UPDATED July 13, 2006

    Colorado organic dairies in grazing spotlight

    But when will the eggplants be ready?

    University relinquishes crop patents

    Grazing rule comments due Aug. 10

    Fair trade/local food directory issued

    National Campaign gears up for Farm Bill debate

Colorado 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 organic community.

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."

Full story


University relinquishes crop patents

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 Kobayashi.

Full story from The Honolulu Star-Bulletin. Circulated by GRAIN, www.grain.org/about.


Grazing rule 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 marketingclaim@usda.gov, or via the Internet at www.regulations.gov. Comments should refer to Docket No. LS-05-09.

Full text and discussion of the previous 80-percent proposal.


Fair 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.

Full details


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.

Full details