vol. 2, #10
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 is scheduled to
vote on the farm bill the week of
november 5. we are at the final stages of the farm bill
debates and this is the last chance to
institute real reform before the bill moves to the
conference committee. like the widely denounced house bill payment
limit provision, the senate committee bill
maintains the current waste, fraud, and abuse approach to
commodity payment limitations that leads to
mega-payments, farm consolidation, and the slow demise of
family-scale agriculture. it also soaks up precious resources that
then cannot be spent on key programs that are short-funded by the
bill. real reform must now be made
in the form of a senate floor amendment introduced by senators byron
dorgan (d-nd) and chuck grassley (r-ia).
the dorgan-grassley amendment
will put a hard cap of $250,000 on commodity payments, close
loopholes, and shift the savings to rural development, beginning and
minority farmer, conservation, nutrition, and anti-hunger programs.
it will be the major floor amendment on the farm bill, and
the vote count is expected to be very,
very close. every single vote will count.
[call your senators - - see call to action below]
dorgan-grassley farm program payment limitation reform amendment
limit annual per farm commodity subsidy
payments to $250,000.
would establish effective caps of $40,000 on direct (fixed)
payments, $60,000 on counter cyclical (and crop revenue) payments,
and $150,000 on loan deficiency payments and marketing loan gains,
including gains on generic certificates and forfeited commodities.
the combined limit would be $250,000.
close loopholes. no
longer would farmers be able to use generic commodity certificates
or forfeitures to the government to evade the limits. those
limitation-avoidance mechanisms would now count against the limits.
all payments would count toward an individual's limit, whether
received directly or through a corporation or other type of entity.
it would become far more difficult to create paper farms for the
purposes of exceeding the limits.
ensure that payments flow to
working farmers. current law attempts to target
payments to working farmers, but fails miserably in doing so. the
amendment improves the measurable standard by which usda determines
who should and should not receive farm payments. it requires that
management be personally provided on a regular, substantial, and
continuous basis through direct supervision and direction of farming
activities and labor and on-site services.
re-invest in high priority programs.
savings from the amendment are re-invested in programs to
support minority and beginning farmers, rural economic development,
conservation, and nutrition and anti-hunger efforts, programs which
received no funding or insufficient funding in the bill reported by
the senate agriculture committee.
to the unflagging support of senator harkin the conservation
security program emerged from committee fit as a fiddle and with a
new name: the conservation stewardship program. as part of
the comprehensive stewardship incentives program for working lands
conservation the bill offers the new csp on a nationwide basis and a
mandatory sign up of at least 13 million acres a year; nearly 80,000
acres over the life of the farm bill. the bill also provides an easy
crosswalk for organic farmers allowing them to simultaneously
establish eligibility for the csp and organic certification.
of the senate ag cmte's proposed farm bill and other expected
go to our primary lead on the farm bill, the
agriculture coalition (sac),
we also work
closely with the community food security coalition, (cfsc)
which also has
farm bill updates that can be found on their website:
is archived at
biological control work group -
western region -
gwendolyn ellen at oregon state university's integrated plant
protection center and 16 other collaborators across the northwest
have been granted usda-csrees funds to create
the first western region cbc
bt corn may affect aquatic ecosystems, a study led by
an indiana university environmental science professor suggests a
widely planted variety of genetically engineered corn has the
potential to harm aquatic ecosystems.
- threshold has been crossed - an ipcc report to be released next
month will show that the rise in greenhouse-gases that scientists
had hoped to avert has already been surpassed.
ethanol and water
- national research council released a report which concludes that
the projected increase in corn ethanol production could
significantly degrade water quality and result in water supply
problems at the regional and local level report.
biofuels 'crime against humanity' a united nations
expert has condemned the growing use of food crops to produce
biofuels as a crime against humanity.
dvd of presentation available david fridley, staff
scientist at lawrence berkeley lab, active in san francisco bay area
peak oil groups, gave a presentation entitled "the myths of biofuels"
- who is pushing it -
the food industry
is not very interested in cloning as it is both expensive and
unreliable. the push for producing food from cloned farm animals
comes largely from one small sector of the biotech industry, not
from meat and dairy producers. two biotech companies - cyagra and
acting on behalf of organic food consumers in 27 states, class
action lawsuits are being filed in u.s. federal courts, in st. louis
and denver, against the nation's largest organic dairy. the suits
charge aurora dairy corporation, based in boulder, colorado, with
allegations of consumer fraud, negligence, and unjust enrichment
concerning the sale of organic milk by the company. this past
april, aurora officials received a notice from the usda detailing
multiple and "willful" violations of federal organic law that were
found by federal investigators.
