vol. 2, #12
in this issue...
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farm bill news
the senate adopted a farm
bill mid-december (on a vote of 79 to 14) that was a mixed bag of gains and
losses for family farmers, consumers, and the environment. while the senate
took significant steps in advancing conservation and competition provisions,
it also left out any effective commodity
subsidy reform. a
press statement issued by sac describes the status of sac-backed
provisions in the final bill, and this
updated legislative progress chart summarizes the status of
sac-supported farm bill provisions in the house and senate versions of the
negotiations between the house and senate are slated to begin in early
january at the staff level and late january at the member level. take a
how your senators voted on key provisions this week. please follow up
with your senators. thank them if they voted for family farmers, the
environment, or fairness, and hold them accountable if they voted against
sustainable agriculture and family farm priorities.
the vote was 56-43, four short of the required 60.
community food projects:
the senate�s bill would increase cfp funding to $10 million in mandatory
annual funding, doubling the program�s previous $5 million. when the
house-senate conference committee meets to compromise the two bills, it�s
important that the senate�s funding hold up against the house version, which
does not give cfp mandatory funds.
geographic preference language: both the house and senate
bills include language clarifications that enable and encourage schools to
look for local food first when they order meals through the usda.
healthy food enterprise development (hfed):
the senate bill sets aside $7 million over 5 years for an hfed center, which
would provide advice and assistance to support aggregation, processing and
marketing of local produce in underserved communities. the bill also
includes a provision within the business & industry loan program, adding a
priority for local food systems and increased access to healthy foods.
food stamp program and tefap (emergency feeding programs):
the senate bill increases both food stamp and tefap funding and makes the
monthly benefit adjustable to inflation. it also lifts a former cap on the
child care deduction, and raises food stamp household asset limits.
livestock competition title:
the senate agriculture committee included a strong competition title in
their farm bill draft, and their competition provisions held without being
struck on the senate floor. the bill helps smaller livestock producers
compete by banning packer ownership of livestock, in addition to other
measures that limit corporate exploitation and empower small producers
gains in research funding:
research provisions were accepted by senate leadership and added to the
senate bill as part of the manager's amendment. these include the feingold
(d-wi) organic research amendment, which allocates funding from usda�s
agricultural research service budget to research on organic agriculture, and
the menendez (d-nj) local foods study amendment, which funds a study on the
potential growth of local food in the marketplace, and the benefits of
advancing local food systems.
agriculture appropriations fared well
in the $555
billion omnibus appropriations bill:
increased from $16.3 million in fiscal year 2007 to $19.0 million in fy08.
after having been slashed by 63% in fy07, it will be funded at $2.6 million
for fy08, which is a slight increase over the $2.5 million at which it had
been funded for the six previous fiscal years.
the outreach and technical assistance program for socially disadvantaged
farmers and ranchers (the �2501� program) will be funded at $6.4
million, up from $5.9 million last year.
security program funding caps that had been placed on csp were removed
value added producer grants program got cut from $20.3
million to $18.9 million.
certification increase: nop and related certification activities will
receive a 50 percent increase under the new bill, with just over $3 million
in funding. the organic transitions research program held roughly steady at
$1.8 million and the organic data initiative again received $500,000.
promotion program held steady at $1 million.
energy bill signed:
president bush signed into law the energy independence and security act
of 2007, which the house passed by a vote of 314-100. the final package
increases the renewable fuel standards (rfs) for liquid transportation fuels
to 36 billion gallons a year by 2022, with a limit of 15 billion gallons per
year of corn-based ethanol by 2015 and a ramp up to 21 billion gallons of
advanced biofuels - including 16 billion gallons per year of cellulosic
ethanol per year - by 2022. the final package will also require automakers
to increase fuel efficiency by 40 percent to an industry average of 35 miles
per gallon by 2020.
