vol. 1, #8
october, 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/newsletter8.htm     


farm bill update -  

     michael pollan speaks at bioneers - - urges an estimated 12,000 people (conference beamed to 18 locations) to build local food systems and to get involved in creating a new and better farm bill.     http://www.foodfirst.org/node/1530   

     sustainable agriculture coalition (sac) releases 2007 farm bill platform, (endorsed by wsawg), calling for comprehensive reform of the upcoming 2007 farm bill in its new report, no time for delay: a sustainable agriculture agenda for the 2007 farm bill. the report urges the federal government to adopt a series of key policies that are urgently needed to help new farmers enter agriculture, promote profitable family farms, enhance the environment, and build healthy, diversified rural community economies.   http://www.msawg.org/key-farmbill.html    

        farm and food policy project�s farm bill declaration is coming out soon for sign on. this is the work of a large network of organizations, funded by the kellogg fndn.  we will need you all to be prepared, once it�s out, to help gather as many organizational endorsements as possible.   sign on will run through november 15 for organizations wanting to be listed on materials supporting the november 20 launch, and sign-ons will continue to be accepted after the launch.  stay tuned for action alerts.

contaminated rice-

        eu passes gm testing protocol for us rice:  eu member states are now requiring testing on all imports of us long-grained rice.  the vote came after the failure of negotiations with the us about a proposed protocol.  the new rules require testing at the point of entry into the eu in addition to any testing done in the us.  this comes about because the genetically engineered variety ll601 has turned up in 9 countries, even after all shipments from the us were tested and certified gm-free before leaving for the european union.   http://www.food.gov.uk/news/newsarchive/2006/oct/illeggmrice

          another strain of experimental ge rice has been detected in u.s. food shipments to europe. the rice (ll62) was designed by bayer but is not approved for human consumption in the eu. us rice farmers have suffered millions of dollars of losses from ge contamination just in the last few months. http://www.organicconsumers.org/2006/article_3179.cfm


california enacts first state biomonitoring law: led by the breast cancer fund and commonweal, environmental health advocates celebrated the passage of historic legislation to track toxic chemicals in our bodies.  california will have the first state-supported biomonitoring program in the u.s.  it may be implemented as early as 2007, and includes funding for community based monitoring of specific chemicals, assessed and reviewed by a scientific panel.  report.

food from cloned animals - petition filed   the center for food safety, along with reproductive rights, animal welfare, and consumer protection organizations, on oct. 12, filed a legal petition with the food and drug administration (fda) calling for a moratorium on the introduction of food products from cloned animals.  the petition, along with an executive summary and other background information on the risks of animal cloning are online at www.centerforfoodsafety.org.

ecoli in spinach   despite a number of inaccurate media reports, the recent spinach e.coli outbreak has not been linked to any organic products. as expected, the outbreak has now been directly linked to a factory farm feedlot located adjacent to conventional spinach fields in california.   http://www.organicconsumers.org/2006/article_3140.cfm  

rbgh on the run   vermont agriculture secretary steve kerr added his voice this month to the growing chorus urging farmers to stop giving their dairy cows the synthetic hormone rbst.    www.timesargus.com

preemption bills update - go to this website for most recent info:  http://www.environmentalcommons.org/gmo-tracker.html

cattle protozoa help transfer antibiotic resistance  agricultural research service (ars) scientists in ames, iowa, have made another big finding about protozoa, single-celled predatory organisms, found in the gastrointestinal tract of cattle. they've discovered that the protozoa can facilitate the transfer of antibiotic resistance from resistant bacteria to susceptible types.  rumen protozoa live in the first stomach (rumen) of cattle.   http://www.activefarming.org/cattle-protozoa-can-transfer-antibiotic-resistance  

bridging borders: toward food security was a joint conference of the community food security coalition and the assembly of food secure canada. people representing green businesses, indigenous issues, healthcare, urban agriculture, small-farmers, and social justice testified to the importance of tying community-based advocacy and development with the lessons of international activism.   read a report of the conference:   http://www.foodfirst.org/node/1526

researchers explore turning farm waste to fabric   researchers from the university of nebraska lincoln presented two studies at the american chemical society national meeting reporting on their exploration of a chicken-feather-based fabric with qualities similar to wool, and a riceaw fabric somewhat like cotton or linen. the biodegradable fabrics would be made from inexpensive waste materials.   http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/sep2006/2006-09-13-09.asp

