3. Would you like to be included in a list of Organic Farmer mentors in Michigan???
As an organic vegetable/field crop educator I would like to share a very valuable resource, OUR ORGANIC FARMERS! I am creating a list of organic farmers who are interested in sharing their knowledge, experience and expertise to less experienced and new organic farmers. This list would be available to extension educators and others on www.michiganorganic.msu.edu web site (Jan 25 to be launched). The list would provide new or upcoming organic farmers seeking information and guidance with a list of organic farmer mentors. It’s your call how much you offer as a mentor, whether it be just a phone call or a farm visit or even giving a presentation.
If you are interested in being included on this list please send your contact info to Vicki Morrone, MSU ([log in to unmask]) or 517-353-3542 phone or 517-353-3834 fax the following info.
Address (if you want)
What level of mentoring you would like to offer:
Phone conversations, visits on your farm, present your farm to a group, offer info at a farmers’ meeting. Just let me know so you only receive requests for info as you wish.
Thanks and looking forward to building resources WITH you for our future organic farmers!
4. Needed: Organic Food for Conference in Ann Arbor, MI
Our office received a call from Lisa with Healthy Traditions Network. She is coordinating a conference on Feb. 2-4 in Ann Arbor and is looking for organic food for the event. If you can help, please contact her at [log in to unmask] or by calling 248-705-0326 or pass this message along to others who may be able to help.
MIFFS Executive Director
5. Dr. Oran B. Hesterman to Lead New 'Fair Food Foundation'
New foundation seeks to increase access to fresh, local and healthy food in
urban and rural communities
DETROIT, Jan. 18 /PRNewswire/ -- Dr. Oran B. Hesterman today announced
the creation of the Fair Food Foundation (www.fairfoodfoundation.org). Because the Foundation believes access to fresh, healthy food is a basic human right, it will promote the development of a fair and equitable food system that makes fresh, local and sustainable food available to all by reconnecting urban and rural
communities and empowering local leadership. Currently program director of
the W.K. Kellogg Foundation's Food and Society Initiative, Dr. Hesterman
will serve as the Fair Food Foundation's president and chief executive
officer. Beginning operations in January 2008 with a focus on southeast
Michigan, the Fair Food Foundation will become national and international
in scope over time. The Foundation's startup budget will range between $12
million and $20 million per year, primarily to be awarded as grants to
non-profit organizations. The budget will increase as the Foundation grows.
"Our vision is to create a food system that reconnects us to the food
we eat, our families, communities and the Earth," says Dr. Hesterman. "We
will work in partnership with community leaders and organizations in both
urban and rural settings to help create new solutions and relationships at
Dr. Hesterman is a longtime leader in sustainable agriculture and has
published more than 400 reports and articles about the food system. As
program director at Kellogg, he worked with the Michigan Governor's Office
to develop the highly-acclaimed Michigan Food Policy Council.
A Kellogg National Fellow from 1987 to 1990, Dr. Hesterman also served
as a professor of agriculture at Michigan State University. He returned to
the Kellogg Foundation as a program director in January 1998.
Dr. Hesterman earned his bachelor's and master's degrees at the
University of California, Davis. He received his doctorate in agronomy and
business administration from the University of Minnesota in St. Paul.
The FAIR FOOD FOUNDATION is solely dedicated to creating a
relationship- centered food system that provides access to fresh, local and
sustainable food for all.
SOURCE Fair Food Foundation/ www.fairfoodfoundation.org
Nicole de Beaufort
585 Grand Avenue
St Paul, MN 55102
6. Corn pest expansion consequence of transgenic crops?
Wednesday, January 17, 2007
A corn pest that can devastate yields may be increasing in prevalence across Illinois and other states because Bt crops are reducing predators that once kept the pest at bay.
That was the word from an Iowa State University researcher who spoke during the recent Illinois Crop Protection Technology Conference, Urbana.
Western bean cutworms, a major pest in Nebraska and Colorado, was first detected in Illinois in 2004 and has spread to 49 counties, according to Marlin Rice, an Extension entomologist at Iowa State.
