vol. 1, #3
may, 2006

website links:

field of flowers
in this issue...


farm bill / ffpp update - this is the �farm and food policy project� that is being sponsored by the kellogg fndn.  it is a broad coalition of ngo�s working together to articulate policy initiatives geared to shape the upcoming 2007 farm bill debate.  it�s worth noting the excitement that the coordinating council felt about where the ffpp process has led.  this is a statement from their latest meeting summary:

�nobody has tried before to pull these ideas together into a really compelling story.   drawing the connections between local food systems, the environment, opportunities for the farm community, and the health of americans is potentially very powerful.  it�s not �here�s what the whole farm bill looks like,� but �here�s what our goals for a healthy people, farms, food systems, and society are.�  we can then use the ffpp initiatives as examples of key programs and policies that will help us realize this vision��        http://www.farmandfoodproject.org/

a policy paper from the healthy food & communities committee is currently being circulated for organizational endorsements.  it should be posted on the cfsc website soon www.foodsecurity.org   if not,  email jill to view a copy:    rivercare@blackfoot.net    


revising commodity payments

aft/ed farm bill proposals:  american farmland trust released its farm bill options paper.  their proposal relating to green payments is to increase rewards for environmental stewardship by gradually changing commodity direct payments into $5 billion dollars for green payments.  aft is not talking about eliminating csp, but thinks a green payments program in title 1 could coexist with a streamlined csp in title 2.  their paper can be viewed at www.farmland.org.   

the national campaign for sustainable agriculture and msawg/sac partnership is not in agreement with the aft proposal.   american farmland trust and environmental defense are opposed to any green payment initiative that is focused on csp.  

            sac partnership concerns:  why not expand csp and improve it rather than going with something new and undefined? why abandon a program that has been developed, is popular among farmers and has had some success?   there is concern about environmental performance in a new program - all farmers think they are already stewards of their land.  concern was expressed that as a title 1 program, it would be run by the farm service agency - not a good thing.. 

            aft responsecsp is rewarding the best of the best, but there needs to be a more basic program to get buy-in from other farmers.  a title 1 program would guarantee funding.  we share concern about fsa, and think nrcs could have a role in scoring and monitoring.  aft is calling for significant change out of this farm bill, and they don�t think csp is the vehicle for shifting $5 billion to stewardship incentives.

            a national csp position, will soon be drafted in broad terms and general principles for full sign-on from ncsa partners and others, including mainstream farm organizations.  


vermont governor vetos the farmer protection act     may 15    farmers from across the state of vermont gathered to respond to governor jim douglas� veto of the farmer protection act, the first state bill that would have placed the liability for economic damages associated with the use of genetically engineered seeds onto the manufacturers who own the patents on those seeds. the governor vetoed the bill despite clear, widespread support for the measure that carried the bill through both state houses of congress.   an override vote is scheduled for june 1st, but it is unlikely that the two-thirds majority needed to overturn the veto will be found.      www.ruralvermont.org  

grass fed label claim rule:  usda�s agricultural marketing service announced its much-anticipated revision of the grass fed meat labeling claim.  the proposed rule, published in the federal register may 12, requires that ruminant livestock meat products certified as grass fed under the usda labeling program receive at least 99 percent of their lifetime energy source from a grass or forage-based diet.  this a critical increase in the 80 percent forage requirement first proposed by the ams in 2002, and largely reflects a victory for sac and its partners, who lobbied strongly for a feeding regime requirement consistent with sustainable agriculture best practices, and a 100 percent grass fed standard.
          public comments must be received by august 10.   sac is considering a recommendation that the standard include a no feedlot provision and a sound conservation practice regime, in addition to the 99 percent feeding regime standard.   see www.msawg.org for suggested comments and      http://www.ams.usda.gov/lsg/stand/claim.htm  for the usda notice and request for comments.

biofuels bill introduced:  rep. stephanie herseth (d-sd), co-chair of the house rural working group, joined with other rural democrats to introduce a biofuels bill this week.  the bill would increase the biofuels mandate to 20 percent by 2015 and includes new subsidies as well as requirements to increase flex-fuel vehicles that run on e-85.  their plan calls for ethanol to account for 11 percent of all car and light truck fuel by 2012.  it also proposes funding for biofuels research and for locally-owned businesses and coops.  see  www.democraticleader.house.gov/pdf/energizingamericahd.pdf.

idaho snake river crep:  usda and idaho announced completion of a $258 million conservation reserve enhancement program (crep) agreement to reduce irrigation water consumption, improve water quality, and improve fish and wildlife habitat in idaho's snake river.  the crep covers about 100,000 acres of irrigated cropland in the idaho eastern snake plain aquifer and is projected to reduce irrigation water use by up to 200,000 acre-feet annually. there are now 36 crep agreements with 28 states.   information on the crep program, including the new idaho crep is posted on the web http://www.fsa.usda.gov/dafp/cepd/default.htm.


