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field of flowers

vol. 3, #1
january, 2008


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 news

with the senate and house versions of the new farm bill passed in 2007, the next step is for the differences between the two bills to be negotiated and resolved so that one final bill can be voted on by both chambers and sent to the president.  while a substantial majority of our platform is in either the senate or the house bill, one of the two versions contains little, or in some cases no mandatory funding for the following programs.  please contact your legislators and choose at least several of the programs listed below to ask for mandatory farm bill funding

beginning farmer and rancher development program $15 million in annual mandatory funding

beginning farmer and rancher individual development account program $5 million

conservation security program $2 billion in additional mandatory funding over five years

value-added producer grant $40 million (the 2002 farm bill level) in annual mandatory funding

organic conversion assistance program to incorporate it the into the environmental quality incentives program (eqip) so that educational and financial assistance is available to farmers moving to certified organic systems

organic agriculture research and extension initiative $16 million in annual mandatory funding

rural micro-enterprise assistance program $75 million in mandatory funding over five years

livestock markets - there is considerable disparity between the house and senate bills' treatment of livestock markets.  while the senate bill includes several provisions that strengthen the bargaining power and legal rights of independent and contract growers, the house version does not include any of the provisions necessary to bring a degree of fairness and accountability to a livestock sector that has come to be a dominated by a handful of  agribusinesses.  please view and take action with this action alert.

community food projects the house passed their farm bill in july that reauthorized cfp, but did not provide any mandatory funding. in december, the senate passed their bill that increased funding to $10 million in mandatory money annually, doubling the program�s previous $5 million budget. when the house-senate conference committee meets to compromise the two bills, it�s important that the senate�s mandatory funding is passed.

geographic preference language  both the house and senate bills include language clarifications that enables schools to preference local farmers when purchasing food for school meals.
healthy food enterprise development (hfed)   the house bill and senate bills include a provision within the business & industry loan program that adds a priority for local food systems and increased access to healthy foods.

attra project has been funded for fiscal year 2008. attra�s funding was part of the omnibus appropriations bill funded by congress and signed by the president on december 26, 2007.

community gardening in schools is a means for learning about agriculture, improving the diet of children and youths, and growing healthy food for use in summer nutrition programs. text of amendment.


new sec. of ag - ed schafer was sworn in as the 29th secretary of the u.s. department of agriculture on january 28, 2008. schafer served as north dakota's governor from 1992 to 2000.  in 2000 he co-founded the governors biotechnology partnership to increase public understanding and support for agricultural biotechnology.  article 




rr alfalfa - eis process begun w/ scoping - aphis intends to prepare an eis re/ monsanto's rr alfalfa.  their notice identifies potential issues and alternatives that will be studied in the eis and requests public comment to further delineate the scope of the issues and regulatory alternatives.  they will consider all comments received on or before february 6, 2008.   aphis portal

rr sugar beets - federal approval challenged - january 22 - farmers, food safety advocates, and conservation groups filed suit in federal court challenging the deregulation of �roundup ready� sugar beets by aphis of the usda. attorneys from the center for food safety and earthjustice are representing plaintiffs: organic seed alliance, sierra club, high mowing seeds in the lawsuit, which seeks a thorough assessment of environmental, health, and associated economic impacts of the deregulation as required by federal law.  press release 


supreme court backs monsanto in seed patent case - upholding a lower court ruling that penalized a mississippi farmer for reusing gm soybean seeds.   article


california ge bill approved - ab 541, which could become california�s first state law protecting farmers from the hazards of ge crops, passed out of the full (house) assembly on january 29 with a vote of 49-12.  ab 541 will enact protections for california farmers against frivolous lawsuits that intimidate and harass those who have not been able to prevent the drift of ge pollen or seed. it will level the playing field for farmers accused by agricultural biotechnology companies and other patent holders of contract violations, and discourage the practice of biotech companies sampling crops without explicit permission from farmers and prosecuting based on unverifiable testing results.  the bill will now move to the senate.


epa proposes to exempt releases of cafo air emissions from hazard emission laws:  on december 28, as a special holiday treat for the mega-industrial livestock sector, epa issued an administrative proposal (federal register, vol. 72 at p. 73700, march 28, 2007) to exempt cafos from compliance with reporting requirements under the comprehensive environmental response, compensation, and liability act (cercla, also known as superfund) and the emergency planning and community right-to-know act (epcra) for ammonia, hydrogen sulfide and other hazardous air emissions from animal waste.  comments on the proposed exemption are due march 28, 2008. epa information on the proposed rule is posted at this site.   an action alert will be forthcoming.


