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field of flowers

vol. 2, #9
september, 2007


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 update �  senate agriculture committee chairman tom harkin's (d-ia) farm bill contains much of what the sustainable agriculture coalition is promoting.  this committee will be marking up its bill soon, and a senate-house conference would likely occur between mid-november and mid-december calls to senators are needed, to urge them to support sen. harkin's farm bill.   [see call to action below]

        chairman harkins conservation title expands support for working lands conservation policy through a new program  (csip) that continues, improves and streamlines the csp while fostering closer coordination between the csp and the environmental quality incentives program (eqip).  this new comprehensive stewardship incentives program (csip) will be available annually on a nationwide basis and will support farmers who improve and maintain farming systems that provide cleaner air and streams, healthy soil, wildlife habitat, biodiversity, and energy conservation.  unlike the current csp program, however, it will be regularly available to all producers through a continuous sign-up process.  by integrating csp and eqip, the result will be one-stop shopping for farmers and ranchers seeking working lands conservation assistance. 

      also, contact your senators and ask them to fund community food projects as close to $30 million in mandatory money as they can.  all senators are important to contact, but if one of your senators is on the agriculture committee, they especially need to hear from you.


finance cmte:  chairman max baucus (d-mt.) announced he would put forward a package between $8 billion and $10 billion in the coming weeks. sen. baucus's plan includes the conversion of several conservation payment programs into tax credit offset programs, which he says would free some farm bill funding for other programs.  he also proposes a trust fund to finance continued weather-related disaster insurance, tailored to constituents in the northern plains states.

commodity title:   harkin proposes limiting subsidies to $250,000 per farm household while banning any subsidies for farm households whose income exceeds $500,000.  also proposed as a reform and a change to the house version of the bill, spouses would no longer be eligible to receive farm benefits. other options are being offered.  
senators richard durbin (il) and sherrod brown (oh) have proposed a commodity program that bases payments on a farmers loss of revenue instead of the current system that ties payments to the price of crops. an alternative to continuing the permanent crop insurance that baucus promotes, this system could save funding for other programs.


secretary johanns resigns to make senate run: resigned as usda secretary after 2-1/2 years in the position and he has all but officially declared that he will run for the u.s. senate in 2008. president bush appointed usda's deputy secretary chuck conner as the acting usda secretary.

farm bill resources   our primary lead on the farm bill is the sustainable agriculture coalition (sac), which has a very useful online �farm bill action center�,  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:

                policy info center in food stores:  we have posted a photo of a policy info center at  the center is a display to alert shoppers of important farm bill issues and to facilitate them sending 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:  

                our monthly enews is archived at:  

value-added producer grant program awards announced:  on tuesday, the 167 recipients of 2007 value added producer grants (vapg) were announced.  representing 40 states and puerto rico, this year's grants ranged in size from $10,000 to the program maximum of $300,000, for a total of $22.7 million.  a complete list of this year's grantees is on the web at see awards.


usda announces section 9006 awards:  on thursday, usda announced that it has awarded $18.2 million in fy 2007 section 9006 renewable energy and energy efficiency grants and loan guarantees to 345 projects in 37 states.  the usda announcement and a full list of award recipients is posted on the web at   the program provides funding to farmers, ranchers and rural businesses for projects that generate renewable energy or conserve energy. 


un/fao now promotes organic agriculture - the un food and agricultural organization (fao)

has come out in favor of organic agriculture. its report organic agriculture and food security explicitly states that organic agriculture can address local and global food security challenges.  more 


un/fao urges protection of livestock diversity  urging the international community to adopt a global plan of action to stem erosion of the worlds farm animal diversity and protect the global food supply. around 20 percent of the worlds breeds of cattle, goats, pigs, horses and poultry are currently at risk of extinction, according to faos state of the worlds animal genetic resources report, the first global assessment of livestock biodiversity and of the capacity of countries to manage their animal genetic resources.   to report


the wilderswil declaration on livestock diversity - comments on the un/fao report on livestock diversity:  "the fao report on the state of the world's animal genetic resources squarely points to the industrial livestock system as one of the main forces behind this destruction.  however, in the un's global plan of action there is nothing that addresses these causes."   to the declaration  from via campesina

usda announces funds to defray organic certification costs -  announced the availability of $1 million to help defray the cost of organic certification in 15 states, including nevada, utah, and wyoming.   in order to be eligible for reimbursement, an organic production operation must have received certification or update of certification by a usda-accredited certifying agent during the period of oct. 1, 2007, through sept. 30, 2008.  to usda notice