- cfs applauds passage of a provision in the senate�s farm bill that would
delay the fda's endorsement of the use of
food from cloned animals. this amendment calls for a rigorous
and careful review of the human health and economic impacts of bringing
cloned food into america�s food supply. www.centerforfoodsafety.org
delegates condemn global food take-over:
inter press service report from penang, malaysia.
many expressed concern over the predatory nature of corporate
agriculture and its attempts to corner the entire chain of food
production from seeds to sales." syngenta, bayer, monsanto, basf,
dow and dupont control 85% of the $30 billion global pesticide
market. cargil, bunge and archer daniels midland control nearly 90%
of the world's grain trade. eleven firms control half the planet's
seed sales, and the biggest corporations are also the biggest ge
seed producers. the latest trend in the "corporate
takeover of agriculture" involves vertically integrated
multinationals that dominate the entire food production cycle.
bali climate conf. -
a declaration from
representatives from the 180 countries, the scientists say emissions
need to peak and then start to decline within the next 10 to 15
years as a first step, and then be cut in half by 2050 from the
level prevailing in 1990.
peak oil + peak soil = peak spoils for corporations
massive government incentives and subsidies, estimated to be as high
as us$15 billion/year, are stoking the agri-fuels boom and
spurring alliances that extend
over a larger share of the world/s resources. this
report maps the new corporate alliances propelled by (and
propelling) the scramble for bio-based fuels, and also includes info
about synthetic biologists who think they can turn microbes into
supreme court won't hear monsanto case -
a six-year battle
by a group of saskatchewan organic farmers to sue monsanto canada
and bayer crop science has been snuffed out by the supreme court of
canada, saying they will not hear the case.. the farmers were
seeking compensation for losing canola as a crop due to genetic
fertilizer depletes soil carbon -
university of illinois soil scientists have published the results of
a study showing that adding nitrogen fertilizer to soil doesn't
build organic carbon. in fact, they found consistent evidence of an
organic carbon decline for fertilized soils throughout the world.
the study appears in the november/december 2007 issue of the
journal of environmental quality.
negotiations are being held between rbgh-free milk dealers,
activists, and pa and ohio state officials. if the processors�
ability to tell consumers on their labels that they�re rbgh-free
isn�t reinstated, they will most likely sue in pa. in ohio, the
dept. of agriculture has selected a committee to further look at
this issue and a strong team of activists has testified to them.
meanwhile a pro rbgh group has formed, (afact), backed by monsanto,
to promote the use of such methods.
after seven years
of keeping sugar from gm sugar beets out of their food, kellogg,
hershey's and the wyoming based american crystal sugar state they
will use sugar made from gm beets. monsanto's rr sugarbeet seed will
be available for planting in 2008.
market loan program -
recently started a new program to provide low-interest, long-term
loans to small producers around the country near their stores.
latin america -
as gm soybeans
take over vast tracts in s. america and reports flow in of genetic
contamination of local corn in mexico, grassroots resistance to
biotech crops has also grown. the protests form part of people's
movements across the hemisphere that tie together a rejection of
neoliberalism and agribusiness, and call for land reform, food
sovereignty, and sustainable agriculture.
revised wic food packages -
the new food
packages are designed to improve the nutrition and health of our
nation's low-income pregnant women, new mothers, infants and young
children with nutrition education, and more fruits, vegetables and
whole grains to greatly improve dietary quality. interim
infringement cases -
the federal court
of canada has issued a judgment against mr. paul beneteau of
amherstburg, ontario for patent infringement pertaining to the
roundup ready gene in soybeans, and ordered the payment to monsanto
of $160/acre. this judgment follows an earlier court judgment
against mr. eddie wouters of northspruce farms ltd. in which the
court awarded monsanto over $107,000 or $274/acre on his 392 acres
of soybeans planted without monsanto's permission. monsanto is
currently pursuing litigation with three other parties in ontario
related to patent infringement.
life forms -
poised to create new life forms driven by completely artificial dna.
dozens of advocacy groups want a ban on releasing synthetic
organisms pending wider societal debate and regulation.
etc group commented, "ultimately synthetic biology means
cheaper and widely accessible tools to build bioweapons, virulent
pathogens and artificial organisms that could pose grave threats to
people and the planet. the danger is not just bio-terror but
craig venter�s team makes vast patent grab on synthetic genomes
claims are broadly framed to seek exclusive monopoly on all
find out about
�the men & money behind synthia.�
formally suspended the commercial use of gm seeds in the country
until a vote in early february and ordered a biotech safety study.
