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Hello [name]. What a difference a month makes—for the worse for the storm-ravaged Midwest, for the drier in the Southeast and southern California, but for the better here in the Mid-Atlantic as farmers ventured out onto unusually cool May soils.

Antibiotics in organics: The energy, time and emotion already expended in debating nearly all aspects of the USDA National Organic Program show that for all it may or may not accomplish, the nation’s farmers, eaters and other observers talking about it desperately care what organic means.

A new chapter in this debate is unfolding as a prominent veterinarian calls for change to allow strictly limited antibiotic use for the good of the cows. He maintains that the North American organic community cares too much about marketing a perfect image for organic dairy—and must shift its focus to care more about cows, instead.

The goal—when the livestock standards were hammered out prior to October 2002—was to have organic dairy cattle so healthy that the rare animals treated with an antibiotic should be banished from the milking herd. That’s the rule, and it’s not good for cows or farmers—or for eaters who might come to believe antibiotics can be so nearly banned in organic dairy without significant costs to cow comfort, farmer conscience and organic integrity.

According to the organic dairyman who represented all dairy producers in Canada in negotiating their new organic standard, this strict limitation isn’t even necessary in 2007, given increased consumer concern for responding to animal welfare.

Many thanks: From Mexico, The Philippines, New Zealand and Japan; from four Canadian provinces; from many of the lower 48 and Hawaii, nearly 100 generous readers contributed almost $5,500 in our first-ever fund drive this spring. We’ll accept whatever else comes in over summer, and launch our “Celebrate the harvest” effort this fall to tackle the balance in our $20,000 reader-support goal for 2007 to keep NewFarm.org strong.

Now, go farm and enjoy the foods of the season wherever you are.

Greg Bowman
Managing Editor

PS: For the curious and competitive among you, the states tied for the most donors this spring were California, Maryland, Minnesota and Pennsylvania, each with six gifts from farms, companies, nonprofits or individuals. Thanks to all.

     

Fresh today from The New Farm®
   
case study: transitioning to organic
From the Garden State to the Sunshine State
A New Jersey farm girl discovers there is a future for farming after all.
 
   
Are all your eggs in one basket?
Diversity in the field and in your business plan is a key strategy for making your farm truly sustainable.
   
   
When it comes to animal health and welfare, there are worse things than antibiotics
Healthy meat would be possible even if organic rules allowed a rare and well-defined use for treatment for a life-threatening infection.
   
   
Bare earth is scorched earth
Making the case for reclaiming perennial crops, biodiversity, grass-based livestock production and reforestation of stream banks, hedgerows and woodlots.
   
   
Chucking the classroom for the carrot patch
A CSA intern grows both vegetables and herself
 
   

book reviews
Bellies up
Digesting Farm Bill politics.

Meeting in the middle
Agriculture advocates and wild lands activists talk about how farm and nature can and must coexist in this follow-up to Farming with the Wild.

Reader Mail
This month features questions and answers about international training, turkey incubation, positioning a greenhouse and more. Readers ask jeff about the no-till soybeans, using compost like starter fertilizer and more.

   
   

News & Views
Websites support sustainable Farm Bill action...Think tank says to buy out all crop subsidies...Judge orders halt to GMO alfalfa planting...Experts detail pesticide caution for bees...Sharp food-price inflation seen ahead...UK tells citizens to eat seasonally.

letter from ontario
Ontario farm innovation awards hit the mark
Organic value-added meat and farmer training, manure to electricity, mortality composting and biosecure hog loading systems honored.

   
   

at the rodale institute®
   
   
one farm to another
Scrambling to find Plan B after a nasty winter for vetch
In my mind, I saw deep vetch and timely no-tillage. In my fields, I’ve got dead vetch, bare ground and problems.
   
   
intern journal
The root of everything
A returning South Korean intern reflects on the universal role of the farmer.
   
   
tri events
May 18, 2007: Compost, Cover Crops & Orchards
June 13, 2007: PA Women in Agriculture Network (WAgN) Tour The Rodale Institute
July 11-14, 2007: 2nd National Conference on Facilitating Sustainable Agriculture Education
   
     
 
   
   
     
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