Lots of readers have asked for a story on the USDA’s National
Animal Identification System (NAIS). As currently described, the
program will electronically track every farm animal in the U.S.
by 2009. Its first phase of premises registration is already legally
under way in every state. Who wants this system? Who declares "No
NAIS"? Who will pay for it? Is NAIS a common-sense agrobio-security
step or the death-knell of small-scale animal agriculture? Explore
DRY TIMES: It’s
officially “abnormally dry” in Pennsylvania and the
whole East Coast from Maine to Florida, according to the U.S.
Drought Monitor. The U.S. mid-section has it much worse, with
the “exceptional drought” in south Texas getting slightly
less damaging west through Arizona, northwest into Wyoming and
north-northeast through Illinois.
Spring without rain is an unsettling experience, one that tempers
hope and diminishes options for crops and livestock innovations.
Farmers in our stories on organic
hay emphasize that these are the times when communication
between those who have and those who need is even more important.
An expanding number of organic
cows geared for grazing are looking for high-quality,
long-stemmed forage in the off-season. Organic
feed infrastructure is developing on the fly as
feed businesses see opportunities to link expanding organic herds
and flocks with the feed they need. Long-distance, fossil-fueled
transport of organic feed is nobody’s idea of sustainable,
but seems to be part of the transition until on-farm, local and
regional balance develops.
As the official USDA organic program and the farms it certifies
evolve, farmers find new things to appreciate and dislike, depending
on their values, farm size, personalities, marketing programs,
and lots more variables.
We captured two farmer declarations
on a market-farming email list that highlight contrasting conclusions
on the best way to carry out the hopes of the historic “little
o” organic movement.
Both writers refer to Certified Naturally Grown, one of several
labels that has emerged to serve farmers who feel the USDA program
isn’t right for them, and one of many eco-labels that brand
agricultural products with some sustainable attribute in the marketplace.
This is a squabble between allies, which seems to make it even
will be high on the agenda of the National Organic Standards Board
at next week’s meeting in State College, Pennsylvania. See
our news for details and the path to testimony already filed.
That’s our news. What’s
up where you are?