pennsylvania dept. of ag attacks rbgh-free labeling -
appear to prohibit any kind of rbgh-free labeling on dairy products,
including wording such as "our farmers pledge not to use�"
article and press release
codex to authorize gmo contamination
codex alimentarius commission, which establishes food standards on
behalf of the un's food and agriculture organisation (fao) has
decided to advance a proposal that would allow low-level
contamination by gmos that have not been authorized in the importing
country. phil bereano, prof emeritus at university of washington,
who has been closely involved with the codex process, writes, "no
country is under any obligation whatsoever to adopt any codex
document - they are all voluntary.
startling scientific discoveries illuminate the emerging field of
epigenetics, in which single nutrients, toxins, behaviors or
environmental exposures of any sort can silence or activate a gene
without altering its genetic code in any way. rather, the
environmental exposure triggers a chemical change in the body or
brain that mobilizes a group of molecules called a methyl group. the
methyl group attaches to the control segment of a gene and either
silences or alternately activates the gene. "we can no longer argue
whether genes or environment has a greater impact on our health and
development, because both are inextricably linked." "each nutrient,
each interaction, each experience can manifest itself through
biochemical changes that ultimately dictate gene expression, whether
at birth or 40 years down the road." said two genetics researchers.
moreover, epigenetic changes can also be passed down from one
generation to the next. article
ge crops not
approved in eu
union has blocked the approval of a genetically modified potato and
three genetically modified varieties of corn. health regulators in
several european countries expressed serious concerns about
scientific data suggesting possible problems with the biotech
plants. all of the proposed plants are already approved for use in
farm to school network
launched its new and improved web site, the portal for farm to
school information in the u.s., including extensive content with
easy access for submitting information about programs, upcoming
events, news and funding opportunities, and online discussion forums
to dialogue on issues facing farm to school programs. an exciting
new feature includes a state profile for each of the 34 states with
active farm to school programs
www.farmtoschool.org related attra publication:
bringing local food to local institutions
are not safe -
scientists inserted a gene from a kidney bean into peas to make them
resistant to a weevil. they then fed the gm peas to mice for four
weeks and noted health effects. the scientific community was
surprised because the gene, when it was in the kidney bean, had been
known to be safe. however, further tests revealed that when the gene
was introduced into the pea, the pea had attached different
chemicals to the protein produced by the gene, changing its safety.
the scientists were forced to conclude that a gene that is safe in
its native plant may become unsafe when inserted into a gm plant -
contrary to what had been assumed by the gm regulators.
label standard issued:
usda's agricultural marketing service issued the long-awaited
standard for a grass and forage fed livestock marketing claim.
ruminant livestock and meat producers who want to have a usda
process verified grass fed label on their products must meet this
standard. the federal register notice with the final standard,
which includes ams comments on the previously submitted public
comments on the proposed standard, is posted at
usda page. the standard takes effect on november 15, 2007.
farms into factories
- new report about factory farms (cafos) that explains the
environmental, public health, and economic consequences of cafos, as
well as the policies and players that are driving their growth,
www.foodandwaterwatch.org national map of factory farms
production and ghg
- un fao report estimates that livestock production is responsible
for 18 percent of greenhouse gas
emissions, a bigger share than that of transport (trucks, suvs,
cars, airplanes, trains, etc) which releases 13% of ghgs. article
producer grantwriting assistance project -
the michael fields agricultural institute recently announced a
new project funded through usda's risk management agency. the
underserved producer grantwriting assistance project will pay
experienced grantwriters to assist producers in submitting proposals
to federal agencies to support their work. the project places
priority on serving socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers.
currently, the project will only operate in the south, west, and
fraud protection program
national cooperative grocers association (ncga) announced its
partnering with hanover co-op food stores, pcc natural markets and
unified grocers on a program exploring the use of the organic
industry's first system-wide, retailer-based organic fraud detection
and prevention program. ncga has contracted with the international
organic accreditation service (ioas) to determine appropriate
methods retailers could undertake to limit the incidence of
fraudulently traded organic products and to increase the chances of
early detection when it takes place within the retail supply chain.
spilling the beans, october issue how corporations
engineered the non-regulation of dangerous genetically modified
foods, by jeffrey m. smith
assistance for organic farmers
focuses on aspects of federal disaster assistance that are of
particular relevance for organic farmers. the first part of the
article discusses steps that organic farmers may take to reduce the
impact of natural disasters that may occur in the future. the second
part of the article discusses federal programs that provide
assistance to farmers in order to recover from natural disaster.
