medium cuts black root rot in strawberries
Strawberry plants grown in compost-filled mesh tubes, or “socks,”
had significantly less chance of getting black root rot, a severe
threat to yields, than plants grown directly in infested soils in
an Agricultural Research Service (ARS) study. The compost socks
lay on top of the infested soil.
No methyl bromide or any other soil fumigant was used in the study,
since they have become too costly for many small growers and non-chemical
alternatives are being sought. The sock plants yielded 16 to 32
times more fruit than those from the conventional "matted row"
or black plastic mulch systems when grown in infested soil with
no soil treatment.
Biotech rice gene escape
a mystery, university research lab suspected
A year-long inquest has failed to reveal exactly how genes from
a genetically altered strain of rice ended up in other rice throughout
the southern United States’ rice growing areas in recent years.
An investigation suggests the escape may have happened early this
decade at a university research laboratory.
A yearlong U.S. Department of Agriculture investigation found that
the genetically engineered rice, which was not approved for human
consumption, was grown at a corporate-funded laboratory at Louisiana
State University alongside commercial strains of rice that were
cross-pollinated and eventually made their way into the food supply.
The FDA subsequently approved the rice for human consumption, but
not before the contamination negativelyimpacted rice prices and
many farmers. The USDA has decided not to punish the company, citing
a lack of evidence.
story: Firm Blames Farmers, 'Act of God' for Rice Contamination
USDA head forecasts happy ending
to ethanol/food price turmoil
Addressing the Consumer Federation of America at the end of last
month, acting Agriculture Secretary Chuck Conner said that despite
short term difficulties, farmers are responding to rising commodity
demands by adding acreage and boosting yields.
"Higher corn prices are not the only or even, I would argue,
perhaps the most important factor in higher prices of certain retail
food items," he said.
Conner said the market will eventually sort out the best way to
use our resources, from high-priced oil to the price of corn and
wheat at historic highs. "It is moving faster, I believe, than
the experts can keep up with their forecasts. And if you believe—as
I do—in the power of markets to put resources to their best
use, you should be very encouraged by the signs we see of vibrancy
and growth in this market."
Food co-op to buy, operate
Gardens of Eagan
The Wedge, a Minneapolis-based natural and organic food cooperative,
has bought the well-known farm of Martin and Atina Diffley for $1.5
million. The company said that Linda Halley would become Gardens
of Eagan's manager. Halley is a 2003 Farmer of the Year and 20-year
veteran of farm management in Wisconsin and southern California.
In a statement, the Diffleys—Martin is 57 years old and Atina
is 47—said they didn't want to keep farming "into their
senior years" and that their children didn't want to take over.
The co-op will broaden its outreach through internships, tours and
other learning opportunities to help people better understand organic
farming. The Wedge, a customer of the farm, will continue working
in cooperation with the farm’s other existing accounts.
Article helps organic farmers
improve disaster readiness and recovery
"Disaster Readiness and Recovery: Legal Considerations for
Organic Farmers" is a booklet that helps organic farmers prepare
for, weather and recover from a range of natural disasters. The
44-page article by the Farmers’ Legal Action Group, Inc. (FLAG)
is a part of its on-going information support tool, Farmers’
Guide to Disaster Assistance.
The article concludes with information about how natural disaster-
and disaster-recovery may affect farmers’ organic certification,
and includes descriptions of how federal policy needs improvement
to more equitably meet the needs of organic producers.
FLAG is a nonprofit law center in St. Paul, Minnesota, dedicated
to providing legal services to family farmers and their rural communities
in order to help keep family farmers on the land.