*Michigan Organic Listserv

August 17, 2010

*News Effecting Food*

*Senate Food Safety Legislation Information Alert*
*August 13, 2010*

The Food Safety Modernization Act (S 510) was reported out of the Senate
Health Education Labor and Pensions Committee in November of last year. The
bill as reported out of committee would ramp up FDA regulation on farms that
even minimally process their crops and sell them to restaurants, food coops,
groceries, schools and wholesalers.

Yesterday, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee
released a copy of the "manager's amendment" to the FDA Food Safety
Modernization Act (S. 510). These amendments have the support of HELP
Chairman Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Ranking Member Mike Enzi (R-WY) as well as
the four lead sponsors of the underlying bill, Dick Durbin (D-IL), Judd
Gregg (R-NH), Chris Dodd (D-CT), and Richard Burr (R-NC) and will be adopted
if and when the bill comes to the Senate floor in September when Congress
returns from its summer recess. The full manager's package is available at (

In releasing the new version of the bill, Senator Harkin said, "For far too
long, the headlines have told the story of why this measure is so urgently
needed: foodborne illness outbreaks, product recalls and Americans sickened
over the food they eat. This 100-year-old plus food safety structure needed
to be modernized."

Most sustainable agriculture and family farm groups think the Senate bill
with the manager's amendment is a very significant improvement over the
companion bill passed by the House of Representatives (HR 2749) last year.
NSAC has been able to help make substantial improvements in the Senate bill
through the HELP markup and in changes that will be adopted as part of the
manager's amendment when the bill comes to the Senate floor. If the Tester
amendment (see below) can be worked out and agreed to before Senate floor
action, we will be able to support the Senate bill. However, we strongly
oppose the companion House measure, and stand ready to defend the Senate
bill in conference with the House should that prove necessary.

The Managers package includes the following important improvements to the
bill as reported out of committee last year:

* The amendment sponsored by Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) pertaining to
farms that engage in value-added processing or that co-mingle product from
several farms. It will provide the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) with
the authority to either exempt farms engaged in low or no risk processing or
co-mingling activities from new regulatory requirements or to modify
particular regulatory requirements for such farming operations. Included
within the purview of the amendment are exemptions or flexibilities with
respect to requirements within S. 510 for expensive food safety preventative
control plans and FDA on-farm inspections.

* The amendments sponsored by Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO) to reduce
unnecessary paperwork and excess regulation. The Bennet language pertains to
both the preventative control plan and the produce standards sections of the
bill. FDA is instructed to provide flexibility for small processors
including on-farm processing, to minimize the burden of compliance with
regulations, and to minimize the number of different standards that apply to
separate foods. FDA will also be prohibited from requiring farms and other
food facilities to hire consultants to write food safety plans or to
identify, implement, certify or audit those plans. With respect to produce
standards, FDA will also be given the discretion to develop rules for
categories of foods or for mixtures of foods rather than necessarily needing
to have a separate rule for each specific commodity or to regulate specific
crops if the real food safety issue involved mixtures only.

* The amendment sponsored by Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) to provide for a
USDA-delivered competitive grants program for food safety training for
farmers, small processors and wholesalers. The training projects will
prioritize small and mid-scale farms, beginning and socially disadvantaged
farmers, and small food processors and wholesalers. The program will be
administered by USDA's National Institute for Food and Agriculture. As is
the case for all of the provisions in S. 510, funding for the bill and for
this competitive grants program will happen through the annual agriculture
appropriations bill process.

* The effort championed by Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) to strip the bill of
wildlife-threatening enforcement against "animal encroachment" of farms is
also in the manager's package. It will require FDA to apply sound science to
any requirements that might impact wildlife and wildlife habitat on farms.

* An amendment proposed by Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) to amend the
traceability and recordkeeping section of the bill that will exempt food
that is direct marketed from farmers to consumers or to grocery stores and
exempt food that has labeling that preserves the identity of the farm that
produced the food. The amendment also prevents FDA from requiring any farm
from needing to keep records beyond the first point of sale when the product
leaves the farm, except in the case of farms that co-mingle product from
multiple farms, in which case they must also keep records one step back as
well as one step forward.

