vol. 2, #5
may, 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/newsletter15.htm         

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



farm bill resources

                see our april enews (www.westernsawg.org/newsletter14.htm)  for a comprehensive line up of partner organizations that have important, complementary farm bill efforts underway, with links to them.    our primary lead on the farm bill is the sustainable agriculture coalition (sac), which has a new online �farm bill action center�, with all the information you might need to be informed and current on the farm bill process.   we encourage agriculture groups in the west to become familiar with this website and to join sac.   www.sustainableagriculturecoalition.org  

                weekly farm bill digest - sign up to get a good weekly summary from the national campaign for sustainable agriculture (via email) of introduced bills re/ the farm bill    click here to sign up.

                policy info center in food stores:  we have posted a photo of a policy info center at www.westernsawg.org/issues.htm.  the stand is to alert shoppers of important farm bill issues and encourage them to send a letter to their legislators.  information fliers, sample letters, paper, pens and envelopes are all available on one of the 3 sides of the center.   we would like to place these in other food stores in the west.  let us know if you want to bring one to your store. 

farm bill action -  it is time to start contacting your legislators to urge them to support specific components of the farm bill.  

                outreach team - we are building a network of action teams in each state in the west, and you are invited.   please contact us if you will be part of a team in your state to help disseminate information and/or action alerts when quick action is needed to communicate with our legislators.        rivercare@blackfoot.net     minutes of team conference calls are here .

                healthy food: 2 bills that were introduced on may 17 are focused on healthy, local foods: local food and farm support act, h.r. 2364 introduced by representative earl blumenauer (d-or) and food for a healthy america act, s. 1432 introduced by senators sherrod brown (d-oh) and hillary rodham clinton (d-ny).    specific talking points for these bills:   (1) reauthorization of mandatory annual funding in the amount of $30 million dollars for assistance to community food projects. (2) strengthening of local food purchase in child nutrition programs, including reference to �encourage geographic preferences� for local or regional food procurement (no cost but high impact).  (3) support of the �healthy food enterprise development act� in the blumenauer bill ($35 million in hr 2364) for your representatives in the us house of representatives and in the brown/clinton bill ($42 million in s 1432) in the us senate.

                healthy food website:  the farm and food policy project, funded by the wk kellogg foundation, launched a farm bill advocacy mini-website which is intended to generate support for policies promoting the availability of fresh, healthy, and locally produced foods.  visitors to the website will be able to send a general message of support for ffpp priorities in the  farm bill to their legislators:   www.healthyfarmbill.org/    go there now to tell your legislators you want everyone to have access to healthy food.

                learn about csp - a sac intern has just completed state fact sheets on csp for all fifty states with data re/ csp participation. the fact sheets also contain a list of the core messages we want to convey when talking about csp to the media, congressmen, and other interested parties.  http://www.sustainableagriculturecoalition.org/key-csp.html

                csp - house agriculture committee chair collin peterson (d-mn) unveiled his conservation title for the 2007 farm bill.  the proposal would take all baseline funding for the conservation security program (csp), other than money to pay existing contracts, and transfer those funds to the farm and ranch land protection program (frpp) and environmental quality incentives program (eqip), in essence putting the csp in mothballs until the next farm bill five years from now.   a week later he changed his tune on this.

                eqip reform letter:  on may 10, sac delivered to all senate and house members a letter urging them to support restrictions in the next farm bill on direct funding to large-scale, new or expanding confined concentrated animal feeding operations (cafos) under the environmental quality incentives program (eqip).  the letter was signed by twenty-six national, regional and statewide organizations from around the country, including the sierra club, national environmental trust, waterkeeper alliance, defenders of wildlife, national family farm coalition, and union of concerned scientists.  the letter highlighted this issue as a fundamental flaw in several bills that have been introduced for consideration on the farm bill, including the healthy farms, foods and fuels act (h.r. 1551- rep. ron kind / s. 919 - senator robert menendez), eat healthy america act (h.r. 1600 - rep. dennis cardoza), chesapeake's healthy and environmentally sound stewardship of energy and agriculture act of 2007 (h.r. 1766 - rep. chris van hollen), and the farm, nutrition, and community investment act (h.r. 2144 - rep. rosa delauro and rep. wayne gilchrest).    www.sustainableagriculturecoalition.org  


farm bills watch:   (more bills are at the sac website - weekly update)

         payment limitation reform bill introduced by senators byron dorgan (d-nd) and chuck grassley (r-ia).  the rural america preservation act of 2007 (s. 1468) will place limitations on the amount of farm commodity program subsidies any one farm may receive. the bill eliminates loopholes and creates a hard cap of $250,000 per farm, including a hard cap on direct payments at $40,000 and counter-cyclical payments at $60,000. 

