vol. 1, #2
april, 2006

website links:

field of flowers
in this issue...


wsawg annual meeting summary:

- held at the sw marketing network�s 4th annual conference in grand junction, colorado, march 27-29. this conference was about food systems and related federal policy, which is what we would like to devote energy to in the coming months. we were successful in bringing several wsawg members to this exciting conference and in recruiting new people to serve on the wsawg board and organizations are now submitting their memberships again, so if yours is in arrears, you may be hearing from me (jill) soon. also, members that have the interest are now encouraged to participate in board conference calls and decision making meetings. our next gathering will be at the cfsc annual conference, october 7-11 in vancouver, b.c. (see upcoming events below). we hope to have some scholarship funds available to help members (hint) get to this conference.

ffpp summary:

- this is the "farm and food policy project" that is being sponsored by the kellogg fndn. it is a broad coalition of ngo�s working together to articulate 4 interlocking policy initiatives geared to shape the upcoming 2007 farm bill debate. the project�s goal is to advance food and farm policy reforms that enhance the economic viability of farms, ranches and rural communities, reward environmental stewardship, and combat hunger by increasing access to healthy food. there are 4 committees: new ag. markets, healthy foods and communities, farm and ranch stewardship, family farm revitalization, with wsawg members active on all 4. the farm bill policy recommendations are nearing completion, and calls for sign-ons will come this summer. a public website for those interested in learning more about the project is: http://www.farmandfoodproject.org/

ffpp related report

- policy strategies to revitalize rural america booklet , pdf file, from the center for rural affairs. http://www.cfra.org/resources/strategies_revitalize.htm

new study on organic farming

- confirms ecological virtues organic farming has long been touted as an environmentally friendly alternative to conventional agriculture. a new study in the proceedings of the national academy of sciences (pnas) provides strong evidence to support that claim. http://www.pollutiononline.com/content/news/article.asp?docid=1

farm resources guide

- the 2006 farming sourcebook for the pacific northwest is now available. the goal of the sourcebook is to provide a one-stop guide to the most current tools, resources, and information available with respect to certified and sustainable agricultural production. it includes sections on marketing, certification and labeling, management practices, water quality, soil health, pest management, seeds and starts, farm energy, and more.
see: http://media.sijournal.com/documents/farmingsourcebook_2006.pdf [pdf / 3.6 mb]

oregon task force evaluating biopharm crops

- rick north, oregon physicians for social responsibility, is advocating for a bill that is before the state legislature that creates a moratorium on all pharm food crops, and any pharm crops grown outside, and allows only non-food ge to be planted, and then only indoors. doug sherman-gurian testified before the task force evaluating biopharm crops regarding incidents of contamination and human error, and the potential for immunological effects. doug�s notes (similar to his testimony) and annotative bibliography are available at: http://www.agmatters.net/ge/douggurian_shermancomments3_06.doc [word 36kb]

pre-emption bills

- to stop local jurisdictions from labeling seeds (i.e. ge seeds). the missouri bill is even more extreme than most state pre-emption bills. most of them preempt local legislation, but this bill preempts the state as well � senate bill 1009 requires that "no state regulation shall be more restrictive than federal regulations pertaining to research, development, and use of seed and other propagate technologies." nineteen states have had preemption bills introduced. five of the nineteen were stalled in state legislatures, including california,. in fourteen states, the bills were passed into law quickly and with very little public input, including arizona and idaho in the west.

global warming

- global climate change has become the planet's most important environmental threat. citizen efforts to reduce greenhouse gases have typically involved calls for conversion to renewable energy and increased automobile fuel efficiency, but did you know that 20-25% of greenhouse gases are created by the production and long-distance transportation of our food? the mayor of london recognizes this important fact and is taking strategic measures to boost locally grown and organic foods in the region. plans include placing high taxes on long-haul transport trucks and providing incentives to hospitals and schools to purchase local and organic foods. http://www.organicconsumers.org/btc/london022706.cfm

national animal identification system

- april 6. 2006 - agriculture secretary mike johanns announced the release of an implementation plan that outlines timelines and benchmarks for the establishment of the national animal identification system (nais), along with a plan for the initial integration of private and state animal tracking databases with nais. the nais implementation plan, including implanted computer chips for all animals, along with more information about the program, is available at www.usda.gov/nais.

garden pesticides banned

- quebec has passed the toughest rules in north america regarding common gardening pesticides. in a move that has thrilled environmentalists and health advocates, the provincial government has asked its citizens to go back to the traditional ways of gardening and has banned 210 lawn and chemical products from store shelves. "this bold action sets a standard for excellence that other governments ignore at their peril," said warren bell, an association board member of the canadian association of physicians for the environment. http://www.organicconsumers.org/organic/quebec.cfm


call to action

ge round-up ready alfalfa

on february 16, the sierra club, western organization of resource councils, national family farm coalition, beyond pesticides, cornucopia institute, dakota resource council, and two individual alfalfa seed producers filed a lawsuit challenging the usda�s approval of alfalfa genetically engineered to resist glyphosate herbicides. the suit challenges usda for its inadequate environmental review of the crop under the national environmental policy act (nepa) and calls for a full environmental impact statement. the lawsuit asserts that ge alfalfa will likely contaminate natural alfalfa and ultimately prevent farmers from access to markets prohibiting ge, such as japan and south korea. the complaint can be found at:
www.centerforfoodsafety.org/pubs/complaintalfalfa2.15.2006.pdf. [pdf 344 kb]

monsanto has made a promise not to sell in wa state, because so much of their alfalfa is exported to asia. if ge seed gets into wa state, its export market could be ruined, which would be bad press for monsanto. according to john smillie (worc), ge alfalfa has been released, but not a lot of seed was planted last year � this year there is potentially more. let us know if you see it advertised, or know of it being planted. worc is trying to get emergency moratoriums from state departments� of agriculture. we need to educate
1) organic livestock producers whose livestock feed on alfalfa and would be damaged by ge contamination; and
2) organic marketers and
3) consumer groups that they won�t be able to sell/buy organic meat if there is ge alfalfa contamination of the feed supply.

