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field of flowers
 

e-newsletter
vol. 2, #7
july, 2007

 

in this issue...

if your email version is hard to read, please refer to the webpage version:   http://www.westernsawg.org/newsletter17.htm         

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


news

farm bill resources   our primary lead on the farm bill is the sustainable agriculture coalition (sac), which has a very useful onlinefarm bill action center�, www.sustainableagriculturecoalition.org  with all the information you might need to be informed and current on the farm bill process.    we also work closely with the community food security coalition, (cfsc) which also has farm bill updates that can be found on their website: http://www.foodsecurity.org/policy.html

        policy info center in food stores:  we have posted a photo of a policy info center at www.westernsawg.org/issues.htm.  the center is a disply to alert shoppers of important farm bill issues and to help them to send a letter to their legislators.  let us know if you want to bring one to your store. 
         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.   email:   rivercare@blackfoot.net  
minutes of outreach team conference calls are here .

 

farm bill actionthe house agriculture committee completed its markup of the 2007 farm bill and the package went to the floor of the house and after less than 24 hours of debate and amendments, the farm, nutrition and energy act of 2007 (h.r. 2419), also known as the farm bill, passed the house on friday july 27, with a vote of 231 to 191, more or less on party lines.

       next, the senate ag committee, then the whole senate will do their version after the august recess, sometime in september. then both houses will conference, october?, and finally the 2007 farm bill will emerge, november?

house bill roundup:  some good, some bad, corporate influence evident.

         commodity title - there is no payment limitation reform in the proposal, in fact, it got worse, some payments were increased and all of the current loopholes that result in no effective cap on subsidies per farm are continued.

         csp - big funding cuts are proposed, no new enrollments for the next 4 years, and essentially closing the program down for most of the life of the new farm bill except for paying off existing contracts.   the csp funds would go to other conservation programs, i.e. wrp-wetlands reserve program, eqip-environmental quality invectives program (eqip), frpp-farm and ranch land protection program, and the increased eqip funds could be tapped into by cafos.

                usda reorganization - all conservation programs would be given over to the fsa-farm service agency to administer, with nrcs just providing the technical assistance.  sac will oppose this attempted rollback.

         eqip - no progress on reducing payment limits - the current $450,000 multi-year limitation that benefits cafo�s remains unchanged. it is needed.  wording also opens up program payments to rent landlords and just about anyone else involved in agriculture, including custom farmers, and to make energy and forestry stronger eqip purposes.   there is language that weakens the environmental standards of the program for pork cafos, (surely written by the pork lobby).   sac opposes these provisions.  to better place the current debate in its historical context, see the 2003 report on eqip written by the corporate research project of good jobs first (funded by the noyes foundation).

         crp transition option - retiring farmers could gain two extra years of crp rental payments for selling to a beginning or minority farmer, with the new farmer able to do conservation improvements prior to the end of the contract. 

        organic certification cost share reauthorization  $22 million in mandatory funding

        organic conversion assistance-provision added to eqip authorization to make "organic transition" a new, specific purpose of the program.  
        organic research organic agriculture research and extension initiative (orei) is reauthorized at $25 million in mandatory funding over 5 years. 
        organic crop insurance- provision added that requires usda's federal crop insurance corporation to enter into contracts "for the development of improvements to federal crop insurance policies" for organic crops,

         beginning farmer opportunity act - weakened, funding changed from mandatory to discretionary.

         farm and ranch land protection program  (frpp) is weakened to benefit developers, is turned into a straight block grant program with eligible entities free to set their own impervious cover limitations

         agricultural management assistance (ama) program is continued at its $10 million a year in baseline funding (with an additional $20 million a year in the reserve bill), eligible states in the west are: ut, nv, and wy.  ten percent of the total is reserved for organic certification cost share in the 17 eligible states.

         state technical committee (stc) provision in the chairman's mark appears designed to limit the participation of conservation agencies and non-profits with conservation and environmental expertise, while increasing the role of agribusiness.  

