TABLES OF CONTENTS:
House Clean Water Bill Includes Groundwater Protection 1
Clean Water Act Should Support Sustainable Ag 2
EPA Approves Carcinogenic Herbicide 2
Organic Farmers Name Top Three Research Priorities 3
Book Details Farmers' Organic, Low-Input Practices 3
IFM Program Revisions Will Give Farmers Flexibility 3
Congressman Farr to Form Sustainable Ag Working Group 4
Upcoming Events 5
HOUSE CLEAN WATER BILL INCLUDES GROUNDWATER PROTECTION
A bill introduced last month by U.S. Representative Norman
Mineta (D-CA) in the House of Representatives to reauthorize the
Clean Water Act has been praised by at least 30 organizations,
including the Wallace Institute, for including provisions that
address groundwater protection. The specific points in bill H.R.
3948 supported by the organizations signing a letter being sent
to members of the House Public Works and Transportation Committee
are: setting a national policy goal for the protection of
groundwater and interconnected surface water; including
groundwater quality descriptions in state water quality reports;
including groundwater in nonpoint source management programs and
new watershed management programs; and creating effluent
guidelines and provisions that enable states and the
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to address cases in which
discharges to groundwater are a source of surface water
contamination. The bill contains all the provisions recommended
in a January letter to Congress signed by 48 organizations,
including the Wallace Institute, asking that groundwater
protection be included in the Clean Water Act.
Although the groundwater provisions in H.R. 3948 are viewed
by these organizations as strengthening the Clean Water Act,
several provisions in the same bill are viewed as weakening
current law, according to the Clean Water Network, a coalition of
400 citizen organizations in 50 states that represent sustainable
farmers, labor unions, environmentalists, commercial fishers, and
others. For example, although the bill says that preventing
polluted runoff in impaired watersheds is "mandatory," it leaves
loopholes that could render this section as ineffective as
current law, according to the Network. Its "watershed planning
provisions could weaken water quality standards and could open
the door for local governments to rank (then destroy) wetlands,
and to allow point source dischargers to abate pollution under a
'trading' scheme," the Network says.
The U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee
passed a Senate bill to reauthorize the Clean Water Act in
February; it is expected to be voted upon by the entire Senate
this summer. That bill includes only minor references to
CLEAN WATER ACT SHOULD SUPPORT SUSTAINABLE AG, SAYS NEW REPORT
Because polluted runoff from agriculture is the single
largest source of water pollution, the Clean Water Act should
adopt policies that support the mutual goals of clean water and
sustainable farming, recommends a new report by the Midwest
Sustainable Agriculture Working Group. "Many conservation-minded
farmers and those using sustainable agriculture methods are
farming in ways that protect water quality," according to Clean
Water and Thriving Farms: Mutual Goals in Sustainable
Agriculture. "Nearly every principle of sustainable farming has
a primary or side benefit that protects water quality." The
report categorizes the public policy approaches that are
necessary to reduce polluted agricultural runoff in four
categories: voluntary actions, incentives, removal of policy
barriers, and regulation. The Group's report also lists 18
policy recommendations to address polluted runoff, including
integrating environmental and agricultural policies, basing
polluted run-off programs on watersheds, setting water quality
standards for both nutrients and sediment, and establishing
farmer and citizen water quality monitoring groups. Clean Water
and Thriving Farms is $5 from the Minnesota Project, 1885
University Ave. W., St. Paul, MN 55104; (612) 645-6159.
EPA APPROVES CARCINOGENIC HERBICIDE, WITH CONDITIONS
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) last month gave
two chemical companies approval to market an acknowledged
carcinogen, acetochlor, for use as an herbicide in corn
production. The Monsanto Co. and Zeneca Ag Products will sell
the chemical, which has never been used commercially in the
United States, to kill grasses and weeds. The EPA argues that
because only half as much acetochlor is needed compared to other
herbicides per acre of corn, its use will help reduce the overall
need for pesticides.
Under an "unprecedented" agreement with the two firms,
approval of the herbicide will be cancelled automatically if the
herbicide causes specific environmental problems or fails to
achieve the goal of reducing overall herbicide use --
specifically, farmers must reduce their use of all pesticides
comparable to acetochlor by 66 million pounds. The agreement
also calls for the companies to establish and fund water
monitoring systems in seven states to address concerns that the
chemical will seep into groundwater. Any indication that the
chemical is threatening groundwater supplies could lead to
revocation of the registration, according to EPA officials.
