vol. 1, #9
november, 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/newsletter9.htm     


farm bill update -  

     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, vibrant rural communities.   http://www.msawg.org/key-farmbill.html   the sac/msawg winter meeting will be held in washington dc on march 6-8, 2007 with capacity building and strategy sessions for work on the farm bill to be followed by visits to capitol hill.  partners are invited.   mhuelsman@msawg.org

        national campaign�s organic committee has developed an 8-point 2007 farm bill agenda and is working on an action plan to shape the future of organics for the next 2 decades.  submit comments http://www.sustainableagriculture.net/organic.php  

also, an article by michael pollan in the ncsa fall newsletter about how important the farm bill is to the health of our children and the health of our land....�in the midst of a national epidemic of diabetes and obesity our government is, in effect, subsidizing the production of high-fructose corn syrup.�  and   �this time around let�s call it �the food bill� and put our legislators on notice that this is about us and we�re paying attention.�   http://www.sustainableagriculture.net/docs/n/nationalcampaignnewsletter1.pdf

time to crow here in montana, we are proud to say, organic grain farmer jon tester (d-mt) has been elected to the us senate.  jon is a third generation farmer from big sandy, montana and has been farming organically since 1987.  his crops on the 1400 acre farm include hard red wheat, hard white wheat, barley, lentils, and kamut. tester has served as the national treasurer for the organic crop improvement association international.

contaminated rice-

         usda gives rubber-stamp market approval to the ge rice that has contaminated the food supply.  this approval-by-contamination puts consumers and environment at risk, and erodes trust in us food for overseas markets.  the controversial decision was taken despite the insistence of bayer cropscience, that it dropped plans to commercialize the variety, known as libertylink601 (ll601), five years ago.  also, usda continues to allow bayer to test experimental ge crops. http://www.centerforfoodsafety.org   

          article in arkansas newspaper tells the story:  so what has the gm contamination meant for the us rice industry?  (remember: no gm rice has ever been grown commercially in the us. there were only test trials that were completed back in 2001.)   http://www.gmwatch.org/archive2.asp?arcid=7233

*the industry's worst ever crisis

*41% of us rice exports negatively affected

*more than 25 federal lawsuits filed

*trade with the 25-nation eu at a standstill

*other countries have banned us long-grain rice imports

*many other countries requiring testing

*some markets for medium- and short-grain rice also affected

*the problem involves not just bayer's (gm) ll601 rice, but another bayer gm rice, ll62 has been detected in europe and in us testing

*32% of nearly 700 long-grain rice samples - including everything from unmilled to parboiled rice - tested positive for gm traits

*gm traits are so prevalent that "you cannot guarantee statistically that you'll ever get rid of them"

*us rice may never again be validly described as "gm-free".

                bayer blames farmers and god for rice contamination  - contends that rice farmers and an "act of god" are to blame for the inadvertent release of the (previously) unapproved crop.    http://www.gmwatch.org/archive2.asp?arcid=7306

                world�s leading rice exporters cooperate on preventing use of gm rice -thailand and vietnam have agreed to cooperate on preventing use of gm rice    http://www.gmwatch.org/archive2.asp?arcid=7308


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


10 new states to offer agri-lite in 2007:  usda announced this week it will expand the availability of adjusted gross revenue-lite (agr-lite) insurance, one of the few insurance products available to diversified crop and crop-livestock producers, to 10 additional states in 2007.  the new states are ariz., colo., kan., minn., mont., nev., n.m., utah, wis., and wyo., bringing the total number of states in which producers can purchase agr-lite coverage to 28.  coverage is based on a producer�s five-year historical irs-reported farm revenue.   http://www.rma.usda.gov/pubs/rme/fctsht.html


commodity corn prices pushed up by ethanol demand  the ethanol industry�s continuing expansion and its appetite for corn is helping ignite the biggest bull market for grain in 30 years, according to a recent story in the wall street journal   http://www.nwanews.com/adg/business/172270   


heritage turkeys making a comeback  it's turkey season in the united states, and heritage turkey breeds are making a comeback from coast to coast, at least in the media. burlington free press in vermont reports on a farm, which is raising heritage white hollands on pasture for the first time this year. in california, the santa cruz sentinel reports on a visit to thomas farm, where 40 bourbon reds are in residence.


wal-mart charged with selling non-organic food as organic  the cornucopia institute, the nation�s most aggressive organic farming watchdog, has filed a formal legal complaint with the usda asking them to investigate allegations of illegal �organic� food distribution by wal-mart stores, inc. cornucopia has documented cases of nonorganic food products being sold as organic in wal-mart�s grocery departments.  http://www.cornucopia.org 


animal enterprise terrorism act:  this month the house by voice vote approved the animal terrorism enterprise act of 2006 (s. 3880).  the senate had approved the bill by unanimous consent in september.  under the bill, protestors may be fined or imprisoned for threats, acts of violence, property damage, trespass, harassment, or intimidation taken against a person or entity on account of their relationship with an animal enterprise.  the bill specifically criminalizes not only interfering with "animal enterprises," defined as a commercial or academic enterprise that uses or sells animals or animal products for profit, food or fiber production, agriculture, research, or testing, but also interfering with organizations that have a connection to, relationship with, or transaction with the animal enterprise.  this would include buyers of animal products, brokers who receive and market cafo waste, etc.  damages include �economic damages� or �economic disruption� including loss of profits.   activists, beware.


