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
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 Alliance
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 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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
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
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."