Michigan Organic Listserv
September 13, 2012
Offered to you by Center for Regional Food Systems at Michigan State University
There is no intention to support any product or commercial enterprise in this newsletter by MSU or Vicki Morrone
NEWS IN AGRICULTURE
Institute: Coach’s Corner – A note about Stanford’s “Are organic Foods Safer or Healthier Than Conventional Alternatives?” Study
by Coach Mark Smallwood, Executive Director
The news has been flooded with all sorts of noise about the Stanford meta-analysis “Are Organic Foods Safer or Healthier Than Conventional Alternatives?” Although both the researchers themselves and the media made it sound as if conventional came out on top, the numbers clearly made the case for organic. Here is what we saw when we read the report:
· Organic foods are just as nutritious as conventional foods.
· Conventional fruits and vegetables are more likely to carry pesticide residues.
· Organic milk contains more heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids.
· Conventional meat is more likely to be contaminated with antibiotic resistant bacteria.
If those aren't good reasons to choose organic, we can list acres of other good reasons like those and . We believe in telling the whole story here at the Rodale Institute and will besharing a longer response to the Stanford report in the local news and on our website in a few days.
The prime minister of Bhutan, the small Himalayan country situated between China and , has announced that the nation is planning to convert all its agricultural land to organic farms, reports Rodale.
The announcement came at the June Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development when Prime Minister Thinley said the “raised in Bhutan” label would be synonymous with “organically grown.”
Improving “Gross National Happiness”—a phrase made popular by the country’s fourth king some thirty years ago—is the main reason the country would like to shift to an organic haven. Thinley said, “we are convinced that it is on the farm that people can find happiness amid vital communities boosted by the necessity of interdependence, active spiritual life, and daily communion with nature andother living beings.” Read full story.
VAPG awards funding to producers to help them develop farm-related businesses that add value to basic agricultural products through processing, product differentiation, commodity segregation, on-farm energy production, labeling and certification, and local and regional food marketing. Read full story here.
Warning of financial jeopardy without a new farm bill, Montanaagricultural groups are flying to Washington to urge House Republican leaders to act by month’s end, though it may be too late.
Congress returns to Washington in just over a week to work eight days before adjourning to campaign before the November election. More than 40 farm groups from across the nation will arrive on Sept. 12 to push for passage of a new farm bill to replace the current roster of farm programs, which are scheduled to expire Sept. 30.
Those expiring programs are crucial to securing operating loans ahead of planting winter wheat this fall, say producers angered by House inaction on the 2012 farm bill. In addition, ranchers devastated by wildfire and drought are lobbying for assistance with burned-up pastures and skyrocketing feed costs. Read full story here.
We are currently conducting research on summer cover crops using practices simulating organic systems, but summer cover crops can be used by all vegetable growers. What are summer cover crops and how can they can be used by vegetable growers? Summer cover crops include buckwheat, sorghum-sudangrass, and mustards that complete their life cycles in a shortperiod of time. These cover crops are unique in that they do not take a whole growing season and can be used during fallow periods when vegetables are not being grown. All three cover crops are competitive, limiting weed emergence.
Each has its own planting window. For example, mustards can be planted early in the spring or late summer either before a warm season crop such as pumpkins or tomatoes is planted or after an early-season crop has been harvested. Mustards, when incorporated into the soil, releasebiologically active compounds that may inhibit some small-seeded weeds such as grasses, giving the crop a head start.
Buckwheat mellows the soil and can suppress some weeds through competition and the release of biologically active compounds. Buckwheat can be planted when nights are cool and days are warm, so buckwheat fits in a planting window in late spring or early fall when a summer vegetable crop such as lettuce or radish has completed its lifecycle or a crop of peppers or melons have been harvested. Buckwheat must be killed before seed are produced or it will become a weed itself.
Sorghum - sudangrass is the most competitive of the three cover crops. It requires warm temperatures thus must be planted by mid-May but can be killed when a summer or fall vegetable crop is planted. Another option when perennial weeds are a problem is to allow it to grow until frost kills the cover crop. Then a spring crop can be planted. All cover crops require management skills, so as with any new practice, growers should start slow and see how they perform on your farm. We'll provide some results from U of I plots later this fall.
MarketMaker is one of the most extensive collections of searchable food-related data in the country. It's an excellent way for you, as a producer, to let potential customers know exactly what you have to offer.
Creating a user account is simple. Go to Michigan MarketMaker: http://www.marketmaker.uiuc.edu/, and click on "Register Your Business." Follow the on-screen instructions to input your business information, being sure to select the correct product type tabs for your particular business. Remember to click “submit" after you'vereviewed your information on the Business Preview page.
After you have submitted your information, you will automatically receive an email from MarketMaker that will include yourusername and temporary password. Your information will appear on the website within one or two business days. By registering, you obtain the ability to change your password and update your information, subscribe to the Buy & Sell Forum and other alerts, and connect with other farmers and consumers by using Business Connections in your Member's Area.
There is NO COST to register!