ORGANIC FARMERS, IN FIRST SURVEY, NAME TOP THREE RESEARCH
The first national survey of certified organic farmers ever
conducted has found that the top three research priorities
identified by the growers are to increase consumer demand for
organic products, study the relationship of growing practices to
crop quality and nutrition, and study the relationship between
plant nutrition and pest resistance. The survey, conducted by
the Organic Farming Research Foundation was mailed to 2,700
certified organic farmers; 550 farmers responded. Nearly one-
third of the farmers surveyed have participated in on-farm
organic farming research projects; more than 80% said they would
be interested in participating in on-farm organic research
projects if the resources were available.
More than 60% of the farmers surveyed grow vegetables;
livestock are most frequently used as a fertilizer source for use
on the farm, according to the survey. More than 80% of those
responding are sole proprietors of their farms or co-owners of
their farms in a family partnership. For more information,
contact OFRF, P.O. Box 440, Santa Cruz, CA 95061; (408) 426-6606.
BOOK DETAILS FARMERS' ORGANIC, LOW-INPUT PRACTICES
The Real Dirt: Farmers Tell About Organic and Low-Input
Practices in the Northeast, a 264-page soft-cover book, has just
been published by the Northeast Organic Farming Association and
was "subsidized by the federal government with a generous grant
from the SARE program." A compilation of "the acquired wisdom
and experience of organic and sustainable farmers from throughout
the Northeast," the book has 19 chapters divided into six
sections and describes the techniques and systems that organic
and low-input farmers relied upon during 1989-1991.
Topics covered in the book are Soil Management, Managing
Pests, Crop Management, Livestock and Dairy Management,
Management and Marketing Concerns, and Transition and Whole-Farm
Design. Also included in the book are photographs, tables,
charts, a glossary, and several resource directories. Copies are
$13.95 from the Northeast Region SARE/ACE Programs, Hills
Building, University of Vermont, Burlington, VT 05405; (802) 656-
IFM PROGRAM REVISIONS WILL GIVE FARMERS MORE FLEXIBILITY
The USDA has announced several revisions in the Integrated
Farm Management (IFM) Program "that increase its usefulness for
farmers," according to the Sustainable Agriculture Coalition.
The current federal farm program sign-up runs through April 29,
the Coalition said. Among the key changes and clarifications in
the program, created by the 1990 Farm Bill, are: IFM participants
will now be eligible to receive disaster payments on resource-
conserving crop acreage, including existing participants who were
affected by past disasters; farmers may enroll one or more crop
bases in the program, rather than be forced to enroll the whole
farm; farmers will be accepted into the program on a first-come,
first-served basis during regular farm program sign-up, rather
than having to wait a month or more after the sign-up period ends
to receive confirmation; IFM may be used in conjunction with the
0/50/85/92 programs; existing legume stands will be eligible as
resource-conserving crops, with approval from SCS; and
experimental and industrial crops are eligible as resource-
conserving crops. The Center for Rural Affairs and the Midwest
Sustainable Agriculture Working Group are providing information
about the IFM program on their "Sustainable Options Hotline" at
CONGRESSMAN FARR TO FORM SUSTAINABLE AG WORKING GROUP
U.S. Representative Sam Farr (D-CA), a member of the House
Committee on Agriculture, announced last month that he will
establish a working group on sustainable agriculture in Congress.
One of the key purposes of the working group will be to keep
Members of Congress informed of the progress of the National
Organic Standards Board and the compliance of the Federal Organic
Foods Production Act of 1990, according to the Congressman's
office. Another key objective of the group will be to ensure
that the organic foods industry is fully acknowledged in the 1995
Farm Bill. When he was a California state legislator,
Congressman Farr was the author of the California Organic Foods
Labelling and Enforcement Act. For more information about the
working group, contact Linda Delgado in the Congressman's
Washington office, (202) 225-2861.
Food for the Future: Conditions and Contradictions of
Sustainability, edited by Patricia Allen, 328 pages, includes 12
chapters by 15 authors; copies are $39.95 from John Wiley &
Sons., Inc., 605 Third Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10158-0012; 1-800-
"The Dairy Debate," an interactive computer program
developed by the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education
Program for exploring the questions posed by BGH/BST, is
available free through the Internet system by sending an e-mail
request to firstname.lastname@example.org; or send a blank, high-density 3
1/2" diskette and a return label, or $5 check payable to UC
Regents to Dairy Diskette, SAREP, University of California,
Davis, CA 95616.
