council sounds warning on loss of pollinators to US
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
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.
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.
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
They named these two items as the “cornerstones
of organic certification and the continuing integrity
of the USDA Organic Seal”:
- 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.
- 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
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
For more information and clarification please contact
Ed Maltby, NODPA Executive Director, 413-772-0444 or
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.
Over the coming months, selected presentations will
be posted on the University of Minnesota's Organic Ecology
ag leaders cheer win of organic farmer to Montana senate
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.