        comprehensive stewardship incentives program (csip) senate ag chair tom harkin, will meld the conservation security, environmental quality incentives, and wildlife habitat incentives programs, plus the administration�s proposed rural water enhancement program into one program, with a streamlined common application and continuous sign up processthe harkin package would increase conservation spending over baseline by over $6 billion, with roughly half that amount going to the new csip.  it would require a shift to an acreage based program for the csp component, would double the size of the csp, enrolling 15.5 million acres each year. 

         preemption is back   the house ag. chair, c. peterson, has made a proposal that includes a provision pre-empting state and local government right�s to place any limitations on genetically modified organisms or any other product or article that the usda has inspected or approved.  suffice it to say, controversy will be breaking out all over if this stays on the table.   cfs has a press release on it:   http://www.centerforfoodsafety.org    

        pollinator habitat bill:  senator max baucus (d-mt) introduced the pollinator protection act of 2007 (s. 1496), a marker for the farm bill, with 29 bi-partisan co-sponsors.  the act would amend the crp, csp and eqip to include protection of pollinator habitat among the primary purposes of those programs.


biofuels (bills and articles) -

          experimental biofuels crop insurance pilot program - introduced by sen tester (d-mt), to establish a program to offer crop insurance to producers of experimental biofuels crops, such as camelina, and also make loans and loan guarantees available.               

          farm to fuel investment act, (s. 1403), introduced by sen amy klobuchar (d-mn), would authorize usda to establish bioenergy cropsheds located in the vicinity of existing or planned biorefineries.  in designating cropsheds, usda is to give priority to geographic diversity, the diversity of feedstocks, net environmental benefits from the location, and minimizing environmental harm.  in addition, areas where a biorefinery is owned primarily by rural residents would also have a priority.  eligible bioenergy crops include perennials and crops which can be incorporated into a resource conserving crop rotation, except crops eligible for commodity program payments and crops that are or could be invasive or noxious.

          on farm energy production act of 2007 (s.828), introduced by sen baucus (d-mt) amending the environmental quality incentives program to provide cost share for farmers producing energy on-farm using solar energy, wind energy and renewable fuels.

          article: �peak soil� there are many serious problems with biofuels, especially on a massive scale, and it appears from this report that they cannot be surmounted. so let  alice friedemann's meticulous and incisive diligence wash over you and rid you of any confusion or false hopes. "the nation that destroys its soil destroys itself." -- president f. d. roosevelt    http://www.precaution.org/lib/07/prn_dhn070510.htm  

          article: bp at uc -university of california at berkeley agreement with bp (british petroleum) to fund an energy biosciences institute (ebi) for biofuels and �synthetic biology' research to the tune of $500 million over the next ten years.  researchers are to investigate how to do this on an industrial scale by breeding and genetically modifying both crops and microorganisms. crops would be modified to change the structure of cell walls and new types of lignin to facilitate fermentation, and the microorganisms would be genetically modified to better break them down and ferment them. the new energy crops, such as perennial grasses and poplar trees, would be modified for intensive cropping including herbicide tolerance.   http://www.i-sis.org.uk/the_bp-berkeley_deal.php      

         article:  food industry urges congress to reexamine biofuel policy.  grocery manufacturers association (gma) said america's biofuels policy must be pursued  "thoughtfully and deliberately", taking into full account all possible effects of a sharp increase in the use of corn for fuel.   www.foodnavigator-usa.com   


rr alfalfa   in a strongly worded opinion, may 3, judge charles breyer made his injunction against further planting and sales of roundup ready alfalfa permanent until usda conducts a full eis on the crop.  as under the temporary injunction, the permanent injunction orders that no more rr alfalfa may be planted for hay or seed production, and no more rr alfalfa seed may be sold to alfalfa producers.   in calling for a permanent injunction, judge breyer noted that contamination of natural and organic alfalfa by the ge variety has already occurred, and noted that �such contamination is irreparable environmental harm. the contamination cannot be undone.�  judge breyer also imposed conditions in an attempt to minimize the risk of gene flow from already-planted ge alfalfa to organic and conventional alfalfa:

   *   usda/aphis must work with monsanto and forage genetics to insure that (1) pollinators will not be added to rr alfalfa fields grown only for hay production; (2) farm equipment used in roundup ready alfalfa production are properly cleaned, using procedures approved by aphis; and (3) roundup ready alfalfa hay grown on already-planted acres must be handled, clearly identified, and

stored in specifically designated and labeled containers, to minimize commingling after harvest.

   *    forage genetics must provide gps or plat maps identifying all rr alfalfa seed production acreage and the field size and gps

locations of growers who purchased rr alfalfa in 17 western states to aphis, which must then make such information available  to the public on a government website so that growers of organic and conventional alfalfa �can test their own crops to determine if there has been contamination.�.  forage genetics must also "use its best efforts to obtain field size and gps locations of rr alfalfa in the remaining states and provide such information to aphis for public disclosure."

   *    finally judge breyer ordered all parties to submit a joint, written status report on usda's compliance with these conditions within 60 days.    www.centerforfoodsafety.org   and   www.worc.org  

          greenpeace is demanding that canada, which approved gm alfalfa in 2004, now withdraw approval of the gm alfalfa. http://www.gmwatch.org/archive2.asp?arcid=7836


cloned food:  a coalition of consumer, environmental and animal welfare organizations have announced the submission of more than 130,000 comments to the fda from consumers who oppose the agency's proposed plan to introduce food from cloned animals into the us food supply.  a december 2006 poll by the pew initiative on food and biotechnology found that nearly two-thirds of us consumers were unhappy with animal cloning.    http://www.gmwatch.org/archive2.asp?arcid=7835


pharm rice in kansas - on may 16, the usda approved the proposed plantings despite receiving 20,000 comments in opposition from citizens, scientists, farming and rice groups. it permits cultivation in the junction city area of up to 3,200 acres of rice genetically engineered to produce pharmaceutical compounds from human genes that the fda has refused to approve.  fda approval is not required for planting to proceed.  www.centerforfoodsafety.org  has new report re/ health issues.


patents on seeds - the european patent office (epo), may 3, revoked monsanto's species-wide patent on all genetically modified soybeans (ep0301749) - a patent unprecedented in its broad scope.  etc group, an international civil society organization based in canada, won its 13-year legal challenge against this patent when an epo appeal board ruled that the patent was not new or sufficient (i.e., the �invention� claimed was not sufficiently described for a skilled person to repeat it).  the patent challenge was supported by greenpeace and no patents on life!  http://www.no-patents-on-seeds.org.  the technology related to the now-revoked patent has been used, along with other patents in the company's portfolio, to corner 90% of the world's gm soybean market.   www.etcgroup.org 

       iraq forced to patent seeds - it was in the fertile crescent where iraq now lies that humans first learned to farm and first domesticated wheat.  the u.s., however, has decided that iraqis don't know what wheat works best in their own conditions.  order 81 sets criteria for the patenting of seeds that can only be met by multinational companies (like monsanto) and it grants the patent holder exclusive rights over every aspect of all plant characteristics in those seeds and any others that exhibit those traits. http://www.factoryfarming.com/issues_iraq.htm 


ny creates food policy council.  the council will coordinate state agriculture policy and make recommendations on developing food policy that will help ensure the availability of safe, fresh, nutritious and affordable food for all new yorkers, especially low income residents, senior citizens and children. the council will look at ways to increase sales of new york agricultural products to new york consumers, with a special emphasis on expanding the consumer market for organic food.   a copy of the executive order is at http://www.ny.gov/governor/executive_orders/exeorders/13.pdf

peak food- 2 articles - (1) food price inflation could rival global warming in years ahead.  global food prices may double in the next five years, as demand rises, production evens out and energy demand competes with human consumption, a financial analyst predicted recently.  food input prices are now putting more upward pressure on producer inflation than at any time since the early 1980s. between march of 2005 and march 2007, the price of us wheat rose 34 percent, corn by 47.4 percent, barley by 59.4 percent and cattle by 41 percent.   http://business.scotsman.com/agriculture.cfm?id=689162007  

       (2)  with peak oil in sight, the industrial agricultural model is looking increasingly unsustainable.  richard heinberg asks, "is it possible that a solution lies in deliberately de-industrializing production but doing so intelligently, using information we have gained from the science of ecology as well as from traditional and indigenous farming methods?"



