Henry A. Wallace Institute for
9200 Edmonston Road, #117
Greenbelt, MD 20770
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If You Are Interested in Sustainable Agriculture...
In addition to this monthly newsletter, the Henry A. Wallace
Institute for Alternative Agriculture publishes the American
Journal of Alternative Agriculture, a quarterly, peer-reviewed
journal of research on alternative agriculture. It is a
scientific forum for disseminating technical, economic, and
social research findings about the character and requirements of
alternative agriculture systems.
Articles in the current issue cover use of an intensive
rotational grazing for dairy cattle feeding, a method for
mechanically killng cover crops to optimize weed suppression, and
how an overwintering cover crop increases inoculumn of VAM fungi
in agricultural soil.
Annual subscriptions to AJAA are $44, institutions; $24,
individuals; and $12, students. For more information or a single
copy, contact the Wallace Institute, 9200 Edmonston Road, #117,
Greenbelt, MD 20770; (301) 441-8777; e-mail
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Table of Contents
Panel Passes Farm Bill With Extensive Conservation Package 1
Senator Culver Portrays Wallace As Cerebral Genius 3
Wallace Institute Elects Officers, New Members 3
New Book Details Threats of "Hormone Disrupters" 4
Many Communities Fight Hog Factories, Says Magazine 4
Exposure to Pesticides Reduces Immune System, Says Report 4
Upcoming Events 5
PANEL PASSES FARM BILL WITH "EXTENSIVE" CONSERVATION PROGRAM
A House-Senate conference committee last month agreed upon
the final version of the 1996 farm bill which includes "the most
extensive incentive-based conservation program to date,"
according to Kathleen Merrigan, the Wallace Institute's Senior
Policy Analyst. Both houses of Congress were expected to pass
the bill, which will apply to the years 1996-2002.
Key provisions for conservation and sustainable agriculture
in the farm bill include:
-- Reauthorization of the Conservation Reserve Program
(CRP), which keeps erodible and environmentally sensitive
farmland out of production, with authorization for new
enrollments and re-enrollments totalling 36 million acres of
-- Reauthorization of the Wetland Reserve Program to restore
wetlands on prior converted and farmed wetlands, allowing for an
additional 975,000 acres in addition to the 325,000 already
enrolled. More land will be under temporary, rather than
-- Funding of $200 million a year for an Environmental
Quality Incentive Program (EQIP), which will consolidate current
-- Funding of $100 million a year for three years for the
Fund for Rural America, which makes additional resources
available for rural development and agricultural research
initiatives. One-third of the funding will be for research, one-
third for development, and one-third for the Secretary of
Agriculture to allocate between research and rural development.
-- Provisions which weaken Conservation Compliance and
Swampbuster programs, give the Secretary broad discretion over
enforcement of these laws, and apply them on a farm-by-farm
rather than operation-by-operation basis.
"Many environmental issues were up for grabs in this farm
bill," said Merrigan. "In the end, the most extensive incentive-
based conservation program to date became law, and the Fund for
Rural America was adopted.
"But there were losses as well. The EQIP program does not
include adequate herd size limits; swampbuster regulations are
seriously weakened; too many issues are left to the Secretary's
'discretion;' and the research title expires at the end of 1997.
But our coalition is pleased that we did much better than we
predicted following the November, 1994, election."
The bill will replace traditional crop subsidies with a
system of fixed payments, known as the "Freedom to Farm" program,
which removes many planting restrictions and pays farmers a fixed
but declining amount of money over seven years. This approach
"would accelerate the ongoing consolidation of smaller, less
profitable farms into larger, more efficient corporate farms,"
said The New York Times (March 24, 1996). "That has serious
implications, not only for the face of farming in America, but
also for the livelihoods of rural communities."
USDA Secretary Dan Glickman recommended "with reluctance"
that President Clinton sign the bill. "I believe Congress' final
farm bill has a lot of problems. I remain concerned about the
dissolution of the safety net that protects farmers and rural
America during lean times," he said. "The Clinton Administration
made a strong conservation title one of its top priorities for
this farm bill. I am pleased that the conference committee
The environmental community credits Senators Thomas Daschle
(D-SD) and Patrick J. Leahy (D-VT), and Rep. Sherwood Boehlert
(R-N.Y.) with getting significant conservation gains in the bill.
"House Republican leaders initially tried to exclude
environmental provisions from the bill, but it became clear
Senate passage of the overall bill was impossible without them,"
said The New York Times (March 22, 1996).