researchers studying straw conversion to liquid fuels   researchers from the western research institute in laramie, wy., in collaboration with two ars labs, are working to develop a small-scale gasification reactor that can use straw as a feedstock. researchers estimate that up to 60 gallons of liquid fuel can be derived from a ton of straw. the grass seed region of the pacific northwest produces about 7 million tons of excess straw per year, which has the potential for 420 million gallons of liquid fuel. http://www.thesoydailyclub.com/biodieselbiobased/straw09072006.asp

local and sustainable foods change college dining    food service at colleges and universities across the country is changing as cafeterias serve up more local, organic and sustainable foods. the change is driven in part by student requests.  this story relates how yale handles and identifies locally grown food, and how popular it is with students. http://www.usatoday.com/money/industries/food/2006-09-26-college-food-usat_x.htm
national research initiative competitive grants program    the cooperative state research, education, and extension service (csrees) requests applications for the national research initiative (nri) competitive grants program. in fy 2007, csrees anticipates that approximately $181 million will be available for support of this program. application deadlines vary by program; they range from november 19, 2006 to august 14, 2007. http://www.csrees.usda.gov/funding/rfas/nri_rfa.html,

nanotech   etc group has launched a competition for the design of a nano-hazard  symbol. following initial vetting by a panel of eminent judges, the top 10 designs will be taken to the world social forum in nairobi, kenya in january 2007 where forum participants will be invited to vote on their favorite. the winning design will be submitted to national and international regulatory agencies. http://www.etcgroup.org/nanohazard,   for articles on nanotech:  www.etcgroup.org/en/     

seeds - indonesian farmers prosecuted for breeding their own seeds!       http://www.grain.org/bio-ipr/?id=493 

carbon credit program launched that will provide financial incentives for farmers who adopt farming practices that promote environmental stewardship.  farmers union has been approved by the chicago climate exchange (ccx) to enroll producer acreages of carbon into blocks of credits that will be traded on the ccx, much like other agricultural commodities.   www.nfu.org   

usda extends emergency grazing on crp acres in 30 states  agriculture secretary johanns extended the window for emergency livestock grazing on conservation reserve program (crp) acres for farmers and ranchers who are impacted by drought in 30 states. the traditional deadline for emergency grazing on crp acres is september 30.  extremely dry weather conditions have created real hardships for farmers and ranchers in many parts of the country this year. the emergency relief measure is intended to provide feed and forage to producers who have lost hay stocks and grazing lands because of drought.   http://disaster.fsa.usda.gov.




organic seed     error in last month�s enews:  the link to omri seed database is http://seeds.omri.org/  (not what i posted). the omri organic seed database will provide accurate information on the availability and supply of hundreds of certified organic seed varieties, to help growers and certifiers find supplies of organic seed.

     organic seed alliance offering 3 winter workshops in oregon (nov 15-16), wash. (feb 8-9) & idaho (jan 10-11), on producing organic seed.  the 2-day workshops will give an overview of field day activities and a presentation of the new osa organic seed production manuals. topics include crop variety improvement, seed economics, marketing, technical aspects of seed production, disease management, record keeping, and seed harvesting and cleaning.  advanced registration and payment required.   cost is $40 for two days and includes lunch, snacks and beverages.    www.seedalliance.org     

csp report:  the center for rural affairs released a report entitled the conservation security program: an assessment of farmers� experience with program implementation, available at www.cfra.org

addressing food borne threats to health   in order to examine issues critical to the protection of the nation's food supply, the institute of medicine's forum on microbial threats hosted a public workshop to explore existing knowledge and unanswered questions on the nature and extent of food borne threats to health. a summary: http://www.iom.edu/cms/3783/3924/37345.aspx

farm to school curricula  here is a resource that may be of interest for farm-to-school and/or nutrition programs. it is a peer-reviewed garden-enhanced nutrition curriculum for grades k-5. http://king.wsu.edu/nutrition/changepdfs.htm

usda releases renewable energy analysis paper   usda has released an analysis of the department's renewable energy and energy efficiency programs. the 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 and contemplates enhancements and alternatives to those programs. http://tinyurl.com/y2cql2

nrc report on status of pollinators:  the national research council released a report entitled status of pollinators in north america which finds that bees and other important pollinators such as birds and bats are on the decline in the united states, putting crops and other plants at risk.   http://dels.nas.edu/dels/rpt_briefs/pollinators_brief_final.pdf