pharm crops in the works -  a drug producing lettuce is being promoted for production in calif.,article carrot that provides extra calcium and broccoli that contains more sulforaphane, a chemical which may help people ward off cancer.  article


rbgh update -

    penn dept of ag. backs down, rescinds order to restrict rbgh -free labeling.  new jersey had until recently taken the matter under consideration but has since determined not to take action.

    ohio rbgh-free labeling decision delayed - see call to action below

    indiana bill in the works - hb 1300 would do exactly what pa�s proposed ban tried to do � disallow any kind of rbgh-free type of labeling. in fact, the language is nearly identical to pa�s, demonstrating the nationwide coordination of monsanto to pull out all the stops in trying to stop consumers from making informed buying decisions.  the bill passed in the house ag committee and will now probably go to a vote in the next few days in the full house.

    kraft stuns markets, says it will start selling a line of cheese made with rbst free milk by june.  other companies:  dean foods co., the largest u.s. dairy company, offers a line of rbst-free products, while grocery chain kroger co. bans the artificial hormone from its name-brand milk. starbucks corp. last year became the highest-profile company to act, instituting a ban in its 6,793 company-operated cafes.  chipotle mexican grill inc. also announced last year it was banning rbst.   article 


ethanol -

    switchgrass grown for biofuel production produced 540 percent more energy than needed to grow, harvest and process it into cellulosic ethanol, according to estimates from a large on-farm study by researchers at the university of nebraska-lincoln. research paper found here.

    cellulosic ethanol booms despite unproven business models, nature biotechnology, jan 2008  article


splenda is not sugar - lawsuit launched by the sugar association against splenda, claiming false advertising to consumers with its marketing slogan "made from sugar so it tastes like sugar". splenda is now one of the most ubiquitous ingredients in low calorie processed foods. article


davis voters approve tax for farm-to-school programs - that includes $60,000 to $80,000 annually for fresh farm produce for school lunches. trustees have approved a mou with the davis farm to school connection, a project of the davis farmers market foundation, to work together toward a goal of purchasing 60 percent school foods from local growers. davis farm to school connection >


farm-to-school legislation proposed by the washington environmental council would: *** spend $2 million to get more washington-grown fruits and vegetables into at least 75 schools serving low-income students, *** hire two full-time employees in the state ag dept to connect schools and growers, *** spend $250,000 to research how farms could collectively process, package and distribute products in quantities that large cafeterias need, *** allow schools to buy washington-grown produce, meat and dairy products without formal bids, as long as prices don't "reasonably exceed" other choices, *** adopt goals and policies encouraging state agencies, universities and schools to buy local food when available and comparable in price,*** spend $830,000 to allow more low-income families and seniors to buy nutritious food at farmers markets,*** spend nearly $1 million on a pilot program allowing food banks to buy from local farmers.  more info   


clones for meat and milk -

     fda approves food from cloned animals -center for food safety (cfs) blasts decision based on �wishful thinking;� calls for peer-reviewed trials for untested technology that could pose health risks to consumers, economic risks to us agriculture.  view fda's documents.   read the executive summary of the cfs report not ready for prime time, and the  washington post article on the approval: article   .

     cloned food labeling bill reintroduced - following the fda approval, calif. state senator carol migden introduced a bill requiring all food products from cloned animals and their offspring to display clear and prominent labeling. last year a similar bill (sb 63) was passed by the entire california legislature before being vetoed by governor schwarzenegger.  for more information on fda�s flawed risk assessment, see cfs�s report �not ready for prime time,� report  a related federal bill: the u.s. senate "cloned food labeling act," s.414, is available at: bill

     eu food safety agency approves clones- saying meat and milk from cloned animals seem to pose no special health risks, no difference exists in terms of food safety.   article 

     eu ethics group says no to clones   european group on ethics of science and new technologies (ege) to issue an opinion on ethical implications of cloning animals for food supply.   ege opinion   

     see call to action below.


protein from gm corn is immunogenic at very low levels - minute quantities of a bacterial protein inserted in corn provoke immune reactions in mice. the protein is added to increase the effectiveness of plant-based transgenic vaccines. the results indicate that special care will be needed with transgenic corn to reduce exposure to workers and the public.   abstract


organic certifier says no to nano - uk�s largest organic certifier, the soil association, has announced that it has banned human-made nano-materials whose basic particle size is less than 125nm (that's nm) and whose mean particle size is less than 200nm from the organic cosmetics, foods and textiles that it certifies.  according to the u.s.-based woodrow wilson international center for scholars, there are over 500 manufacturer-identified consumer products on the market that contain nano-materials.  since manufacturers are not required to disclose the presence of nano-scale materials, it�s impossible for people to make fully informed choices. other organic certifiers are expected to follow suit.  website   


