vol. 2, #11
in this issue...
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farm bill news
farm bill update
the full senate did not
vote on the farm bill and now are recessed for two weeks. with just three
weeks remaining when the senate returns from thanksgiving recess, and a full
slate of appropriations bills and other things (like the peru free trade
agreement) left to complete, prospects for a farm bill by christmas are very
dim, so it will be a 2008 farm bill. we still need you to:
senators to support the dorgan-grassley amendment on the floor.
urge your senators to support a livestock title on the
(d-or) introduced an amendment that would restore sustainability criteria to
the bioenergy crop transition assistance program. bcta will make incentive
and cost share payments to producers of perennial bioenergy crops who meet
certain stewardship thresholds. priority is given to projects that provide
the highest estimated benefits to wildlife, air, soil and water quality;
include the participation of beginning farmers and ranchers or socially
disadvantaged farmers and ranchers; and include local ownership of the
biomass conversion facility.
(r-wy) introduced an amendment (captive supply reform act) that will require
all forward contracts for the sale of livestock to have a fixed base price.
senator tester (d-mt) is sponsoring an amendment to clarify
that the packers and stockyards act does not excuse market manipulation
where the packer has a "legitimate business justification."
senator harkin is sponsoring another amendment to provide
clarification for the courts. it will ensure that the packers and stockyards
act is not interpreted as requiring that producers show not only individual
harm from anti-competitive practices but also competitive harm to the entire
feingold (d-wi) has filed an amendment that will cap eqip cost share
payments at 25% once a recipient has received more than $240,000 under the
program in any six year period.
dorgan-grassley commodity payment limitation
amendment places a hard cap of
senators feingold and menendez (d-nj) have filed an
amendment that would reduce direct payments. after the first $10,000, direct
payments would be reduced by 35%. savings would be used to provide block
grants to the states for conservation, nutrition, rural development, organic
agriculture and renewable energy spending.
senator kolbuchar (d-mn) has filed an amendment to deny
commodity program payments to individuals with an average annual adjusted
gross income in excess of $250,000 unless two-thirds of their income is from
senators lugar (r-in) and lautenberg (d-nj) filed a
comprehensive amendment that would entirely replace commodity programs with
a program of revenue insurance and savings accounts.
cloned meat and milk products
(d-md) and specter
(r-pa) filed an amendment directing usda to conduct a series of studies on
issues not addressed in the preliminary fda risk assessment. the amendment
directs the secretary to conduct a study on the economic and trade impacts
on u.s. meat and milk exports; usda's capacity to monitor the introduction
of cloned products; the potential public health effects attributable to the
consumption of milk from cloned animals; and a study to be conducted with
the nas regarding the safety of cloned food. the amendment also extends the
current voluntary moratorium on the introduction of cloned food until the
studies called for are completed.
senator mikulski filed a separate amendment (sa 3525)
requiring that products from cloned animals or their progeny be clearly
labeled as such.
announced a ban on the planting of genetically engineered crops
until the safety of the crops can be further assessed. french
president nicolas sarkozy indicted that the decision was based on
the desire to err on the side of safety. "i don't want to be in
contradiction with eu laws, but i have to make a choice. in line of
the precautionary principle, i wish that the commercial cultivation
gmos be suspended," he said. article
gm crops that shut down pests' genes
monsanto is developing genetically
modified plants that use rna interference to kill the insects that
eat them, by disrupting their gene expression. the crops,
which initiate a gene-silencing response called rna interference,
are a step beyond existing gm crops that produce toxic proteins.
because the new crops target particular genes in particular insects,
some researchers suggest that they will be safer and less likely to
have unintended effects than other genetically modified plants.
others warn that it is too early to make such predictions and that
the plants should be carefully tested to ensure that they do not
pose environmental problems. most researchers agree that it's
unlikely that eating these plants would have adverse effects on
humans. two papers published concurrently in
nature biotechnology show that in some insects,
eating doubleanded rna is enough to cause gene silencing. this
is surprising: in previous research, rna interfered with organisms'
gene expression only when it was injected.
dept. of ag attacks rbgh-free labeling -
new regulations appear to prohibit any kind of
rbgh-free labeling on dairy products, including wording such as "our
farmers pledge not to use"
ny times article
you may send a
message to the pa governor - see
call to action section below. as of the end of nov,
public pressure has caused the pa governor to delay enforcement of
the rule, originally scheduled for jan 1, for one month.
