in this issue...
if your email version is hard to read, please refer to the webpage version:
also, all past issues are at
administration 2007 farm bill proposals:
secretary mike johanns recently unveiled the long-awaited usda farm
bill proposal. after going through what was by far the most
extensive set of farm bill listening sessions in usda history,
johanns and his cabinet have produced the most extensive and
substantive farm bill proposal in recent history. running near 200
pages, the proposal is available at
http://www.usda.gov/documents/07finalfbp.pdf, with additional
www.usda.gov. it is a reform proposal, but not always lined up
on the side of progressive reform. the proposal aims to spend $5
billion more than the existing budget baseline for the next farm
bill. they have great sections re/ helping beginning farmers,
altho no funding for the beginning farmer and rancher development
program. they continue to support crp, but their funding support
of csp is waning, altho the usda proposal does call for the program
to be available in all watersheds nationwide every year. they
propose a big increase to eqip but without changes needed so eqip
would continue to subsidize farm consolidation and industrialization
at the expense of family farms and sustainable livestock systems.
their approach to commodity payments appears to mostly continue
support as is, or even making it worse. on the plus side, the
administration backs our sac proposal for extension and expansion of
the organic certification cost share program almost verbatim.
there is no mention of the competition title. see more analysis
bill summit in wash. d.c, march 6-8:
research foundation (ofrf) and the sustainable agriculture coalition
(sac) are recruiting farmers and ranchers to attend a special
meeting in washington next month focused on the farm bill.
to reform: a summit for a sustainable 2007 farm bill�
for the official announcement, see
http://msawg.org/pdf/rootstoreformregistrationform.pdf for a
complete agenda, see
farm and food policy project ffpp report:
seeking balance in u.s. farm and food policy, has been
endorsed by nearly 400 organizations across the country, and is
senator russ feingold (d-wi) recently introduced his �rural
opportunities bill� (s. 541) which addresses local bioeconomies and
food markets, local renewable fuels and biobased products, broadband
internet service in rural areas, and beginning farmers and
ranchers. sac issued a letter of support for the thrust of the
bill, as did the community food security coalition and the wisconsin
leahy & kohl bill -
exclusion of food products from animal clones or their progeny under
u.s. organic standards. the legislation introduced by senators
patrick leahy (d-vt) and herb kohl (d-wi) would codify without
exception the exclusion of milk, meat or other food products from
clones or their offspring from the u.s. organic program.
farm bill in brief -
the basics - covering general structure -
use format for letters about the farm bill �the
nation� has a simple format on their website which can be edited to
send a letter to your legislators about the upcoming farm bill
to benefit small farmers and consumers.
farm and food policy platform released by the california food
and farming coalition,
of us farm policy globally - building sustainable futures for
orders halt to new gm field trials
"the court was
clearly concerned that the usda has put our nation's environment at
risk by exempting many of these field trials from environmental
review. that's why the judge made the decision apply broadly to all
future field trials of genetically engineered crops."- cfs - press
release. judge harold kennedy said the usda's past approvals of
field trials of genetically engineered bentgrass were illegal and a
threat to the environment and these experiments must be halted.
alfalfa suit won
in what will likely be a precedent-setting ruling, u.s. district
court judge charles r. breyer of the northern district of california
decided (feb. 13) in favor of farmers, consumers, and
environmentalists who filed a suit calling the usda�s approval of
genetically engineered rr alfalfa a threat to farmers� livelihoods
and a risk to the environment. judge breyer ordered that a full
environmental impact statement must be carried out on �roundup
ready� alfalfa, the ge variety developed by monsanto.
and: a coalition of farmers, environmentalists and food safety
organizations plans to ask a federal judge in california to halt the
sale of roundup ready alfalfa seed.
rbgh fallout -
organizations have filed a citizen's petition to the fda, seeking
the withdrawal of approval for monsanto's gm cattle drug 'posilac' -
recombinant bovine growth hormone (rbgh) - or to institute the
labelling with a cancer risk warning of any milk or other dairy
products produced with its use.
petition was submitted on behalf of the cancer prevention coalition,
the organic consumers ass., and family farm defenders.
study shows gm
crops unstable and risky
a new paper
confirms that genetic engineering of crops not only lacks precision
but causes large scale genetic rearrangements of host dna at
transgene insertion sites, as well as large numbers of mutations
scattered throughout the genome of each new transgenic plant. the
significance of all this genetic damage is that the food safety of
edible crops relies crucially on genetic stability.