9 mass. towns vote against gmos  since may 1 nine towns in western massachusetts have passed resolutions at their annual town meetings opposing genetic engineering of food and crops. "the success of these resolutions at town meetings this year reflects a deepening opposition to genetic engineering in massachusetts and across new england. http://www.gmwatch.org/archive2.asp?arcid=7847


organic bees not dying - an organic beekeeping listserv of about 1,000 people, mostly americans, and no one in the organic beekeeping world, including commercial beekeepers, is reporting colony collapse.  one email recommends a visit to the bush bees web site where michael bush put a message to the beekeeping world re/ controlling mites organically:  http://bushfarms.com/bees.htm  


toxic effects of roundup - new study from france: roundup has toxic effects on human embryonic cells, a new study shows. the study is from the university of caen, france. the group wanted to follow up effects already observed on placental cells, as published in 2005.  embryonic cells are far more sensitive. the deleterious results of roundup are noticed at very weak doses (for the experiment, the product sold in stores was diluted up to 10,000 times). sensitivity is confirmed in particular for the disruption of sexual hormones at non-toxic levels, especially on fresh placental extracts. effects were observed at dilutions less than the residues in discussion to be authorized in gmo feed in the us.   (remember, residue limits were raised to accommodate rr crops).   the authors comment that the research may contribute to a better understanding of the problems of miscarriages, premature births or sexual malformations of babies, especially in agricultural families.    http://www.gmwatch.org/archive2.asp?arcid=7893

         columbia:  aerial spraying of roundup herbicide by the colombian government on the border of colombia and ecuador has caused a high degree of dna damage in local ecuadorian people, according to a study. the research will be published in the next issue of genetics and molecular biology. the colombian government sprays illegal coca plantations - used to make cocaine - as part of the us-backed 'war on drugs'.   in addition to expected symptoms - vomiting and diarrhea, blurred vision, and difficulty in breathing - the researchers found a significantly higher degree of dna damage - 600 to 800 per cent higher - in the people living near the border compared with those 80 kilometers away.  dna damage may activate genes associated with the development of cancer, lead researcher cesar paz y mino said, and may also lead to miscarriage or malformations in embryos. http://www.gmwatch.org/archive2.asp?arcid=7899





jeffrey smith�s latest  (1) newsletter article - �genetically engineered foods may cause rising food allergies�  from spilling the beans, a free, monthly electronic newsletter http://www.seedsofdeception.com/utility/showarticle/?objectid=168      and

       (2) new book: genetic roulette: the documented health risks of genetically modified foods,  not a book of stories, but rather an easy-to-use reference book of scientific fact and documented findings on the risks of gm foods.   www.geneticroulette.com   review:   www.amazon.com


michael pollan article:  you are what you grow: will this year's farm bill make us fatter and sicker?


seed production manuals now available for download at www.seedalliance.org to assist current and would-be seed growers in producing quality organic bean, radish, and spinach seed.


university research no longer in the public domain three interesting articles on the increasing alignment with industry of university knowledge and resources. extract from article by michael perelman:  areas of study that promise to bring in corporate money prosper, while other areas suffer neglect. you can see the effect of this emphasis on intellectual property by walking on campus to compare the facilities of the bioscience library with those of the public health library.   http://www.gmwatch.org/archive2.asp?arcid=7902


call to action


contact your senators - home for a memorial day break through june 3rd.   they will be debating and voting on an energy bill, a farm bill, and trade bills when they get back to washington.   ask them to support an energy bill that will reduce oil imports and gasoline prices by increasing our use of clean, renewable fuels.   (not liquid coal)    ask them to support sac farm bill proposals:   go to:   www.sustainableagriculturecoalition.org  to learn more; with emphasis on csp, and also to include a competition title in the farm bill, including the captive supply reform act and a ban on meatpacking companies owning livestock.  ask them to oppose renewal of �fast track�, which prevents trade deals from being amended by congress.  we need trade agreements that are fair to farmers, ranchers, and workers, not "free trade" agreements written by and for multinational corporations.


