Henry A. Wallace Institute for
9200 Edmonston Road, #117
Greenbelt, MD 20770
World Wide Web: http://www.hawiaa.org
* * *
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.
A comparison of alternative pest and soil management strategies for
Maine potato production systems is featured in the new issue (Volume 13, No.
4). Other articles cover a comparison of conventional and organic apple
production systems during three years of conversion to organic management in
coastal California, and the response of corn, soybean, and wheat crops to
fertilizer and herbicides in Ohio compared with low-input production
practices. Subscriptions to AJAA are $44 for libraries; $24 for
individuals; and $12 for students; contact the Wallace Institute, 9200
Edmonston Road, #117, Greenbelt, MD 20770; (301) 441-8777; e-mail
Table of Contents
New Study Identifies Success Strategies for Natural Foods Market, p. 1
European Protest on Biotech Food Get Results, p. 2
USDA Launches Small Farm Campaign with Sustainable Ag Emphasis, p. 3
Positions, p. 3
USDA Criticizes for Role in Developing "Terminator" Seeds, p. 4
Successful Small Farmers Make the Most of Each Acre, p. 4
Resources, p. 4
Upcoming Events, p. 5
NEW STUDY IDENTIFIES SUCCESS STRATEGIES FOR NATURAL FOODS MARKET
The natural foods market is growing exponentially, but can only
reach its full potential if it makes strong connections with the mass market
foods industry, according to a new report from the Henry A. Wallace
Institute for Alternative Agriculture entitled The Natural Foods Market: A
National Survey of Strategies for Growth. The mass market foods industry,
in turn, must discover how it can integrate natural foods into existing
operations, the report concludes.
The report reveals the results of the Institute's 1998 Natural Foods
Market Survey, which interviewed about 300 food industry businesses,
including farmers, manufacturers, wholesalers, and retail supermarkets. The
report analyzes current trends and major obstacles, as well as successful
business strategies in the natural foods market.
The retail market for natural foods is growing at five times the
rate of the total retail food market. "The natural foods market has the
potential to make a positive impact on the environment and consumers' health
and well-being," said Nessa Richman, the report's author, "but growing the
market smart is just as important as growing the market fast in the long
Three major obstacles to success for the natural foods market are,
according to the report:
C There are no widely accepted standards for defining and producing
C Natural foods and mass market foods companies view the natural foods
market and conduct business in critically different ways.
C Many natural foods and mass market foods businesses do not have the
information they need to market and price natural foods.
While some of these obstacles will fade as the natural foods market
matures, several public policy actions could enhance the market's potential
benefit to private and public interests. They include developing commonly
recognized standards for natural foods, collecting market and price
information for natural foods, and creating generic marketing channels for
Several strategies employed by natural and mass market foods
companies are leading to success in the natural foods market for some market
segments, among them developing a natural foods label, hiring special staff
for natural foods, and increasing the scale of their natural foods
operations, according to the report.
The report highlights several public policy themes that are
important to success in the natural foods market, including:
C The natural foods market must be afforded the same type of
assistance that the mass market foods enjoy, in relation to implementation
of standards and minimally necessary regulations.
C Mass market channels need to be cleared of obstacles that limit
access for natural foods businesses.
C Systematic processes for tracking the natural foods market must be
put into place.
With the goal of helping the natural foods market reach its full
potential, the report makes recommendations for government agencies, trade
organizations, research and education institutions, and industry members.
The Natural Foods Market is available for $150 (non-profit rate
available upon request) from the Wallace Institute, 9200 Edmonston Road,
#117, Greenbelt, MD 20770; (301) 441-8777; an Executive Summary is available
at no cost.
EUROPEAN PROTESTS ON BIOTECH FOOD GET RESULTS
The waves of protests in Europe against the planting and use of
genetically engineered food "appear to be working" as several fast food
outlets and supermarket chains in England "promised to eliminate genetically
modified foods and ingredients from their product lines," according to an
article in The Washington Post (April 24, 1999). "Those moves are alarming
farmers and distributors in the United States, the leading producer of
gene-altered foods, where regulatory agencies have deemed gene-modified
crops 'substantially equivalent' to traditional crops and where consumers -
knowingly or not - consume large quantities of engineered food every day."