gm rice fallout
forty-one of the world's biggest rice exporters, processors and
retailers have issued written commitments to stay gm-free. the
worldwide tide of opposition is contained in the new greenpeace rice
markets report, "rice industry in crisis",
also, california rice producers fearing loss of their markets, call
for a moratorium on gm rice
details gm contamination
rightly concludes, "no amount of regulation can guarantee that these
crops will not escape and multiply", even when they involve potent
pharmaceutical compounds, but it then concludes that we'll just have
to put up with it. why? because otherwise it will "have a
chilling effect on research". (argh!)
bt gene found to
persist in soil and aquatic systems
canada has determined that the pesticidal bt gene cry1ab, found in
gm corn, persisted in aquatic areas near the site where the bt crop
was planted. varying amounts of the cry1ab gene were found in
sediment, soil, and surface water samples. the sediments were found
to contain about 100-fold more cry1ab dna than the surface water.
the cry1ab transgene was also detected as far away as 82 km
downstream from the corn cultivation plot. abstract in the
journal ecotoxicology and environmental safety, with links to the
complete paper for subscribers at
new $500 million
biofuels institute will be built at uc berkeley,
with funds from the oil giant, bp, a new member of the biotechnology
industry organisation. uc berkeley was previously notorious for its
tie-up with gene giant syngenta, but the berkeley-bp deal dwarfs its
predecessor by a factor of ten. others involved in the partnership
are the weapons-designing lbl national laboratory and the university
bill in congress
to ban patenting genes
(d-cal), and dave weldon, (r-fla), sponsored the genomic research
and accessibility act, to ban the practice of patenting genes found
critically important to farm ecosystems, pollinating about 40% of
crops. colony collapse disorder (ccd) is a phenomenon described by
beekeepers, researchers and government officials when entire hive
populations seem to disappear, apparently dying out. a
ccd working group was recently formed with researchers from the
university of montana, the pennsylvania state university, the usda/ars,
the florida department of agriculture, and the pennsylvania
department of agriculture to analyze the problem. their preliminary
report indicates how pesticides may be a factor:
ccd report, a california beekeeper, eric lane, suspects harm
to the bees is linked to
imidacloprid, made by bayer cropscience. "it was used in france
and killed 70 percent of the bee population in france."
a new report from the national research council. research
indicates that shortages of pollinators for agriculture already
exist and that decreases in wild pollinator populations could
disrupt ecosystems in the future.
landmark decision, the minnesota supreme court ruled that
landowners who spray pesticides on their property can be held liable
for damages to beekeepers� neighboring apiaries. the case was
brought by three beekeepers who raise bees for honey and sale. the
ruling could impact pesticide use across the country.
organic certification systems meets international standards -
announced that montana's organic certification program meets
international standardsd. the accreditation under international
standards organization guide 65 will make it easier for montana�s
organic producers to export their products. montana is the second
state to receive the accreditation; washington was first.
book: food fight:
a citizen's guide to the farm bill
book offers offer a concise, visually dynamic overview of the
legislation that literally shapes our food system, our bodies, and
our future. it is intended as a farm bill primer available to people
and media tuning into the 2007 farm bill reauthorization process. we
hope this can contribute to more a sustained citizens' movement that
is so essential in evolving a farm policy that truly addresses the
challenges we face in the 21st century. fred kirschenmann and
michael pollan have written an outstanding forward and introduction.
online sustainable ag course -
(sare) program offering a free, online
course through the university of california davis for agriculture
professionals. the course, sustainable agriculture: basic principles
and concept overview, addresses the basics of sustainable
agriculture -- farming systems that are profitable, environmentally
sound and good for people and communities. while intended for
cooperative extension and natural resource conservation service
personnel, the course also is useful for other agricultural, natural
resource and community-development professionals.
researchers address climate change threat to food supplies
consultative group on international agricultural research met
recently in washington, dc, and experts from 15 agricultural
research centers around the world focused on how climate change
would affect world harvests. the researchers predict that both
drought and flooding will result in reduced food production. the
organization has announced its plans to accelerate development of
strains of staple crops that will tolerate conditions such as
increased heat, prolonged submergence in water, and salt levels.