chipotle goes completely rbgh-free
grill has announced it no longer will serve any cheese made with
milk from cows treated with the synthetic hormone rbgh. the
move will make chipotle the first national restaurant chain to
eliminate rbgh entirely from items on its menu. article
gmo corn harms caddisflies - researchers have found
that bt corn has the potential to harm aquatic ecosystems in the
midwest. the scientists established that pollen, leaves and other
plant parts from bt corn are leaving the corn fields and washing
into nearby streams. lab studies then showed that when these
materials are eaten by caddisflies it can cause reduced growth and
increased mortality. article
million italians sign petition against gmos.
the petition was organized by the italy/europe gmo-free coalition,
bringing together 32 organizations of farmers, consumers and
transgenes persist in nature? -
this is the first
report of the persistence and apparent introgression, i.e. stable
incorporation of genes from one differentiated gene pool into
another, of an herbicide resistance transgene from brassica napus
into the gene pool of its weedy relative, brassica rapa, monitored
under natural commercial field conditions.
us farmers demand
patent reform -
re/ patent reform
act of 2007 (s. 1145). american corn growers association urges
quick passage of legislation that would help level the playing field
for family farmers defending themselves against dubious claims of
patent infringement. farmers in many cases are sued
after their fields are contaminated by pollen that drifts.
pilots local food program -
department of state health services is offering their employees the
opportunity to sign up for weekly deliveries of fresh food grown by
a local farmer. the agency worked with the sustainable food center
of austin to arrange the program, which allows employees to order a
$25 basket of produce online and have it delivered to their
study by beekeeper - bees near cropland less productive than
bees away from cropland, clear results warrant more study by
scientists, says john mcdonald. article
excellent article - what was behind the honey
bee wipeout? from terrain magazine, which is published by the
ecology center in berkeley, california. article
farm belt residents not gung-ho about ethanol plants
- one might expect that ethanol plants
would be unconditionally embraced in the farm belt, but farm
families are not immune to nimby-ism. when plans for an ethanol
distillery were announced for the outskirts of sparta, wis.,
residents concerned about emissions, odor, and, yes, the view,
printed up t-shirts: "good idea. bad location." residents of new
castle, ind., are also lobbying against a proposed plant.
the new york times
a special series on biofuels
bisphenol a (bpa) in our bodies - a cdc survey of more than 2500 u.s. residents shows that nearly
everyone in the country carries bisphenol a (bpa) in their bodies and that children carry the highest burden.
the chemical, used in plastics and food containers, acts as an endocrine disrupter. article
robbing girls of childhood:
the falling age of puberty, a report from the breast
cancer fund, warns that today's young girls are experiencing puberty
two years earlier than their mothers because they are "exposed
continuously to low-level endocrine disruptors in their diets,
drinking water and air supply."
- this is
the key document on climate change,
in 23 pages, it is the tightly distilled, peer-reviewed research of
several thousand scientists, fully endorsed, without qualification,
by all the world's major governments. its official name is a
mouthful: the policymakers' summary of the synthesis report of the
united nations intergovernmental panel on climate change (ipcc)
fourth assessment. so let's just call it the synthesis.
western governors challenge congress to cap america's global
warming pollution. governors arnold schwarzenegger (r-ca), brian
schweitzer (d-mt) and jon huntsman (r-ut) deliver strong message article
global warming facts
and figures details the economic impacts of global warming inaction
and how much a national cap on global warming will cost.
more coal by peter montague
mcdonald had a farm...and he got arrested?
- good article about regulators cracking down on farm to consumer
program rules out organic food
- this is a heads up for
the organic market - organic groceries will be cut from the shopping
lists of montana mothers who rely on food support from the wic
program starting dec. 1. rapidly rising food costs have forced
montana wic officials to choose between limiting the number of
people enrolled in the program or limiting what products they can
article re/ wic funding
energy source: burning seawater -
discovers hydrogen from salt water can be "burned" by radio
frequencies. he happened upon the discovery accidentally
when he tried to desalinate seawater with a radio-frequency
generator he developed to treat cancer. he discovered that as long
as the salt water was exposed to the radio frequencies it would
burn. the discovery has scientists excited by the prospect of using
salt water as a fuel.
cbs news article
suit to protect salmon from pesticides:
commercial fishers and environmentalists joined together to file a
lawsuit to stop pesticide applications near rivers and streams in
the pacific northwest and california. the suit, filed in u.s.
district court in seattle, charges the national marine fisheries
service and epa with failing to protect fish from 54 pesticides in
west coast streams, despite a 2002 court order to do so.