Not in the package but still under serious negotiation for inclusion in the
bill when it reaches the floor of the Senate is an amendment by Senator John
Tester (D-MT) to exempt food facilities with under a certain annual gross
sales threshold from preventative control plan requirements and to exempt
farmers who primarily direct market product to consumers, stores or
restaurants from the bill's produce standards regulations. Our expectation
is this amendment will be successfully negotiated over the coming weeks and
will be accepted as part of the final bill once the bill reaches the Senate

We also continue to note and emphasize the additional provisions NSAC helped
secure when the bill was marked up in Committee last year. Those changes

* requiring FDA and USDA coordination (including with respect to organic

* limiting recordkeeping for farmers to just the initial sale to the first
purchaser of the crop; and

* language in the produce section directing FDA to create rules that are
appropriate to the scale and diversity of the farm, that take into
consideration conservation and environmental standards established by other
federal agencies, that do not conflict with organic certification standards,
and that prioritize high risk crops.

Still pending is an amendment from Senator Feinstein (D-CA) banning the use
of Bisphenol A (BPA) in all food and beverage containers. The Grocery
Manufacturers Association and other industry groups have come out strongly
against the measure. Negotiations are ongoing to work out compromise
language, but it is unclear to us what the status is of those talks.

       *News in Agriculture*

*Reaping a dream: Families rise from migrant pickers to farm owners **by
Stephen Tait, Times Herald*

*Loans are available to socially disadvantaged (SDA) farmers, ranchers, or
agricultural producers!*

It is hard for Latinos to penetrate the market and buy farms. Because many
Latino farmers are descendants of migrant farmers, they do not have the
generational connections many other farmers have.

About 2.8% of Sanilac County Michigan residents are Hispanic, according to
2007 U.S. Census data. There are around 2,329 farm operations with only 12
being owned by Latinos.

Michigan State University doctoral student, Robert Gardner-Sandoval is armed
with a grant of hundreds of dollars from Croswell-based Eastern Michigan
Bank, and is organizing meetings and creating a county-based advocacy group
to inform Latino farmers of the federal money they can utilize.

Gardner-Sandoval's goal is to direct at least $1 million in grants and loans
to Latino farmers throughout the state. He already has conducted one meeting
in Sanilac County to attract the interest of farmers.

Gardner-Sandoval is targeting Latinos for several reasons: The history of
migrant farming in Sanilac County; the difficulty for Latinos to own farms;
and the lack of knowledge among Latinos and other farmers about the
assistance available through federal grants. It also is helping him earn a
doctorate degree.

Gardner-Sandoval has helped one aspiring farmer Lupe Vandercook. Vandercook
now owns 40 acres of farmland. She was a migrant worker for years, and
received a loan for $165,000 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to
allow her to start her own farm.

The USDA provides loans for socially disadvantaged (SDA) farmers, ranchers,
or agricultural producers. The program provides money for a loan up to 45%
of a farm's purchase price, with a 1.5% interest rate for 20 years. For more
information on the loan check out the fact sheet online, (
Further information and applications for the loan program is available at
local FSA county offices. To find your local county FSA office go to (

*To read more about Vandercook’s success story and future funding
opportunities visit:

*Judge's ruling uproots use of biotechnology beets** by Michael Liedtke, AP
Business Writer*

A federal judge has revoked the government's approval of genetically altered
sugar beets until regulators complete a more thorough review of how the
scientifically engineered crops affect other food.

The ruling by U.S. District Judge Jeffrey S. White Friday means sugar beet
growers won't be able to use the modified seeds after harvesting the
biotechnology beets already planted on more than 1 million acres spanning 10
states from Michigan to Oregon. All the seed comes from Oregon's Willamette

Additional planting won't be allowed until the U.S. Department of
Agriculture submits an environmental impact statement. That sort of
extensive examination can take two or three years.

White declined a request to issue an injunction that would have imposed a
permanent ban on the biotech beets, which Monsanto Co. developed to resist
its popular weed killer, Roundup. Farmers have embraced the technology as a
way to lower their costs on labor, fuel and equipment.

The Center for Food Safety, Organic Seed Alliance and Sierra Club have been
trying to uproot the biotech beets since filing a 2008 lawsuit.

Andrew Kimbrell, the Center for Food Safety's executive director, hailed
Friday's decision as a major victory in the fight against genetically
engineered crops and chided the Agriculture Department for approving the
genetically engineered seeds without a full environmental review.

"Hopefully, the agency will learn that their mandate is to protect farmers,
consumers and the environment and not the bottom line of corporations such
as Monsanto," Kimbrell said in a statement.

Attempts to reach the Agriculture Department for comment Saturday were
unsuccessful. Monsanto, based in St. Louis, referred requests for comment to
the America Sugarbeet Growers Association, which pointed to a Saturday
statement from the Sugar Industry Biotech Council.