         beginning farmer and rancher development program included with significant farm bill funding to use to support farm transition projects across the country.  the bill also includes mandatory funding for the outreach and technical assistance for socially disadvantaged farmers program.  together, this represents a commitment of $150 million in farm bill resources for beginning and minority farmer projects over the next 5 years. 

         rural entrepreneurs and micro-enterprise loan program authorized but without any mandatory funding. 

         attra program -new permanent authorization

         value-added producer grants program receives $20 million a year in mandatory funding with a preference for projects that focus on small and medium-sized family farms, local and regional mid-tier value chain networks, and projects that include beginning and minority farmers.

          rural coop development grants to be up to three years, rather than one year at a time as is currently the case.

          research title includes a new concept called:  "create 21" and a new entity to run the show: national institute for food and agriculture (nifa), adding a new layer of bureaucracy between the under secretary and the two research agencies (csrees and ars) in the form of 6 new national program offices.  in an important advance for the sac platform, classical plant and animal breeding is added as a new purpose and the national genetic resource program is reauthorized.

          bio-energy and bio-based products research program and specialty crop research program -             two big new authorizations in the research title do not receive any funding in the primary bill, but would be taken care of in the reserve bill if offsets are found. 

          farmers market promotion program increased funding and made it mandatory

          food stamp & nutrition programs - renamed to be the "secure supplemental nutrition assistance program, a very �ssnapy� moniker, received big increases in funding.

          community food projects - reauthorized but not with mandatory funding�$30 million in annual appropriations (as opposed to the current $5 million a year in mandatory spending) and the grant period extended from 3 to 5 years.

          senior farmers' market nutrition program - continues its current $15 million in annual mandatory funding with an authorization for additional money but the additional funds would require new appropriations.

          fruit and vegetable school snack program - expanded funding but in the reserve bill and would only become real if offsets are found to pay for it.

          healthy food (urban) enterprise development program (hfued): the loan portion of what was formerly called the healthy food enterprise development was adopted as an amendment and was included in the bill

geographic preference/local procurement: an amendment to clarify previous language allowing schools to use a geographic preference to request local food in all federally-funded child nutrition programs was adopted.

local/regional food infrastructure initiatives:  two new will help farmers retain more of the food dollar through support for local processing and distribution facilities, while increasing consumer access to locally produced, healthy food.

          competition title:  there is no competition title in the house bill.  efforts ongoing for the senate bill.

          energy title: includes well over $4 billion in funding, with the entire funding contingent on the availability of reserve fund offsets

from h.r. 6 (a tax bill that includes the recapture of tax subsidies to the oil and gas industry). 

          biomass energy reserve and the feedstock flexibility program for bioenergy producers - two new programs to provide incentives for the production of biomass feedstock for biofuels.  the house bill calls for mandatory funding for both of these programs, but at the amount has not been determined yet.

        and: an amendment with research program priorities and priorities in the conservation program for protecting pollinators and pollinator habitat, and language to move toward allowing meat from state inspected processing plants to move into interstate commerce was included.

 

preemption - part of farm bill - our action has been effective - deluged with thousands of letters from consumers and organic advocates, congress has removed language, so-called section 123, from the farm bill that would have eliminated local and state governments' power to regulate genetically engineered crops and police food safety at the local and state level.  yeah!

 

wto: brazil wins case against the us and:  even as us farmers and policymakers hear the decision by a wto panel on the brazil cotton case deciding against the us, brazil recently filed for a new dispute consultation with the us over all commodity subsidies

 

biofuels issues - - biodiesel demand destroying communities in developing nations: the developed world's increasing call for plant fuel to manufacture biodiesel is destroying some farming communities and contaminating water and land with toxic pesticides in the developing world. in these times

                - - new report critical of corn ethanol:  the food & water watch, the network for new energy choices and the vermont law school institute for energy and the environment have released a report entitled the rush to ethanol: not all biofuels are created equal.  at www.newenergychoices.org/uploads/rushtoethanol-rep.pdf