bolivia to outlaw gm crops and go organic  according to a bbc world service program, the bolivian government aims to transform the country into an organic oasis in south america and to outlaw gm crops.  http://www.gmwatch.org/archive2.asp?arcid=7269


ban on gm trees sought by international groups  environmental groups have urged un treaty signatories to bar gm trees from the kyoto protocol on reducing greenhouse gas emissions.  gm trees have been proposed for plantations created to offset carbon emissions as part of the kyoto protocol's clean development mechanism.  the organizations said the un framework convention on climate change must align its policies with the un convention on biological diversity, which already has taken a position against gm trees.  http://www.gmwatch.org/archive2.asp?arcid=7281


un fao to explore organic agriculture�s potential the united nations food and agriculture organization (fao) plans to investigate the potential for organic agriculture to support food security needs around the world, according to a report by the international federation of organic agriculture movements (ifoam).   the fao committee on world food security met in rome and concluded that practically no progress has been made with the world food summit target since its establishment in 1992.


nanotech -  epa to regulate a form of nanotechnology - consumer products using extremely small particles of silver to kill germs will need epa approval, part of the government's first move to regulate the burgeoning nanotechnology industry.  the epa said it will require that manufacturers provide scientific evidence that their use of nanosilver won't harm waterways or public health. http://www.komotv.com/news/tech/4729686.html






biopharm info  food crops genetically modified to overproduce single nutrients could be public health hazards as overdose of many single nutritional factors are known to be toxic.  many crop modifications for �food quality' are in the pipelines.  in addition, much activity is also devoted to creating gm microbes to enhance nutrition and health.  



ecovillage and permaculture certificate programs    all classes are held at lost valley educational center, an intentional community, non-profit educational center, and nature sanctuary dedicated to learning, living, and teaching sustainable, ecologically-based culture, located outside eugene, oregon. http://www.lostvalley.org/epcp     


the world resources institute (wri) has released agriculture and climate change: the policy context, the first in a series of two farm bill policy notes that look at opportunities and reasons for the u.s. agriculture industry to participate in climate policy discussions. this note analyzes the impact of climate change on u.s. agriculture, discusses sources of greenhouse gas (ghg) emissions from the agricultural sector, and explains the possible roles for agriculture in proposed climate change legislation.   http://www.wri.org/climate/pubs_description.cfm?pid=4232     


guide to gm alfalfa issues worc recently released a guide to genetically modified alfalfa for alfalfa producers and consumers concerned about the potential for contamination and other unanswered questions about roundup ready alfalfa.  the guide covers environmental, agricultural, and economic issues of concern to u.s. farmers, ranchers and consumers.  �we�re asking alfalfa growers to review this information and consider the risks of planting roundup ready alfalfa. we�re also asking extension agents and crop advisors not to recommend gm alfalfa to alfalfa growers until the questions about contamination, liability, and spread of glyphosate-resistant weeds are answered.�  download the guide at www.worc.org, or let us know if you�d like us to mail you a copy.  in addition, worc, other farm and consumer groups, and two alfalfa producers sued the u.s. department of agriculture in february, challenging the approval of roundup ready alfalfa.   the court will hear oral arguments in the case on january 17, 2007 .


agroecology and the struggle for food sovereignty in the americas  describes market opportunities for small-scale producers, the regional food sovereignty movement, agroecological production, impacts on growers of regional free trade agreements in the americas and other issues. may be ordered in english or spanish for us$32, $12 for students.


developing and extending sustainable agriculture - a new social contract  explores challenges faced by farmers and ranchers in evolving new agricultural systems for the 21st century. available from hawthorne press, the first chapter is free online.


paradigm wars: indigenous peoples' resistance to globalization  author jerry mander and celebrated indigenous leader, victoria tauli-corpuz, report on �a momentous collision of worldviews that pit the forces of economic globalization against the earth's indigenous peoples.� us$30.00, postage and handling included, from international forum on globalization.


call to action


house-senate appropriations work in early december   three key western states� senators need to hear from you now re/ three key conservation programs.   please call:

      montana -  senator burns� office at (202) 224-2644 and urge him to:

      idaho -  senator craig�s office at (202) 224-2752 and urge him to:
      utah - senator bennett�s office at (202) 224-5444 and urge him to:

   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.


