website links:

field of flowers

vol. 3, #2
february, 2008


in this issue...

if your email version is hard to read, please refer to the webpage version:         

also, all past issues are at      

note:  wsawg has found a new executive director.   this will be the last enews by jill davies. 

new director's contact information is at the bottom and on the website.

farm bill news

the current farm bill expires on march 15.  what did shakespeare say, "beware the ides of march"?   senate conferees for reconciling the two bills have been named, but house conferees have yet to be officially named.   congressional negotiators are trying to find a path to a bill and an overall spending level that would be signed rather than vetoed by the president as is threatened. the national campaign for sustainable agriculture and the sustainable agriculture coalition (sac) are seeking annual mandatory funding for the following programs and are encouraging you to contact your legislators on the conferee committee (see below) and ask that they support these:

beginning farmer and rancher development program - $15 million

beginning farmer and rancher individual development account program - $5 million

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

value-added producer grant - $40 million

organic agriculture research and extension initiative - $16 million

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

 go to for more information.


senate confirmed conferees:

tom harkin (ia), chair

patrick leahy (vt)

kent conrad (nd)

max baucus (mt)

blanche lincoln (ar)

debbie stabenow (mi)

saxby chambliss (ga) ranking mbr

richard lugar (in)

thad cochran (ms)

pat roberts (ks)

chuck grassley (ia)


house likely conferees:

collin peterson (mn-7), chair

tim holden (pa-17)

mike mcintyre (nc-7)

bob etheridge (nc-2)

leonard boswell (ia-3)

joe baca (ca-43)

dennis cardoza (ca-18)

bob goodlatte (va-6), ranking member

frank lucas (ok-3)

jerry moran (ks-1)

robin hayes (nc-8)

jo bonner (al-1)

marilyn musgrave (co-4)

randy neugebauer (tx-19)

please contact your reps and urge them to support these programs.

in addition, the community food security coalition is urging support of:

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.




camelina biofuel development center slated for bozeman - sustainable oils, a new joint venture between seattle-based targeted growth and houston-based green earth fuels, will be expanding in bozeman soon. the research and development center will provide genetically (via marker assisted breeding) refined seeds to montana camelina producers and will also purchase camelina crops produced from those seeds through contractual agreements. the harvest will then be refined to produce biodiesel - 100 million gallons worth by 2010, according to the company.    newwest article                                  


aga/food alliance to offer private grassfed label:  the american grassfed association (aga) announced on wednesday its intention to offer a privately certified "grassfed" label beginning in may of this year.  while no specifics standards for the new label were made public, aga states its label will certify "total forage diet, no confinement, no antibiotics and no added hormones."   website 


largest meat recall in history - westland/hallmark a california-based meat company, recalled 143 million pounds of raw and frozen beef products dating back to feb. 1, 2006.  this is the largest meat recall in history. 37 million (of the 143) pounds of recalled beef went into making hamburgers and tacos in school lunches across the country.   the food safety concerns were raised last month when a video released by the humane society of the united states showing workers in a california meatpacking plant using forklifts to get "downer" cows into production.  the meatpacker was a major supplier of the national school lunch program, distributing beef throughout the u.s.  westland/hallmark meat had also been used for the emergency food assistance program and the food distribution program on indian reservations.  downed cattle are prohibited from entering the food supply because of the greater risk of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (bse) and other diseases.   related to that, united farm workers asks people to take their survey:  survey


monsanto pushing rbgh -


pennsylvania - dept. of agriculture introduces rules banning any kind of rbgh-free type of labeling; in january, all rules are rescinded, but the totally inaccurate fda disclaimer that rbgh and rbgh-free products show no significant difference is required.

november - december

new jersey - dept. of agriculture holds meetings discussing labeling; no action is taken

ohio � dept. of agriculture holds meetings; sets rules that restricts labeling, makes fda disclaimer mandatory that there�s no significant difference between rbgh and rbgh-free milk to be contiguous and the same size as the label.  january � february

indiana � introduces bill to ban rbgh-free type of labeling; temporarily stopped

kansas � introduces bill to ban rbgh-free type of labeling; supported by monsanto�s front group (afact), the farm bureau and the kansas dairy association

vermont � introduces bill to ban rbgh-free type of labeling and advertising; assigned to committee

utah � dept. of agriculture holds meetings; drafts rule that restricts labeling; testimony in support by monsanto�s lawyer and the farm bureau.

missouri - monsanto's back yard - hb 2283 just introduced, would ban any kind of rbgh-free labeling, has 29 co-sponsors.  if you have any contacts in missouri, please send that information directly to tim gibbons, at the missouri rural crisis center:     

all these efforts are attempting to take away the consumers� right to know what�s in their foods and how they�re produced.   meanwhile, 37 of the largest 100 dairy processors in the country have gone completely or partially rbgh-free.    oregon physicians for social responsibility, rick north, project director, has been in the forefront of fighting this censorship.   they need your help:      


land grant univ. funds to be cut  tucked into the appendix of king george's latest national budget is a nearly one-third cut in the public funding for agriculture research at the land grants.  it is part of a multiyear drive by the bush administration to completely eliminate regular public research funding.  in a press briefing in early feb., a usda deputy secretary illuminated the bush administration's rationale for the transition to competitive grant making: "that's how you get the most bang for the buck."      story 


dow ge corn contaminates 53,000 acres: the usda, fda and epa have issued a press release warning that a genetically engineered bt corn seed has been contaminating iowa cornfields since 2006. the dowagrosciences seed, a variety known as event 32, had found its way into three commercial corn seed lines that were planted on a total of 72,000 acres over the past two years.  dow was instructed to recall the seed lines found to contain the unapproved crop.  dow claims that pollen from stalks of the unapproved ge variant inadvertently "landed on a patch of approved stalks." the usda describes event 32 an "unregistered pesticide product" but claims it poses no harm to plants or humans and the grain will not be recalled."   this is the latest in a series of incidents in which unapproved biotech varieties of corn and rice have made their way into seed or grain supplies, beginning in 2000, with ge starlink corn.  although the contaminated corn seed has been grown since 2006 it was apparently never detected till january this year. the us government was told about the problem on january 25th, and has taken nearly a month to come up with a response to tell the rest of us.   


