UPDATED June 8, 2006

    Organic “access to pasture” definition comments accepted through June 12

    Final NOP rules from Harvey decision published

    South Central Farmers resisting eviction

    Sustainable ag students learn about marketing

    Sister market raises $6,000 for Crescent City Farmers Market

    Organic ag rocks the university: Officially OK at Washington, taking off at Colorado, Michigan

     

Organic “access to pasture” definition comments accepted through June 12

Exactly what it means to have organic dairy cattle “on pasture” looms as a significant decision in determining what organic dairy farming will look like. The USDA’s National Organic Program has announced it will revise the current ambiguous pasture requirement, and will accept comments on this topic through Monday, June 12.

Background and sample letters from an organic dairy farmer-based group:
www.nodpa.com/standards.html


Final NOP rules from Harvey decision published

Final rules revising the National Organic Program (NOP) regulations to comply with the final court order in the Harvey v. Johanns lawsuit and implement the 2005 amendments to the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 (the Act or OFPA) were published this week in the Federal Register. These provisions include the allowable National List synthetics used in processing organic foods, the elimination of the "80-20" dairy feeding provision and the acceptance of dairy herd consumption of crops from fields in the third year of conversion were to be published this week.

The USDA is still working on the current two-track system of converting dairy replacement animals.

USDA Press Release
Federal Register Rules and Regulations


FARMLAND UNDER FIRE
South Central Farmers resisting eviction

Financial and public support has grown for a group of 350 poor working-class families facing eviction from their 14-acre urban farm in South Central Los Angeles. The farm—the largest urban farm in the country and some say a model for urban sustainability—was established in 1992 following the L.A. riots and a handshake deal between then Mayor Tom Bradley and Doris Block of the L.A. Regional Food Bank.

In 1996, in what detractors characterized as a “backroom deal,” the once-blighted land was offered to developers for below market value without the approval of city council. The developers sued the city in 2002 and purchased the land through a settlement for just over $5 million. Now they want $16 million to give it back. South Central Farmers has already raised $6 million, and movie and musical stars, including Daryl Hannah and Joan Baez, and a Who’s Who of activists, including Julia Bullerfly Hill, have leant their support—and sometimes their bodies—to the cause. They are still $10 million short, with mounting pressure on the city’s current mayor to pay the asking price or challenge the original sale.

www.southcentralfarmers.com


Sustainable ag students learn about marketing

Central Carolina Community College (CCCC) Sustainable Agriculture program (www.cccc.edu/Programs/Sustainable_Agriculture.html) students in Pittstboro, North Carolina, received some real-world experience in organic farm production and farm business management over spring semester.

Students grew and marketed their own plot of vegetables at the Pittsboro campus land lab and raised more than $500 during the spring semester by teaming with Eastern Carolina Organics (ECO), a locally-based marketing and distribution service for North Carolina. organic farmers. The funds they raised will be given to future program graduates as seed money.

Full story


Sister market raises $6,000 for Crescent City Farmers Market

The Crescent City Farmers Market, bread and butter for farmers serving the population and surrounding area of New Orleans, reopened March 4, 2006, amidst many challenges following the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina.

On Saturday, May 20, the Carrboro Farmers Market in North Carolina hosted a “Muffulettas and Gumbo to Go” fundraiser for the Crescent City Farmers Market Katrina Crop Circle and—with the help of area restaurants, other businesses and volunteers—raised $6,000 for the sister market.

“We sold out five minutes before the market ended,” said market manager Sheila Neal. “Thank goodness for the sunshine that took over the day…and many thanks to the band, T'monde, who got customers in the mood to buy gumbo.”

Some ways the money might be used are: to help farmers purchase new equipment and repair existing equipment, to help bolster local community gardening efforts, and as “scholarships” to help customers purchase CSA shares.

www.crescentcityfarmersmarket.com


Organic ag rocks the university:
Officially OK at Washington, taking off at Colorado, Michigan

State officials gave final approval in late May to Washington State University’s Organic Agriculture Systems major as one of five new Bachelor of Science degree majors in agriculture. For details on the WSU organic major read our story Organic U.

Colorado State University in Fort Collins and Michigan State University in East Lansing have also joined the growing list of land-grant universities offering new organic programs.

CSU’s Organic Agriculture Interdisciplinary Program opens this fall. It builds on fundamental agricultural sciences with additional courses focused on organic agricultural production techniques and decision making. Seven other new courses on crops, soils, composting, greenhouse production and organic issues will be added in the years ahead.

Completing the program will take as little as 13 specialized hours for some ag majors, but up to 40 designated hours for those with a liberal arts major. Featured options include the on-campus, quarter-acre student organic farm and market, as well as the 8 certified organic acres at the university’s Rocky Mountain Small Farm Organic Project research site.

Soils professor and compost specialist Jessica Davis – who spearheaded the drive to get the organic program approved – reports Aurora Organic Dairy of Boulder is providing $1,000 scholarships for the first six students to sign up for the new CSU program. She and other faculty will be involving many farmers and business persons from the organic community to provide students will real-world training. She credits strong student interest and organic farmer involvement in research with CSU as prime motivations for the effort.

MSU will open its Organic Farming Certificate Program January 1, 2007. This is a one-year practical farm training program for 10-15 students who will manage a 10-acre student organic farm and take course work on organic faming. The farm produces food for a four-season, 48-week Community Supported Agriculture direct-marketing program for more than 50 families. Crops include fresh and stored vegetables, herbs, flowers and fruit.

The students will experience traditional field-scale production as well as production in unheated greenhouses and cold storage facilities. This is the only educational organic farm that operates a year-round CSA in a cold climate.

To complete their certificate program, students will take a three- to four-month, off-site internship or apprenticeship on a working farm or urban garden.

WSU Details: http://afs.wsu.edu

CSU Details: http://organic.colostate.edu

MSU Details: www.msuorganicfarm.com/dnav/218/page.htm

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