common food additives and colorings can increase hyperactive behavior  a new study found.  it was the first time researchers conclusively and scientifically confirmed a link that had long been suspected by many parents.  numerous support groups for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (add) have for years recommended removing such ingredients from diets, although experts have continued to debate the evidence.   study on food additives


almond growers get a raw deal from the usda: the usda has rebuffed calls from the california almond board, farmers and environmentalists to delay implementation of new regulations requiring raw almonds to be "pasteurized" with steam heat or the toxic fumigant, propylene oxide.   the cornucopia institute, consumers, retailers and other organizations are appealing to members of congress to put a 180 day halt to the usda's pasteurization treatment plan while reopening the rule for full public review. 


virus is seen as suspect in death of honeybees - scientists sifting genetic material from thriving and ailing bee colonies say a virus appears to be a prime suspect but is unlikely to be the only culprit in the mass die-offs of honeybees reported last fall and winter.  ny times article    meanwhile, australian bee experts have condemned a major report that claims exports of bees from australia may have caused the mysterious death of hundreds of millions of the insects in the us.   the australian news article

one species' entire genome discovered inside another's scientists at the u of rochester have discovered a copy of the entire genome of a bacterial parasite residing inside the genome of its host species.  the finding, reported in science (august) suggests that lateral gene transfer--the movement of genes between unrelated species--may happen much more frequently between bacteria and multicellular organisms than scientists previously believed, posing dramatic implications for evolution, and risk analyses of gmos.  such large-scale heritable gene transfers may allow species to acquire new genes and functions extremely quickly, says jack werren, a principle investigator   sciencedaily article  

cal. law requiring that cloned food be labeled - first law requiring labels on meat or dairy products produced from animal clones or their offspring.  a cfs report released in february revealed that there is scant scientific evidence for the safety of food from clones, and that the technology is inherently cruel to animals. nonetheless, the federal food and drug administration (fda) announced that it expects to approve the marketing of unlabeled food from clones before the end of this year.  the report, not ready for prime time, is available at cfs report   for more information on sb 63, see the bill


the non-gmo project was started in 2005 by the natural grocery company in berkeley, california, and the big carrot natural food market in toronto, ontario, with the common goal of creating a standardized meaning of non-gmo for the north american food industry and a verification process to back it up.  over the past year the non-gmo project has gained the valuable support of whole foods market, united natural foods and many other leading natural food manufacturers and retailers.


stacked gmos - monsanto and dow agrosciences have teamed up to launch what they claim to be the industry's first eight gene stacked combination in corn.  smartstax will incorporate eight different herbicide tolerance (rr and ll) and insect-protection genes from both of the companies. article
     new stacked varieties could be eligible for crop insurance discounts - producers who are willing to invest more in higher performing stacked genetics could someday be eligible for a discount on crop insurance according to a proposed policy written by monsanto.this would effectively become another corporate subsidy.    article

monsanto faces anti-trust probe - iowa attorney general tom miller is looking into possible anti-trust violation by monsanto.


monsanto in our milk - recently, supermarket giant kroger joined starbucks, safeway and chipotle restaurants in prohibiting the sale and use of milk from cows injected with the genetically engineered growth hormone rbgh, manufactured by monsanto.   read the full commentary.    learn more





new videos:

        farm bill food battle: presents farm bill issues in an engaging, accessible manner, letting viewers know that there's a battle over the farm bill, that it impacts everyone, and that it's connected to our food supply, nutrition, health, justice, the environment, and rural communities.
       roundup ready nation  roundup ready nation. 

new publication focuses on local food systems - the national association of counties' center for sustainable communities recently released counties and local food systems (pdf/1.11mb). this publication contains four methods and case studies for how county governments can support their local food systems through food policy councils, farm to school programs, infrastructure for local producers, and agriculture conservation easement programs.  naco website    related attra publication:   bringing local food to local institutions


new book:  first the seed by jack r kloppenburg jr, spotlights the history of plant breeding and the seed industry, particularly genetically engineered crops. this 2nd edition includes a new chapter on recent controversies.  "kloppenburg examines the question of whether society will be able to use our enhanced capabilities for manipulating the genetic code to develop and deploy new plant varieties in ways that are economically productive, socially equitable, and ecologically benign."    

the agrofuels trap   article url:

in these times. article:   who does food aid benefit?

principles for sustainable biomass - iatp and friends of the earth-us have drafted principles for sustainable biomass production. the draft principles are currently going through a broad stakeholder comment period. read and comment on the principles.