agrofuels moratorium- global mobilization of civil society groups calling for moratoriums on all incentives and renewable fuels targets for agrofuels due to the dangers that agrofuels using food crops pose to global food supplies, forests, water supplies and rural livelihoods in developing countries.  to view and sign the u.s. call for a moratorium, click on moratorium


job announcement:  rural roots ( seeks a full-time executive director to work from the organization�s new boise, idaho, office.  founded in 1997, rural roots is a dynamic 200-plus member organization that serves the state of idaho, eastern washington, and eastern oregon.


organic seed - organic seed alliance has started a new membership organization that would have the capacity to lobby, engage in litigation, and protect and promote organic seed systems.  the action was spurred by the emergence of rr beets, plus seeing that bt cabbage has been approved with seed farmers in the northwest being approached to grow these crops, presenting an incredible threat to all brassica seed crops (and the northwest is a world leader in brassica seed production) and seeing that carrots, squash, lettuce, and cucumbers are all in the gmo research or production pipeline.  the organic seed growers and trade association (osgata) was formally incorporated on january 18, 2008. voting membership will be open to seed professionals, with associate membership open to the general public.  consider becoming a member of osgata � as a seed farmer, a farmer or gardener who uses seed, or an eater who enjoys the fruits of organic farming.



new report:  �who benefits from gm crops" by friends of the earth international and center for food safety.  genetically modified (gm) crops have led to a large increase in pesticide use and have failed to increase yield or tackle world hunger and poverty.  the report coincides with the annual release of biotech industry figures on gm crop cultivation around the world.  available are the executive summary ,  the full report , and a question & answer document showing that gm crops do not help meet the united nation�s millennium development goals of halving hunger and poverty by 2015 at: q&a document


new report:  gm contamination register - by greenpeace international and genewatch uk, reveals 39 new instances of crop contamination in 23 countries in 2007, and also finds that just over 50 percent of the contamination cases are the result of genetically engineered crops originating in the u.s.  website     


20 reasons why carbon capture and storage (ccs) is not a solution - as promoted by the g8.  report


municipal ordinances to control corporations - in pennsylvania, new hampshire, california, and virginia (so far), municipalities have passed laws denying specific rights to corporations.   article 


michael pollan's latest:  eat food. not too much. mostly plants.    ny times article  


new listserv re/ livestock/carnivore conflict prevention - this listserv links producers interested in non-lethal, humane techniques to protect their livestock from conflict with large carnivores and enables discussion among producers, researchers and others interested in non-lethal deterrent practices.  to subscribe, send a message to:


new website to allow users to easily access information and resources concerning agricultural regulatory program requirements, implementing conservation programs and sustainable practices, and agricultural policy updates from both federal and state agency websites. links to national and state commodity trade associations and environmental groups have also been listed.


non-gm breakthroughs keep coming thick and fast.  does the mention of allergen-free peanut, salt-resistant wheat, beta-carotene rich sweet potato, and virus-resistant cassava make you think of gm?   if so, you�ve missed the great unpublished story of 2007 -� all the non-gm answers to precisely the problems (drought-resistance, salt-resistance, biofortification, etc.) that proponents claim only gm can solve.   article


call to action

rr beets - tell hershey�s, mars, and american crystal to keep our sweets ge-free!  about half of the sugar used in the u.s. is beet sugar (the other half is cane sugar). in the next few weeks, seed farmers throughout the u.s. will be considering what type of sugar beets to plant, and food companies will have to decide what types of sugar they will accept.  a new option available this year is monsanto�s roundup ready sugar beet, genetically engineered to survive direct application of the weed killer, roundup.  at the request of monsanto, the u.s. environmental protection agency increased the allowable amount of glyphosate residues on sugar beetroots by a whopping 5000%.  glyphosate is the active ingredient in roundup, sugar is extracted from the beet�s root.  the inevitable result is more glyphosate pesticide in our sugar.  sign this petition offered by the center for food safety.


"naturally raised" (misleading) label - comment to usda by march 3 - "naturally raised" to most consumers conjures up the image of pastures and peacefully grazing animals. according to usda's new proposal, though, livestock producers could label their meat usda-verified "naturally raised" without any responsibility to animal welfare or environmental stewardship and without the animals ever stepping foot on grass. producers would only have to certify that their livestock were never given antibiotics, hormones, or animal byproducts. 

send written comments to naturally raised marketing claim, room 2607-s, ams, usda, 1400 independence avenue sw., washington, dc 20250-0254 or via fax to 202-720-1112.

to submit electronic comments visit and type "naturally raised" in the "comment or submission" field. select the "send a claim or submission" tab under the naturally raised claim title.

note: all comments must reference "docket no. ls-07-16" at the top of the letter or email


calendar of events - 2008


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, the politics of pesticides conference webpage.


march 19 - bee keeping workshop  wsu snohomish county extension, 600 128th st se, everett, wa, 6:30-9:30pm $35, master gardeners: $25 register


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


april 3 - workshop for grantwriters in agriculture - ellensburg, wash, central washington university,

april 9 - workshop for grantwriters in agriculture - everett, wash.,  everett community college - technology training center, 9am � 3pm.  early registration $95.00 before march 14th registration     


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  


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 bonnie:      (you may also subscribe to just the enews)

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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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