SENATOR CULVER PORTRAYS WALLACE AS A CEREBRAL, ORIGINAL GENIUS
Henry A. Wallace was a "quiet, cerebral man" -- a
"provocative and remarkably original mind," who, it was said,
"was the only genius to have served as Secretary of Agriculture,"
according to Senator John C. Culver, who presented the 1996
Inaugural Henry A. Wallace Annual Lecture last month. The
speech, entitled "Seeds and Science: Henry A. Wallace on
Agriculture and Human Progress," was attended by 110 people,
including Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, Deputy
Agriculture Secretary Richard Rominger, and Senator George
Senator Culver painted a detailed and fascinating portrait
of Wallace, who was befriended as a boy by George Washington
Carver, led an agricultural revolution by developing hybrid seed,
became President Franklin D. Roosevelt's youngest cabinet member
at 44, and enacted federal agricultural programs which "remain
the basic framework today."
"The depth and breadth of Wallace's intellectual interests"
were extraordinary, according to Senator Culver. "Wallace was
not only a geneticist and journalist, he was one of the nation's
leading agricultural economists, an authority on statistics and
author of the leading text on corn growing....Somewhere along the
line, he also found time to start the world's first -- and still
the world's largest and most successful -- hybrid seed corn
company," Pioneer Hi-Bred.
President Roosevelt referred to Wallace "as 'old man common
sense,' and selected him as his vice presidential candidate in
1940 because, according to Eleanor Roosevelt, he could best carry
out Roosevelt's domestic and foreign policy if something should
happen to the President," Senator Culver said. As Vice
President, Wallace delivered his most well-known public address,
which came to be known as the "Century of the Common Man" speech,
in which he "envisioned a worldwide revolution against the old
order," according to Senator Culver.
If he were here today, Senator Culver said, "Wallace would
be appalled and disgusted by the attack now being made on the
nation's conservation programs, especially those related to
agriculture....We might guess that Wallace would look upon the
sustainable agriculture movement with considerable affection."
The text of Senator Culver's lecture will soon be available
from the Wallace Institute.
WALLACE INSTITUTE ELECTS OFFICERS, INSTALLS NEWS MEMBERS
The Wallace Institute Board of Directors last month elected
new officers for the coming year and installed five new members.
The President, re-elected for another year, is Dr. Anne K.
Vidaver, Chairperson, Department of Plant Pathology at the
University of Nebraska-Lincoln; Vice President is Dr. Frederick
Kirschenmann, farmer and manager, Kirschenmann Family Farms,
Windsor and Medina, N.D.; Secretary is Dr. Frederick R. Magdoff,
Professor, Department of Plant and Soil Science, University of
Vermont; and Treasurer is Dr. Cornelia Flora, Professor of
Sociology and Director, North Central Regional Center for Rural
Development, Iowa State University. The new members of the board
are: Dr. Neil V. Anderson, Professor, Food Animal Health and
Management Center, College of Veterinary Medicine, Kansas State
University, Manhattan, KS; Dr. Jill Shore Auburn, Associate
Director, Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program,
University of California, Davis; Jose Montenegro, Acting
Director, Rural Development Center, Salinas, CA; Christine (Cass)
A. Peterson, farmer and owner, Flickerville Mountain Farm and
Groundhog Ranch in Dott, Pennsylvania; and Thomas N. Urban,
Senior Lecturer, Graduate School of Business Administration,
Harvard University, and Chairman of the Board of Pioneer Hi-Bred
NEW BOOK DETAILS THREATS OF "HORMONE DISRUPTING" CHEMICALS
Our Stolen Future, a 300-page book published last month,
explores the scientific research on "hormone disrupters" --
chemicals, including some pesticides, that mimic natural hormones
and "hinder adults in their efforts to reproduce and pose a
particular hazard to their developing offspring," according to
the book. They include DDT, dioxin, PCBs, and a wide variety of
chemicals used in pesticides, plastics, detergents, and
spermicides. The effects of these chemicals "may be wreaking
many insidious forms of damage, like a decline in men's sperm
counts, an epidemic of breast and prostate cancer, and fetal
effects that emerge later as reduced intelligence, hyperactivity,
and violent behavior," according to The New York Times (March 19,
1996). The chemicals may also be causing "aberrant mating
behavior and genital malformations in animals," according to Time
(March 18, 1996). The book's authors, Dr. Theo Colborn, Dr. John
Peterson Meyers, and Dianne Dumanoski, have called for a
worldwide ban on DDT and a phase-out of the "endocrine-
disrupting" chemicals, according to The N.Y. Times.
MANY COMMUNITIES FIGHT HOG FACTORIES, ACCORDING TO MAGAZINE
In a full-page article on corporate hog factories, Time
(March 18, 1996) reports that "even job-short rural communities
are squealing, fearful of environmental problems and resentful of
yet another mechanized assault on their way of life." The
article describes several states in which residents are fighting
to keep hog factories out of their communities, including
Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and North Carolina, "where
a population of 8.5 million hogs exceeds the state's 7.2 million
people." At a "Hog Summit" in North Carolina last month,
"environmental activists made 12 recommendations to the state,
including measures to reduce odors and limit the construction of
farms near watersheds," according to the magazine.