In the statement, the sugar beet council said it intends to help the
Agriculture Department come up with "interim measures" that would allow
continued production of the genetically altered seeds while regulators
conduct their environmental review.

If a temporary solution isn't found, the planting restrictions are likely to
cause major headaches for sugar beet growers and food processors.

The genetically altered sugar beets provide about one-half of the U.S. sugar
supply and some farmers have warned there aren't enough conventional seeds
and herbicide to fill the void. The scientific seeds account for about 95
percent of the current sugar beet crop in the U.S.

"The value of sugar beet crops is critically important to rural communities
and their economies," the Sugar Industry Biotech Council said Saturday.

White expressed little sympathy for any disruption his decision might cause.
He noted in his 10-page ruling that regulators had time to prepare for the
disruption because he had already overturned the deregulation of the
genetically altered beets in a decision issued last September.

The Agriculture Department "has already had more than sufficient time to
take interim measures, but failed to act expediently," White wrote.

Organic farmers, food safety advocates and conservation groups contend
genetically altered crops such as the sugar beets could share their genes
with conventionally grown food, such as chard and table beets.

Those arguments helped persuade another federal judge in San Francisco to
stop the planting of genetically altered alfalfa seeds in 2007 pending a
full environmental review that still hasn't been completed.

Monsanto took that case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which in June
overturned an injunction against the company's sale of the modified seeds.

*Article can be found at:

*Seeing Gain in the Label “Organic”** by Rachel Cromidas, the New York Times
Annual organic certification fees are a fair trade-off for increased sales!*

As an organic farmer, Eric Rose said he would rather mow down a pest-ridden
crop than spray chemicals on his 30-acre mushroom farm in Burlington, Wis.

But despite Mr. Rose’s commitment to following strict organic guidelines and
accepting the financial risks, he has not sought official certification, a
status necessary to label his produce organic, which would probably increase

Many other independent growers who farm organically have resisted
certification from the United States Department of Agriculture. Some, like
Mr. Rose, consider the process too expensive and time-consuming; others
object to deeper government involvement in food production.

But after years of low profits and a marketplace that increasingly relies on
labels to establish food quality, more of these holdout farmers are seeking
the cachet of U.S.D.A. certification to help recoup lost revenue.

This year, Mr. Rose joined their ranks. Though he has been organically
farming his father’s 30-year-old mushroom and vegetable farm, River Valley
Kitchens, without certification since 1997, he did not turn a profit until

Mr. Rose said he might be able to win the Whole Foods chain as a customer if
he could market his portobello and crimini mushrooms as organic. Otherwise,
he said, “there is no conversation with them, because that’s the market
they’re servicing.”

It is illegal to label a food as organic if it has not undergone
certification, which involves meeting federal standards precluding the use
of most conventional pesticides and synthetic fertilizers, undergoing
regular inspections to ensure compliance, and paying annual fees and sales
royalties to the certification agencies governed by the Agriculture

“When you’re dealing with a small family farm, these are people who go to
market once or twice a week, and the last thing they need is a huge mound of
paperwork,” said Dave Rand, a contractor who connects farmers with farmers’
markets in Chicago.

The prospect of red tape kept Steven Tiwald, owner of the Green Earth
Institute in Naperville, from seeking certification for the more than 40
varieties of vegetables he harvests for his co-op.

But in 2006 Mr. Tiwald applied for certification, reasoning that the annual
fees, which can reach more than $400, are a fair trade-off for increased

“My farm will be making 20 percent more than it otherwise would,” he said.

Likewise, Mr. Rose said he was expanding his operation by nearly 40 percent
this year in anticipation of more business.

He is confident, he said, he will be able to sell his produce for up to a
dollar a pound more — on a par with competitors’ prices — once his crops are

“The growing is easier than the marketing these days,” Mr. Rose said.

*This article can be found on the New York Times web page under the business

*Opportunities for Farmers*

*The Michigan Film Office is looking for farming locations in the thumb and
southeast regions of the state for a potential movie production. *

Acclaimed director, Ramin Bahrani, is looking to immerse himself in the life
and culture of Michigan farmers and the communities they reside in.  Mr.
Bahrani is researching for his upcoming feature film and his unique style of
research has him looking to establish personal relationships with different
farmers.  He is not making a documentary project similar to FOOD, INC. and
has no intention to film anything without permission of property owners.