project censored - top 25 media censorship stories of 2007 a research team composed of more than 200 university faculty, students, and community experts review about 1,000 news story submissions for coverage, content, reliability of sources, and national significance. the top 25 stories selected are submitted to a distinguished panel of judges who then rank them in order of importance. the results are published each year in a book available at most major book stores.- - project censored


wash. county creating business plan for sust. ag - snohomish county is working on an agriculture sustainability project, a grass-roots initiative to strengthen and grow the county's agricultural economy, ensure a quality and thriving food supply and support existing farming operations. article 


winter farmers' markets  in wisconsin, illinois and iowa, indoor farmers markets are being held during the winter months. the churches' center for land and people, a group composed of religious denominations in the three states, is sponsoring about 50 winter markets.  article



how to assess organic compliance: a tool for market growers, market managers, produce buyers, extension agents, and others (pdf/1.2mb). this new kerr center publication simplifies the process of determining whether an organic farming operation is in compliance with the usda standards.        


the u.s. department of agriculture recently released its draft of a business plan for advancing animal disease traceability (pdf/793kb). the business plan supports the 48-hour trace back long-term goal of the national animal identification system (nais) as well as provides benchmarks to guide the program.


the politics of organic seed certification - a new briefing by grain - provides the first global overview of regulations concerning seeds in organic farming and assesses what such regulations mean to the future of organic farming and the millions of farmers who sustain it. briefing


compilation of organic research and non-gmo breakthroughs w/ links:  (this is excellent!)  article  


scholarships available for sare's 2008 new american farm conference.  for farmers/ranchers and nonprofits, particularly those from under-served/minority audiences and those who are new to sare and/or sustainable agriculture: emerging leaders, beginning farmers and ranchers, and those who have never attended a sare regional or national conference. application deadline of february 15th, scholarship


saving the world with biodynamic farming - article


spilling the beans - dec, '08 - rr sugar beets - a bad bet at the worst time   click here


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 recovery effort.


cloned animals - milk and meat

     1.  sign the clone-free pledge! let food companies know you won�t buy food from clones.  while animal cloning has been banned for use in organic production, we need to let other companies know that we will not buy their products if they are from animal clones or their offspring.         

    2.  tell congress to label food from cloned animals - there are bills to label food from clones and their offspring in both the house and senate. contact your congress members and urge them to support this important bill!   tell congress 

    3.  buy organic meats and dairy - the national organic standards rightly prohibit clones and their offspring from use.

rbgh labelling - two phone calls for preserving rbgh-free labeling:

ohio governor's office: (614) 466-3555   ohio director of agriculture�s office: (614) 466-2732

say:  consumers have a right to know what�s in their food � and what�s not in their food � and dairies and farmers have a right to tell them.


calendar of events - 2008


january 31: national teach-in on global warming a year-long organizing effort by focus the nation to create dialogues on global warming solutions at education, religious, civic, and business organizations culminates january 31 in educational symposia across the country.   focus the nation >


february 8 thru march 28 - series - food safety workshops - idaho, oregon, wash.  


february 4 - seattle's 3rd annual farmer chef connection - at seattle mountaineers club, registration after jan. 6th at   


february 4-6 - delicious education:  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 


february 13 - organic seed growers' pre-conf. workshop - fundamentals of organic seed production

february 14-15, 2008, 5th biennial organic seed growers conference- 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 participants.  go here    


february 16 - 8th annual small farm direct conference- 8:00 am to 5:00 pm,  corvallis campus of oregon state university (osu) at the alumni center, key note speaker fred kirschenmann.  registration materials on-line at: <registration>     


february 28 - pre-conf national organic action plan (noap) dialogue meeting - developing a vision for organics for the next 2 decades, scholarships available- marriott pyramid, albuquerque, 

february 29-march 1 - new mexico organic farming conf. - marriott pyramid, albuquerque, nm.  contact   or go to: website


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, 2008.  


march 12-14 - globe 2008 trade fair and conference, vancouver, bc, biennial event, a major international marketplace.  


march 13-16 - natural products expo west, anaheim convention center, ca.  the largest natural and organic trade show.   


march 14-16 - reclaiming our healthy future-political change to protect the next generation - u. of calif., berkely - national gathering of pesticide experts and activists, convened by beyond pesticides, californians for pesticide reform, and pesticide action network north america. session topics include: children's health, farmworker justice, healthy and just food systems,  conference webpage.


march 25-27 - sare's 20th anniversary - new american farm conference, kansas city, mo.  tap into 20 years of sare funded research. register


april 22-26 - ecocity world summit 2008 - san francisco, california   website


may 5-7 - sw marketing network 6th annual conference - santa fe, nm, la fonda hotel, website   


june 23-27 - rethinking food, health and the environment - 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 .   applications

sept 6 - seattle tilth's harvest fair  


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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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