Rice and his colleagues attempted to learn why a pest that was rare in Iowa six years ago has spread as far east as central Ohio.
In laboratory experiments and field studies, Rice tested the bean cutworm’s survival when placed together with corn earworm, which is the more aggressive of the two pests and will kill the bean cutworm. Both pests were allowed to feed on silks from Herculex and YieldGard plants.
The bean cutworms had better survival rates when they fed on YieldGard, which is not labeled for cutworm control, compared to Herculex, which is. Both hybrids are labeled for corn earworm control.
“Our theory is that increased (use) of Bt cotton and YieldGard corn has suppressed (populations) of corn earworms, which are predators of western bean cutworms. This allows (more) bean cutworms to survive,”
“YieldGard corn may be one of the reasons for more damage from western bean cutworm,” Rice said. “It may be influencing (pest) competition in the field.”
Bean cutworms have become established in Illinois, “but we’ll have to wait a couple of years to see if it is an economic problem,” Rice said.
He recommended farmers scout their fields and time insecticide treatments for when eggs or young larvae reach economic thresholds.
For many people the New Year is a rejuvenating time for taking on new challenges, committing ourselves to life-affirming resolutions or recommitting ourselves to goals that we have previously set for ourselves but may have let slide with the chaos of the holidays. Buying local and buying organic are two goals that are increasingly on many peoples lists, and with the increasing availability of organic foods, the second of these goals is becoming easier for people around the country to commit to.
With "Organic" becoming so pervasive, it is important that we look at what is happening to the meaning of the term, and to consider what the current marketing trends are doing to the "organic food" movement and what the effects of this are on small farms.
Mega chain stores such as Wal-Mart, Costco, Wegmans, Safeway, to name a few, are now selling organic food items often at lower prices than can be found in our local mom-and-pop co-ops, farmers' markets, or natural food stores. A lot of these new organic food items to hit the supermarkets are now being produced by major food processors such as Kellogg and Kraft, who are still pumping out Rice Krispies and macaroni and cheese, but now with "organic" options.
There is a sea change occurring in the organics industry as these large producers and retailers stake their claim in this booming new market of everything and anything "organic." And while it seems that the hugely profitable organic market signals the occurrence of a much needed shift in consciousness about our food choices and how they impact our bodies, quality of life, families, and our environment, it also seems necessary to step back and think about the larger implications of the recent corporate embracing of the "organic" label.
While Wal-Mart is marketing its new emphasis on organic food as being a democratizing move towards making organic food available to everyone, many worry that the retail giant's new "Organics for Everyone" slogan merely signifies the repackaging and clever, if not insidious, marketing of processed junk food. Many large food processors are now offering "mass market" organics. While these companies will still have to meet the same organic standards that other producers have to comply with, the "organic" label, used in this way, will nevertheless merely help to legitimize packaged and processed food and turn the consumer's attention away from other fresh, unprocessed, and more sustainable food options.
Others worry that the entrance of these heavy weights into the organic market will signal the demise of organic standards, both in terms of the USDA organic guidelines and with the outsourcing of organic agriculture and food production to other countries that don't have adequate environmental and human rights regulatory oversight.
While these concerns are quite real, we at LocalHarvest think that the core issue, and one that is sometimes lost in the discussion, is the definition of "organic." It is unfortunate that the organic movement, which started as a reaction against the industrialization of agriculture, and grew mostly due to the desire by consumers to support more "wholesome" old-fashioned farming, became known for and branded by a singular and simplistic avoidance of sythentic chemicals, in the form of fertilizers and pesticides. It is this singularity that has made the organic movement so likely to be, and, in fact, so easily co-opted by big business interests, which too easily ignore the larger picture that pesticide-free farming practices are merely a part of. Most "organic food" in the market now is grown by factory farms which in many cases use practices just as insidious as those of their "chemical" competitors. What is needed is the willingness to embrace and support the earlier vision of "organic" - not simply as signaling the absence of pesticides and chemicals, but rather as the more integrative and holistic concept of sustainability.
