in this issue...
if your email version is hard to read, please refer to the webpage version:
also, all past issues are at
farm bill resources roundup
sustainable agriculture coalition (sac)
has a new online �farm bill action
center� with current and archived copies of their
weekly update. we
encourage agriculture groups in the west to become familiar with
their website and to join sac.
you will find: current action alerts, up-to-date information on the
status of relevant bills, a legislative tracking template that
includes the bill number, summary, status, and background on
particular pieces of legislation that are major farm bill priorities
of sac, an advocacy toolkit including tips on framing messages,
conducting a visit with a member, and writing an effective
op-ed. the sac platform for the 2007 farm bill (�no
time for delay�) argues for reforms and new initiatives
addressing commodity program reform, insurance, credit, competition,
conservation, energy, marketing and rural development, value-added
producer grants, and other programs.
community food security coalition has a comprehensive policy
statement on how american agriculture can be renewed to provide
healthy food and revitalize healthy communities.
legislative priorities for the 2007 farm bill . also, cfsc
was one of many collaborators on a broad declaration:
seeking balance in u.s. farm and food policy.
endorsements of �seeking balance�
by organizations are still being taken at the ffpp website:
farm and food policy diversity initiative policy priorities
discussion paper focuses on recommendations for the u.s.
department of agriculture to improve equity in program delivery,
better meet the needs of minority farmers and ranchers, and ensure
that farm workers have a designated office to go to within the
national family farm coalition�s
food from family farms act
addresses the connection between domestic agriculture policy,
international trade and the need to respect food sovereignty (the
right of every country to establish its own food and farm policy and
meet its basic food needs through domestic production). the act
details how market price supports, farmer-owned reserves, and
conservation compliance can work together to ensure fair prices
while meeting food security, humanitarian, and energy needs.
national campaign for sustainable agriculture�s federal
sustainable agriculture program primer explains all the
programs funded through the farm bill: what they do; who administers
them; application and eligibility guidelines; funding and status;
where to go for more information; and even how to take action to
preserve or improve them.
farm and food policy principles and criteria is an
evaluation tool compiling a comprehensive list of over a dozen
principles ncsa and its partners believe should guide agricultural
policy. included are specific questions for assessing a policy
proposal�s adherence to each of these principles. additionally,
under the what�s new menu button on ncsa's
website, you'll find policy statements from its issue
national campaign�s organic
committee has developed an 8-point 2007
organic farm bill agenda and
is working on an action plan
to shape the future of organics for the next 2 decades. http://www.sustainableagriculture.net/organic.php.
organic farming research foundation has a service sending
organic policy alerts
and updates and they provide tools to communicate directly with your
california farm and food policy platform
first�s farm bill
position papers at
ag. subcommittees in congress are hearing testimony and draft farm
bill ideas (�marker� bills not intended for passage) are being
circulated by various congressional offices. however, more
comprehensive language for the farm bill won�t be forthcoming until
late spring, after the final congressional budget resolution tells
lawmakers how much funding is available for farm bill programs.
here are some of the key marker bills
that we are following:
1551 / s. 919 - �healthy farms, foods, and fuels act of 2007,�
was introduced in the house on march 15 by representative ron kind
(d-wi) and currently has 86 cosponsors. an identical senate version
of the bill was introduced on march 20 by senators menendez (d-nj)
with four additional cosponsors (boxer, kerry, cardin, and
lautenberg). the bills contain four titles: conservation, energy,
healthy food choices, and new markets and farm viability. select
ffpp recommendations embodied in the bill include: cooperative
conservation provisions, an uncapped conservation security program,
a socially disadvantaged farmer conservation program, expanded
organic programs, and a comprehensive package of programs supporting
community-based programs aimed at improving access to locally grown,
�rural entrepreneur and microenterprise assistance act,�
introduced on february 13 by senators ben nelson (d-ne) and salazar
(d-co), would create a $50 million annual grant and mirco-loan
program to provide microenterprise training, technical assistance,
market development assistance, and other related services to small
�the rural opportunities act of 2007,� introduced on february
8 by senator russ feingold (d-wi), contains several sets of
provisions central to ffpp, including beginning farmer and rancher
programs, expanded sustainable agriculture and organic programs, a
restructured and expanded community food project grant program,
language clarifying that federally funded school and other feeding
programs may purchase locally produced fruits and vegetables, and an
innovative grant and research initiative to promote sustainable
local and regional bioenergy and biomass production systems.
