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Hello [name]. Some things happen in plain sight long before they suddenly make a big difference—things like ethanol production boosting the price of corn. There’s also the years of farmer innovation leading up to the reporting of no-till roller research from seven states appearing in this issue. While this is the fifth year we’ve been trying to roll down cover crops at The Rodale Institute, for most of our research partners it was Year 1, with lots of learning going on and things to figure out.

It’s truly our privilege to bring words from some young people thinking deeply about agriculture. We bid farewell to one of our research interns, but not before he posits some challenging goals for organics, including this: It’s time to progress to a definition of organic that goes beyond what it’s not, and expresses more clearly what it is. We welcome the insights of a farming couple after their first year leasing land at The Rodale Institute farm. They share three unusual but very farmer-oriented ways of measuring high levels of soil health.

Thanks to all of you who write to share your praises and disagreements with what you see here. There’s some spirited dialogue this week about on-farm goat slaughter and why it’s forbidden in some states even with running water and ice, while hunters’ casual field dressing is not. There’s also dissenting words on whether organic seed companies should be supported even if they aren’t yet providing the regionally adapted seeds that organic farmers really want.

This year-end issue is packed with other farmer angles as well, from sustainably taming hemi-parasitic weeds in Mali, West Africa, to nurturing ancient wheat in Israel-Palestine, to learning how Iowa farmers are trying to use online information, food distributors and sustainable contracts to strengthen direct marketing. Take time as December ends to share yourself with those who make your life rich and full, and share a few words with us about farming life and times where you are.

Greg Bowman
Online Editor

     

Fresh today from The New Farm®
   
TRI challenges "Today" organic report
TV segment focusing on “freshness” draws invitation for a closer look at organics.
   
   

Seeds for peace
Restoring ancient seed for Arab and Jewish organic cooperation.

 
   
Kaata is making our millet plants wilt
Scientists and West African farmers learn together how to manage a devastating weed—and how to integrate agricultural science into a treacherous farming environment.
   
   
New tools help farmers explore, exploit and expand niche markets
By combining data streams on people, location, income and business activity, farmers learn where to focus their marketing efforts for sustainable connections.
   
   
First-season, firsthand, soil-health indicators
What well-fed, biologically active soil looks, feels and yields like.
 
   
Reader Mail
You ask, we answer. Questions from all of you answered by all our expert contacts; from Jeff Moyer (our farm manager) to worm gurus, to other farmers.
   
   

News & Views
Certified organic farmland found in every state...Feds say NAIS voluntary; some doubt...Biofuel impact demands new corn policy...Comments sought on “natural” food... Rosmanns honored by Leopold Center...Local food benefits, challenges outlined... ARS: Probiotics boost hog immunity...Grain straw, bean stalks for building.

ag policy perspectives
Free market for corn kicks in: Tyson exec sounds warning
Corn producers who feared the end of subsidies in global trade talks face charge of making consumers choose “fuel or food.”

op/ed
Rise of New Agriculture means changes, new links for producers and consumers
Evidence in Japan, UK, US and across Canada seen in solid demand for local food, farmer shifts to new opportunities.

   
   

at the rodale institute®
   
   
No-Till Plus Project first cropping season wraps up
Farmer and researcher collaborators take stock of what worked and what didn’t and prepare for improvement in 2007.
 
   
Get to know the no-tillers
A regional guide to the participants in The Rodale Institute's No-Till Plus project.
   
   
No-Till FAQs
Five more answers to frequently asked questions about the No-Till Plus project.
   
   

one farm to another
Twinkling lights, well-loved carols and really nice wrenches
Jeff reflects on gifts that are better than things… but there’s the things, too.

 
   
intern journal
He’s gotta wear shades
Departing intern looks toward his own future and the future of organics.
   
   
     
 
   
   
     
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