In Europe, however, "massive negative reaction" is drawing attention to
"lingering scientific uncertainties about the risks of agricultural
biotechnology," and British consumer organizations are calling for a
five-year moratorium on commercial planting of gene-altered crops.
USDA LAUNCHES SMALL FARM CAMPAIGN WITH SUSTAINABLE AG EMPHASIS
The USDA last month launched an education campaign for small farmers
that will provide "information to producers on sustainable agriculture
practices that can help farmers succeed," according to the agency. The SARE
program is overseeing the campaign, "Farming for Profit, Stewardship &
Community," in an effort to implement the recommendations of the National
Commission on Small Farms. The campaign will provide 10 "tipsheets" that
include tips and relevant resources available about those tips for producers
and USDA employees.
The 10 tipsheets provide resources to: Improve soil quality; add
value through marketing; prevent pest problems; explore organic production;
cut livestock costs; manage weeds wisely; plan for profit; network;
diversify crops; and use trees. For copies of the tipsheet, see
http://www.sare.org/tipsheet/index.htm or contact Valerie Berton in the
SARE program, (301) 405-3186; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
North Carolina State University seeks a Head, Department of Crop
Science, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences; contact Dr. T.J. Monaco,
Crop Science Head Search Committee, Department of Horticultural Science,
Campus Box 7609, NCSU, Raleigh, N.C. 27695-7609; (919) 515-3131; e-mail
National Catholic Rural Life Conference seeks several positions:
Rural Life Community Organizer, Communications Coordinator, Rural Life
Policy Coordinator, and Rural Pastoral Life Coordinator; send resume or
written inquiries only to Executive Director, NCRLC, 4625 Beaver Avenue, Des
Moines, IA 50310.
Codman Community Farms, Inc. seeks a farm manager; send resume or
inquiries to Search Committee, Codman Community Farms, c/o Lindsay Clemens,
24 Hillside Road, Lincoln, MA 01773.
Institute for Local Self-Reliance seeks an Executive Director; send
resume, three references, and cover letter to ILSR Director Search, 1313 5th
St., SE, Minneapolis, MN 55414.
University of Maine seeks an Assistant Professor, Sustainable Crop
Production, and an Assistant Professor, Weed Ecology & Management; send
cover letter, vitae, transcripts, and three references to Dr. Gregory
Porter, Department of Plant, Soil & Environmental Sciences, 5722 Deering
Hall, University of Maine, Orono, ME 04469-5722; e-mail Porter@maine.edu
USDA CRITICIZED FOR ROLE IN DEVELOPING "TERMINATOR" SEEDS
The criticism of the "terminator" plant technology that makes plant
seeds sterile includes denunciation of the USDA because of its role as
co-sponsor of the research that led to the development of the technology,
according to a story in The New York Times (April 19, 1999). A researcher
in the USDA's Lubbock, Texas, research station worked on the concept with
funds from the Delta and Pine Land Company, a cottonseed producer, resulting
in "withering criticism and thousands of angry letters for [the USDA's] role
as a co-sponsor with Delta." Critics of the technology see it as a threat
to farmers' security, and "protests have ranged from angry letters to
torched research crops....Monsanto, which has a pending agreement with
Delta, has become so alarmed by the anti-biotechnology feelings stirred by
the sterility technology that it wants a thorough, clearly independent
international review of the costs and benefits of the technology and related
inventions," according to the article.
In addition, critics say that because the new technology is switched
on by spraying with chemicals just before the seed is planted, the seeds
would make farmers ever more reliant on chemical companies. "The fact that
Mr. Oliver [of the USDA] and his research team have yet to prove the concept
works in field crops has become an almost irrelevant footnote,"the story
SUCCESSFUL SMALL FARMERS MAKE THE MOST OF EACH ACRE
Small farmers increase their chances of prosperity when they
incorporate available options and alternatives that allow them to make the
most of each acre, according to an article in The Furrow (Spring, 1999).
One Iowa farmer "rather than compete for additional acres...modified his
operation to meet changing consumer demands. Switching part of his corn and
soybean acreage to organic production has given him access to additional
markets, and boosted his profit." He grows alfalfa to provide adequate
nitrogen for his corn, and rotates his crops. With 60 acres now certified
organic, he hopes to convert another 100 acres in the next few years.
Another poultry farmer feeds his chickens in portable coops that are easier
to move to fresh pasture, and another farming family expanded their pumpkin
crop to include apples "to add color and cash to their fall harvest."