contact john smillie at jsmillie@worc.org if you want to work on this. also, contact your state department of ag. and urge them to implement an emergency moratorium. here are links:

worc fact sheet: http://www.agmatters.net/ge/alfalfaworcfactsheet.pdf [pdf 292 kb]

center for food safety press release:
http://www.agmatters.net/ge/alfalfacfspressrelease.doc [word 28 kb]

national uniformity food act

- on march 8, despite massive public opposition, including 50,000 calls and letters from supporters of the organic consumers association, the house of representatives passed the controversial "national food uniformity" labeling law, which would eliminate over 200 state food safety labeling laws. pushed by food companies seeking uniform labels across state lines, the law basically takes away local government and states' power to require food safety labels, including laws requiring that genetically engineered foods and ingredients be labeled. in order to become law, the bill will now have to go to the senate for a vote. public interest organizations have vowed to go "all out" to stop this anti-democratic, anti-consumer bill in the senate.
take action here:
or here: http://ga3.org/campaign/fooduniformity_house_passage

farm to cafeteria legislation needs support for funding!

farm to cafeteria was designed to provide schools and non-profits with seed grants to cover the initial costs of preparing locally-grown food for school meals. these costs include equipment such as refrigerators and sinks, staff time to start projects, and experiential nutrition education projects, including school gardens. the program was not funded in 2005. congress is currently working on appropriations - funding levels for various programs. we want members of the appropriations committees to support funding for farm to cafeteria. please contact your congress people and ask them to include $5 million for "access to local foods and school gardens," section 122 of the 2004 child nutrition act. info: www.foodsecurity.org

the non-gmo project

- is described in the provender journal, march/april edition, page 6. it is something that could help keep the west gmo-free. we could all help by encouraging the natural foods retailers in our states to take part in the project.
from the article: the non-gmo project will have members of natural food retailers, who will require of their suppliers (natural food and supplement manufacturers) that they go through a review process to confirm the non-gmo status of their products. the standard for compliance will be developed in consultation with genetic id, a recognized gmo testing lab. initial plans are for manufacturers to achieve non-gmo status in a series of stages, working toward achieving a threshold of less than 0.1% gm content in their products, which is recognized internationally as the ideal for non-gmo certification. if many retailers join the project, the project leaders are confident that manufacturers will participate. there will be a directory published of participating manufacturers with regular updates. let's all urge the natural food retailers in our areas to join the project. it is being led by the natural grocery company in berkeley, and the big carrot in toronto. for more information contact: corey nicholl at 510.526.2456, ext 154 or gmoteam@naturalgrocery.com

school wellness policies

- the 2004 reauthorization of the child nutrition act gave hope for better nutrition policies at school. by july 1 of this year, every school district that participates in the school lunch or breakfast program must have a school wellness policy in place. the policy requirement was designed to address the childhood obesity problem and mandates schools to set nutrition standards for all foods sold at school, to set goals for nutrition education and physical exercise, and requires parent and community participation in a wellness policy committee. this is a great opportunity to get junk food out and fresh, healthy, local food into the schools, and to participate in the improvement of your school�s food system. history, background and a model wellness policy can be downloaded at: www.ecoliteracy.org and more information can be found at: www.foodsecurity.org & www.farmtoschool.org.


calendar of events

calendar of eventsmay 1
farm to table: cultivating community food connections

tacoma, wa
workshop on facilitating local producer/buyer relationships. registration is free but space is limited. register by april 26 with erin schau 206-718-4984 or ekschau@u.washington.edu.

may 7-9
strengthening rural community food systems
la grande, or
a statewide symposium with panel discussions, workshops, demonstrations, and skills for action on a variety of topics related to community food systems. keynote speaker: john ikerd, author of sustainable capitalism: a matter of common sense. all events are free and open to the public. to participate contact rob davis at 541-962-3560 or rdavis@eou.edu.

may 18-20
sustainable agriculture, communities & environments in the pacific northwest

richland, wa
symposium on the ways in which global changes, including rising petroleum prices and shifting weather patterns, will impact northwest agriculture. for more information call david a sonnenfeld at 509-372-7375 or email crs@tricity.wsu.edu.

july 10
innovative technologies for organic and sustainable production

portland, or
2006 annual meeting of the american society of agricultural and biological engineers. international perspectives on advanced technologies to enhance the fundamental principles of organic practices.

july 17,18
3rd north american lavender conference

sequim, washington
for those interested in growing lavender, distilling lavender oil, making lavender products, marketing lavender, or simply utilizing this amazing, fragrant herb. www.lavenderconference.com or call toll-free at 1-877-681-303.

october 7-11
bridging borders toward food security

vancouver, bc
tenth annual community food security coalition conference, held in conjunction with food secure canada. up to 1,000 north american and international delegates will meet to discuss advances in food policy, programs and community organizing for more sustainable food systems. www.foodsecurity.org

wsawg manages 3 listservs:
wsawggmo dealing with genetically modified organisms
wsawgconserv dealing with conservation programs
and wsawg for general and organic agriculture issues.

to subscribe, (or unsubscribe)  please refer to our members page, located here:
or email 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