If you are interested, please contact Tony Garcia at the Michigan Film
Office at (517) 373-0239/Direct; (800) 477-3456/Toll-free; or via email at
[log in to unmask]*

Ideally seeking (PICTURES can be found at under
the farmer opportunities tab)*
1. Large corn/soy farms  - 1,000 to 5,000 acres; Flat; Limited trees so that
the horizon is not blocked or cut off.
2. Co-ops with elevators, and one which would have those large mountains of
3. Dirt roads.
4. Small towns which are boarded up, maybe only a post office and a diner
Ramin Bahrani*

Born and raised in North Carolina, writer/director Ramin Bahrani is a
professor of directing at Columbia University's graduate film program. His
films, MAN PUSH CART (2005), CHOP SHOP (2007), GOODBYE SOLO (2008) and
PLASTIC BAG (2009) have premiered and screened at Venice, Cannes, Sundance,
Berlin and Toronto Film Festivals. He has won numerous prizes including the
"Someone to Watch" Independent Spirit Award, the FIPRESCI international
critics prize for Best Film (GOODBYE SOLO, Venice), and a 2009 Guggenheim
Fellowship. Bahrani has had retrospectives in numerous venues including the
MoMA in NYC and La Rochelle in France. Leading American film critic Roger
Ebert proclaimed Bahrani as “the director of the decade.”

*The 2010 North Central Region - Sustainable Agriculture Research and
Education Program (NCR-SARE) Youth & Youth Educator Grant Call for Proposals
is now available!*

This grant can help support those working with youth and gardening. This is
a great chance to get the agriculture leaders of tomorrow engaged in
expanding what they do, offering educational programs, or researching ways
to improve current gardening programs.

These grants are a part of the Farmer Rancher Grant Program. Their purpose
is to provide opportunities for youth in the North Central Region to learn
more about Sustainable Agriculture. Sustainable agriculture is good for the
environment, profitable, and socially responsible. A total of approximately
$34,000 is available for this program.

*There are two options:*

1. YOUTH GRANTS. These grants are for on-farm research, demonstration, or
education projects by youth ages 8-18. Research and demonstration projects
are for hands-on efforts to explore Sustainable Agriculture issues and
practices. Education projects can involve teaching others about Sustainable
Agriculture or attending a Sustainable Agriculture conference, workshop, or
camp. $400 maximum.

2. YOUTH EDUCATOR GRANTS. These are grants for educators to provide
programming on sustainable agriculture for youth. $2,000 maximum.

Interested applicants can find the call for proposals online as well as
useful information for completing a proposal at:
Proposals are due by 4:30 pm, Friday, January 14, 2011 at the NCR-SARE
office in Jefferson City, MO.*

Questions? Contact Joan Benjamin, Associate Regional Coordinator and Farmer
Rancher Grant Program Coordinator, at [log in to unmask] or 573-681-5545
or 800-529-1342. A hard copy or an emailed copy of the call for proposals is
also available by contacting Joan Benjamin. There are slight revisions to
our calls for proposals each year, which means it is crucial to use the most
recent call for proposals.

* *

*Now is your chance to apply for the 2010 “Farmers Markets at the Capitol”
on Thursday, September 16. *

MIFFS and MIFMA, in partnership with the Michigan Department of Agriculture
(MDA), will be hosting this special farmers market for the fourth year on
the Capitol Building’s East Lawn in downtown Lansing to raise awareness
about the many benefits of fresh, local food to our economy and communities.
**The application is now available online at:* Please read the vendor
application form and the event details and information policy before
submitting your application. The deadline for accepting applications is
Tuesday, August 31st. Be sure to send in all materials before that date.
There will be room for roughly 50 farmers and vendors from across the state
selling their Michigan-grown and processed goods.

This summer’s markets will also accept Bridge Cards and Project FRESH for
the first time, ensuring that all Michigan residents have access to the
fresh, local fruits, vegetables, meats and baked goods that the markets have
to offer.

This year, coordination of these special farmers markets is in transition
from MDA to MIFFS and MIFMA. MDA will be partnering with us to make these
markets possible again, but will not have funding from a Specialty Crop
Block Grant to host the markets as in past years. In that light, there will
be a vendor fee this year for those wishing to sell their goods at the
market. MIFFS and MIFMA members receive a $20 discount on those vendor fees,
making the entry fee $40 and $60 for non-members. Vendors requiring
electricity will be responsible for an additional $15 fee. Nonprofit
organizations working with the local food movement may also apply for a
vendor space for $15.

These markets are an excellent venue for getting Michigan agriculture and
local food out in the public eye, and especially in the eyes of legislators
and media. The farmers and vendors at these farmers markets last year
averaged nearly $700 in sales per vendor in July and $850 in September,
ringing up more than $80,000 in total sales for the two markets held at the
Capitol in 2009.

