vol. 1, #6
august, 2006

website links:

field of flowers
in this issue...

if your email version is hard to read, please refer to the webpage version:   http://www.westernsawg.org/newsletter6.htm     


farm bill update -  

      ffpp update - the coordinating council will be issuing  a �declaration� about the importance of a new direction in u.s. farm and food policy in mid-november.    also, the 4 committees will continue to refine core policy proposals, as needed for targeted legislative work, and ffpp partner organizations have organized and sponsored several congressional briefings and hill events in recent months aimed at raising awareness of key  issues.

      across the country, farm, food, and conservation advocates are consulting and providing comments on the upcoming 2007 farm bill.   many family farmers and rural business people are voicing opposition to continuing the costly and lopsided crop subsidy payments, and demanding support for organic farming, farmland conservation, farm stewardship, rural development, and community food systesm.  oxfam america has published a vision statement:  fairness in the fields, that addresses the effects our crop subsidies have on developing countries.  www.oxfamamerica.org   the national campaign for sustainable agriculture and the sustainable agriculture coalition are working on a platform to be released in mid-sept.   http://www.msawg.org/key-farmbill.html    

         usda releases 4th farm bill theme paper  this paper looks at all the potential sources of energy under agriculture's umbrella, from farm fields to pasture and forest lands.  it also tracks the results of usda's renewable energy and energy efficiency programs      www.usda.gov/farmbill.

         opportunity to speak up for organic farming:  the senate and house committees on agriculture have created feedback forms on their websites to allow people to give input on what is or is not working with current farm policy and recommendations for what should be changed in the next farm bill. house  form    http://agriculture.house.gov/inside/feedbackform.html  

senate  form    http://agriculture.senate.gov/ag/feedback.cfm

let them know u.s. organic production should receive a share of usda resources that reflects the growth and opportunities of the organic marketplace.   for talking points you can read ofrf�s initial concepts for the 2007 farm bill and visit their policy page http://www.ofrf.org/policy/  also, you can sign up for the organic farmers action network.

organic cost share notice:  the usda�s agricultural marketing service announced the availability of $1 million for the organic certification cost share program for fiscal year 2006.  these funds are available to 15 designated states (the northeastern states plus nv, ut, and wy) and eligible states must submit applications to participate in the program by september 6, 2006.  this program, like the national organic certification cost share program which serves the other 35 states, allows organic producers to be reimbursed up to 75% of the total certification expenses, not to exceed to $500.  http://www.ams.usda.gov/nop


proposed rule on wic could be boon to farmers markets:  usda�s food and nutrition service (fns) has proposed rules to revise the women, infants, and children (wic) program food packages.  under the proposed rule, for the first time fruits, vegetables, and whole grains would become available for purchase by wic participants, while the amounts of juice, milk and eggs would be cut.  in addition, soy milk or tofu could be substituted for milk for those who have milk allergies or trouble digesting lactose and corn tortillas and brown rice could be purchased to reflect the cultural diversity of those served by wic.  the full text of the proposed rule is posted at http://www.fns.usda.gov/wic/benefitsandservices/foodpkg.htm. the deadline for the submission of comments on the new guidelines is november 6, 2006.  stay tuned for more information and action suggestions next month!   or  to comment now, go to:    http://www.calwic.org/action_alert.aspx


new pasture and rangeland insurance tools usda announced the availability of two new risk management pilot projects for livestock producers, beginning with the 2007 crop year.  these pilots programs will provide livestock producers the ability to purchase insurance protection for losses of forage produced for grazing or harvested for hay. the rainfall product will be available in select counties in colorado and  idaho, while the vegetation product will be offered in select counties in colorado and  oregon.  www.rma.usda.gov/policies/pasturerangeforage/.


u.s. court rules biopharm permits illegal in hawaii - - citing possible harm to hawaii's 329 endangered and threatened species, a federal district judge has ruled that the usda violated the endangered species act (esa) in permitting the cultivation of drug-producing, genetically engineered crops throughout hawaii. and also violated the national environmental policy act (nepa), by failing to conduct even preliminary investigations prior to its approval of the plantings.   the august 10th decision represents the first federal court ruling ever on "biopharming", the controversial practice of genetically altering food crops to produce experimental drugs and industrial compounds.  the plaintiffs in the case - center for food safety, friends of the earth, pesticide action network north america, and kahea (the hawaiian-environmental alliance) - sued the usda in november 2003.   hawaii is the nation's leading state for plantings of experimental, genetically engineered crops, having hosted more than 5,000 such tests from 1987 through 2004, including several dozen biopharm crop trials. plaintiffs have also challenged usda's practice of concealing the locations of trials from the public, and in most cases not disclosing the substances being grown in the plants.   http://www.centerforfoodsafety.org/press_room.cfm



