Michigan Organic Listserv
August 17, 2010
News Effecting Food
Senate Food Safety Legislation Information Alert
August 13, 2010
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.
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 (http://help.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/WHI10337.pdf).
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."
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
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.
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 floor.
also continue to note and emphasize the additional provisions NSAC
helped secure when the bill was marked up in Committee last year. Those
* requiring FDA and USDA coordination (including with respect to organic farming);
* 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.
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
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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, (http://www.fsa.usda.gov/FSA/webapp?area=home&subject=fmlp&topic=sfl).
Further information and applications for the loan program is available
at local FSA county offices. To find your local county FSA office go to (http://offices.sc.egov.usda.gov/locator/app?state=mi&agency=fsa).
To read more about Vandercook’s success story and future funding opportunities visit: http://www.thetimesherald.com/article/20100815/NEWS01/8150304/Reaping-a-dream
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.
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 Valley.
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.
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.
Center for Food Safety, Organic Seed Alliance and Sierra Club have been
trying to uproot the biotech beets since filing a 2008 lawsuit.
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.
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.
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.
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.
a temporary solution isn't found, the planting restrictions are likely
to cause major headaches for sugar beet growers and food processors.
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.
value of sugar beet crops is critically important to rural communities
and their economies," the Sugar Industry Biotech Council said Saturday.
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.
Agriculture Department "has already had more than sufficient time to
take interim measures, but failed to act expediently," White wrote.
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.
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.
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
Article can be found at: http://abcnews.go.com/Business/wirestory?id=11403445&page=2
Seeing Gain in the Label “Organic” by Rachel Cromidas, the New York Times Online
Annual organic certification fees are a fair trade-off for increased sales!
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
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 sales.
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.
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
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 2007.
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.”
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
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.
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.
in 2006 Mr. Tiwald applied for certification, reasoning that the annual
fees, which can reach more than $400, are a fair trade-off for
“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 certified.
“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 section: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/08/business/08cncorganic.html?_r=3&ref=organic_food
Opportunities for Farmers
Michigan Film Office is looking for farming locations in the thumb and
southeast regions of the state for a potential movie production.
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.
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 www.michiganorganic.msu.edu 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 corn.
3. Dirt roads.
4. Small towns which are boarded up, maybe only a post office and a diner
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
2010 North Central Region - Sustainable Agriculture Research and
Education Program (NCR-SARE) Youth & Youth Educator Grant Call for
Proposals is now available!
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.
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:
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.
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: http://www.sare.org/NCRSARE/cfp.htm.
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.
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
The application is now available online at: http://www.mifma.org/vendor-application/. 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.
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.
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.
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 www.mifma.org.
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
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.
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.
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 afternoon.
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.
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 http://web2.canr.msu.edu/product/vendor.cfm
as a participant: $60 per person Registration includes continental
breakfast and walking lunch during Trade Show. http://web2.canr.msu.edu/product/registration.cfm
Opportunity for farm businesses to advertise free!
MarketMaker has introduced a new version that includes several updates. Check it out at www.mimarketmaker.msu.edu.
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
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
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 Association)
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
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: http://www.biodynamics.com/biodynamic-conference-2010.
View Schedule (http://www.biodynamics.com/biodynamic-conference-2010/events)
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 http://www.threefold.org/BDA_National_Conference_Registration.aspx. For registration questions, please email Lory Widmer at [log in to unmask].
If you would like to access a searchable archive of the all the previous Mich-Organic listserv postings copy this URL and paste in your browser address field http://list.msu.edu/archives/mich-organic.html