7.  Deal reached on Senate version of farm bill

Wednesday, October 17, 2007, 3:30 PM
From Brownfield Ag News for America

by Peter Shinn

Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Tom Harkin of Iowa said Wednesday he had reached a deal with Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad of North Dakota and ranking Agriculture Committee Republican Saxby Chambliss of Georgia on the Senate version of the farm bill. That means the Senate Ag Committee will mark-up its version of the farm bill next week.

According to Harkin, highlights of the measure include an extra $4.2 billion for nutrition, an additional $1.3 billion for cellulosic ethanol research and development, and a $4 billion increase in conservation generally plus $1.2 billion for the Conservation Stewardship Program, currently known as the Conservation Security Program (CSP). That additional funding, Harkin said, would allow him to meet his previously stated goal of getting 80 million acres enrolled in CSP by the end of the next farm bill.

The Senate farm bill will also include an optional revenue-based counter-cyclical program, known as Average Crop Revenue (ACR), an approach similar to one advocated by the National Corn Growers Association. And a clearly delighted Harkin said the Congressional Budget Office had determined including ACR actually saved between $3-3.5 billion over the life of the next farm bill. Those additional savings, said Harkin, allowed everyone to get almost everything they wanted in the next farm bill.

"Well, with that savings, then we were able to then provide no cuts in direct payments, plus use the money for energy and conservation and some other things," Harkin explained. "So it really helped us out a great deal."

Harkin added that that he sees a real advantage in how the Senate plans to pay for its version of the farm bill. Because the approach is agreeable to Republicans, Harkin said he'll have the leverage when the farm bill reaches a House-Senate conference committee.

"Our bill is funded with real money - the House bill is not," Harkin asserted. "And so the House bill, they're going to have come a lot our way because, simply, we have the money!"

Meanwhile, the World Trade Organization (WTO) this week ruled the U.S. hadn’t done enough to modify the U.S. cotton program after losing a WTO case in 2005 brought by Brazil. Harkin suggested, while the Senate version of the next farm bill wouldn't directly address the WTO ruling, the combination of policies advanced by the next farm bill should help ameliorate those WTO-related issues.

"Hopefully in the next few years, areas of the country that are planting cotton will begin to shift their crops and begin to grow other things," said Harkin. "As I've often said, you know, farm bills don't take sharp turns, but we do try to bend the rails a little bit."

8.  New Voices Contest Seeks Innovative Vision for Sustainable Agriculture


Win free trip to SARE's 20th Anniversary New American Farm Conference


SARE is proud to announce its New Voices contest, which will give "New Voices" in agriculture the opportunity to share their ideas with the leaders of the sustainable agriculture community at SARE's 20th Anniversary New American Farm Conference to be held March 25-27, 2008 in Kansas City, Missouri. Visit http://www.sare.org/2008Conference/newvoices.htm for official rules and submission guidelines. Deadline is December 7, 2007


* How can we advance sustainable practices and innovations to the whole of American agriculture?

* What if you had just five minutes to share your vision with the leaders of the sustainable agriculture community?


SARE seeks written, audio, and/or video submissions that articulate emerging perspectives and illustrate an inspirational and pioneering vision for the advancement of sustainable agriculture over the next 20 years. The winning entry will be presented at the closing plenary session of the conference. Top finalists will also be invited to participate in leadership sessions at the conference at SARE's expense.


We particularly encourage submissions from:


* farmers or ranchers

* emerging leaders in the field of advocacy, education or research

* beginning farmers and ranchers

* students

* minorities and other under-represented audiences


Enter SARE's New Voices Contest today!



9.  Seeking farms to demonstrate habitats for beneficial insects.


I am working on a brochure about providing habitat features for pest management.  Habitat features include insectary strips, beetle banks, native plantings, cover crops,  etc.   I am now scouring the Eastern half of the country for growers who utilize some of the pest management practices, who farm at least 50 acres, and who are willing to provide a short quote (about 30 words) we could consider using in the brochure.  Do you all know -- or are you -- a well-spoken grower who has put these habitat practices in the ground?

Ideally, the final quote we choose will address some mix of the following:  a specific crop, a specific practice, a moment of insight, and a specific benefit to the grower. I wrote four examples to give folks a sense of what I'm looking for (see below).  In all likelihood, whatever quote we get we will need to edit for space and content.  So, if 30 words is too short, we can take a longer quote and edit it down.  Then we would get it back to the grower for final approval.

All submissions may be sent to me, along with information about the farm (location, size, crops grown, etc.) and the practices that have been put in the ground (ideally, including the area of the habitat features).