MarketMaker is available to all users at no cost. Register your business, post an ad, and connect with other businesses -- all without any cost to you!
Once registered, it's important to keep your information up-to-date! Your customers need accurate business information. If a customer can't find you because your address, phone, or email has changed, they will move on to someone they CANreach. Customers also need current product information so they know what you have to offer and how it's raised and/or sold.
ECONOMIC ASSISTANCE IN AGRICULTURE
Fruit Farm financial summary tool to prep for disaster loans
September 4, 2012 | Dennis Stein MSUE| Farm financial business summary and analysis forms are now available for farms to download.
NRCS Announcing Grants to Help Farmers Adapt to Drought
$5 Million in Conservation Innovation Grants Available for Development of Novel Agricultural Practices
Aug. 17, 2012 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has up to $5 million in grants available to evaluate and demonstrate agricultural practices that help farmers and ranchers adapt to drought. NRCS is taking applications for Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) to help producers build resiliency into their production systems so they can adapt to climatic extremes, such as the historic drought impacting the nation.
NRCS is offering the grants to partnering entities to evaluate innovative, field-based conservation technologies and approaches. These technologies and/or approaches should lead to improvements such as enhancing the water-holding capacity in soils and installing drought-tolerant grazing systems, which will help farms and ranches become more resilient todrought. Read full story here.
Agriculture Secretary Vilsack Announces Grants to Support Beginning Farmers and Ranchers across 24 States
New, Expanded Efforts Underscore USDA's Commitment to Young, Beginning and Socially-Disadvantaged Farmers [Source]
BOONE, Iowa, Aug. 30, 2012-Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced more than $18 million in grants to organizations across 24 states that will help beginning farmers and ranchers with the training and resources needed to run productive, sustainable farms. Under the Secretary's leadership since 2009, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has driven a number of efforts meant to spur interest in agriculture and provide the necessary support to young, beginning and socially-disadvantaged producers. At the Farm ProgressShow today in Boone, Iowa, Vilsack said investing in beginning farmers, ranchers and producers is not only a smart investment, but one that is vital to our nation's national and economic security.
"In the past few decades, U.S. agriculture has become the second most productive sector of the American economy thanks to farmers adopting technology, reducing debt, and effectively managing risk," said Vilsack. "Last year, America's farmers, ranchers and producers achieved record farm income and record exports. To protect and sustain these successes, we must continue to build an agricultureindustry diverse and successful enough to attract the smartest, hardest-working people in the nation. These grants will help beginning farmers and ranchersovercome the unique challenges they face and gain knowledge and skills thatwill help them become profitable and sustainable." Click here to read full press release.
Pending NOP regulatory action affecting the use of Sluggo inCertified Organic
Organic farmers, please read this and consider if you believe the NOSB made the right call. Even if there is not a period for comments you can always share your insights, which are valuable and needed-You are the one's using their inputs to make your living and grow our food! Their contact info is: Miles McEvoy, Deputy Administrator Phone: E-mail:
As you may know already, there is a vote coming at the next National Organic Standards Board meeting to remove ferric phosphate, the active ingredient in Sluggo, from the National List. I do not know how much this will affect NOP-compliant growers that either of y’all work with, but I do know that Sluggo remains an important tool in the NOP-compliant IPM toolkit. Below you will find three important and relevant URLs, each with a brief explanation. I hope that you will take a moment to consider this regulatory action, which was set in motion by a conventional competitor (that does not offer the organic grower an alternative). I am working diligently with a variety of certifiers, grower and shipper groups,individual growers, etc, to raise awareness of this action and marshal support. Grower support, especially that which expresses the grower’s need for ferric phosphate to remain viable as an organic grower, is the most important element of public input that the Board members will consider as the come to their individual decisions.
Here is the link to the Crops Subcommittee recommendation: . The vote was 5 – 3 in favor of continuing the allowance for FePO4. For the record, the whole board voted unanimously in favor of FePO4 when it came up for a sunset vote in 2010, a time when the petition was actively under consideration. This document gives great weight to the minority opinion but is vague at best about the fact that EDTA, the inert in question, is a food grade List 4 material and therefore an allowed synthetic under the law. As you know, the former List 4 inserts enjoyed a unanimous vote by the whole board when they were considered for a recent sunset vote.
Here is the link to the public comment page for the October meeting: . The comment period will be open until the 24th of September and we appreciate every comment posted. I have attached a form letter template, but we hope and prefer that growers will put their concerns in their own words.
Lastly, here is a link to the letter of support posted by CCOF in 2010 in support of continuing the allowance when it was up for a sunset vote: . It bears noting that the signatory is Zea Sonnabend, who is now an NOSB member and one of two point people on the Crops Subcommittee for this issue.
Late-season control of powdery mildew in grapes: focus on inoculum management [Source]
September 4, 2012 | Annemiek Schilder MSUE | At this time of year, the focus of powdery mildew management should be on reducing inoculum production for next year, which typically peaks in mid-September. Eradicant sprays are best applied to visible colonies in early September.
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