article_3697.cfm

 new "revolving door database" is the most comprehensive source to date for learning who's who in the washington influence industry, and for uncovering how these people's government connections afford them privileged access to those in power.  users can see, for example, which federal regulators are now working for the industries they once oversaw.   center for responsive politics:    http://www.opensecrets.org/      

 world resources institute - - policy notes outlining issues and providing recommendations relating to environmental markets, energy, climate, and trade. these recommendations are based on the world resources institute's independent analysis of biofuel policies, experience with developing and testing environmental markets, and expertise in climate and trade issues.  http://wri.org/policynotes/   


call to action


tell fda: no food from cloned animals!  the food and drug administration (fda) has completed its review of food from animal clones and fda regulators say that the agency will likely approve the sale of cloned foods this year. fda�s action flies in the face of widespread scientific concern about the risks of food from clones, and ignores the animal cruelty and troubling ethical concerns that the cloning process brings. what's worse, fda indicates that it will not require labeling on cloned food, so consumers will have no way to avoid these experimental foods.   a public comment period is open until april 2.       comment to fda today!


support the competition letter:  call your senators and reps to support a comprehensive farm bill competition title.  please sign on and also circulate the letter to other groups you work with for their consideration. www.msawg.org.



calendar of events - fall 2006

calendar of events

february 5 - 2nd annual farmer-chef connection  - seattle, wash. day-long gathering, designed to foster collaboration and direct marketing opportunities for local farmers, ranchers, chefs and retailers.   http://farmerchefconnection.org/seattle_fcc_2007.cfm  

february 8-9 - organic seed workshop-  mount vernon, washington - the second day of the workshop will be an intensive class on the fundamentals of plant variety improvement taught by osa director of research, dr. john navazio.  www.seedalliance.org


february 10 - value-added food processing everett, wa  9:00 am-4:00 pm, wsu snohomish county extension, 600 128 st se. create value-added products from farm fresh produce and meat. topics include private labeling, packaging and processing.. cost: $100.  http://snohomish.wsu.edu/calendar.htm 

february 15,16,17 - new mexico organic farming conference and wsawg annual meeting (feb 15)- albuquerque, nm - keynote: miguel altieri, agroecology expert.   2 full days of workshops, incl on 2007 farm bill.   http://www.westernsawg.org/events.htm   


february 17 - small farms & direct marketing conference - corvallis, or, lasells stuart center, osu. keynote speaker: marion nestle, author of food politics and what to eat. nine concurrent sessions on marketing, production and food policy. cost (includes lunch): $30 per person; $50 for two people registering together.   http://smallfarms.oregonstate.edu     541-766-3556.


february 18 - living soils: biology & chemistry - corvallis, or - 10:00 am-3:00 pm, sunbow farm education center, 6910 sw plymouth dr. introduction to soil biology, soil chemistry, land management, composts and compost teas, and more. cost: $25 single or $40 per couple. 541-929-5782. www.sunbowfarm.org 

february 20-21 - ag tourism & direct marketing conference - yakima, wa- yakima convention center. cost: $89. for information call shan trick at 509-388-9052; or email: shan@visityakima.com


february 22,23 - colorado agriculture big and small conference - greeley

topics include conventional and organic production for vegetable and field crops, natural and organic livestock production, water issues, labor issues, ag business management, organic marketing, food safety, and financing


february 21-23 - diversified agriculture conference  lehi, utah - designed to benefit agriculture producers who are interested in more than just traditional agriculture, including recreation, tourism, direct marketing, farmers� markets, processing.  http://diverseag.org/htm/conference    


february 26-28 - harvesting energy summit - salt lake city, utah - this conference organized by the intermountain harvesting clean energy network promises to be a potent opportunity for building networks, exchanging information, sharing news of progress, and forging a stronger future together. daily topics include expanding bio-fuels production, public policy directions, and community-owned wind development. http://www.harvestenergy.org/ihen/index.html  


march 2-4 - permaculture design weekend - snohomish, wa - 7:00-9:00 pm friday free public slide show followed by two-day workshop. hands-on training in permaculture approach to landscape design. $150-$200, sliding scale. donnalray1@netzero.net


march 6-8 - sac farm bill fly-in - washington, d.c.- capacity building and strategy sessions for our work on the 2007 farm bill to be followed by visits to capitol hill. contact margaret hueslman at 317-536-2315 or mhuelsman@msawg.org.


march 16 - food packaging & renewable energy workshops - vancouver, wa - 9:00 am-6:30 pm, hilton hotel. two sustainability workshops for organic farmers, processors and distributors. hosted by organically grown company and the university of oregon's resource innovations. the workshops build on the ogc 2005 sustainability summit. cost: $175 for each workshop, or $300 for the full day (lunch included).  nwhite@organicgrown.com


march 26-28 - the southwest marketing network 5th annual conference - flagstaff, ariz. -  focuses on expanding markets for small and minority agricultural producers in the four corners region    http://www.swmarketingnetwork.org/index.htm 


bioreality conference plan to join activists in washington, dc, march 27-29, 2007, for the 1st annual bioreality conference. there will be three exciting days of education, lobbying and strategic planning on the issues surrounding genetically engineered foods.

early registration may be � price, see:   http://www.bioreality.org


we administer 3 email listservs:   our monthly enews is sent to all 3.

wsawg list - for all topics related to sustainable agriculture, incl organic

wsawg gmo list - for issues related to genetically modified organisms

wsawg conserve list - for issues related to farm bill conservation

(you may also subscribe to just the enews)

to subscribe, (or unsubscribe) 

simply send an email with your request to jill:    rivercare@blackfoot.net    

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mission: the western sustainable agriculture working group is a non-profit organization bringing together diverse individuals and groups working in sustainable agriculture and food systems to share successful models, realize our collective strengths, build regional capacity and inform the agriculture policy debate.
visit us online at www.westernsawg.org