farmer's guide to agricultural credit  written to help farmers understand agricultural finance, and to help them be better prepared for the credit application process.   http://www.rafiusa.org/whatsnew/whatsnew.html

community health and food access: the local government role, a new guide published by icma, the premier local government leadership and management organization, describes how city and county managers, department heads, and staff are developing and supporting initiatives to improve access to healthy foods for all residents.  http://icma.org/main/ld.asp?ldid=20119&hsid=10&tpid=31


call to action

new proposed guidelines for the wic food program and farmers markets:  please help us generate public comments by the november 6 deadline to support the usda proposed rule that would greatly expand the use of wic food coupons at farmers markets, which will allow millions of wic program participants to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables at farmers� markets.  urge usda to make these revisions even stronger by (a) incorporating the institute of medicine�s full recommendations for the amount of fruits and vegetables necessary for a nutritionally adequate children�s food package, and (b) coordinating the proposed new, expanded use of the wic �cash-value food instrument� with the wic farmers market nutrition program (fmnp), including automatically allowing wic fmnp-qualified markets and farmers to redeem the new wic cash-value food instrument. for a complete template action alert and background, please go to www.msawg.org     the best way to get your letter to the usda, for it to have the greatest impact, is to print out and send a paper letter in the mail to their address.   second best is to go to this usda website and use the online comment submission form. the on-line form is better than sending an email. a lot of folks think emailed comments to usda are discounted and can possibly get �lost�. the on-line form is just as easy as sending an email and you get a confirmation email that it has been delivered.

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. http://ga3.org/campaign/label_ge_food  

house interstate meat bill introduced co-sponsors needed!   h.r. 6130, the new markets for state-inspected meat and poultry act would allow interstate sales of state-inspected meat and poultry products. it is similar to legislation (s. 3519) introduced in the senate by sen. orrin hatch (ut). please contact your congress members and ask them to cosponsor h.r. 6130, and ask your senators to cosponsor s. 3519.

house-senate appropriations work in november    three key western states'  senators need to hear from you re/ the following items::

montana - please phone senator burns� office at (202) 224-2644

idaho - please phone senator craig�s office at (202) 224-2752
utah - please phone senator bennett�s office at (202) 224-5444

      1. insist on the senate position of fully funding the conservation security program (csp)

      2. yield to the house�s $3 million for the appropriate technology transfer for rural areas (attra) program

      3.  hold firm to the senate�s proposal to fund the value-added producer grant program (vapg) at $48 million, as opposed to the house�s $28 million.


calendar of events - fall 2006

calendar of events

november 2 -3sustainable ag expo,  monterey, california. the expo will feature trade exhibits and an all-day educational workshop designed to help growers of all crops learn how to implement sustainable practices on their farms.



november 3-5 - - inland northwest restoration conference    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. 



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.   gary paul nabhan, author of coming home to eat, will participate in a workshop entitled �renewing the food traditions of salmon nation� at the tilth producers conference, november 11-12 in vancouver, wa.  www.tilthproducers.org


november 15,16 - - a national organic action plan - meeting just prior to the oregon tilth fall conference, at the salem conference center.  lunch will be provided on thursday.   housing and dinner is available through registration for the oregon tilth fall conference (below).  this mini-conference is free, register separately, with liana hoodes  liana@hvc.rr.com,  845-744-2304. 


november 17 & 18 - - oregon tilth fall conference, salem conference centersalem, oregon  join oregon tilth as we celebrate our 32nd year. this two day event will feature practical seminars and workshops, a keynote presentation by samuel fromartz, an organic wine tasting, an all-day trade show, and more! http://www.tilth.org/conference/index.html  


november 15-16 - -  organic seed workshop
williams, oregon -  workshop presentations will include a summary of the 2005-2006 organic seed field days, presentation of the new osa organic radish seed production manual, information about growing specific seed crops in southern oregon (including, onion, leeks, lettuce, and brassicas), record keeping and economics of seed production.   www.seedalliance.org        


november 28, 29,30 - - jeffrey smith, author of seeds of deception, and the gmo trilogy, speaking on gmo�s in montana:   in great falls, bozeman, and missoula respectively.    www.responsibletechnology.org     


november 30 - - focus on farming iii conference, a day-long conference to learn, share ideas and make connections, lynnwood convention center  www.focusonfarming.org.


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.  early registration may be � price, see:   http://www.bioreality.org


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