UPDATED September 14, 2007

Livestock diversity critical for changing climates

Aurora Organic Dairy agrees to alter practices

Library offers extensive sustainable ag expertise

Groups call for food-systems in public plans

Video boosts flood fund for organic farmers

Goal: 10 percent organic by 2010

Low wheat stores threaten famine relief

Preserving livestock breed diversity key for changing conditions, researchers say

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.

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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.

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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, as well.

AFSIC home page

Three bodies planning groups see critical role for local agriculture

Branding place-based 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. Schwaebisch Hall Declaration

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. Download report (large)

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 systems. Full story and guide

Video shows flood damage to Wisconsin farms; fund to aid recovery for organic growers

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 Beher.

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Sow the Seeds Fund

Blog 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 annually.

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.

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