sign-on letter to support full funding for the conservation security program:  sac has drafted an organization sign-on letter to congressional agricultural appropriators requesting them to provide full, uncapped funding for the conservation security program in fy2007 agricultural appropriations.  the letter is posted at www.msawg.org.  to sign on send email to sheilah davidson of the national campaign for sustainable agriculture at sheilah@sustainableagriculture.net.


stop paraquat   tens of thousands of people are poisoned by the syngenta herbicide paraquat every year.   the berne declaration has started a broad public proceeding against  syngenta on the website:  www.stop-paraquat.net . to highlight the urgency of our campaign we call on civil society to publicly condemn syngenta's inhuman business policies.  we hope to enlist the support of  at least 50,000 people to vote and pronounce a guilty verdict in the case against paraquat. endorse the stop paraquat campaign with the name of your organisation. to do so, write an email to:  food@evb.ch      


oppose exemption of cafo manure from cercla and epcra:  senator pete domenici (r-nm) is expected to offer a rider to the fy2007 agricultural appropriations bill, or other measures that might move in the lame duck session, that would exempt manure and other cafo waste from the comprehensive environmental response, compensation and liability act (cercla or superfund) and the emergency planning community right-to-know act (epcra).  the cercla statute has been used by cities to force cleanup of areas where cafo manure has been overapplied and has been used by citizen groups to get an accounting of cafo emissions of hazardous air pollutants.  cercla and epcra contain an exemption for the normal application of manure and for the release of hazardous substances that are permitted under other federal environmental laws.
        before congress reconvenes on december 4, call your senators to oppose any measure that would exempt manure from cercla and epcra, including the attachment of the measure as a rider to another bill.   http://www.net.org/policy/cafo/.


calendar of events - fall 2006

calendar of events

december 6 - organics and plant pathogen suppression - seattle, washington - - the washington organic recyling council annual meeting features dr. a.j. hoitink, one of the world�s leading scientists in the area of organic waste recycling with emphasis on biological control of diseases  http://www.compostwashington.org 


december 11 - good agricultural practices for fruit & vegetable processing - corvallis, oregon - - the department of food sciences at oregon state university presents this one-day course. this workshop provides participants better understanding of microbial risk and contamination of fruits and vegetables http://oregonstate.edu/dept/foodsci/extservices/gaps_regform.htm  


december 12 - establishing market access and value for stewardship farmers - everett, washington - - farming & the environment will be holding this one-day conference to provide agricultural producers with valuable information on cooperative and business development, access to capital, access to direct markets, transportation and distribution, and value-added food processing.



january 8-9 - organic seed workshop - twin falls, id - cost: $40; advance registration and payment required. send a check and contact information to: organic seed alliance, po box 772, port townsend, wa 98368.   www.seedalliance.org 


january 14 - 17 - greenhouse crop production & engineering design short course - tucson, arizona - the controlled environment agriculture center (ceac) at the university of arizona presents its 7th annual course, this year on the theme "energ�the resourceful greenhouse." the course offers three days of expert plant science and engineering presentations. meet and network with professionals in both industry and education.  http://ag.arizona.edu/ceac/ceacoutreach/sc001.htm  


january 17-19 - growers marketing forum:  farm to fork - tucson, arizona - the university of arizona presents this 3-day professional education short course and commercial tour. this course is organized by the ceac and is directed to all greenhouse growers, and the supporting industry.   http://ag.arizona.edu/ceac/ceacoutreach/sc002.htm  


january 18-20 - soils and agronomy intensive 3-day course - portland, oregon - sustainable agricultural technologies, inc., presents this three-day course with agriculture educator and author dr. arden andersen. "back to basics" will emphasize basic science principles, soil and plant nutrient fundamentals, key grower practices and concepts that will empower you to successfully grow sustainably, biologically, ecologically and profitably. http://www.composttea.com/seminars.htm  


january 23-24 - smart energy management in agriculture - pacific grove, california - as part of its smart energy management in agriculture project, eco-farm is offering this pre-conference combined with the ecological farming conference. the smart energy management in agriculture regional training will include a tour of central coast farms employing the latest in energy alternatives, solar, biodiesel, efficiency and more, followed by a day of workshops on energy efficiency, independence, and affordability.  http://www.eco-farm.org/efc_07/preconference.html  


january 24-27 - ecological farming conference - pacific grove, california - this 27th annual conference is a major national sustainable agriculture event that offers numerous speakers, many concurrent workshops, tours and social activities.  workshops address everything from biofuels and marketing to weed management and organic integrated pest management.  



january 28-30 - harvesting clean energy conference vii - boise, idaho - the harvesting clean energy conference is the northwest�s premiere gathering for agriculture and energy interests working to advance new opportunities for agriculture producers and rural communities in clean energy production.   http://www.harvestcleanenergy.org/conference/index.html    


february 8-9 - organic seed workshop-  mount vernon, washington - the second day of the workshop will be an intensive class on the fundamentals of plant variety improvement taught by osa director of research, dr. john navazio.  www.seedalliance.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

(you may also subscribe to just the enews)

to subscribe, (or unsubscribe) 

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