pharm trials around the world   the recent furore over pharm field trials in france, involving the production of monoclonal antibodies, is put into perspective by a new report on pharm field trials around the world. this report also shows that the french field trials involving monoclonal antibodies actually got underway a year ago. genetically engineered monoclonal antibodies were involved in the catastrophic gm drug trial in london where victims of the disastrous "elephant man" gm drug trial, involving genetically engineered monoclonal antibodies, have been told they face likelihood of contracting cancer or auto-immune diseases as a result of being poisoned in the tests   http://www.gmwatch.org/p1temp.asp?pid=83&page=1


oregon considers biopharm legislation  a committee wrestling with biopharming's future recommends that oregon encourage research and production of plants that yield medicines, provided that the state can exercise more controls to protect conventional crops and public health. the committee, which has met monthly since november, is releasing recommendations for public comment. members will meet in late september, then make a final report to gov. ted kulongoski.  the 10-member committee grew from a failed 2005 bill that sought a four-year state moratorium on biopharming.    http://oregon.gov/oda/plant/biopharm.shtml


u.s. rice contaminated  - the us announced on august 18 that its commercial supplies of long grain rice have been contaminated with llrice 601, which is not approved for human consumption.  the center for food safety has called for a moratorium on genetically engineered crop field trials   http://www.centerforfoodsafety.org/press_room.cfm

       eu adopts emergency measures  requiring that all consignments of us long grain rice be tested to ensure that they do not contain llrice 601.  www.biosafety-info.net          www.twnside.org.sg      

       japan suspends us long-grain rice imports - august 20th,

        japan is considering testing even short- and medium-grain rice  http://www.thestandard.com.hk/news_detail.asp?pp_cat=17&art_id=25794&sid


         rice price dives - rice prices tumbled to their lowest level in months  http://www.gmwatch.org/archive2.asp?arcid=6922

        rice contaminated by gm has been on sale for  months

      virtually all milled rice contaminated


      us rice farmers sue bayer cropscience over gm rice  

los angeles, aug 28 (reuters) - rice farmers in arkansas, missouri,

mississippi, louisiana, texas and california have sued bayer

cropscience, alleging its genetically modified rice has contaminated

the crop, attorneys for the farmers said on monday.

minneapolis star tribune, august 27, 2006

      statement by ag. sec. mike johanns regarding ge rice contamination:

       report from cfs:    contamination from gene-altered crop trials pose unappreciated threats to wildlife

indo-u.s. farm pact will fuel terrorism - vandana shiva   terrorism and agriculture were among the issues raised in the joint india-us statement issued during prime minister man mohan singh's meeting with president bush.  the india-us farm pact entails the us making available nuclear technology to india in return for india's allowing the us access to its agricultural markets for genetically engineered products.   vandana shiva comments: "while the two leaders resolve, 'to combat terrorism relentlessly' they are promoting the technologies, and trade models, which serve the us corporate interests and destroy farmers' livelihood security, thus becoming the breeding ground for terrorism..."      http://www.gmwatch.org/archive2.asp?arcid=6864


nanotechnology in food   nanoforum, a group from europe, says in its recent report on nanotechnology in agriculture and food that food is nanofood when �nanotechnology techniques or tools are used during cultivation, production, processing, or packaging of the food. it does not mean atomically modified food or food produced by nanomachines.�    according to the second nano4food conference (in atlanta in october), nanotechnology will be able to solve a variety of problems in the food industry by enabling increases in productivity and cost-effectiveness; providing better food processing, packaging and logistics; helping in the design of new healthier and tastier products; and providing better food safety and quality assurance.


the report down on the farm by the etc group -- and others -- show that the issue is not simple. questions have to be asked, such as:  are high-tech solutions the best option or are low-tech or no-tech solutions available, possible, and more feasible and effective?


monsanto announces takeover of delta & pine land   in a quest to expand its corporate seed empire - monsanto, the world's largest seed enterprise - announced that it will buy the world's leading cotton seed company,  delta & pine land.  with d&pl subsidiaries in 13 countries, the takeover  means that monsanto will command a dominant position in one of the world's most important agricultural trade commodities and that  millions of cotton farmers will be under increased pressure to accept genetically modified (gm) cottonseed.  www.etcgroup.org         www.banterminator.org


mad cow testing    despite mounting public pressure for universal testing for mad cow disease, usda secretary mike johanns has announced a 90% cut back on testing cattle at slaughter, where only 1% were being tested anyway   http://www.organicconsumers.org/2006/article_1207.cfm


ge bentgrass found growing in the wild   an experimental variety of genetically engineered bentgrass has escaped from its test plot in oregon and has been found growing in the wild as far as three miles away. the biotech plant, designed for golf courses, has not been approved by the usda.  scientists say it may have a strong advantage over native grasses, and could therefore irreversibly damage the ecosystem as it spreads.



