UPDATED November 9, 2006

    Research council sounds warning on loss of pollinators to US farming

    New livestock label verifies humane treatment on family farms

    Dairy farmer groups agree on pasture, replacement standards

    IFOAM International Organic Livestock Conference recordings available

    International leaders cheer win of organic farmer to Montana senate seat

Research council sounds warning on loss of pollinators to US farming

Bees, bats and other vital pollinators are declining across North America, placing crops and other plants at risk, according to a new report by the National Research Council. The report finds that shortages of pollinators already exist and warns that continued decreases in wild populations could disrupt ecosystems and agricultural production.

This is a decline that has credible potential to alter the shape and structure of terrestrial ecosystems, a spokeswoman said. Antibiotic-resistant pathogens and encroachment by Africanized honeybees also are hurting North American honeybee levels, the committee said, and there is clear evidence of a honeybee shortage. Last year farmers imported honeybees from outside North America for the first time since 1992, which brings new risks of new pests and parasites.

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New livestock label verifies humane treatment on family farms

Farmers have a new way to show the marketplace that they take care of each individual animal’s comfort and well-being with the “Animal Welfare Approved” label, sponsored by the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) of Washington, D.C.

The label criteria include only independent family farms that include 100 percent of their production under the label, which requires a rich environment where animals can socialize naturally and have no fear or stress-induced inclination to harm each other. It prohibits debeaking for chickens and tail docking for hogs.

The first farms to earn the AWA seal were those that supply pork to Niman Ranch. Scientists, veterinarians and farmers were consulted during the drafting of the Animal Welfare Approved standards, and AWI and its agents inspect farms for compliance before awarding the seal, and on a continuing basis.

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Dairy farmer groups agree on pasture, replacement standards

Groups representing more than 850 of the nation’s estimated 1,000 certified organic dairy farmers called recently for the USDA National Organic Program to issue two clarifying descriptions in its dairy standards. The groups are The Northeast Organic Dairy Producers Alliance (NODPA), the Midwest Organic Dairy Producers Association (MODPA) and the Western Organic Dairy Producers Alliance (WODPA).

They named these two items as the “cornerstones of organic certification and the continuing integrity of the USDA Organic Seal”:

  1. After the dairy operation has been certified, animals brought on to the operation must be organically raised from the last third of gestation, regardless of how or when they converted to organic dairy production.
  2. Dairy cows over 6 months old, whether dry or lactating, should graze pasture during the grazing season but for no less than 120 days a year and the grazed feed must provide significant intake, at a minimum an average of 30 percent of the dry matter intake per cow per day.

The groups span the nation and succeed in varied geographical and climatic situations. Their producer members range from those that milk 15 cows in Maine to 5,000-cow herds grazing irrigated pasture in the arid high desert in Colorado.

For more information and clarification please contact Ed Maltby, NODPA Executive Director, 413-772-0444 or ednodpa@comcast.net.

IFOAM International Organic Livestock Conference audio recordings available

More than 250 people from 25 countries participated in the IFOAM International Conference on Animals in Organic Production was held August 23-25, 2006 at the University of Minnesota’s St. Paul campus. Events included farm tours, keynotes, extensive workshops, and networking among organic producers and researchers from around the world.

IFOAM conference proceedings

Audio recordings

Over the coming months, selected presentations will be posted on the University of Minnesota's Organic Ecology website www.organicecology.umn.edu.

International organic ag leaders cheer win of organic farmer to Montana senate seat

Jon Tester, an organic farmer and leader in the organic movement since 1987, is now the junior senator-elect from Montana. A third generation farmer from Big Sandy, he has been farming organically for nearly 20 years.

In 2005, Tester and his wife Sharla were named outstanding agricultural leaders by the College of Agriculture at Montana State University. Their T-Bone Farms is a diversified organic operation with 1400 acres.

Thomas B. Harding, former president of the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM), is a colleague of Jon Tester and director of Agrisystems International. He said, "Jon …is an extraordinary man - one who walks his talk, an excellent organic farmer, dedicated to the family farmer, the farm community and to organic agriculture in general. He sees the big picture and he will make a very great difference to all of us as he meets his elected responsibilities in the U.S. Senate."

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