EXPOSURE TO PESTICIDES REDUCES IMMUNE SYSTEM, SAYS WRI REPORT
Exposure to many pesticides "produces significant changes in
immune system structure and function," according to a new
research report by the World Resources Institute. "There are
substantial grounds for concern about the public health risks
from pesticide-induced suppression of the immune system,
especially in less developed countries and countries in
transition," the report says. "There is evidence that these
[immune system] changes can be accompanied by increased risks of
infectious diseases and cancers associated with immuno-
suppression, even in otherwise healthy populations." As
agricultural production intensifies in these countries, the
amount of pesticides will increase, including "chemicals with
known acute and chronic toxicity." The report recommends that
"research and extension in integrated pest management programs
should be significantly expanded since they are economically
sound and effective in reducing the volume of pesticide use."
Pesticides and the Immune System: The Public Health Risks is
$14.95 plus $3.50 shipping and handling from WRI Publications,
P.O. Box 4852, Hampden Station, Baltimore, MD 21211; 1-800-822-
0504 or (410) 516-6963.
"Environmental Enhancement Through Agriculture," a
collection of 36 papers about "an agriculture that serves the
environment rather than conflicting with it," from a November,
1995, conference, is $20 (made out to Trustees of Tufts College)
from Center for Agriculture, Food and Environment, School of
Nutrition Science and Policy, Tufts University, Medford, MA
"1996 Sustainable Agriculture Directory of Expertise,"
published by the Sustainable Agriculture Network and the SARE
program, profiles 700 organizations and individuals working in
sustainable agriculture; copies are $18.95 from Sustainable
Agriculture Publications, Hills Building, University of Vermont,
Burlington, VT 05405-0082; (802) 656-0471.
"1994-1995 Activity Report & Research Summary" describes the
research projects, education activities, and publications of the
Center for Agroecology & Sustainable Food Systems; contact the
Center, 1156 High St., Santa Cruz, CA 95064; (408) 459-4140.
Lightstone Foundation seeks a farmer/manager to develop and
operate a demonstration farm; send resume describing farm
experience and skills by April 30 to The Demonstration Farm,
Lightstone Foundation, HC 63, Box 73, Moyers, W.V. 26813-9502.
April 26-28, "Designing a Sustainable Homestead in Northern
Vermont," a permaculture design workshop, will be held in
Woodbury, VT; contact Elfin Permaculture, P.O. Box 672,
Dahlonega, GA 30533; or Cassandra Hemenway, (802) 472-8044.
May 1 is the deadline for paper proposals for the
International Livestock Environmental Symposium, "Creating and
Managing Environments for Livestock Health and Well-Being," to be
held in Minneapolis, MN, May 29-31, 1997; contact Robert W.
Bottcher, Biological and Agricultural Engineering Department, 176
D.S. Weaver Labs, North Carolina State University, Box 7625,
Raleigh, N.C. 27695; (919) 515-6753; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
May 6-8, 26th Annual BioCycle National Conference on
Composting and Recycling will be held in Phoenix, AZ; contact
BioCycle at 1-800-661-4905.
May 6-10, Biodynamic Grower's Course will be held at
Newfarms, HC69, Box 62, Rociada, N.M. 87742; (505) 425-5457.
May 13-15 (Boston, MA); June 24-26 (Chicago, IL); August 5-7
(Denver, CO); September 23-25 (San Francisco, CA); January 28-30,
1997 (Houston, TX); and February 25-27, 1997 (Atlanta, GA);
"Working with Wetlands and Wildlife," workshops sponsored by the
Wildlife Habitat Council, will be held; contact the Council, 1010
Wayne Ave., #920, Silver Spring, MD 20910; (301) 588-8994.
May 24-26, "The Marriage of Ecology and Agriculture: The
Next 20 Years," Prairie Festival 1996, will be held at the Land
Institute, 2440 E. Water Well Rd., Salina, KS 67401; contact
Alice Sutton at (913) 823-5376.
June 3-21, a training workshop on Sustainable Agroecosystems
and Environmental Issues will be held at the Dryland Agriculture
Institute of West Texas A&M University; contact Clay Robinson,
Assistant Professor of Plant Science, West Texas A&M University,
Canyon, TX 79016; (806) 656-2553; e-mail email@example.com
June 5-7, "Agricultural Biotechnology: Novel Products and
New Partnerships," sponsored by the National Agricultural
Biotechnology Council, will be held at Rutgers University, New
Brunswick, N.J.; contact Jill Braun at (908) 932-9271, e-mail
firstname.lastname@example.org; or the NABC, (607) 254-4856, e-mail
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