s . 622,
�competitive and fair agricultural markets act of 2007� (harkin,
enzi, et. al.) aims to strengthen the enforceability of laws
designed to ensure competitive and fair markets. along with a
number of other bills (s. 305, grassley-dorgan and s. 786,
grassley-feingold), it will likely form one of the planks of the
senate�s version of the 2007 farm bill.
and good news:
house and senate
conferees on the supplemental appropriations bill agreed this week
to lift the cap on conservation security program funding for 2007.
the csp is a conservation title program that rewards farmers for
undertaking conservation practices on working farmland. lifting the
funding cap paves the way for a 2007 csp sign-up in 51 watersheds
and ensures funding for contract modifications to enhance
conservation measures. of course, bush will veto the bill because
of the inclusion of timetables for the withdrawal of u.s. troops
from iraq and the addition of domestic spending. a second version
of the bill will likely be wrapped up and sent back to the president
by late may, and we now have hope that csp will stay alive.
requires sterilization of almonds -
the new rule, which the usda quietly developed in response to
outbreaks of salmonella in 2001 and 2004, traced to raw almonds,
mandates that all almonds undergo a sterilization process that
includes chemical and/or high-temperature treatments. the cornucopia
institute is asking the usda to reopen the proceeding for public
comment. cornucopia contends that the rule was never effectively
announced to the public, and that the reasoning behind both the
necessity and safety of the sterilization processes should be
questioned before the rule goes into effect this september.
harvest awards: nominate someone that inspires you
glynwood center�s 5th annual harvest awards will
recognize innovative farmers, organizations, and businesses
that are doing an exceptional job of supporting local and regional
agriculture. our goal is to encourage this growing movement by
inspiring others to take action within their own communities.
deadline for nominations is july 17th
on cloned animals
- the national organic standards board voted 12-0 to ban foods from
cloned animals and their progeny from the organic market.
regulators apparently recognize, after being flooded with complaints
from organic consumers, that cloning is incompatible with the
organic foods production act and is prohibited under the national
organic program regulations. the real difficulty will be in tracking
these animals. http://www.organicconsumers.org/articles/article_4699.cfm
"colony collapse disorder" (ccd). commercial beekeepers are
reporting losses of between 50 and 90 percent in the us and eu, an
unprecedented amount even for an industry accustomed to die-offs.
research is only beginning and hard data is still lacking. here are
articles about the most likely theories:
is a new class of very toxic systemic pesticides, which are not only
sprayed on crops, but also used universally to dress seeds in
conventional agriculture, and can confuse and disorientate bees at
very low concentrations. the neonicotinoid insecticides include
imidacloprid, thiamethoxam, clothianidin, and several others.
imidacloprid is used extensively in seed treatments for field and
horticultural crops, and particularly for maize, sunflower and
rapeseed (canola). imidacloprid was detected in soils, plant
tissues and pollen. the levels of the insecticide found in pollen
suggested probable delirious effects on honeybees. the insecticide
is suspected to be causing the decline of hive populations by
affecting the bee's orientation and ability to return to the hive.
another candidate is radiation from mobile phone base stations
that has become nearly ubiquitous in europe and north america where
the bees are vanishing. this possibility is strengthened by
preliminary findings that bees fail to return to the hives if
cordless phone base stations are placed in them.
another candidate is a sublethal effect from gmo crops resulting
in impaired immune systems in the bees. numerous studies have
shown immune system effects from consuming gmo�s.
recent candidate is a parasitic fungus, nosema ceranea, a
single celled obligate parasite belonging to the microsporidia,
which infect invertebrates and vertebrates including humans (i.e.
aids). nosema ceranea causes bees to die within eight days after
infection. foraging bees seem to be the most infected and to leave
the colony but be too weak to return. nosema ceranea may be a major
contributor to ccd but it seems likely that the virulence of the
parasite may depend upon the compromise of the bee�s immune system
from pesticides or gmo�s or both.
mfu will begin
offering a carbon credit program in 28 counties in montana, that
allows agricultural producers and landowners to earn income by
storing carbon in the soil through no-till crop production and
long-term grass seeding and forestry practices. farmers union has
earned approval from the chicago climate exchange to aggregate the
carbon credits, which can be traded on the exchange, much like other
agricultural commodities are traded.
superb article on
the limitations of gm mosquitoes.