the farm and food policy project (ffpp) has launched a website which lets individuals sign an on-line letter to congress to show support for policies which advance fresh, local, and healthy foods in the 2007 farm bill.  the website http://healthyfarmbill.org/ sends email letters to individual�s legislators based upon their address.   send your message now.


irradiated foods:  to appease industry at the expense of the public, the fda has proposed a new rule that would allow irradiated food to be marketed in some cases without any labeling at all.  in other cases, the rule would allow the terms �electronically pasteurized� or �cold pasteurized� to replace the use of �irradiated� on labels.   take action (until july 3) via the center for food safety here:   http://ga3.org/campaign/irradiation/wbe86se4z3it7xj?   


calendar of events - spring 2007

calendar of events

june 5 - nat�l hunger awareness day - the senate resolution calls on the people of the united states to observe the day with appropriate ceremonies, volunteer activities, and other local anti-hunger advocacy efforts and hunger relief charities, including food banks, food rescue organizations, food pantries, soup kitchens, and emergency shelters; and by continuing to support programs and public policies that reduce hunger and food insecurity in the united states.  http://www.hungerday.org/content/index.php


june 12 - "worry free advocacy", seattle - alliance for justice -  if you are a nonprofit that does legislative advocacy, voter scorecards or get out the vote work, this is for you.   http://www.afj.org/nonprofit/worryfree.html


june 20�21 - rethinking school lunch - registration deadline for priority status is may 21. center for ecoliteracy, 2528 san pablo avenue, berkeley, california (this seminar sold out the last time it was offered.) www.ecoliteracy.org/seminars/application.html

june 24 - organic seed producers:  field trainings for organic vegetable, herb, and flower seed producers. to be held at  greentree naturals, near sandpoint, id.  hosted by organic seed alliance   www.seedalliance.org    later there will be events at:  springhill farm, albany, or � late june / early july;  arctic organics, palmer, ak � august 20, 2007;  ayers creek farm, gaston, or � september;  brian anderson farms, royal city, wa � september;  ralph�s greenhouse, mt. vernon, wa - september


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.   www.fairycongress.com


july 20-22 - montana herb gathering, near kalispell, montana, near flathead lake.     www.montanaherbgathering.org


july 20 - 22 - annual natural marketplace - las vegas, nev.   www.naturalproductsassoc.org  


july 21 - 22 -  northwest herbfest - pleasant hill, oregon   www.herbaltransitions.com  


august 4 - 12 - herbal intensive - pleasant hill, oregon    www.herbaltransitions.com  


september 15-29 - montana permaculture design course - 2nd annual 2007 - hot springs, montana - michael pilarski, larry korn, and others. alameda's hot springs retreat (406) 741-2283 www.alamedashotsprings.com    


september 25 � 28 - pacific northwest ecological restoration conference  yakima, wa - the joint conference of the nw chapter of the society for ecological restoration and the society of wetland scientists will focus on the conservation and restoration of the columbia basin and the pacific northwest. abstracts for oral and poster presentations are due by april 30.   www.ser.org/sernw/conference_07.asp 

october 3 - 5 - annual provender alliance conference  - vancouver, wash.   www.provender.org 


october 4-7 - montana barter fair 2007 - near hot springs, montana (north of missoula). a producer-to-producer economic event. the goal of the 2007 montana barter fair is to bring together people from around montana to barter and sell food they have grown, crafts they have made, and various and sundry other useful goods. another goal is to socialize, make music, and have fun.  still being organized.     friendsofthetrees @ yahoo.com   


october 12 - 14  annual natural products northwest  - seattle, wash.   www.nnfa-northwest.com   


november 9-11 - tilth producers annual conference - yakima, wa




we administer 1 email listserv, which also receives our monthly enews.  the wsawg list is for all topics related to sustainable agriculture, including organic,  genetically modified organisms, and conservation issues.

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