Thanks so much for any help or connections you can provide. 

Mace Vaughan

Examples of quotes on the value of conservation biological control
(approximately 30 words)

“Planting strips of (native) flowers to help feed good bugs has changed the way we see insects on the farm. We recognize more and more beneficial insects and we use pesticides less and less.”
“When managing pests in (crop type), experience has taught us the value of habitat on our farm. We maintain more flowers and use fewer pesticides, and save money at the same time.”
“We use many practices-­such as flower-rich hedgerows, insectary strips and cover crops­-to support the good bugs on our farm so that they in turn feed upon our (crop type) pests and reduce our need for pesticides.”

"Until we started looking for the beneficial insects visiting the insectary plantings around our farm, we had no idea there was such a variety and that they were providing such a service. We are using fewer pesticides now than at any other time in our operation."10



  1. Fall a good time to sample for nematodes

Oct 16, 2007 10:31 AM, By Elton Robinson
Farm Press Editorial Staff
 Delta Farm Press online  http://deltafarmpress.com/news/071016-nematodes-sample/
It’s fall, and the best time of the year to focus on a pest that may very well be the next limiting factor for cotton yields. The pest is — drum roll, please — the nematode.

The pest “has been ‘discovered’ by everyone the last few years,” says Arkansas Extension plant pathologist Terry Kirkpatrick. “Of course, it’s been here all along. But in the past, we had to deal with weevils taking the crop, and the morningglories covering it up. It was hard to worry too much about a nematode. It took the science and technology to solve other problems, and now we’ve bumped the next ceiling.” The pests can slow development of the cotton plant and cause significant yield reductions. With root knot nematode damage, galls form on roots. Severely infected plants may have damaged taproots and lateral roots. Nematode-caused root problems grow progressively worse through the season. Water absorption is significantly decreased and translocation of nutrients is inefficient.  If you suspect that damage may be due to nematodes, Step 1 is to take nematode samples to figure out if the pest is present, and which pest is out there — root knot, reniform, or both.


“Root knot has always been the major problem in the upper Mid-South and it has been holding steady. Reniform nematode is a newcomer and it seems to keep moving north and spreading out,” Kirkpatrick said. “It is by far the greatest problem in Louisiana and Mississippi. We’ve found reniform as far north as the Missouri Bootheel. Wherever we grow cotton, we’re going to wind up with reniform sooner or later.”

The best time to sample for nematodes is late summer or early fall, when populations are the highest, according to Kirkpatrick. “Obviously, weather is a factor. If it’s dry and you can’t get a soil probe in the ground, you’re not going to do a good job sampling. So when you have moisture out there, get out there and get it done.

“Also, if you wait until the soil temperature drops, and you’ve been two to three months without live cotton roots in the soil, you won’t have a good indication of what was there because the detectable population has declined.”

Site-specific control of root knot nematode shows good potential in the Mid-South because the pest is hardly ever uniformly distributed in a field, rather it resides in hot spots. Yield in these hot spots can be reduced by 25 percent to 30 percent, while 100 feet away, there are no yield-reducing populations.

Reniform nematodes are usually more uniformly distributed throughout a field, even though there will be some areas were populations are extremely high and other areas where they are not.

Kirkpatrick pointed to research in Louisiana which has demonstrated that in certain soil types, no matter how high the reniform nematode population is, there is no response by the crop to putting out soil fumigation as a control measure. “That’s telling us that there are certain soil types where reniform nematodes are not going to be an economic problem whether the populations are high or low.”

But whether the correlation is root knot nematodes and hot spots or reniform and soil type, “the information begs to be harnessed and modeled as a site specific system, where a farmer can focus his expenditure for nematicide just in the zones in a field where the nematodes are the yield limiting factor.

“Our science needs to catch up. We can deliver any amount of nematicide that we want to any point in the field. But we don’t quite know what to hang our recommendation on. Is it soil type? Is it population density, last year’s yield? There are things we still need to work out.”

Deciding where to pull samples is an area where more research is needed as well, according to Kirkpatrick. “One thing we’re looking at is electrical conductivity mapping carts to draw a soil EC map of each field. This gives you an indication of where natural changes in soil type occur in the field. We’re looking at using those maps as a guide for deciding where to take samples.

“If that level of sophistication is not available, and you know where the differences in soil type are, sample them separately. If not, break the field into the smallest increments that you can practically sample.”

Nematodes can be found very deep in the soil profile, “but the largest populations will be concentrated where the cotton roots were. So make sure you’re into the root zone.”

