vol. 1, #4
june, 2006

website links:

field of flowers
in this issue...


farm bill  update - senate ag appropriations bill is out of committee - our calls are making a difference - many of the programs we are watching have been getting funding: the senate has once again placed no cap on the funding for the conservation security program, which would allow for a robust sign-up in 2007 in a substantial number of watersheds; the senate has also placed no cap on the wetlands reserve program, the value-added producer grant program received more than provided for by the 2002 farm bill; the renewable energy program (section 9006) also received more than the farm bill allotted; the senate bill provides $1 million for the farmers market promotion program, same as the house bill.  we had hoped for at least $3 million from the senate bill.  while no funding was provided for the farm to cafeteria program, report language was included expressing support for the program and urging usda to find money to start making grants.  the language also endorses local procurement for the school lunch program and requires usda to report back to the committee with a study of how it can help push local procurement; the bill does increase the fresh fruit and vegetable pilot project by $3 million to $9 million, and adds the states of ca, ga, and ar to the 16 states already in the school lunch pilot.  sac has prepared a compilation of important report language and earmark increases in the senate bill.  if you would like to see a copy, write to ferd hoenfer at fhoefner@msawg.org.   it is not yet clear when this will go to the floor for a vote.  chances are the bill will not be conferenced with the house-passed bill until the lame duck session after the election. 

nosb    the deadline is fast approaching for nomination to the national organic standards board.   applications are due july 14 for 4 seats on the board in these categories:  organic handler, scientist, consumer/public interest, and environmentalist.   it is very important that qualified people fill these slots, that is, people who know and understand organic.    the term will begin jan. 24, 2007.   the nop announcement is at:  http://www.ams.usda.gov/nop/todaysnews.html and scroll down to april 24, 2006.    please let liana of the ncsa know if you are applying:  liana@hvc.rr.com

ge food lawsuit  - -  washington, dc - the center for food safety (june 7) filed suit against the food and drug administration (fda) for the agency's failure to adopt any pre-market safety requirements for genetically engineered  foods, and for failing to require labels so consumers can know when foods contain ingredients from ge crops. the cfs lawsuit calls for a mandatory, pre-market regulatory review system for all ge foods.   press release:   http://www.centerforfoodsafety.org/ge_foods_fda_complaint6_7_2006.cfm

rbgh on the run    

april, �05 - tillamook goes rbgh-free for their cheese (but not their other products). tillamook is the second largest producer of chunk cheese in the country. june, �05 - eberhard dairy in redmond, oregon goes rbgh-free for all their products; nov �05 - alpenrose dairy in portland, oregon goes rbgh-free for all their products.; june �06 - the garelick processing plant in florence, new jersey, declares itself rbgh-free. june �06 - montana�s two largest milk processors, darigold farms and meadow gold, are now requiring farmers to sign affidavits saying they're rbgh-free. june �06 - the dairy & food market analyst reports that dean foods, wal-mart and kroger, and possibly others, are on a nationwide search for rbgh-free milk.   see: www.oregonpsr.org      and the  (www.foodandwaterwatch.org) website features a state-by-state chart of rbgh-free products.  

gene flow report    "contaminating the wild," a new report released by the center for food safety (cfs), examines the history of field trials of ge crops that have posed contamination threats, and warns that potential hazards from such genetic contamination will increase with the increasingly powerful and unpredictable engineered genes that industry is artificially inserting into many common crops.   the complete report at http://www.centerforfoodsafety.org/pubs/contaminating_the_wild_report.pdf

organic wheat    stephen jones, wsu wheat breeder has received a $680,000 grant from the u.s. department of agriculture to continue work to develop wheat varieties suited for low-input and organic agriculture systems, the nation�s only certified organic wheat breeding program.   jones hopes to release the first organic wheat varieties from his program in the next five years.   jones is on the board of directors of the organic seed alliance www.seedalliance.org 

epa staff pressure agency to stop whitewashing toxic pesticides
government scientists are blowing the whistle on the environmental protection agency's attempts to allow the continued use of 20 hazardous organophosphate pesticides.  nine thousand epa scientists have submitted a strongly worded letter to the epa's administrator, stephen johnson, protesting that "industry pressure" is compromising the "integrity of the science upon which agency decisions are based."       www.organicconsumers.org/epa7.htm    

omri proposes to limit heavy metals in fertilizers
the organic materials review institute proposes that steps be taken to avoid the use of fertilizers that contain levels of heavy metals that can contaminate soil, water, and crops. omri has prepared and posted a proposal to establish limits on the amount of arsenic, cadmium, and lead that omri-listed products may contain. the proposal is open for public comments until july 16, 2006. the omri board will decide whether to accept the pending proposal after the public comment period closes and staff has made any adjustments based on the comments received.    http://www.omri.org/heavy-metals.html   

hospitals to serve organic food . as some of the largest institutional meal-providers in the country, hospitalr food purchasing policies affect not just the patients who eat the meals, but the food industry as a whole. thanks to a recent deal between medassets, a purchasing organization for the health care industry, and united natural food incorporated, an organic food distributor, more than 2000 hospitals nationwide now have access to organic food.  in related news, dozens of u.s. hospitals, including the entire catholic healthcare west system, have pledged to buy food that is nutritious and sustainably raised, according to the nonprofit health care without harm.   www.noharm.org  

national animal id system  position paper
nofa-massachusetts  has posted an organic farmers position statement:  www.nofamass.org/news/nais_position.php   a brochure of this statement is available contacting  info@nofamass.org.    the nais implementation plan, including implanted computer chips for all animals, along with more information about the program, is available at www.usda.gov/nais.