http://www.gmwatch.org/archive2.asp?arcid=7719 indian public
health experts are not excited by the news that american scientists
have created gm mosquitoes to help fight malaria,
decision on gmos
parliament has rejected a proposal to allow traces of gmos up to
0.9% in organic food. the result of the vote is a clear indication
from european elected representatives that the right to gm-free food
"the grain required to make enough ethanol to fill an suv tank is
enough to feed a person for a whole year." - worldwatch institute
founder lester brown
http://www.gmwatch.org/archive2.asp?arcid=7633, and from u of
minn - article calls on the us to pursue a comprehensive energy
conservation program instead of mandates and subsidies for biofuels,
to promote solar and wind power, and to invest in research on fuels
derived from cellulose.
how biofuels could starve the poor.
the usa rice federation has filed comments with the us dept of
agriculture asking "in the strongest possible terms that the permit
for ventria [bioscience]'s pharmaceutical rice (to be grown in
kansas on 3200 acres using human genes - see last month�s enews) be
http://www.gmwatch.org/archive2.asp?arcid=7708 the kansas
rural center and center for food safety have a press release and
bayer gm rice varieties have been discovered in us long-grain rice
stocks. the four gm traits now known to be in the supply are: ll601,
ll62, ll06 and (most recently) ll604. all the contamination appears
to be the result of gm rice trials.
scientists at the
university of nevada have created the world's first human-sheep
chimera - which has the body of a sheep and half-human organs. the
organs are intended for transplant into humans. there are fears that
such transplants could enable viruses to pass from animals to
- bio legislator of the year
industry organization (www.bio.org)
selection of senator max baucus (d-mt) as legislator of the year for
2006-2007. "senator baucus has been a strong proponent of the
biotechnology industry and we are grateful for his leadership as the
chairman of the senate finance committee. he has been a champion of
the federal research and development
tax credit,� stated bio president jim greenwood.
farmers call for permanent injunction of gmo alfalfa. the 975 dairy
and livestock farmers of organic valley "feed their animals an
all-organic diet that is on average 60 percent alfalfa. each cow
eats approximately 32.5 pounds of certified organic alfalfa a day."
organic valley (www.organicvalley.coop)
ceo george siemon goes on to say "contamination of organic alfalfa
stands or seed stock will devastate the organic farmers who market
milk." alfalfa is a perennial with a three-mile pollination radius,
so farm buffers won't work.
from grain reveals the new lobbying offensive from the
global seed industry to make
it a crime for farmers to save seeds for the next year's planting.
this briefing traces the history of seed regulation, the recent
discussions within the seed industry, and explores what will happen
if a plant variety right becomes virtually indistinguishable from a
patent. monopoly rights over seeds are required for membership in
has adopted a bill allowing producers of brassica seeds (they
produce 1/2 of the world's cabbage seeds) to petition to set up a
zone to protect against ge contamination and allowing lawsuits to
enforce this isolation. rules are to be set up by an administrative
agency. a 2 mile buffer is needed for brassica seed crops.
this could set a useful precedent.
could we use this concept for
guide to avoid the most contaminated fruits & vegetables
to the environmental working group's (ewg) analysis of data from
over 43,000 tests on pesticides in conventional produce, over 90% of
ingestion of pesticides in foods can be eliminated by avoiding the
most contaminated foods. the "dirty dozen" most contaminated
foods are (in worst order) peaches, apples, sweet bell peppers,
celery, nectarines, strawberries, cherries, pears, imported grapes,
spinach, lettuce and potatoes. the "consistently clean" are
(in best order) onions, avocados, sweet corn, pineapples, mango,
asparagus, sweet peas, kiwi, bananas, cabbage, broccoli and papaya.
download your wallet-sized shopper's guide here:
brief from the oakland institute,
how food became a casualty of biotechnology's promise,
exposes how pharmaceutical conglomerates are using the agricultural
sector to underwrite their research and development efforts as they
work to transform plants and animals into drug and organ factories
to further their profits.
the soil and water conservation society and environmental defense
have released an assessment of the environmental quality incentives
program (eqip), the second of four farm bill conservation program
assessments. the assessment of the conservation security program (csp)
was released last week, and assessments of the conservation reserve
program (crp) and the programs designed to provide technical
assistance to producers participating in usda conservation programs
will be released in the near future.
iatp report re/ sustainable biomass and how we can ensure that
farmers, rural communities and the environment retain the
benefits. read "a
fair farm bill for renewable energy," and other resources at
2007 farm bill web page.
agriculture and climate change
- new report from wri - how can managers of agricultural operations
reduce their greenhouse gas emissions? what opportunities exist
under the conservation title of the 2007 farm bill to enhance
climate change mitigation opportunities from the u.s. agricultural
sector? this report makes four policy recommendations linking farm
energy, conservation and climate change.
