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Hello. Remember several months back, when we asked you if certification was worth it? Mary-Howell Martens, our columnist from upstate New York--with 1400 organic acres and years of certification under her belt--hitched up that belt this month and decided to tackle the question in earnest. The result? A passionate and thoughtful response to the frequently asked question, "Why bother with certification?" Mary-Howell says there's an emerging level of "sneaking non-compliance" with organic rules, and a resistance to and frustration with niggling NOP standards that are often unevenly applied. It bothers her, because she believes in the value of certification, whatever its drawbacks and frustrations. Her piece is a must read for anyone who cares about the future of organic agriculture. Go to it now!

--Chris Hill, Executive Editor

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


Why bother with certification?


Fresh today from The New Farm®

CSA NOTEBOOK: Harmony Valley, Wisconsin

Community Comes to the Farm

Even if your farm is nowhere near your customers, you can still cement the relationship and sense of shared community with a few low-key events each year on your farm.


Turnip tikes at a recent CSA farm day in Wisconsin


For the beginning grower

Lilies Make Everyone Smile

Pennsylvania grower Paul Shumaker finds a fragrant niche in cut lilies … and more


The Lily Man


Ohio grain farmer replaces inputs with sweat.
He likes it that way, and he’s a lot better off financially, too.

It took a while for Dean McIlvaine’s diversified 830-acre organic grain farm to get in a groove, but now he’s cookin’: rich soils, resilience in bad weather years, organic premiums, a better bottom line... and the priceless pleasure of more time in the fields.


OHIO Grain


Shumei Natural Agriculture:
Farming to create heaven on earth

Kishima Island, Part 2: Reiji Murota, Master Farmer
Companionable chaos: A Japanese farmer strives for longterm fertility via wild but calculated interplanting

Mr. Murota believes any soil can evolve to greatness, given proper management ... and time. He's content to spend 20 years making a field ready for tomatoes. When the goal is not just food but the healing of the soil, there is no urgency.


Kishima Island



On to STEP 2: Proving that organic produce is nutritionally superior

It’s pretty much a foregone conclusion that organic is better, hands down, for the soil and the environment, says Rodale Institute farm manager Jeff Moyer. But is it GOOD for you? He tells you about our plans to help answer that question.


Jeff Moyer



Welcome to a new feature: editorial opinion pieces from around the country ... and the world. If you've seen a good editorial you'd like to share with other readers, let us know about it. If you want to take a stab at your own opinion piece, send it to us. Click here to send us an email.

EPA backroom deal with factory farms presented to congress
Environmentally reckless consent agreement offers meat industry exemption from air pollution lawsuits
A statement from GRACE

Energy bill clash is a waste of energy
The Senate energy bill, supported by businesses AND farmers, brings us a lot closer to energy independence, while the house bill is a travesty.
By Dave Frederickson, National Farmers Union President

Organic grocers face stiff educational role
as price remains barrier for organic products

How can retail stores sustain higher prices if consumers don't understand the value-added?


Factory farms

Energy bill

Organic education


Action Alert

Act before 11/27 and push USDA Research Undersecretary Joseph Jen to invest research dollars in family farm profitability, environmental enhancement, and rural economic opportunity!

  Support organic research

Minnesota Department of Agriculture offers organic demonstration grants

Minnesota breaks ground with an innovative new look at how to fund and present on-farm organic research

  Minnesota organic grants

DR. Don Research Updates

Part 2 in our series on weed management research
A review of OMRI-listed "chemicals from nature"--naturally occuring herbicides--as one component of an overall weed strategy.

Comparing nitrogen mineralization in monoculture
versus diverse crop systems

Michigan State researchers show when it comes to nitrogen in the soil, more isn't necessarily better -- and diversified farms with cover crops do a much better job of making use of the nitrogen.


Natural herbicides

Nitrogen research


THE FINAL WORD, by Alan Guebert

Our favorite curmudgeon tackles the White House's skewed view of COOL, the latest defeat of the pork checkoff and what it means for all checkoff programs ... and then he's off to Great Falls, Montana and the Montana Farmers Union.

  Final Word

The latest ag news

Twelve new news items, on topics ranging from the pork checkoff, ozone's impact on the soil, the growth in consumer spending on organic products, and European opposition to biotech wheat.


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