       - - maize of deception - how corn-based ethanol can lead to environmental disaster, by eliana monteforte, coha research associate.    from: caribbean net news, jun. 14, 2007  [printer-friendly version]

 

nominations needed:

      nosb- usda seeks nominations for the national organic standards board (nosb) - deadline for application is aug. 17, 2007.   go to: http://www.ams.usda.gov/news/070-07.htm for the full announcement 

      the board on agriculture and natural resources (banr) will do a 2-year study to identify the scientific foundations of sustainable farming systems and management practices, and the social, economic and political factors that influence their use and wide scale adoption by farmers in the us and abroad.  contact robin schoen, 202-334-3062, rschoen@nas.edu for more information. the board on agriculture and natural resources (banr) is the major program unit of the national research council (nrc) of the national academy of sciences, responsible for organizing and overseeing studies on issues of agricultural production and natural resources.  http://dels.nas.edu/banr/    

 

legal defense fund to defend direct farm sales- the farm-to-consumer legal defense fund was founded to protect the rights of farmers to provide meat, eggs, raw dairy products, vegetables and other foods directly to consumers.  taaron meikle, president, farm-to-consumer legal defense fund   taaron@ftcldf.org

 

rbgh -tillamook starts to label more than two years since tillamook officially went rbgh-free for their cheese, they have finally started to label their cheese.  tillamook is only rbgh-free for their cheese. they have not declared their other main products, ice cream, yogurt and butter, free of the hormone.  the reason is that they have separate suppliers for these other products, not all of whom have declared themselves rbgh-free.


oregon passes biopharm bill -
governor ted kulongoski has signed the biopharm bill, sb 234, into law.  the bill had previously passed the senate 29-1 and the house 55-0.  the oregon dept. of ag will now negotiate a memorandum of understanding (mou) with the usda to institute the recommendations of a citizen�s committee on biopharm crops and the provisions of the bill. the third phase is writing specific oregon rules that address the specifics and how-to�s.

 

pesticides cutting crop yields by as much as 1/3.    a new proceedings of the national academy of science study projects that pesticides and other soil contaminants are reducing crop yields by about one-third because of impaired nitrogen fixation and plant signaling. as the use of chemical pesticides has increased in the u.s., soil bacteria have been dramatically reduced, thereby creating an insatiable demand for petroleum-based fertilizers. in contrast, organic farming promotes a healthy living soil with increased crop yields.   the most widely used pesticide in the united states - glyphosate (roundup) - is known to be directly toxic to a number of soil microorganisms, including some responsible for nitrogen fixation.  search:  �pesticides reduce symbiotic efficiency of nitrogen-fixing rhizobia and host plants� at www.pnas.org   

 

animal antibiotics transfer to crops through manure -  a study by researchers at the university of minnesota shows that antibiotics used on livestock can appear in food crops grown in soil treated with livestock manure. the research appears in the current issue of the journal of environmental quality, and shows that corn, lettuce and potatoes grown on greenhouse soil treated with manure containing the common livestock drug sulfamethazine take up the drug. the study indicates that organic crops may be at risk of antibiotic contamination if they are fertilized with animal manure.   http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/jul2007/2007-07-12-01.asp

 

milking transgenic rabbits gets approval in eu - a therapeutic protein (rhucin) extracted from the milk of transgenic rabbits is

one step closer to being the second such drug on the market following a european thumbs up of the dutch biotech company pharming facilities. this would make it the second transgenic animal-derived drug on the market since last year's approval of gtc

biotherapeutic's goat-derived atryn.  http://www.in-pharmatechnologist.com/news/printnewsbis.asp?id=78196

 

plant patents challenged in eu - who owns sunflower and broccoli?  greenpeace germany filed opposition against a patent on a sunflower variety derived from conventional breeding that is held by the us company pioneer.   the european patent office (epo, based in munich, germany) is preparing a far-reaching general decision on the issue of patents on normal plants and animals.   traditionally, patents on essentially biological processes for the breeding of plants and animals are not allowed but it was decided in 2000 that genetically engineered plants can be subjected to patents.  http://www.no-patents-on-seeds.org.

