effort launches new nation-wide effort to market food
from sustainable family farms
There’s a new force championing the viability of family farms
with sustainable attributes. The American Association of Family
Farms [www.associationoffamilyfarms.org ] is the product of collaboration
between the Leopold Center’s “Agriculture of the Middle”
task force organized by Fred Kirschenmann and a U.S. Department
of Agriculture initiative launched in 2003 by California extension
leader Larry Yee.
Launched with grants from foundations and food businesses, the
AFF plans to develop standards for its own label to identify eligible
farms cooperating nationwide to serve the growing market for source-identified,
youth ag initiative seeks nominations of young leaders revolutionizing
the way food is grown to kick off new publication
BLAST, a national initiative of The Food Project, is starting an
online magazine called reap/sow. This publication will be a forum
for creative thinking and expression, both for and by young people
working to change the food system.
An early story will celebrate young people who are revolutionizing
the way that food is grown, distributed, and eaten. The article
in the premiere issue will share innovative models with the larger
network. Give someone – or yourself – the recognition
they deserve by Monday, February 20 at the URL below.
dairy competitors announce drives to support new
family farm conversions to certified organic production
Organic Valley, America's largest cooperative of organic farmers,
has launched “Generation Organic,” its attempt to nurture
the next generation of organic farmers. Offerings include a nationwide
program of "barn meetings" and workshops, a farmers speakers
bureau, web resources, a farmers’ hotline, financial and technical
support for farmers transitioning to organic, partnerships with
university-based farmer training programs, organic school curriculum,
a farmer ambassador program to heighten public awareness of organic
farmers and, an organic farmer mentoring and internship program.
OV, which had 723 farmers in 22 states in 2005, says its “Gen-O”
agenda includes saving family farmers from extinction, honoring
farmer wisdom from past generations, creating respect for farmers
as food producers and food safety based on sustainable production
Horizon Organic, the nation’s leading marketer of organic
milk and a brand of Dean Foods Company, supports more than 130 transitional
dairy farmers through its Horizon Organic Producer Education (HOPE)
program. It says it will spend $500,000 to $1 million annually for
several years to assist these farmers with organic feed purchases
and other transition costs. It announced in December it will invest
$10 million in its original dairy farm in Idaho to significantly
expand its organic pasture land by 1,400 acres, construct new barns
and build a state-of-the-art milking parlor.
Currently 75 percent of Horizon Organic's milk is supplied by more
than 300 certified organic family dairy farms. It will be working
with Holistic Management International [www.holisticmanagement.org
] to develop best practices for its Idaho farm, including a holistic
grazing plan and new techniques designed to regenerate and improve
the health of the land and increase biodiversity.
pioneers named to organic research, outreach posts in Minnesota
Jim Riddle (former chair of the National Organic Standards Board
and a NewFarm.org colulmnist) and Carmen Fernholz (recognized as
2005 Farmer of the Year by the Midwest Organic and Sustainable Organic
Services) are joining the staff of The University of Minnesota’s
Southwest Research and Outreach Center.
Fernholz, from Madison, Minn., will be the organic agriculture
coordinator for research management; Riddle, who lives in Winona,
Minn., will be the organic agriculture coordinator for outreach.
mandatory animal ID proposal dealt setback
There won't be a mandatory U.S. animal identification program by
2009, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture has dropped a 6-month-old
plan for contracting with a privatized central database to launch
the cattle segment of ID. Critics had questioned the USDA's intention
to concentrate the data with a system the National Cattlemen's Beef
Association organized, then spun off as a free-standing nonprofit
Instead of a single database, USDA, state and tribal animal health
agencies will use multiple databases, relying on those who contract
with the USDA to furnish livestock tracking information.
Restaurant students help grow
food for college eatery, work with local farmers to understand seasonal
Twenty four students in Colorado State University’s restaurant
operations classes work 8 hours each week in the Aspen Grille, a
campus eatery that serves as their “working classroom.”
The business model of the restaurant and the intention behind the
classroom rests on the use of local, organic products wherever possible.
The restaurant works with the university’s Specialty Crops
Program to grow much of its produce.
Meanwhile, students travel to local organic farms, dairies, and
sheep and bison ranches building personal relationships and working
directly with local farmers and livestock providers to seasonally
source the best produce and meats. In the process, they get to know
the struggles of small farmers and develop greater awareness of
the efforts and inputs required to produce organic food. The classroom
restaurant is now in its second year of operation and has reached
profitability ahead of the timeline in its business plan.
Salatin speaks out against Virginia
law that could target pasture poultry flocks
Internationally known grazing pioneer Joel Salatin of Swoop, Virginia,
opposes the law, which has been proposed as public health measure
to regulate live bird markets, even though none now exist in the
state. He said it fails to distinguish between the squalid conditions
of poultry pens in Asia where highly contagious avian flu has been
recorded and the healthfulness of well-operated outdoor systems.
The Cornucopia Institute is aiding Virginia group that champions
local food production in channeling grassroots sentiments to the