- this article,
local carrots with a side of red tape, does a great job of
describing the ups and downs of schools buying local food.
in u.s. food supply eroded by pursuit of high yields
"critical issue report" from brian halweil at the worldwatch
institute documents the extent of nutrient decline, reviews ways
that farmers and breeders can increase nutrient density, and
explains the importance of doing so in order to improve public
farm to hospital: supporting local agriculture and improving
health care direct sales from farmers to hospital
food service departments are helping ill people eat better and
recover faster. this six-page brochure from the community food
security coalition and the center for food & justice (cfj) addresses
the ins and outs of developing partnerships between hospitals and
local farms, looks at ways hospitals can improve the food they
offer, tells how farmers can effectively market to hospitals, and
provides case studies of successful efforts.
organic food is better early results of a �12 million
4-year eu study indicate organic fruit and vegetables contain 40%
more antioxidants (believed to cut the risk of heart disease and
cancer) compared to non-organic items. there were also higher levels
of other beneficial minerals such as iron and zinc.
call to action
urge all senators to support the
dorgan-grassley payment limitations amendment
please call your senators today
the full senate vote will be the week of nov 5
its easy to call:
contact the capitol
switchboard at (202) 224-3121 or locate your senators at
factory farms alert -
while you are at it, urge
your senators to oppose bills that would
exempt hazardous wastes from cafos from the health and environmental
protections that cercls, epcra, and eqip provide, and
support bills that would set the limit on
eqip payments to $240,000 so that cafo's would not be able to bogart the
leading u.s. sugar providers have announced they will be sourcing their
sugar from genetically engineered sugar beets (rr) beginning this year and
arriving in stores in 2008. like gm corn and gm soy, u.s. products
containing gm sugar will not be labeled as such. sugar beets are grown on
1.4 million acres by 12,000 farmers in the u.s. from oregon to minnesota.
meanwhile candy companies like hershey's are urging farmers not to plant gm
sugar beets, noting that consumer surveys suggest resistance to the product.
in addition the european union has not approved gm sugar beets for human
calendar of events - 2007
- 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
- international holistic management conference
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.
november 6-7 -
center for ecoliteracy (cel) seminar: rethinking school lunch,
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 >
9-11 - green festival -
san francisco, calif.,
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
- 4:30 - 8:30 pm - ncsa organic cmte and nat'l organic coalition pre-nosb
arlington, va, holiday inn, contact: liana hoodes, 845-744-2304,
28-30 - nosb
national organic standards board (nosb) will meet in dc on november 28-30 to
conduct the sunset review process for a number of national list substances and
consider the recommendations of the six nosb subcommittees on several key
issues. for meeting logistics and an agenda go to
- focus on farming conference iv: from soils to sales
lynnwood convention center, i-5 & 196th street sw, lynnwood, wash.,
8 am 6 pm (check-in begins at 7 am), cost: $30 until november 15; $40 after
november 15; under 18 - $10 with pre-registration
february 13 -
organic seed growers' pre-conference workshop
- one-day fundamentals of organic seed production short course and then....
14-15, 2008, 5th biennial organic seed growers conference-
hosted by osa in partnership with oregon state university, washington state
university, and organic materials review institute, this is the largest meeting
of seed professionals engaged in organic seed production, research, and plant
breeding in the us. this event brings together seed growers, organic farmers,
university researchers and extension agents, seed industry professionals, and
food industry participants from across the country and internationally.
march 2-4 -
the 2008 summit on seeds and breeds,
washington, dc to debrief from the farm bill and plan for the future of public
plant and animal breeding. more info later:
- ecocity world summit 2008
- san francisco, california
may 5-7 - sw
marketing network 6th annual conference -
santa fe, nm, la fonda hotel,
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: email@example.com
(you may also subscribe
to just the enews)
back to top
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