 

plant patents challenged in us � us pto finds four monsanto patents invalid - new york - july 24, 2007 - the public patent foundation (pubpat) announced that the united states patent and trademark office has rejected four key monsanto patents related to genetically modified crops (roundup ready) that pubpat challenged last year because the agricultural giant is using them to harass, intimidate, sue - and in some cases literally bankrupt - american farmers.  monsanto has 60 days to ask for a reconsideration or reduce the breadth of the patents. http://www.pubpat.org/monsantovfarmers.htm  

organic farming beats no-till  organic farming can build up soil organic matter better than conventional no-till farming can, according to a long-term study by the usda ars scientists.   the
study showed that organic farming's addition of organic matter in manure and cover crops more than offset losses from tillage. http://www.ars.usda.gov/is/pr/2007/070710.htm

 

organic farming can feed the world -  researchers from the university of michigan found that in developed countries, yields were almost equal on organic and conventional farms. in developing countries, food production could double or triple using organic methods,
in addition to equal or greater yields, the authors found that those yields could be accomplished using existing quantities of organic fertilizers, without putting more farmland into production.  http://www.ns.umich.edu/htdocs/releases/story.php?id=5936   

 

organic farming eases global warming: the rodale institute's longest-running comparison of organic and conventional cropping systems confirms that organic farming helps combat global warming by capturing the greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide, and fixing it in the soil as beneficial organic matter. check out soil: the secret solution to global warming. and from germany, a conference on climate change and ag:  biofach 2007 www.fibl.org, (english)

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resources

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interactive forum for local food systems - ecotrust has introduced an interactive online forum to connect people who work to create and improve regional sustainable food systems. the network, www.localfoodnetworks.net, gives chefs, farmers, food processors, food system organizers, retail grocery buyers, educators, institutional buyers, and policy leaders the chance to bat around ideas with each other, learn from each others' experiences, brainstorm together, and connect on a peer-to-peer basis.

 

disappearing birds - audubon reports many of america's most common bird populations have plummeted over the last 40 years.  the main reason for the decline, he said, is habitat loss -- reduction in grasslands because of intensive farming, a loss of forests due to suburban sprawl, and loss of wetlands because of industrialization  full report

 

islands at risk: genetic engineering in hawaii  -a film by earthjustice, 2006  the film can be viewed in its entirety online at:

http://www.earthjustice.org/news/multimedia/video1/page.jsp?itemid=29841806 to purchase the dvd:

http://www.namaka.com/catalog/environment/genetic.html

 

book: blessed unrest: john stauber interviews paul hawken re/ his newest book, blessed unrest, subtitled, "how the largest movement in the world came into being and why no one saw it coming."  and the launch of an ambitious new website at  www.wiserearth.org to catalog a burgeoning global grass-roots movement, to give it visibility, and to better enable groups to find each other and work together. 

 

rangeland management strategies - a free 16-page bulletin http://www.sare.org/publications/rangeland.htm.

 

local procurement guidance the community food security coalition (cfsc) has prepared a downloadable farm to school procurement information package to help  school districts understand and explain the use of local purchasing preferences for food for meal-service programs.    csfc farm to school procurement information package >

 

intercropping increases productivity - a discovery about how some plants can increase the yields of others could lead to farmers using less chemical fertilizer.  chinese researchers show that intercropping with fava bean increased the maize yield by an average of 43% and fava bean yield increased by 26%.   http://www.scidev.net/news/index.cfm?fuseaction=readnews&itemid=3751&language=1

 

toxic chemicals in cleaning products �"household hazards: potential hazards of home cleaning products" is a new report by women's voices for the earth,  http://www.womenandenvironment.org.