call to action

senate farm bill - two things are happening almost at once.... the senate finance committee will first vote on a tax bill that will provide the funding for the farm bill.   then the senate agriculture committee will vote on its version of the farm bill.    (the two committees have eight members in common.)   call your senators now:      what to ask: 

        please ask members of the senate finance committee (esp. if in your state) to vote for a tax bill that provides at least $10 billion over the next 5 years for the conservation, rural development, renewable energy, research, and specialty crop titles of the farm bill. 
        please ask members of the senate agriculture committee to support chairman tom harkin's (d-ia) draft farm bill proposal, which includes a substantial number of sac's farm bill priorities including those that strengthen conservation programs, (csip) bolster rural development, strengthen local food systems, invest in sustainable bioenergy, and pave the way for the next generation of farmers to get their start on the land.  we urge you to specifically ask for support of harkin's new comprehensive stewardship incentives program (csip) that integrates the csp and eqip and results in 'one-stop shopping' for farmers and ranchers seeking working lands conservation assistance.  for more information see this alert


support organics in the farm bill - call your senators - ofrf top farm bill goals for the senate are:
      $25 million/year for organic agriculture research and extension.
      $25 million over 5 years for organic certification cost share.
      support for the conservation stewardship incentives program.
      an organic transitions program with at least 50% of funding to go to technical assistance for transitioning farmers.  visit for last-minute action alerts!


help put an end to organic dairy fraud we reported last month that aurora �organic� dairy was forced into consent agreement with usda/ams for falsely labeling factory farmed milk as "organic".  aurora is the nation's largest supplier of "private label" organic milk to large retail chains and wholesalers including wild oats, wal-mart, costco ("high meadows"), safeway ("o" organics), target, giant ("natures promise"), unfi ("woodstock farms"), and others. see:

however, concerned organic consumers are outraged that the usda has not done all that federal law requires.  although this multimillion dollar corporation was found to have "willfully" violated federal law in misrepresenting their milk as organic and defrauding consumers around the country for over three years, they have been allowed to remain in business and have seemingly gotten away without being fined a single cent.  if you feel you have been defrauded by purchasing "organic" milk from any of the retail chains or wholesalers listed above (i.e. those that get their milk from aurora), and you are willing to work with a team of oca-allied legal researchers (cfs) to stop this organic labeling fraud, please contact them with the information requested below, and their legal research team will contact you by email or telephone.
email with aurora in the subject line and let us know:

- the name brand of your organic milk purchases
- the name of the store where you purchased the milk
- the amount of milk you purchased per week (1/2 gal., etc)
- the price you paid for the milk
- the period of time over which you purchased the milk


calendar of events - spring 2007

calendar of events

october 1-28 - ecovillage and permaculture certificate program - dexter, or - lost valley educational center, 81868 lost valley lane. full-time residential permaculture design course. cost, including accommodations and meals, sliding scale: $1800-2600. for more information contact 541-937-3351 

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


october 6-7 - skagit valley farm tour/festival of family farms - skagit valley, wa - self-guided tour of 15 local farms, with lots of family activities. print out free maps from website. for more information call 360-428-4270; 

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 @   


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.   


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


october 16 - world food day usa, nationwide - this years focus will be on climate change and its impact on the poor. 

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 >   


october 26-28 - natural products-west healthy harvest show - long beach, calif., 805.646.4246  


october 30-31 - oilseed and biodiesel production workshop - polson and pablo, montana  -  for montana farmers interested in learning more about how to produce and use biodiesel   workshop website    


november 1-2 - sustainable ag expo - paso robles, california - this event offers crop-specific and general seminars featuring researchers, extension consultants and growers. topics addressed are appropriate for row crops, strawberries, vineyards, orchards, nurseries & more. sustainable ag expo


november 1-4 - international holistic management conference albuquerque, nm - keynotes are joel salatin, temple grandin, thom hartmann, and allan savory. whether your focus is land desertification, food security, public lands, meeting consumer demand for organics, or global warming, you'll exchange ideas with knowledgeable experts and discover the solutions that are working now.  conference website  


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 - green festival - san francisco, calif.,  877.727.2179


november 9-11 - tilth producers annual conference - yakima, wa, yakima convention center. keynote speaker will be lynn miller, editor of the small farmers' journal.     206.442.7620


organic farming research foundation upcoming events

ecological farming association

local harvest food & farming events calendar            

national sustainable agriculture information service        


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:         (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.
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