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 remain
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 Register?
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 program.
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
USDA to revisit meaning of
“natural” on petition from meat giant Hormel
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.
Rosmanns recognized 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 State University.
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 series
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
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
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
straw panels and boards