preemption bills  in 2005, state legislatures increasingly attempted to preempt, or disallow, local and county initiatives that were mostly aimed at limiting or prohibiting genetically modified (gm) seeds and crops, according to a new fact sheet and web database released by the pew initiative on food and biotechnology (pifb). this activity represents one of the largest categories of bills introduced in 2005 and is the most significant legislative development of that year.  see fact sheet entitled �state legislative activity related to agricultural biotechnology continued in 2005�,

fda�s new guidelines re/ ge plant hazards   the process remains voluntary regarding the safety evaluations of "new proteins in new plant varieties, including bioengineered varieties, that are in development for possible use as food for humans or animals."  the fda says,  "it is not necessary to have a meeting with us to communicate about your early food safety evaluation of your new protein.  if, however, you think a discussion with us would be useful to address issues that have arisen in your safety evaluation, we recommend that you request a meeting.�     cfs press release:  http://www.centerforfoodsafety.org/press_release6_21_2006.cfm 

call to action

stop the "food uniformity bill" in the senate   s. 3128 is the companion bill in the senate to hr 4167, the national uniformity for food act bill that passed in the u.s. house. this bill would end state and local food safety and labeling regulations and pre-empt future ones that aren't identical to federal regulations.  members of the house put special interests before public interest when they approved h.r. 4167 by a vote of 283 to 139.   we still have a chance to stop this legislation in the senate! your senators need to know you oppose any attempts to strip your state's ability to protect and inform their citizens concerning food safety and labeling.

tell congress to support labeling and safety testing of ge foods!
 congressman dennis kucinich (d-ohio) recently introduced two bills related to ge crops and foods in the house of representatives. one bill, hr 5269, the genetically engineered food right to know act of 2006, would require mandatory labeling of all ge foods; the other, hr 5268, the genetically engineered food safety act, would require mandatory, pre-market safety testing of ge foods.
contact your representatives and encourage them to support these important bills  http://www.thecampaign.org/legislation.php

ge plums - -  the united sates department of agriculture (usda) is now accepting public comments regarding the commercial approval of a genetically engineered plum, known as "c5." the approval of c5 would be the first widely released genetically engineered (ge) tree in the united states. approval of c5 will also pave the way for more ge tree and fruit varieties, including peaches, cherries, and apricots.    take  action:    http://organicconsumers.org/plum_alert.htm  

factory farms    lobbyists for corporate agribusiness have crafted hr 4341 to prevent huge factory farms from being held accountable by local governments or states for damages due to heavy loads of pollution in their watersheds.  exemptions from community right-to-know provisions for factory farms are also included in the bill.   call today!  you can reach any member of congress at 202-224-3121, or call your district office numbers over the july 4th recess.     more info:   www.worc.org    

calendar of events

calendar of events

july 14-15 - - food connections conference,

rohnert park, ca.  systems approaches to creating healthy pathways from seed to table and beyond. participate more effectively in planning the creation of a sustainable food supply, network with organizers and experts, more information: (707) 874-1557 x244. registration at  www.food-matters.org       

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

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  event. www.thefoodproject.org/eatinactout 

sept. 22-24 - - �climate challenge:  strategies for montana�s future�

helena, mt.    to acquaint montana�s agricultural community, hunters, fishers, and citizens with the current thinking of the impacts of climatic change on montana�s economy and lifestyles and to begin the development of state strategies to address and minimize impacts. contact land tawney http://www.mtclimatechallenge.org/index.htm-    (406)721-6705;  tawney@nwf.org

sept. 23 to oct 7 - - montana permaculture design course    hot springs, mt.   see:  www.friendsofthetrees.net  for this and other permaculture events

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 organizin
g for more sustainable food systems. www.foodsecurity.org

october 20-22 - - bioneers 2006  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

november 10-12 - - the future of farming:   tilth producers of washington annual conference vancouver, washington,  red lion at the quay   keynote address: bringing the farm economy home by helena norberg-hodge,

founder of the international society for ecology and culture  (http://www.isec.org.uk) and author of many books.

bioreality conference join activists in washington, dc, march 27-29, 2007, for the 1st annual bioreality conference. there will be three exciting days of education, lobbying and strategic planning on the issues surrounding genetically engineered foods.

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