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Hello. We've partnered with the Institute for Agricultural Trade Policy to bring you coverage of the World Trade Organization meeting that starts next Wednesday, September 10, in Cancun, Mexico. Why cover the WTO? Because it will be debating ag policy and trade issues that will affect farmers worldwide--from fair trade and subsidies to agricultural dumping.

Our coverage begins today with background pieces on the agricultural trade and policy issues that are at stake in sunny Mexico. (It's ironic, isn't it, that the WTO meeting is being held in Mexico, where a free trade agreement--WTO policy in action--has devastated small farmers.) All of our Cancun coverage is listed on our home page.

Coming next week: More background information on key ag policy issues, daily news updates during the 5 days of the conference, daily audio interviews with grassroots organizations and people attending the conference, and post-conference analysis of what happened on the key issues affecting farmers.

On the Extension front: We continue to get a lot of response to our series of essays about Extension and its relationship to organic. Got a great note last week from Steve Bridges, President of the Texas Organic Growers Association. He tells me their local extension agent came to them six months ago, asking for help with all the questions he was getting about organic production methods. They've developed a good relationship, and Steve and his community of organic growers are bringing their agent along slowly. We welcome your thoughts, comments and experiences on this issue. Send me a note at

Something to watch out for next week: We have a very nice piece on what Minnesota farmers are discovering about rye cover crops as a weed suppressant in no-till soybeans. We'll also share our own experiments with rye cover crops here at The Rodale Institute--including information on a front mounted roller we developed to crimp and kill the rye at planting.

See you at Farm Aid. We'll have a booth at the Farm Aid concert this Sunday, September 7 in Columbus, Ohio. If you're there, stop by and say hi!

--Chris Hill, Executive Editor

Don't forget to check out our latest Organic Price Index.


A close look at an indigenous Japanese agricultural movement: Part 2 (more below)

How organic quinoa has rescued over 4000 farm families in Ecuador (more below)


Fresh today from The New Farm®

Quinoa, lost crop of the Incas, finds new life

High in the Andes mountain range of Ecuador grows a grain that may hold both the past and the future of the indigenous farmers in its seed. Featuring a slide show that documents an entire season, from planting to processing.




Shumei Natural Agriculture:
Farming to create heaven on earth

Part 2 in our series on the history of Japanese agriculture: Post-war period brings industrialization, rapid change and organics to Japan

In part 1 of this three-part series, Lisa M. Hamilton introduced the concepts of Shumei Natural Agriculture. She sketched the history and culture of farming changes in Japan through the centuries, and invited readers to develop a different yardstick to evaluate this Eastern farming practice. In part 2, she outlines the agricultural impact of the U.S. occupation, industrialization and the rise of the organic movement in the 20th Century.


Japanese farming



A long love affair with cover crops

In the midst of the current season’s tribulations, says Rodale Institute farm manager Jeff Moyer, planting cover crops lets you think about and prepare for a whole new growing season, with all its unspoiled promise.


One farm to another


Local food CHALLENGE!

Local Food Cafe is sponsoring the Local Food Challenge this September to find out just how much we eat locally and how big a food foot print we leave in a week. The Challenge will run from Friday, September 12th through Thursday, September 18th and is aimed at becoming an annual activity globally. Discover how much of the food you eat is grown near by, how much is from your region and how much travels across country or across continents to get to your plate. Check out the article for more details.


Food challenge


Prolonged low dairy prices ravage rural economies, small dairy viability

We haven't heard from Brenda Cochran in a while. She's a Pennsylvania dairy farmer who also counsels other dairy farmers in crisis. She's written a number of columns for us in the past. In this column, she updates us on the woeful state of dairy farming.


Grassroots OPX
Take a look at what farmers are getting for their goods at farmer's markets across the country. This week: 4 markets. And thanks again to all the readers who have helped us with this venture.


Grassroots OPX

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