After you identify the type of nematode in a field, “match your crop to the nematode you’re dealing with,” Kirkpatrick said. “If you have a root knot problem in your cotton and you grow corn, you’re going to have a worse root knot problem when you come back into cotton.

“If you have a reniform problem in your cotton, you help tremendously by going to corn for a year. There are some reniform- and root knot-resistant varieties that will help. There is not much land that lends itself well to a cotton/rice rotation, but it would be a heck of a rotation if you could do it.

“If it’s economically attractive to rotate, that’s my recommendation. Get on a program where you can keep the nematodes at a low enough level where they’re not going to be a factor in the years when you’re going to grow cotton.

Unfortunately, there is a lot more land that has a bad problem and needs to be in cotton than is going to be rotated in any given year. That is going to have to be dealt with with a nematicide.”

Kirkpatrick noted that while root knot nematode is still far and away the more widespread pest, reniform nematodes are increasing in Arkansas fields. “In the late 1980s, a few Arkansas fields in Monroe, Jefferson and Lonoke counties had reniform nematode populations. Last year, based on thousands of nematode samples taken, there are now 11 counties in the state with reniform and they run from Mississippi County to Chicot County. They are on the move.”

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11. Upcoming events

Organic Beekeeping at the Pfeiffer Center Session
November 9, 2007 - November 10, 2007
Learn about the lives of honeybees, the current plight of honeybee colonies, and the intrinsic value of nurturing these amazing creatures. Attendees will learn what they can do to help the threatened honeybee population.
Location: Chestnut Ridge, New York
Scope: National
Website: [log in to unmask]" target="_blank">[log in to unmask]


November 29, 2007
Tri-State Locally Grown Conference
This conference is designed for farmers, consumers, chefs, retailers, educators and others who are interested in building and supporting a sustainable local food system. Experts from Illinois, Iowa, Missouri and beyond will share their research and experiences in local food system work.

Location: Quincy, Illinois
Scope: Statewide
Website: http://web.extension.uiuc.edu/adamsbrown/downloads/8730.pdf
Website 2: https://webs.extension.uiuc.edu/registration/?RegistrationID=1092


January 24, 2008 - January 27, 2008
The 27th Annual Guelph Organic Conference
The 27th Annual Guelph Organic Conference

Title: "Building Sustainable Organic Business" - January 24-27, 2008 - Guelph University Centre

Highlighting - 'The Business of Organics' which shows successful Canadian organic businesses and co-ops striving for TRIPLE BOTTOM LINE: economic, social...
Location: Guelph, Canada
Scope: International
Website: http://www.guelphorganicconf.ca/


Michigan Family Farm Conference-New Times, New Opportunities

Jan 19, 2008 Battle Creek, MI at Lakeview High School

Keynote is David Kline, author of “Great Possessions:  An Amish farmers journal.” Visit www.miffs.org for more information



The 8th annual Northern Michigan Small Farm conference will be Saturday, January 26, 2008 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Grayling High School in Grayling.  Cost to attend is $40 for the first person from each operation and $25 for each additional participant.  Registration deadline is January 19.  Late and walk-in registrations will be charged an additional $5 per person.  For more information, or to register, call the Antrim County MSU Extension office at 231-533-8818 or visit online at www.antrimcounty.org.



Farmers looking to transition the family farm to the next generation should plan on attending one of the Farm It Forward Workshops to be held on December 7-8 and January 11-12 in Birch Run.  For more information contact Dennis Stein at 989-672-3570.






12. .  Do food miles make a difference to global warming?




Wed Oct 17, 2007 8:50am EDT


powered by Sphere




By Deborah Zabarenko, Environment Correspondent




WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. local food movement -- which used to be elite, expensive and mostly coastal -- has gone mainstream, with a boost from environmentalists who reckon that eating what grows nearby cuts down on global warming.




But do food miles -- the distance edibles travel from farm to plate -- give an accurate gauge of environmental impact, especially where greenhouse gas emissions are concerned?




"Food-miles are a great metaphor for looking at the localness of food, the contrast between local and global food, a way people can get an idea of where their food is coming from," said Rich Pirog, associate director of the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State University.


"They are not a reliable indicator of environmental impact," Pirog said in a telephone interview. "What one would want to do is look at your carbon footprint across a whole food supply chain."




The problem with food-miles is that they don't take into account the mode of transport, methods of production or the way things are packaged, and all of these have their own distinct impact on emissions of carbon dioxide, a climate-warming gas.







END Hope you have a great weekend!!


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