for sustainable farming and ranching -
an overview of
the major federal conservation programs that provide resources for
farmers and ranchers to enhance and maintain sustainable farming and
ranching practices. the level of available conservation resources
for this area has dramatically increased since 2002. this guide
helps farmers and ranchers make their way through the often complex
and difficult application processes. access to these resources can
open new opportunities to preserve agricultural lands, develop
sustainable practices, and open new markets.
produced by the xerces society, detailing what you can do on your
farm to build habitat for native bees
www.xerces.org also a bulletin produced by the wild farm
alliance includes a list of native trees, shrubs and forbs that
support native bees and a chart of native-bee-pollinated crops.
to little known genetically engineered organisms
by john c. avise
the author guides readers on a fascinating behind-the-scenes journey
into the little-known world of genetic engineering. not only are
field marks, behaviors, habitats, and geographic ranges provided for
35 of the world's most top-secret genetically engineered species,
but so too are described the historical sagas and personal dramas
behind each creature's artificial manufacture.
pollan�s ny times article on the farm bill
you are what you grow
call to action
animal cloning comment period extended
- 30-day extension on draft animal cloning risk assessment; proposed risk
management plan; draft guidance for industry; comments due may 3,
this month, monsanto filed a formal complaint with the fda and federal trade
commission, demanding that labeling of rbgh-free diary products be made
illegal. learn more and get involved with oca's "millions against monsanto"
campaign by signing on to their petition.
patents on seeds
sign the global appeal against patents on seeds
the fda is issuing
proposed rules that if finalized will allow irradiated foods to be called
�pasteurized� instead of irradiated, plus it will allow the radura to be
removed from the packaging. there will be a 90 day public comment period.
the fda is no longer accepting e-mail comments so they have to be made
mailed, faxed or posted through the
www.regulations.gov web site here is a link to the proposed rules
- center for rural affairs is circulating a petition outlining priorities
for the 2007 farm bill aimed at strengthening rural america. to uplift rural
values, we must lift up rural communities.
calendar of events - spring 2007
may 3-5, herb society of america educational conference
conference will cover a range of topics focusing on the botany and
horticulture of herbs and the use and delight of herbs.
may 4-6 -
plant propagation workshop
orcas island, wa - techniques for propagating fruit & nut trees, shrubs,
perennials, annuals, and rootstocks. www.permacultureportal.com/courses_current.html#workshop_plants
may 4 - 9 -
biojustice 2007 -
boston - a week long celebration of sustainable food and alternatives to
corporate healthcare, being developed by a wide coalition of public interest
groups, activists, farmers, scientists, and concerned citizens, working together
in response to the biotech industry's international convention scheduled that
week in boston. http://www.biodev.org.
may 7 - 11 -
mountain compost school!
five days of classroom and
field instruction for large-scale composters higlighting issues of local and
national intrest hosted by colorado state university�s department of soil and
crop sciences. www.rockymountaincompostschool.info
may 11-13 - native plants and permaculture gathering -
dexter, or lost
valley educational center. a weekend of walks, talks, discussions
and activities to explore the roles of native and nonnative plants
in cultivated and non-cultivated landscapes and ecosystems. cost:
$90 for weekend; $50 for single day.
to organize a local food coop on the "oklahoma plan"
oklahoma city, oklahoma
- the oklahoma food cooperative will host a three day workshop on
how to organize and operate a local food cooperative internet-based
order and delivery system. topics to be covered include organizing
campaigns, producer issues, financial accounting, computer systems,
customer and volunteer issues. the event will be held in conjunction
with the may delivery day of the oklahoma food cooperative, and
attendees will participate in all aspects of that activity.
may 28 �
cultivating women's leadership
cortes island, british columbia
may 29 -
entrepreneurial sustainable agriculture training
eccles conference center, utah state university, logan, utah, 8:00 a.m.-5:00
p.m. - to help extension/farmers with new direct marketing ideas
30-june 3 - changing ecologies of food and agriculture -
victoria, bc- joint annual
meetings of the
agriculture, food and human values society (afhvs) and the
association for the study of food and society (asfs), celebrating the 20th
anniversary of the founding of both organizations.
june 22-24 -
fairy & human relations congress - 7th annual -
skalitude retreat center,
twisp, methow valley, north cascades, washington. - communication and
cooperation with devas, fairies and nature spirits. an all ages event.
july 20-22 -
montana herb gathering, near kalispell, montana near flathead lake.
july 20 -
22 annual natural marketplace
- las vegas, nev.
july 21 -
22 northwest herbfest
- pleasant hill, oregon
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:
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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