reports certified organic farmland found in every state
A report issued by USDA's Economic Research Service
confirms that by 2005 certified organic farmland could
be found in all 50 US states for the first time. After
doubling from 1997 to 2002, the amount of farmland certified
organic doubled again from 2002 to 2005, finally reaching
every corner of the nation.
Organic farmland may only make up only 1 percent of
the total nationwide, but the adoption rate of organic
practices is growing at an amazing clip. The ERS report
breaks down adoption levels by sector that can be viewed
in either national or state-by-state tables. They cover
over 40 commodities, crop and livestock, for 1997 or
1995 and 2000 to 2005. ERS also expects to have estimates
for 2006 published by December of next year.
USDA now says
animal ID system is really, truly voluntary; skeptics
Even after publicly assuring farmers that the proposed
National Animal Identification System (NAIS) will be
voluntary and releasing a new set of guidelines, anti-NAIS
advocates question what will really happen in the months
ahead to farmers and their livestock.
The user guide outlines how producers can participate,
should they wish, and outlines how the program might
benefit them and the country, and how the program is
being implemented. This is all fine, opponents say,
but what will state departments of ag now do, and why
weren’t the guidelines published in the Federal
A range of groups oppose the requirements for various
reasons, nearly all of whom feel the goal of public
health and safety can be met as well—or better—without
the cost and government intrusiveness proposed in the
on range of sentiment
Surging domestic corn demand
requires dramatic shift in ag policy, group claims
If, as expected, corn-based ethanol production doubles
in the five years ahead as it has in the 2001 to 2005
period, the Farm Bill needs to manage production in
a sustainable way, according to the Institute for Agriculture
and Trade Policy (IATP). The group has released the
a report "Staying Home: How Ethanol Will Change
U.S. Corn Exports."
One of the report’s author’s concludes:
“Given this new context, spending billions of
dollars on initiatives such as expanding the transportation
infrastructure on the Mississippi River for export markets
is an irresponsible investment of taxpayer dollars.
Instead, policymakers should focus on building and diversifying
opportunities for renewable fuels and energies; promoting
farm practices and cropping systems that build soil
health and improve water quality; and ensuring that
farmers and rural communities benefit from these new
USDA to revisit meaning
of “natural” on petition from meat giant
The USDA recognizes that there is significant disagreement
about what “natural” means when manufacturers
label their foods with the imprecise term, so they’ve
announced a rulemaking process to tighten things up.
Public comment is invited through Jan. 11, 2007.
A petition from Hormel Foods in November stated that
meat and poultry processors are vying for consumer advantage,
but do not have a level playing field because of the
USDA acceptance of ingredients such as sodium lactate.
for efforts to learn, share sustainable farming success
A pioneering farm family that has shared deeply of
its knowledge throughout the United States is this year’s
winner of the Spencer Award from Leopold Center of Iowa
Winners are Ron Rosmann and Maria Vakulska Rosmann
and their sons David, Daniel and Mark Rosmann. They
operate a 600-acre, diversified organic farm near Harlan
in Shelby County, Iowa. They have been leaders in sustainable
agriculture at the state, regional and national levels,
hosting visitors from all over the world at their western
The award honors someone who has made a significant
contribution to sustainable agriculture and the future
of Iowa's family farms.
family farm details
passion—of local food elegantly distilled in fact-sheet
Local food advocates, take heart! There are studies
documenting solid policy reasons for slicing food miles
from our food, but now there’s a strong set of
telegraphic fact sheets that make the case clearly,
thoughtfully and joyfully.
The four, two-sided sheets explain simply why local
food works to build communities, what the economic and
political challenges are to making it happen and how
you can get involved. One sheet explores the place of
food in our lives, and there’s also additional
sheets of foodnotes for further digging.
This effort comes from Environmental Commons, a group
in California that works to preserve natural areas,
protect wildlife, and promote sustainable policies,
environmental education, and informed democratic discussions
or download series
ARS sow study shows beneficial
bacteria boosts intestinal health, nutrient uptake
A probiotic supplement stimulated the immune system
and improve nutrient absorption in two separate animal
studies recently conducted by Agricultural Research
Service (ARS) scientists. Probiotics are living microorganisms
that, when added to foods or dietary supplements in
sufficient numbers, can benefit the consumer in one
or more ways.
Healthy animals and humans benefit every day from trillions
of natural intestinal bacteria. These friendly bacteria
help keep "bad" bacteria from gaining a foothold
that could lead to illness or disease.
Grain straw, bean stalks
eyed for building materials
In production: A Kansas company is manufacturing agriboard
panels and cores from compressed wheat or rice straw.
The panels are intended for use as sub-floor decking,
walls, and roofs. The wall panels can be configured
as structural or curtain walls and can be pre-engineered
to meet specific building applications.
No adhesive additives are added to the wheat straw
insulation and only borax compounds are added for safe
control of mold and insects. The panels meet all ASTM
standards for sound insulation, air exchange, odor emissions,
moisture vapor sorption, fungi resistance and fire tests.
On the horizon: Super-strong cellulose lets some super-tall
soybeans varieties stand when others would have fallen
down. The Agricultural Research Services is evaluating
their value as a potential wood substitute.
straw panels and boards