flu workshop highlights now online
A new website features video highlights
from an April 2006 workshop in Harrisburg, PA on Avian
Influenza. Small-scale poultry producers, owners of
"backyard" flocks, extension educators and
others can access the site, developed by Penn State
Cooperative Extension and the College of Agricultural
Sciences, by visiting www.pasafarming.org.
The information is geared to independent
pastured-poultry producers; owners of small-scale, hobby
and specialty flocks; show-bird enthusiasts; and game-bird
breeders. Video presentations and a question-and-answer
session cover topics such as biosecurity, surveillance,
disease symptoms and other issues.
The Avian Influenza workshop was
presented by the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable
Agriculture, Penn State Cooperative Extension, the Pennsylvania
Women's Agricultural Network, The Pennsylvania Department
of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Agriculture
Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.
For questions concerning Avian Influenza,
contact David Filson, Penn State Cooperative Extension
emergency preparedness and response coordinator, at
(814) 863-6424 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Britain goes organic
The Guardian reports: “Consumer demand has forced
supermarkets to buy most of their organic produce from
UK farmers rather than shipping it in from overseas
at a high cost to the environment. The average supermarket
availability of UK-grown seasonal organic food staples
such as apples, meat and onions has risen 10 points
from 72 percent in 2003 to 82 percent in 2005, according
to Supermarket Survey, the Soil Association's annual
snapshot of the organic credentials of Britain's supermarkets.”
National Organic Standards
Board looking to fill four seats
The National Organic Standards Board (NOSB), which
serves in an advisory capacity to the National Organic
Program (NOP), has four vacant seats coming up in January.
The board is composed of 15 members: four organic producers,
two organic handlers, a retailer, three environmentalists,
three public/consumer representatives, a scientist and
a certifying agent.
Individuals desiring to be appointed to the NOSB at
this time must be either an owner or operator of a certified
organic handling operation; an individual with expertise
in areas of environmental protection and resource conservation;
an individual with expertise in the fields of toxicology,
ecology, or biochemistry; or an individual who represents
public interest or consumer interest groups.
Written nominations, with cover letters and resumes,
must be postmarked on or before July 14, 2006, and sent
to Ms. Katherine E. Benham, Advisory Board Specialist,
USDA-AMS-TMP-NOP, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW., Room
4008-So., Ag Stop 0268, Washington, DC 20250. For further
information, contact Ms. Benham at (202) 205-7806; email@example.com;
fax: (202) 205-7808.
Saskatchewan organic veteran
innovator named OCIA organic farmer of 2006
Dwayne Woolhouse of Assiniboia, Saskatchewan, Canada,
recently received the Outstanding Organic Farmer of
the Year award from OCIA Research & Education, Inc.
Woolhouse, who has been farming for over 30 years,
was selected for his dedication to and involvement in
the organic industry, innovative farm practices, superior
organic management of pests and weeds, and improving
soil quality. In the past three years, Woolhouse has
grown durum, black lentils, large green lentils, small
red lentils and French green lentils. He has improved
soil fertility by using rotations with legumes and by
doing green manure plow-downs. Woolhouse stated that
it's important to him to rotate plow-down crops, just
as you would rotate crops that are harvested.
Ian V. Cushon of Oxbow, Saskatchewan, Canada and Delbert
Pratt of Nashua, Iowa received honorable mentions.
Pipeline project threatens
one of America’s oldest organic farms
Certified in 1973, Gardens of Eagan—a 100-acre
mixed-vegetable farm outside the Twin Cities in Minnesota—is
one of the oldest organic farms in America. Martin Diffley,
who runs the operation with his wife Atina, is a fifth-generation
farmer. For decades, the Diffleys have resisted development
pressure in order to follow their passion of providing
healthy, organic food for their community. They have
also been mentors to countless other farmers.
Now Minnesota Pipeline Company proposes to construct
a pipeline right through their farm, pumping 165,000
of crude oil through their property daily and destroying
up to 12 inches of topsoil (the company’s own
proposed limit in an agricultural mitigation plan).
Thankfully, there are other routes that could avoid
Gardens of Eagan without harming other agricultural/environmental
resources. The Diffleys are asking anyone who values
the organic farmers in their community to write a letter
opposing the locating of the pipeline through their
farm. Find out more at www.gardensofeagan.com.
Meatrix II bashes
Sustainable Table and GRACE (Global Resource Center
for the Environment) are up to their hi-jinx again,
with the launching of Meatrix
II: Revolting, another parody-with-a-message of
the sci-fi thriller The Matrix.
The GRACE Factory Farm Project created significant
Internet buzz in 2003 with the launching of The
Meatrix. People who had never heard of CAFOs (confined
animal feeding operations)—or even The Matrix
for that matter—found themselves being educated
almost in spite of themselves as the infectious cartoon
characters Leo (a slapstick pig), Moopheus (a sinister
cow), and Chickee (a buxom chicken) battled to expose
the truths behind America’s food system.
For all their laughs, neither cartoon pulls any punches
when it comes to telling it like it is about factory
farming (like when Leo gives a well-placed karate chop
to one of the bad guys from “Agri-Corp”
and exclaims “This is for small family farmers.”)
The sequel takes aim at the conditions and practices
of some non-organic commercial dairies, such as hormone
and antibiotic use, feeding cow’s-blood-laced
milk replacer to calves when they are separated from
their mothers, and manure lagoons that leach excessive
nutrients into our water supply.
“This is a modern-day dairy factory; it can’t
be called a farm,” Moopheus tells his protégé
as they tour a wasteland of industrial agriculture.
“This is where most of our milk and cheese comes
Doesn’t sound like a laugh a minute? There’s
just enough silly slapstick to keep the uninitiated
hanging in their long enough for some knowledge to soak
in. And the overall message is hopeful: Run to the store
and buy some grass-fed beef and free-range chicken eggs
while Moopheus, Leo and Chickee are taking on corporate
The Meatrix II
Organic dairy, ingredient
rules contended; grazing testimony online
On the heels of an outpouring of testimony on its grazing
standards in mid-April, the USDA National Organic Program
issued a major rule proposal with a brief comment period
that ended this week. These proposed regulations were
required by the court's final judgment in Harvey v.
Johanns, and to implement the amendments to the Organic
Foods Production Act which was signed into law on November
The proposed rules are neither clear nor complete,
according to the National Campaign for Sustainable Agriculture.
The NCSA believes that the proposed rule:
- Fails to clearly prohibit certified dairy operations
from continually importing conventionally raised replacement
animals and transitioning them to organic management;
- Fails to prevent use of hundreds of "non-ingredient"
synthetic substances in processed organic foods, including
processing aids and other materials that contact organic
- Fails to describe the "emergency" process
that will be used by the USDA to decide when a non-organic
agricultural ingredient can be used in organic products
due to "commercial unavailability" of organic
proposal, a review of the Harvey lawsuit and other details
testimony submitted before the NOSB meeting and comments
on cards during the dairy symposium in April