organic farmers (nd) develop resistant wheat variety   the farm breeder club affiliated with the northern plains sustainable agriculture society has developed a variety of wheat that offers improved yield and multi-gene disease resistance, yet does not have contamination from genetically modified organisms.  the group plans to rename the variety and offer organic seed for sale for the 2007 season.   http://www.npsas.org/ovt.html    



preemption bills update -  negotiations in claifornia are heating up over legislation that would prevent local governments from banning genetically modified seeds.  the counties with bans - marin, mendocino, santa cruz and trinity - would be exempt from the legislation.  the bill passed the assembly ag committee in june and will likely be taken up by the senate and assembly before the session ends aug. 31.   the contamination found in rice, an export crop for california,  is lending fuel to the debate.   www.calgefree.org.


biofuels update -  recent debates over the environmental benefits and drawbacks of ethanol have included speculation over how ethanol plants themselves will be powered. now panda ethanol inc. has announced plans for an ethanol plant in hereford, texas, that will be powered by gasified cattle manure.   the strategy should save more than 365,000 barrels of oil yearly, as well as preventing release of the greenhouse gas methane from the manure.

gasified manure to power ethanol plant     related attra publication: ethanol opportunities and questions


nation's first 'food corps'    butte, montana - food corps, the brainchild of grow montana, a coalition working to enable montana to meet more of its own food needs, is a team of four vista volunteers with special training in linking local farmers and food processors with public institutional food services.  the volunteers' job is to help schools and other institutions steer more of their food dollars toward supporting montana farmers and ranchers.       www.growmontana.ncat.org.


farm aid is developing on-line resource directory     www.farmaid.org


call to action

sign the millions against monsanto petition, demanding that  monsanto:

     stop intimidating small family farmers.

     stop releasing untested and unlabeled genetically engineered foods

     stop using billions of dollars of us taypayers' money to subsidize gmo's


spilling the beans, august 2006 - -monsanto whistleblower says genetically engineered crops may cause disease  by jeffrey m. smith     http://www.seedsofdeception.com/utility/showarticle/?objectid=678   


usda seeks comment on farm and ranch lands protection program interim final rule
usda has released an amended interim final rule for the farm and ranch lands protection program (frpp) with a request for public comment. frpp helps landowners protect their land by providing matching funds to help purchase development rights to keep productive farm and ranch land in agricultural uses. public comments on the rule will be accepted for 60 days from the date the rule appears in the federal register. the amended frpp interim final rule can be viewed online.


calendar of events - fall 2006

calendar of events

sept.  9 - - seattle tilth 2006 harvest fair

seattle, washington - free all-day festival will include a farmers' market, family activities, heirloom tomato tasting event, garden demonstrations and live music.


sept. 18-22   rocky mountain compost school
fort collins, colorado
- the rocky mountain compost school is five days of classroom and field instruction for large-scale composters from the rocky mountain region.


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        tawney@nwf.org


sept. 23 to oct 7 - - montana permaculture design course   

hot springs, mt.   a 2-week intensive course.

course fee: $700 + lodging.  contact  alice cabell  (406) 261-1570.


october 4-6 - - annual educational conference of the provender alliance, a non-profit membership organization providing networking, outreach, and education to natural foods and related companies doing business in the nw.

hood river, oregon      http://www.provender.org/conference.htm   


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  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 3-5 - - inland northwest restoration conference    (location to be determined.)   the first inland nw restoration conference, held last october at wsu in pullman, brought together 170 leaders from across the region to discuss native plants and habitat restoration. the conversation will continue this year along the columbia river between the dalles and the tri-cities.  friendsofthetrees@yahoo.com


november 10-12 - - the future of farming:   tilth producers of washington

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).   the full program and registration details will be available september 1st, online at www.tilthproducers.org or by calling (206) 442-7620


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.


we administer 3 email listservs:   our monthly enews is sent to all 3.

wsawg list - for all topics related to sustainable agriculture, incl organic

wsawg gmo list - for issues related to genetically modified organisms

wsawg conserve list - for issues related to farm bill conservation


to subscribe, (or unsubscribe)  please refer to our members page:

or simply send an email with your request to jill:    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