new food label highlights locally grown products   a new certification and labeling system has been launched in western montana that goes a step beyond federal "usda organic." the western montana sustainable growers union has launched the "homegrown" label, which guarantees that products sold to consumers are not only organic, but were also produced within a 150 mile radius. the homegrown label also aims to promote fair labor practices.  farmers with the homegrown certification are also urged to purchase supplies locally to keep money in the community.  there are groups like this bubbling up all over the place in response to the corporate takeover of organics.  http://www.organicconsumers.org/btc/montana060420.cfm

patents  the nestl� corporation, the world's largest food manufacturer, has successfully secured a patent on genetically modified coffee. the company, with over $65 billion in annual sales, claims their biotech coffee has a higher level of solubility in water, thereby increasing flavor and caffeine levels per cup. nestle is also in the process of patenting genetically manipulated yogurt bacteria and genetically modified cocoa.  nestle promotes genetically engineered foods while claiming "the fair trade approach is not a solution."

grazing on bt crops   over 1600 sheep apparently died this month in india after ingesting genetically engineered (ge) cotton. the massive deaths occurred after several days of grazing in fields where monsanto�s bt and herbicide resistant spliced varieties of cotton were planted.  scientists from india's centre for sustainable agriculture are calling on the government to launch a study into the impacts of ge cotton toxins. http://www.organicconsumers.org/2006/article_387.cfm

new wsu ag degree, organic major approved  pullman, wash. -- washington state university has received approval from the state higher education coordinating board to offer a bachelor's of science degree in agriculture and food systems starting this fall.   five majors will be offered, including the nation's first major in organic agriculture systems.   http://cahnrsnews.wsu.edu/   

call to action

action alert  - -  sustainable agriculture funding is at risk

the senate agricultural appropriations subcommittee is expected to write its bill for 2007 spending very soon after the memorial day recess.     4 key programs need our support:  

        the conservation security program (csp) and the value-added producer grants (vapg) program were capped in the house bill at $280 million and $28 million, respectively.  those caps represent cuts of $92 million to csp and $12 million to vapg compared to what was provided by the 2002 farm bill. we want the senate to remove those caps, and thereby restore full funding as was intended by the farm bill.

            the sustainable agriculture research and education (sare) program and the farmers market promotion program (fmpp) are funded by the house bill at $16 million and $1 million, respectively.  we want the senate to provide $20 million for sare and $5 million for fmpp.

please call today    the message is simpleask your senator to:

1. oppose caps and provide full funding as provided in the 2002 farm bill for the csp and vapg.

2. support funding levels of $20 million for the sare and $5 million for the fmpp.

western senate agriculture appropriations subcommittee roster:

republicans                                                    democrats

robert bennett, chair (ut)                         tim johnson (sd)
conrad burns (mt)                                       byron dorgan (nd)
larry craig (id)                                               dianne feinstein (ca)


action alert     intensive confinement for organic cows

the usda also seeking public comments until june 12 on revisions it has made to the national organic program regarding pasture access for organic dairy cattle. two of the largest organic dairy companies in the nation, horizon organic (a subsidiary of dean foods), a supplier to wal-mart and many health food stores; and aurora organic, a supplier of private brand name organic milk to costco, safeway, giant, wild oats and others, are purchasing the majority of their milk from so-called organic feedlot dairies where the cows are kept in intensive confinement, with little or no access to pasture. together, horizon and aurora control nearly 65% of the organic dairy market. recent scientific studies have shown that humanely raised, grass-fed dairy and beef are qualitatively better for human health and the environment. take action to close the loopholes in organic standards that currently allow factory farm dairies to call their products organic.


calendar of events

calendar of events

june 24-26

fairy and human relations congress
hood river valley, oregon:  a gathering of humans and fairies to improve relations & assist each other in planetary healing. the 5th annual congress organized by friends of the trees society. presenters include dorothy mclean, david spangler, r.j. stewart and dozens more. admission fee is $195 before june 1. for details on presenters, schedules and photos from past congresses check out: www.fairycongress.com

july 10
innovative technologies for organic and sustainable production

portland, or
2006 annual meeting of the american society of agricultural and biological engineers. international perspectives on advanced technologies to enhance the fundamental principles of organic practices.

july 17,18
3rd north american lavender conference

sequim, washington
for those interested in growing lavender, distilling lavender oil, making lavender products, marketing lavender, or simply utilizing this amazing, fragrant herb. www.lavenderconference.com or call toll-free at 1-877-681-303.

july 31 - august 6
eat in, act out week - speak out for local food!

join groups around the world to celebrate and speak out together for local food in our communities. sponsored by blast and the food project. for information on hosting an eat in, act out event contact: monica pless, email mpless@thefoodproject.org.


sept. 23 to oct 7a conference on native plant and habitat

montana permaculture design course    hot springs, mt.  

see:  www.friendsofthetrees.net  for this and other permaculture events in the west.

october 7-11
bridging borders toward food security

vancouver, bc
tenth annual community food security coalition conference, held in conjunction with food secure canada. up to 1,000 north american and international delegates will meet to discuss advances in food policy, programs and community organizing for more sustainable food systems. www.foodsecurity.org


october 20-22

bioneers 2006 will be held october 20-22 in san rafael, california as well as �beamed� to 17 other communities across the united states. conference details and registration will be available at www.bioneers.org in june.   beaming sites in the west include:  bozeman, mt, taos, nm, anchorage, ak, boulder, co, eugene, or, flagstaff, az, honolulu, hi, logan, ut,


wsawg manages 3 listservs:
wsawggmo dealing with genetically modified organisms
wsawgconserv dealing with conservation programs
and wsawg for general and organic agriculture issues.

to subscribe, (or unsubscribe)  please refer to our members page, located here:
or email rivercare@blackfoot.net.

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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