article france is
set to vote on a new biotech law on february 9. france's
largest farm union, fnsea, has urged farmers to refrain from buying
gm seeds ahead of the new biotech law which would require farmers to
declare their gm plantings and make them financially liable for any
thin-film solar cells:
the basic technology has been around for decades, but this year,
nanosolar created the
manufacturing technology that could make that promise a reality.
the company produces its powersheet solar cells with
printing-press-style machines that set down a layer of
solar-absorbing nano-ink onto metal sheets as thin as aluminum foil,
so the panels can be made for about a tenth of what current panels
cost and at a rate of several hundred feet per minute. with backing
from google's founders and $20 million from the u.s. department of
energy, nanosolar's first commercial cells rolled off the presses
cafeterias save schools money
researchers analyzed 330 school districts over a five year period
and found that shifting school lunch programs towards healthier
foods does not reduce student demand and ultimately saves the school
money. while serving better meals requires higher labor costs, those
expenses are offset by lower costs for more nutritious foods such as
fruits and vegetables compared with processed foods.
foreign dna/rna on the human immune system
vienna, austria -this review should give policy makers
and risk managers the rational basis to widen the view on the risk
assessment of genetically modified plants and therefore to include
potential impacts associated with synthetic dna/rna fragments of
genetically modified plants to the human immune system. review
production and greenhouse gases
- the humane society of the united states (hsus) recently released a
paper entitled "the impact of animal agriculture on global
warming and climate change". one of the topics hsus is addressing
is the role of organic farming in mitigating greenhouse gas
emissions from animal agriculture. if you're aware of research being
done or studies that would assist in this regard, please contact
national farm to school network launched
coordinated by the center for food & justice at occidental college
and the community food security coalition was launched in 2007. you
are invited to subscribe to their monthly e-newsletter, farm to
school routes, which highlights policies, news, publications,
and events, plus featuring a region and profile each month.
farm to school online >
ge trees -
very informative article
- "trees by design"
program to improve local food systems
community food projects
cfp grants program
call to action
farms flooded, need help
- the pacific northwest was hit by the equivalent of a category 3 hurricane
on december 3rd. one of the results of this storm was catastrophic flooding
in southwest washington. many farms which work the fertile flood plains
along washington's rivers were devastated by record floods set off by more
than 12 inches of rain in less than 18 hours. olympia farmers market
farmers relief fund has been set up to send help to these farmers.
relief site and
olyblog provides periodic updates on ways people can assist in the
calendar of events - 2008
january 17-19, 7th annual quivira coalition
marriott pyramid, albuquerque,
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.
january 21-23 - soils and sustainability -
salem conf. center, oregon -
3-day workshop led by neal kinsey re/ applying the
principles of the albrecht method.
january 22-24- taking action for healthy eating and
january 23-24 - direct seed cropping systems conf -
three rivers convention center
in kennewick, wa. found at
january 21-23 - ecofarm pre-conf: food safety for
organic production and handling -
certified organic farmers presents this eco-farm
pre-conference, with one day for small to mid-size
growers and one day for large growers and handlers
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.
january 25-27 - independent media power vs the
corporate coup -
santa cruz media strategy summit - confronting
corporate control of our media
february 4 - seattle's 3rd annual farmer chef
after jan. 6th at
february 4-6 -
garden, kitchen, & community as classroom,
center for ecoliteracy, berkeley, calif. a
three-day seminar to support teachers want to embed
experiential instruction into the academic program,
using the kitchen, garden, and community as the
contexts for learning.
february 21-23 - colorado ag. big and small conf.
greeley, co, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
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
february 28 - pre-conf national organic action plan (noap)
- marriott pyramid, albuquerque
february 29-march 1 - new mexico organic farming conf.
marriott pyramid, albuquerque, nm.
march 2-4 - the 2008 summit on seeds and breeds,
radisson reagan national airport, arlington va
to debrief from the farm bill and plan for the future
of public plant and animal breeding. please contact
the hotel directly to reserve rooms, which are being
held under �seeds and breeds summit�: 703.920.8600 or
1.800.333.3333. please note that the block of rooms
we are holding will be released on february 8th,
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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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