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 and local
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 dairy CAFOs
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 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 from.”
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 agriculture.
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 10, 2005.
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 food;
- 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 ingredients.
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