breed diversity key for changing conditions, researchers
In early September, researchers at the first International
Conference on Animal Genetic Resources in Interlaken,
Switzerland, confirmed that over-reliance on a few livestock
breeds is placing others at risk: at least 2000 breeds
have been identified as being at risk since 1999.
The UN is leading an intergovernmental initiative to
safeguard animal genetic resources including the establishment
of gene banks to preserve animal genetic diversity.
To date, the conservation of animal genetic resources
has been delayed because of debate over who owns genetic
resources—national governments or the communities
where they are found—and on how to compensate
communities for the sharing of genetic material.
Some worry that many breeds of animals will be lost
before these issues are settled.
Aurora Organic Dairy agrees
to alter practices
Aurora Organic Dairy, which supplies private-label
organic milk for many U.S. supermarket chains, agreed
in late August stop applying the organic label to some
of its milk, and to make major changes in its operation.
These actions came after the U.S. Department of Agriculture
threatened to revoke Aurora’s organic certification
for, among other problems, failing to provide enough
pasture to its cows.
Aurora has long been the focus of groups which feel
its farming operations do not conform with the letter
or spirit of the National Organic Program in the areas
of cow management and pasture access.
National Ag Library
offers extensive online sustainable ag expertise
The USDA’s Alternative Farming Systems Information
Center, housed within the National Agricultural Library
in Beltsville, Maryland, is a global leader for reference
information on all aspects of alternative agriculture.
Its staff have collected and presented hundreds of reference
works in practical electronic formats.
Electronic collections include: “Tracing the
Evolution of Organic/Sustainable Agriculture: A Selected
and Annotated Bibliography,” “Sustainable
Agriculture Automated Database Searches,” “Top
10 Research Journals: Sustainable Agriculture,”
“Educational and Training Opportunities in Sustainable
Agriculture, 17th edition,” and “Funding
Resources: Sustainable Agriculture Research.”
Personal service is available to assist with research,
Three bodies planning
groups see critical role for local agriculture
foods and organics: Attendees at the
first IFOAM International Conference on the Marketing
of Organic and Regional Values, held recently in Germany,
unanimously issued the Schwaebisch Hall Declaration,
which concludes that as rural communities are threatened
by corporate monopolies and genetic engineering, regional
development must be strengthened by all means.
The declaration supports identifying community values
through brands, trademarks and geographical indications
which, coupled with organic farming as the social and
economic alternative for rural areas, has the potential
for developing long-term ecological and economic sustainability.
Local food systems in
counties: The National Association of
Counties has published Counties and Local Food Systems,
a 22-page report that is free for the downloading. It
highlights four approaches that county governments can
use to strengthen their local food systems: food policy
councils, farm to school programs, infrastructure for
local producers, and agriculture conservation easement
programs. The report also includes an overview of methods
and a fairly detailed case study for each approach.
Metropolitan and urban
food-system planning: The American Planning
Association has adopted a policy guide on community
and regional food planning. Citing Marion Nestle, Fred
Kirschenmann, Mary Hendrickson, the National Restaurant
Association, David Pimental and the American Farmland
Trust, the guide provides a meticulously reasoned rationale
for food systems as being central to future development
of public and private areas.
Recommending sustainable food systems are: the rapid
and continuing loss of farmland in metropolitan areas;
pollution of ground and surface waters caused by overuse
of chemical fertilizers and pesticides; the ability
of urban agriculture to create greater access to healthy
foods in low-income areas; and the many other benefits
that emerge from stronger community and regional food
story and guide
Video shows flood
damage to Wisconsin farms; fund to aid recovery for
A filmmaker well-known for her work with organic farmers
returned after the August floods to publicize the devastation
that many of their urban customers were unaware of.
"Flooded Midwest Organic Farms," by Madison
filmmaker Gretta Wing Miller is making the rounds on
the Internet. Working with her was filmmaker Aarick
the Seeds Fund
entry September 12 update on farmer
impact, Whole Foods purchases
Organic tithe proposed
for the U.S. diet
Mission Organic 2010, a website created by The Organic
Center, states that if organic foods constituted just
10 percent of the average American diet, this would
add more than 6 billion pounds of carbon to the soil
and save more than 2 billion barrels of imported oil
The Organic Trade Association projects that if we continue
to purchase organic at our current rate, organic food
sales will reach about 5 percent by 2010. Mission Organic’s
goal is to double that to at least 10 percent.
Wheat supply lowest in
26 years, driving up prices for meat farmers, consumers
Poor weather conditions around the globe are responsible
for reduced wheat crops from China and North America
to Europe and Australia. Wheat reserves are now estimated
to be at a 26-year low and prices at record highs.
High prices will benefit wheat growers but will be
costly for importing countries, meat and dairy farmers
who use wheat as feed, and consumers. For those charged
with relieving famine, buying enough wheat will also
be a problem.