National Organic Directory is $47.95 plus $3.20 shipping from
Community Alliance with Family Farmers, P.O. Box 363, Davis, CA 95617;
"Eat A Real Tomato" promotional cards for markets are available in
packs of 100 for $5 plus $4 shipping from Pennsylvania Association for
Sustainable Agriculture, P.O. Box 419, Millheim, PA 16854; (814) 349-9856.
"Hot Peppers and Parking Lot Peaches: Evaluating Farmers' Markets in
Low Income Communities" is $10 plus $2 shipping from Community Food Security
Coalition, P.O. Box 209, Venice, CA 90294; (310) 822-5410.
"Managing Cover Crops Profitably, 2nd Edition" is $19 from
Sustainable Agriculture Publications, Hills Building, University of Vermont,
Burlington, VT 05405-0082.
"Cover Cropping In Vineyards: A Grower's Handbook" is $20 plus
shipping and tax from University of California, DANR Communication Services,
6701 San Pablo Ave., Oakland, CA 94608-1239; 1-800-994-8849 or (510)
University of California Web site offers news and notices about
agriculture, natural resources, family and consumer sciences, and youth
issues, at http://danr.ucop.edu/news
"Educational and Training Opportunities in Sustainable Agriculture"
is available from Alternative Farming Systems Information Center, National
Agricultural Library, Room 304, 10301 Baltimore Ave., Beltsville, MD
20705-2351; (301) 504-6559; e-mail email@example.com; on the Internet,
May 25, conference on exotic pests and diseases, sponsored by the
University of California Agricultural Issues Center, will be held in
Sacramento; contact the Center at (530) 752-2320; e-mail
May 28-30, "The Agrarian Mind in an Industrial World -- The
Industrial Mind in an Agrarian World," Prairie Festival 1999, will be held
in Salina, KS; contact the Land Institute, (785) 823-5376; e-mail
May 31-June 2, Natural Products Expo Europe will be held in
Amsterdam, the Netherlands; contact New Hope International Media, (303)
939-8440; on the Internet, http://www.naturalproductexpo.com
June 3-6, the joint meetings of the Agriculture, Food, and Human
Values Society and the Association for the Study of Food and Society will be
held in Toronto, Canada; contact Elias Chu, (416) 979-5135; e-mail
June 4-6, June 11-13, June 18-20, and June 25-27, "Planting the
Future" will be held in Rutland, OH; contact United Plant Savers, P.O. Box
98, East Barre, VT 05649; (802) 479-9825; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
June 6-9, "Keep America Growing: Balancing Working Lands and
Development," sponsored by USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service and
others, will be held in Philadelphia, PA; contact conference coordinator at
(802) 655-7769; e-mail email@example.com
June 7-9, "Eco 1999" will be held in Paris, France; contact
Convergences-Eco '99, phone 33 (0) 1 43 64 77 77; e-mail
June 9-12, "Third National Workshop on Constructed Wetlands/BMPs for
Nutrient Reduction and Coastal Water Protection" will be held in New
Orleans, LA; contact Dr. Frank Humenik, Box 7927, North Carolina State
University, Raleigh, N.C. 27695; (919) 515-6767; e-mail
June 11-13, "What Works, What Doesn't?," the 1999 Community Research
Network Conference, will be held in Amherst, MA; contact the Loka Institute,
(413) 559-5860; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
June 19-22, Bread for the World's National Gathering will be held in
Washington, D.C.; contact Michelle Sinkgraven, 1-800-82-BREAD, ext. 219;
June 22-25, Fuel Ethanol Workshop and Trade Show will be held in
Cedar Rapids, IA; contact Bryan & Bryan Inc., 5015 Red Gulch Road, Cotopaxi,
CO 81223; (719) 942-4353; e-mail email@example.com
June 24-26, classes on "Chicken Tractors" and "Free Range Turkeys"
will be held in Buena Vista, VA; contact Andy Lee, Good Earth Farm School,
June 24-25, "Better Ways to Develop Ohio" will be held in Columbus,
OH; information is available on the Internet at
June 24-26, "Sheep Is Life" will be held in Tsaile, AZ; contact
Sheep Is Life/Recursos, 826 Camino de Monte Rey, A3, Santa Fe, N.M. 87505;
1-800-732-6881; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
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