Some of LocalHarvest's member farms now feel that "organic" has lost much of its meaning, and are now choosing not to certify their farms as such. Also, organic certification has gotten more expensive and bureaucratic, and many small farms cannot afford it anymore. Small farms that sell less than $5,000 of organic produce per year are now allowed to sell their produce as "organic exempt", but for some small farms that exceed this threshold, the effort and expense of organic certification, coupled with the dilution of the "true meaning" of the term, as seen by many of the small farms that created the movement, make it less appealing for them to become certified.
Ideally, buying local from farms you know and trust, coupled by consumer awareness, would reduce the need for certification, but for many, the time and effort required for this is out of reach, which makes certification necessary. Alternatives to "Organic" such as "Certified Naturally Grown" are now becoming popular. Buying locally grown whenever possible and knowing your local farms is the next step in the evolution of what was originally called "organic". Now that the term also encompasses many things that the original creators of it never intended, many purists are going back to the roots, by promoting things like CSA subscriptions, humane treatment of animals, and the importance of buying local.
Organic farming practices, and consumer commitment to buying organic, should indicate a dedicated willingness to produce food humanely and ethically, both with the health of our bodies, environments, and future generations in mind. When we commit ourselves and our New Year to "organic," we should also make a commitment to sustainability in our food choices, our environmental impact, and our relationships. In addition to buying organic, cultivating relationships with our small, local farmers, getting to know them and their farming practices, supporting CSAs, as well as farmers' markets, and buying local whenever possible, are just a few ideas for "going organic" in the New Year.
8. Is the FDA's Cloning Proposal Ready for Prime Time?
The Critical Issue Report was authored by Jim Riddle, Organic Outreach Coordinator at University of Minnesota.
The following excerpt from the Executive Summary explains the premise of The Organic Center report in response to the Food and Drug Administration's draft risk assessment on meat and milk from cloned animals:
"On December 28, 2006, the Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM) at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a draft risk assessment, a risk management plan, and guidance to industry on meat and milk from cloned animals. A Federal Register notice was issued on January 3, 2007, in which the FDA requested comments on all three documents."
"The documents address the risks associated with somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT), the most common method used to create cloned animals, and do not address other cloning technologies or risks associated with genetically engineered animals. The document acknowledges that there are ethical, cultural, and religious issues raised by animal cloning. The agency offers to participate in discussions of these issues “…in other forums,” but makes clear such considerations are not germane to its conclusions regarding the safety and animal health impacts of animal cloning."
"Throughout the FDA risk assessments, the health risks to surrogate mothers used in the cloning process are compared to the risks associated with other “Assisted Reproductive Technologies” (ARTs), such as artificial insemination, embryo transfers and splitting, and in vitro fertilization."
"The Organic Center has issued this Critical Issue Report to provide background on the FDA’s proposal and the cloning process so that readers can better
*What the FDA found in its scientific assessment and is proposing;
*The impacts of cloning on animal health and reproduction;
*Potential impacts of animal cloning on food quality and safety; and
*The status of cloned animals, their progeny and products in organic agriculture.
Dr. Charles Benbrook, Chief Scientist for The Organic Center, explained, "We did this report to help individuals and groups preparing comments to the FDA on the cloning proposal better understand what the FDA has proposed, what they found in the risk assessment, and impacts on consumers and organic livestock producers."
9. Look what Massachusetts is doing
for their local markets!!
January 23, 2007
Contact: Mark Lattanzi, Campaign Director, M-Thurs 8:30-5:30, Fri. 8:30-12:30.
413-665-7100 or [log in to unmask]
Market research documents success of ‘Local Hero’ campaign
Researcher cites “stunningly high” level of awareness
(South Deerfield, MA) Independent market research carried out by Greenberg, Quinlan and Rosner of Washington, DC in June, 2006 revealed that Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture’s (CISA) ‘Local Hero’ brand enjoys a “stunningly high” level of awareness among local consumers – 82% of residents in Franklin and Hampshire Counties recognize the brand. Additionally,
10. Goodness Greeness - New Partnership Benefits Beginning Farmers
by Mercedee Renz