revokes organic certifier license
For the first time since the federal
Organic Rule went into effect in October 2002, the USDA
is moving to revoke the license of a certifier. American
Food Safety Institute International in Chippewa Falls,
Wisconsin alledgedly allowed an organic farm to use
banned chemicals and broke several other federal regulations.
Organic certifiers are responsible
for ensuring that organic farmers and food producers
follow a host of rules, which include not using chemical
bug and weed killers. Certifiers are supposed to forward
records about organic rule breakers to the USDA.
chain features regionally purchased produce, dairy
The Pittsburgh-based Eat 'n Park Hospitality Group Inc. (www.eatnpark.com)
is taking a major step to bring big business to local
farms, building its buying of locally grown products
from about 3 percent of its overall supply purchases
to 20 percent.
The commercial food service company is launching its
"FarmSource" program at 100 restaurants this
summer, after rolling it out at its senior living and
catering divisions within the past few years.
Eat 'n Park senior vice president for food and beverage,
Brooks Broadhurst, estimated the company will spend
$3 million with western Pennsylvania farms this year.
It works with regional produce houses in metro areas
where it has clusters of restaurants to establish direct
accounts with local farmers ready to meet quality and
USDA grass-based standard disappoints advocates; revision
After waiting four years for their recommendations
to be shaped by the USDA into a marketable standard,
grazing proponents were shocked to see that animals
could be fed harvested forage, antibiotics and hormones
in a feedlot and still fit the proposed description.
“We are pretty close to our customers, and their
perception of grass-fed means animals that go from birth
to harvest on pasture, not in a feedlot,’’
said Dr. Patricia Whisnant, president of the American
Grassfed Association, at an association meeting in late
“This is not what we perceive of as pasture grazing,’’
said the official, Harvey Sprock, a range management
specialist in the Natural Resources Conservation Service
Local marketing tip sheets
The “Marketing to Enhance Farm Viability”
series of bulletins is designed to assist growers and
agricultural businesses. Information comes from the
persistent work of Community Involved in Sustaining
Agriculture (CISA) in promoting local agricultural viability
and the expertise of experienced farmers, including
members of the Women in Agriculture Network. Topics
include developing a marketing plan, using paid advertising,
working with media and using on-farm workshops and classes.
Minnesota maps organic farms
county by county;
Connecticut shows certified and “pledged”
The Minnesota Department of Agriculture has released
maps showing the locations of the state’s organic
farms and processing facilities. The maps show that
there are currently 507 certified-organic farms and
137 certified organic processing facilities in the state.
An organic farming group in Connecticut produces a
map showing the state’s certified-organic farms
as well as those where owners have an affirmed “Farmer’s
Pledge.” These producers agree to production management
standards separate and distinct from the USDA’s
National Organic Program. They reject synthetic pest
controls and fertilizers; GMO materials; and promise
to treat livestock humanely, market locally or regionally,
pay a living wage and support collective bargaining
for workers. Unlike the NOP, the pledge is not third-party
Chico State begins organic
dairy, UNH building on Stonyfield gift
A herd of Jersey and Jersey-crosses is the foundation
for the first organic dairy teaching facility in the
West, according to Cindy Daley, a Chico State animal
science professor. The cattle are already grazing on
45 acres of certified-organic pasture that will provide
grazing for about 10 months of the year in this north-central
Earlier, the University of New Hampshire (UNH) announced
it has established an organic dairy program on a 200-acre
farm that may begin producing milk as early as December.
Eight dairy farmers serve on the university’s
20-member advisory board for the initiative.
Prototype on-farm manure
analyzer gives farmers instant N, P readings
A new tool using a near-infrared light device sampling
two tablespoons of manure for levels of nitrogen and
phosphorus will help farmers know how to manage their
livestock nutrient. The developer of the tool is James
Reeves of the Agricultural Research Service’s
Environmental Management and Byproduct Utilization Laboratory
at Beltsville, Maryland.
The prototype machine—a 15-inch cube linked to
a laptop—weighs about 20 pounds. Reeves says he
plans to make it smaller—about the size of a shoebox
weighing 5 pounds or less. He hopes to eventually develop
a hand-held, stand-alone unit.
Martens lobbies ag committee
members for organic research, data, crop insurance
At the recent Senate Ag Committee field hearing in
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, New York organic farmer Klaas
Martens testified on behalf of the Organic Farming Research
Foundation (OFRF), a member of the Sustainable Agriculture
Coalition. Martens described how and his wife, Mary-Howell,
has used the Value-Added Producer Program to join in
a cooperative with other organic farmers in the area
to establish the Lakeview Organic Grain feedmill.
Klaas emphasized the need for increased organic research
funding, the establishment of a National Program Leader
for Organic Agriculture at CSREES, better organic data
collection, more attention to organic producers in Farm
Bill Conservation programs, continuation of federal
funding for organic certification cost share, whole-farm
revenue insurance for all producers, and the removal
of barriers and additional charges to organic producers
in the crop-insurance programs.