organic dairies in grazing spotlight
Whether the organic mega-dairies in arid western states can, or
are able to, meet the anticipated more stringent grazing standards
being prepared by the National Organic Program continues to engage
A recent article in the Rocky Mountain News (Full
story) highlighted the status of Aurora Dairy of Boulder, Colorado,
as it attempts to secure additional grazing access for several thousand
cows—an effort its detractors say will strain the definition
of sustainability simply because of the scale of such an operation
in a semi-arid environment.
In a response
sent to the paper and awaiting publication, Aurora chief executive
officer Marc Peperzak said Aurora is adding forage acreage in collaboration
with farmers in the region. He didn’t say how much acreage
is being added in 2006, but one freshly fenced example is shown
below on a farm north of Fort Collins as it looked earlier this
summer. Matsuda Farms has some 265 acres of forage crops dedicated
to Aurora Dairy, according to farm owner Dave Matsuda. After the
initial plantings of triticale were grazed, they were followed with
sorghum, sometimes no-tilled into the triticale stubble and sometimes
planted after light tillage. Irrigation is limited this summer to
one week on, one week off, he reports.
To follow the dialogue between Aurora Organic Dairy executives,
organic watchdogs and dairy farmers as it unfolds, you can join
the Odairy electronic mailing group at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Odairy/.
But when will
the eggplants be ready?
If that’s your question—or a question you have to keep
answering for every crop yet to come this season—there’s
a new ready reference that gives some help. Farm Aid’s “Ask
Laura” has posted six regional guides, each listing 24 vegetable
crops from arugula to zucchini.
Even though these are general predictions, they can help people
new to seasonal eating see how things vary across the country. More
accurate guides for all produce should be available from your state
cooperative extension service. And, as Laura says: "To be sure,
ask a local farmer."
University relinquishes crop
In a reversal of the growing claims to patent-improved plant properties,
the University of Hawaii has given up its rights to three strains
of disease-resistant taro developed by traditional breeding techniques.
Activists argued that kalo (the local name for taro) as
the "elder brother" of the Hawaiian people should not
be owned. "UH did not invent taro, and they had no right to
own it or license it to farmers," said taro farmer Christine
story from The Honolulu Star-Bulletin. Circulated by GRAIN,
comments due Aug. 10
The USDA Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) is proposing changes
to its definition of what constitutes a claim for grass (forage)
fed livestock and meat products.
The proposed revised definition reads as follows: "Grass (Forage)
Fed – Grass (annual and perennial), forbs (legumes, brassicas),
browse, forage, or stockpiled forages, and post-harvest crop residue
without separated grain shall be at least 99 percent of the energy
source for the lifetime of the ruminant species, with the exception
of milk consumed prior to weaning. Routine mineral and vitamin supplementation
may also be included in the feeding regimen.”
Written comments should be submitted by Thursday, August 10, to
Martin E. O'Connor, Chief, Standardization Branch, Livestock and
Seed Program, AMS, USDA, Room 2607-S, 1400 Independence Avenue,
Washington, DC 20250-0254. Comments may also be sent by fax to 202-720-1112,
by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org,
or via the Internet at www.regulations.gov.
Comments should refer to Docket No. LS-05-09.
text and discussion of the previous 80-percent proposal.
trade/local food directory issued
What a concept! Fair trade for US farmers, too. Family Farm Defenders
(FFD), in conjunction with the Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice
(WNPJ) and with financial support of the Wisconsin Community Fund
(WCF), has just published the first-ever local fair-trade directory
for the state.
The 50-page directory includes listings of family farms, locally
owned retailers, coffee shops, restaurants, bakeries and sweat-free
apparel stores, as well as bioregional recipes, nutritional information
and educational sidebars.
National Campaign for
Sustainable Agriculture gears up for Farm Bill debate.
As the country faces a new Farm Bill, the National Campaign for
Sustainable Agriculture is recruiting for its newsletter to inform
readers about how they can help shape federal policy that makes
sense for both people and the land.
The National Campaign unites a diverse nationwide network of hundreds
of groups and individuals to support legislation that fosters a
sustainable food and agricultural system, one that is economically
viable, environmentally sound and socially just. Your voice is just
one phone call, letter or email away.