chemical and engineering news has the full report.
scotts co. will pay a $500,000
allegations that it failed to comply with u.s. rules for
field-testing a ge variety of creeping bentgrass used on lawns,
athletic fields and golf courses. the civil penalty is the largest
allowed by the plant protection act of 2000.
with a focus on sustainable and certified organic production,put out
by the sustainable industries journal. free copy
here! (pdf) 4.15 mb
report links payments with land concentration
the report data shows that the concentration of cropland since 1987
grew much more rapidly in areas with relatively high initial
payments per acre suggesting that higher initial payment levels are
associated with greater concentration of land into larger farms over
ucs report on biofuels:
the union of concerned scientists has released a report, titled
biofuels: an important part of a
low-carbon diet, which concludes that the cleanest form
of ethanol is cellulose from grasses or wood chips which could
reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 85 percent. the study includes a
comparative life-cycle analysis of numerous liquid fuel feedstocks
including gasoline, liquid coal and cellulosic ethanol. in
addition, the report looks at differences among agrofuels and found
that emissions varied widely depending on tilling practices,
fertilizer use, previous land use and the fuels used for farm
equipment and ethanol plants.
dairy discussion listserve
to serve as a
communication conduit to discuss small-scale dairy issues (including
regulatory, practical, technical, culinary, etc.). the list
currently has 62 subscribers. to join send email to chrys ostrander
better re/ nutrients.
agribusiness is producing more food than ever before, but the
evidence is building that the vitamins and minerals in that food are
lots of info here
better- 9 yr. study -
center for sustainable agriculture reports that after nine years of
comparison, clear differences between organic and conventional crop
production systems are emerging: the longer rotations and careful
management of the organic system show greater yields, increased
profitability, and steadily improved soil quality over conventional
practices. considered to be the largest randomized, replicated
comparison of organic and conventional crops in the nation.
speech by mayor rocky anderson of salt lake city -
"we won't take
it any more!"
"science" re/ gmo's -
beans, november newsletter -
sequestration - who does it benefit?
article by peter montague
call to action
urge all senators to support the
dorgan-grassley payment limitations amendment
please call your senators today
- in october, the
pennsylvania department of agriculture (pda) enacted a rule which would
prohibit farmers from telling consumers that they aren't using artificial
hormones on their dairy cows. this is to be implemented on feb. 1, 2008.
this ban applies to all dairy products sold in the state affecting dairies
all over the country. for instance, this would impact tillamook and nancy�s
yogurt in oregon. moreover, monsanto�s supporters are mounting the same
attack in other states, including ohio and new jersey. send
a message to the pa governor
take action here
or, you can email the
governor yourself via the governor's website or by direct email:
governor's website or
email@example.com give him your
thoughts. (or call him 717-787-2500)
consumers have the right to know what�s in
their food. dairies have the right to inform consumers what�s in their
calendar of events - 2007
dec. 6-7 - wsu economic issues and outlook conference
(first annual) -
lion inn at pasco, wa. - energy and agriculture will
be the focus.
the conference web site.
january 18-19, oregon tilth annual conference,
salem conf. center, oregon
- "organic integrity: principles, practices, and
opportunities" will offer a rich variety of topics
relevant to anyone involved with food systems, organic
agriculture and livestock, sustainability, advocacy.
jan 21-23 - soils and sustainability -
salem conf. center, oregon -
3-day workshop led by neal kinsey re/ applying the
principles of the albrecht method for building the
january 21-22 - sac winter meeting -
asilomar conference center,
pacific grove, california,
january 23-26 - ecological farming conference
- asilomar conf. center, pacific grove, calif.-
the theme for the 28th
annual conference is "root values: connecting ecology,
community and the land." the agenda includes bus tours
of organic farms or school gardens, an extensive
workshop schedule that includes some workshops in
spanish, and plenary sessions.
february 13 - organic seed growers' pre-conf. workshop
- fundamentals of organic seed production
february 14-15, 2008, 5th biennial organic seed
salem conf. center, oregon, 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
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:
march 25-27 - sare's 20th anniversary - new
american farm conference,
kansas city, mo.
april 22-26 - ecocity world summit 2008
- san francisco, california
may 5-7 - sw marketing network 6th annual
santa fe, nm, la fonda hotel,
june 23-27 - rethinking food, health and the
- berkeley, california - the center for ecoliteracy
and teachers college columbia university (tc) announce
a five-day professional development institute to
support teams from schools and districts that want to
create learning connections between the school food
environment and curriculum in the classroom .
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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