 

minority farmers in the u.s.- oxfam america released shut out: how us farm programs fail minority farmers, detailing the lack of equity for minority farmers in federal farm policies.  the report contains several policy recommendations for the farm bill, including commodity program reform so that more resources are available to support minority, small to mid-sized farmers, and diversified operations   http://www.oxfamamerica.org     

 

lectures from �genes are not for salesummit in poland - speakers: dr arpad pusztai on gm food safety; farmer percy schmeiser on farmers' rights;   http://www.gmwatch.org/archive2.asp?arcid=8086

 

new online map of factory farms  see national distribution of factory farms at www.factoryfarmmap.org  you can also read more about the forces driving the growth of factory farms, as well as the environmental, public health, and economic consequences of the rise of this type of animal production in the new report, "turning farms into factories" at http://www.foodandwaterwatch.org/food/pubs/reports/turning-farms-into-factories

 


call to action

comments needed � vip ***  aphis releases draft eis for gmo regulation:  usda's animal and plant health inspection service (aphis) officially announced that it was releasing for public comment a programmatic draft environmental impact statement which assess alternative measures for revising aphis regulations for  genetically engineered organisms.  ahpis will take comments on the draft eis until september 17, 2007.  the agency is scheduling public meetings for august in washington d.c., missouri and california. the draft eis is posted at www.aphis.usda.gov/biotechnology/eis_index.shtml

 

sign onto letter opposing goodlatte pesticide poison pill amendment in farm bill  please add your name to a letter in opposition to an amendment that would bar usda from discouraging use of certain classes of pesticides in conservation programs. 
to see the letter and add your organization to the list, email jonathan kaplan at jkaplan@nrdc.org
.

 

epa library funding to be restored- after considerable pressure by librarians, researchers and the public, the senate appropriations committee, in the fy2008 interior appropriations bill, orders epa to reopen the closed libraries.  continue adding pressure:  http://www.capwiz.com/ala/home/    

 


calendar of events - spring 2007

calendar of events

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

 

august 9 � oct. 14 - institute of biowisdom, 7 day-long workshops at sunbow farm in corvallis, ore.

see www.sunbowfarm.org for details on the  workshops

 

september 14-16: teach-in: "confronting the triple crisis: climate change, peak oil, and global resource depletion"
washington, dc.  the international forum on globalization, the institute for policy studies, and the global economic transitions project are cosponsoring this teach-in, subtitled "powering-down for the future: toward an international movement for system change: new economics of sustainability, equity, 'sufficiency' and peace." confirmed speakers for the teach-in, to be held at lisner auditorium at george washington university, include maude barlow, tony clarke, randy hayes, richard heinberg, wes jackson, winona laduke, frances moore lappe, jerry mander, vandana shiva, and david suzuki.  international forum on globalization >

 

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 - at a hot springs 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.   helpers welcome.    friendsofthetrees @ yahoo.com   

october 5-7 - democracy school - missoula, mt.  for the first time in montana, thomas linzey, co-founder of the grassroots community environmental legal defense fund and featured speakers at the 2006 bioneers conference, leads this powerful, inspiring workshop.   participants explore the limits of conventional regulatory organizing and learn how to confront corporate control with a powerful single front:  people's constitutional rights.   www.celdf.org   

 

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

 

october 19 - 21 -  bioneers conference - san rafael, calif. and beamed to 20 cities in the us.  the bioneers conference is one of the world's largest annual gatherings of visionaries and activists applying practical environmental solutions and innovative social strategies to restore the earth and communities. bioneers conference >   

 

november 6-7 -  center for ecoliteracy (cel) seminar: rethinking school lunch, berkeley, california
when this two-day seminar, based on cel's rethinking school lunch program, was offered in fall, 2006 and summer, 2007 all spaces were filled in advance. we recommend registering early. read more >

 

november 9-11 - tilth producers annual conference - yakima, wa
www.tilthproducers.org/conference.htm

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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    

(you may also subscribe to just the enews)
 

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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