a to z
guide to political interference in science
a guide to
abuses of the bush administration's manipulation of the science
underlying federal policies and action. more than 10,000 scientists
of all backgrounds from all 50 states - including 52 nobel laureates
- have signed onto the statement. agriculture issues are scattered
among the topic areas and include research on cafo airborne
bacteria, pesticide regulation, and the impact of agriculture on
handbook available online
a new handbook
that focuses on using sheep and goats to manage vegetation and
enhance landscapes was recently completed in a collaborative effort.
the handbook covers topics such as using targeted grazing to control
invasive species of weeds and using sheep and goats to create fire
breaks. it also includes grazing prescriptions that can be used to
target specific plant species and examples of how sheep and goats
are being used to manage vegetation.
challenging the impacts of retail consolidation on our local
economies, communities, and food security
this new policy brief from the oakland institute exposes how
corporate consolidation in food retail has put our access to a
reliable supply of healthy and affordable food at risk.
the impact of the current biofuel mania on who gets to eat.
call to action
funding in jeopardy - calls needed!
for twenty years, the
appropriate technology transfer for rural areas (attra) program has been one
of the most reliable sources of information for farmers and others who want
fact-based information on a wide variety of agronomic, livestock, marketing,
and entrepreneurial questions with reliable information, evaluated and
summarized from its extensive database. congress has announced its plan to
completely cut the program. you can help by
calling your senator and saying that attra is a valuable source of
information on sustainable practices and shouldn't be cut. and,
john boozman (r-ar) is circulating a letter to other representatives asking
them to sign on to request that usda fund attra through general support
dollars it has at its discretion to bring attra funding back to the $2.5
million total that it has received in recent years.
ask your representative to sign onto the
right now, as congress is acting quickly. just call the congressional
switchboard, (202) 224-3121, and ask for your legislators� offices and leave
your message with their aide who handles agricultural issues. re/ attra:
petition on pharm crops
the union of concerned
scientists (ucs) has a petition, policy paper, database and documents
dealing with frequently asked questions about pharm crops posted on its new
ucs website at
calendar of events - spring 2007
march 2-4 -
grow biointensive mini-farming 3-day workshop -
the program will consist of lecture, discussion and demonstration, and will
include a full range of information on sustainability and efficient resource
use, crops and diet, fertilization, compost and compost crops, soil preparation
and preservation, seed propagation, and income. appropriate to a more
self-reliant lifestyle and for work in developing countries.
march 2-4 -
permaculture design weekend -
- 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,
march 4-6 - the
california farm conference,
premier gathering of small farmers and those who support them. the three day
educational conference includes on-farm tours, focused workshops, general
educational sessions and opportunities for peer networking.
march 6-8 - sac
farm bill fly-in -
capacity building and strategy sessions for our work on the 2007 farm bill to be
followed by visits to capitol hill. scholarships available for farmers.
- risk management education for sustainable agriculture -
on agritourism, including regulations, marketing, funding, success stories, and
nevada agritourism symposium
march 15-17, 2007
- the 4th
annual organic dairy conference
opportunity for certified organic dairy producers to learn more about the latest
trends in organic dairy management. topics will include herd health, pasture
management, and the impact of organic milk on consumers. the conference is
intended for certified organic dairy producers, producers interested in becoming
certified organic, educators, government officials, agricultural professionals,
and trade vendors.
march 16 - food
packaging & renewable energy workshops -
- 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).
- the southwest
5th annual conference
- flagstaff, ariz.
expanding markets for small and minority agricultural producers in the four
march 29 -
organic wine grape production -
this evening workshop is part of an organic production series offered by wsu
extension of snohomish county. learn the latest on producing organically-grown
wine grapes, the challenges and profitable possibilities.
march 30 -
taking your sales to the next level
- post falls, idaho
offers this day-long workshop to increase your farm marketing skills. workshop
topics will include identifying your target market, maximizing direct market
sales, and increasing the quality of your products.
march 27-29 -
bioreality conference -
the 1st annual bioreality conference. there will be three exciting days
of education, lobbying and strategic planning on the issues surrounding
genetically engineered foods.
we administer 3 email
listservs: our monthly enews is sent to all 3.
wsawg list - for all topics related to sustainable agriculture,
wsawg gmo list - for issues related to genetically modified
wsawg conserve list
- for issues related to farm bill conservation
(you may also subscribe
to just the enews)
to subscribe, (or
simply send an email with
your request to jill:
back to top
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