market booming in United States despite
discouragement by officials and legal barriers
Consumers are using ways that are often barely legal and sometimes
illegal to get their hands on raw milk from producers they trust.
They are driven by a variety of reasons, including the taste, beliefs
in superior healthfulness and a dislike of the conventional dairy
In an August 8 story entitled, “Should This Milk Be Legal,”
the New York Times profiled the extensiveness of the raw-milk market
and a number of its participants. It notes that California organic,
pasture-based raw-milk producer Mark McAfee expects to gross $6
million this year—up $4.9 million from last year.
Resistance continues against
mandated fumigants on “raw almonds”
Small-scale farmers, retailers and consumers are renewing their
call to the USDA to reassess the plan to “pasteurize”
all California almonds with a toxic fumigant or high-temperature
sterilization process. All domestic almonds will be required to
have the treatments by early next year. The plan was quietly developed
by the USDA in response to outbreaks of Salmonella in 2001 and 2004
that were traced to raw almonds.
“The almond ‘pasteurization’ plan will have many
harmful impacts on consumers and the agricultural community,”
said Will Fantle, research director for The Cornucopia Institute,
a Wisconsin-based farm policy research group. “Only 18 public
comments from the entire U.S.—and all from almond industry
insiders—were received on the proposal. The logic behind both
the necessity and safety of the treatments processes has not been
fully or adequately analyzed—neither have the economic costs
to small-scale growers or the loss of consumer choices.”
New study shows risk of
antibiotic residue in crops raised with factory-hog manure
Foods such as corn, lettuce and potatoes have been found to accumulate
antibiotics from soils spread with animal manure that contains these
drugs, a greenhouse test at the University of Minnesota showed.
Study results are published in the July-August 2007 issue of the
"Journal of Environmental Quality."
A university press release on the study singled out organics as
a consequent area of risk, saying: “The study results indicate
that organic foods are most likely to contain these drugs because
manure is often the main source of crop nutrients for organic food
Study group leader Satish Gupta, a specialist in the fate and transport
of antibiotics in agricultural systems, told NewFarm.org that further
studies pending publication show that composting provides only partial
degradation of the antibiotic residue levels tested. He said he
is concerned and that growers should be aware of the risks involved
in importing manure from antibiotic-treated livestock operations.
He wrote: “We hope the organic and conventional producers
will take our results as a piece of the puzzle and hopefully will
find alternatives that will alleviate public concerns about antibiotic
use on the farm.”
Plant uptake was evaluated on soil modified with liquid hog manure
containing sulfamethazine, a drug commonly employed in both human
and veterinary medicine to treat bacterial diseases, and to promote
growth in cattle, sheep, pigs and poultry.
Interactive web tool shows U.S.
factory farms by state and by county
Food and Water Watch, an environmental nonprofit group focused
on empowering the public to challenge policies that degrade natural
resources, provides an interactive map of the United States showing
the location of factory farms.
The tool, called “Factory Farm Pollution in the United States,”
allows users to zero in on factory farms at the state and county
level to find the number of sites and animals, and organizes the
data by type of animal, including dairy, beef cattle, hogs, broilers
The user can also find the states and counties with the highest
numbers of livestock populations. The “methodology”
tab explains that the chart is populated with data from USDA 2002
agricultural census data, interpreted by Food and Water staffers
to locate farms that constitute Confined Animal Feeding Operations
(CAFOs) under the definition of the Environmental Protection Agency.
North Carolina legislature bans
new hog waste lagoons
New hog waste lagoons will be permanently banned in North Carolina,
and enterprising hog farmers may receive financial incentives if
they try new disposal technologies.
Action in July by the state senate makes permanent a 10-year ban
on new hog-waste ponds that would have expired in September. The
bill also imposes stronger environmental standards designed to minimize
air and water pollution, the spread of pathogens and ammonia and
control the odor from more than 10 million hogs.
Many of the state's 2,300 hog farms are located in eastern North
Carolina. Tons of solid and liquid waste are captured and stored
in open-air lagoons.
“This is clearly a big step,” said Jane Preyer, director
of the state's Environmental Defense office. “No other state
in the nation has said, ‘No’ to more lagoons and at
the same time said, ‘Let’s make our state have the highest
standards on health and the environment that we can have.’”
The bill does not require farmers to replace existing hog-waste
lagoons. North Carolina is the nation’s second largest producer
of pork products, with more than $2 billion paid annually in cash
receipts to hog farmers.
U.S. Chefs say local and organic
are top trends
The National Restaurant Association reports that when it surveyed
more than 1,000 chefs on “hot items," locally-grown produce
and organic produce ranked second and third after bite-sized desserts,
according to the lead story in the July 9, 2007, edition of The
Packer, “The Business Newspaper of the Produce Industry.”
The story reported that 71 percent of U.S. adults surveyed said
they were trying to eat healthier when eating out.
Organic dairy, meat products
positively affect quality of mother’s breast milk
A new study shows that organic dairy and meat products in a mother’s
diet positively affect the nutritional content of her breast milk—markedly
increasing beneficial fatty acids. The study was published in the
British Journal of Nutrition.
Specifically, a diet in which 90 percent or more of dairy and meat
products are organic is correlated with measurably higher levels
of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA). CLA is a type of fat that is
believed to have anti-carcinogenic, anti-atherosclerotic, anti-diabetic
and immune-enhancing effects, as well as a favorable influence on
body fat composition. For newborns, specifically, CLA is believed
especially to aid immune system development.
Autism in children correlated
with mothers’ exposure to certain pesticides during pregnancy
Scientists working for the California Department of Health Services
have found that pregnant women living near fields sprayed with the
common insecticides dicofol and endosulfan were six-times more likely
to give birth to children with "Autism Spectrum Disorders"
(ASD) than women living many miles from treated fields.
It is rare for such a large and statistically significant difference
to be found in a study of this kind, according to The Organic Center
(TOC) in its presentation of the study. The authors report that
the closer the mother lived to the treated fields, and/or the more
pesticides applied, the greater the risk.
The study—“Maternal Residence Near Agricultural Pesticide
Applications and Autism Spectrum Disorders Among Children in the
California Central Valley”—appeared in the journal Environmental
Online version of study