For more information, contact Maggie Smith, market coordinator, at
517-432-3381 or [log in to unmask] or visit *

*VENDORS WANTED!! Making it in Michigan MSU Product Center Conference*

The Marketplace trade show and your opportunity to market and sell your
Michigan products to retailers and food establishments in the state.  This
year’s conference is going to have exciting opportunities to be seen and
noticed by food industry personnel all looking for new Michigan products and
services.  These companies include Meijer, Kroger, Spartan, L&L Food Stores
and many others.

With buyers, distributors, and brokers all looking for new products, this is
your once a year opportunity to be seen, do business and secure that sale
for the future.  The Marketplace trade show is also an ideal opportunity to
meet food service providers, chefs, restaurant owners and event planners
looking to find new and interesting products.

With this great location and easy access, setting up to sell your wares will
be a breeze and remember for two lucky vendors it could be the contract of a
lifetime with our retail store competition.

This day will also allow vendors to sell products to conference attendees
(around 350 people) of the event and public from the Lansing Area.  Downtown
Lansing has a large number of State of Michigan and business community
employees that have been invited to come shop during lunch time and the

Vendors will be located in the main exhibition hall and require morning set
up. Each booth consists of a 10’ x 10’ space with an 8’ high draping back,
3’ sides, and 8’ skirted table and chair.  Vending is only available to
licensed businesses that have product for sale and are ready to start doing
business or increasing sales for existing businesses in the state.

At a cost of only $150.00 to register as a vendor and only 130 booths
available for this two opportunity event, the booths will sell out fast!
**Register as a vendor:* $150.00  **

Registration as a participant: $60 per person   Registration includes
continental breakfast and walking lunch during Trade Show.  *


*Opportunity for farm businesses to advertise free!*
MarketMaker has introduced a new version that includes several updates.
Check it out at*

This update results from several focus groups that were done around the
country, including here in Michigan at the Great Lakes Fruit, Vegetable and
Farm Market Expo last December.  The home page for each state is now
customized.  The banner for each state has a photo that depicts agriculture
in that state.  There are separate sections for businesses and consumers.
There are new areas for business spotlights and Taste of the States.

Businesses can also register to receive Market Place Alerts to be notified
when products in which they are interested are added to the Buy/Sell Forum.
They can also sign up for Trade Alerts.  Producers and businesses can be
notified of any opportunities and issues relative to their business.
Events for Michigan Organic Farmers and Enthusiasts*

*The Biodynamic Farming and Gardening Association will be holding its*
*National Conference: Biodynamics and the Future of Agriculture: Growing the
Food Revolution*

*When:* September 30 - October 3, 2010

*Where: *Chestnut Ridge, NY

*Why: *Biodynamic farming and gardening looks upon the soil and the farm as
living organisms. It regards maintenance and furtherance of soil life as a
basic necessity if the soil is to be preserved for generations, and it
regards the farm as being true to its essential nature if it can be
conceived of as a kind of individual entity in itself — a self-contained
individuality. It begins with the ideal concept of the necessary
self-containedness of the farm and works with furthering the life of the
soil as a primary means by which a farm can become a kind of individuality
that progresses and evolves. (Source: Biodynamic Farming and Gardening

There is a revolution in human values taking place in our midst; some have
called it the food revolution. In the face of an increasingly toxic and
manipulated food system, countless human beings are waking up and pioneering
new approaches to food, farming, health, community and sustainability.

For the past 80 years, biodynamic practitioners have played a key role in
seeding this revolution, from helping shape the early organic farming
movement, to informing the work of Silent Spring author Rachel Carson, to
pioneering community supported agriculture (CSA), to demonstrating how to
bring health and flavor back to foods like milk and wine.

For more information visit: **.

*Special Events*

View Schedule (*

   - Workshops on a variety of biodynamic topics (
   - Biodynamic Youth Gathering
   - Biodynamic Food and Wine Tasting
   - Special Screening of "Queen of the Sun," a new documentary by the
   director of "The Real Dirt on Farmer John"

**How:* Pre-Conference Workshop: $45 BDA member; $55 non-member
Conference: $165 BDA member; $195 non-member
Meals: $96 all meals with breakfasts; $75 all meals except breakfasts
Biodynamic Food and Wine Tasting: $25 conference attendees, $50
non-conference attendees.

*Register online* at **. For
registration questions, please email Lory Widmer at [log in to unmask]

If you would like to access previous postings to the Mich-Organic listserv you can copy and paste the following URL into your browser address bar