"Water-Efficient Landscaping: A Guide for Utilities and
Community Planners," publication W94-8, is $10 from Scott
Chaplin, Rocky Mountain Institute, 1739 Snowmass Creek Road,
Snowmass, CO 81654-9199; (303) 927-3851.
"Dollars and Sense, A Handbook for Seasonal Grass Dairying"
is $17.95 plus $3.50 shipping/handling from Stockman Grass Farmer
Magazine, P. O. Box 9607, Jackson, MS 39286-9607; 1-800-748-9808.
"Understanding the Human Element in Agricultural Resource
Conservation" is available from Soil and Water Conservation
Society, 7515 Northeast Ankeny Road, Ankeny, IA 50021-9764; (515)
1994 catalog of the MidWest Plan Service, Iowa State
University, is available from MWPS, 122 Davidson Hall, ISU, Ames,
IA 50011-3080; (515) 294-4337 or 1-800-562-3618.
"1994 National Organic Directory" is $34.95 plus $4 shipping
from Community Alliance with Family Farmers, P.O. Box 464, Davis,
CA 95617; (916) 756-8518 or 1-800-852-3832.
Wilson College seeks a director to coordinate the
development of a program in sustainable living centered around a
125-acre farm adjacent to the campus; experience in management of
an organic farm, administration, and fund-raising is preferred;
contact Tom Cheetham, Sustainable Living Center Search Committee,
Wilson College, 1015 Philadelphia Ave., Chambersburg, PA 17201;
(717) 264-4141 ext. 299.
International Society for Ecological Economics and
Environmental and Energy Study Institute seek a doctoral-level
ecological economist to lead a one-year pilot project designed to
integrate questions and concerns of the ecological economics
community into the public policy process; send letter with salary
requirements and curriculum vitae to Ken Murphy, Executive
Director, EESI, 122 C St., NW, #700, Washington, D.C. 20001-2109.
Dordt College seeks an agriculture instructor with
responsibilities for teaching and farm operation on the 160-acre
Agriculture Stewardship Center; farm management experience,
master's degree preferred; send letter, resume, and graduate
transcripts to Dr. Rockne McCarthy, V.P. for Academic Affairs,
Dordt College, Sioux Center, IA 51250-1697; fax, (712) 722-1185.
May 7, Peaceable Kingdom School Plant Swap will be held at
the school; contact the school, P.O. Box 313, Washington, TX
77880; (409) 878-2353.
May 2-May 23 are the starting dates for short courses at the
University of Florida, Institute of Food & Agricultural Sciences:
"Farming Systems Research & Extension: Diagnosis, Design &
Interpretation," May 2-20; "Vegetable Production, Postharvest
Technology & Marketing," May 2-27; "Managing the Produce Export
Business," May 8-28; "Agricultural Programs Management," May 9-
June 3; "Agroforestry Systems: Design & Management," May 9-27;
and "Analysis and Design of On-Farm Research," May 23-June 3.
Contact University of Florida, International Training Division,
IFAS, Academic Programs, P.O. Box 110480, Gainesville, FL 32611;
May 17-21, Oxen Basics workshop will be held at Tillers
International; contact Peter Rice, Tillers, 5239 South 24th St.,
Kalamazoo, MI 49002; (616) 344-3233.
May 23, "Soil Remineralization and Sustainable Agriculture"
will be held at Beltsville Agricultural Research Center, USDA,
ARS, Beltsville, MD; contact National Aggregates Assoc., 900
Spring St., Silver Spring, MD 20910; (301) 587-1400.
May 23-24, "Agricultural Biotechnology and the Public Good,"
the sixth annual National Agricultural Biotechnology Conference,
will be held in East Lansing, MI; contact Eddie Hansen, Michigan
Agricultural Experiment Station, 109 Agriculture Hall, MSU, East
Lansing, MI 48824; (517) 355-0123.
May 28-30, "Naturopathic Herbal Wisdom: Expanding Our
Knowledge of Nature's Curative Plants," the Gaia Herb Symposium,
will be held in Welches, OR; contact Gaia Herb Symposium, 12
Lancaster County Road, Harvard, MA 014151; (800) 252-0688 or
June 4-6 and August 6-28, Land Stewardship Workshops will be
held at the Southwest Regional Center for the Study of Rural
Alternatives, Manuelitas, N.M.; contact Rural Development Service
Group, HC 69, Box 62, Rociada, N.M. 87742; (505) 425-5457/5336.
June 12-15, "Global Strategies for Environmental Issues,"
sponsored by the National Association of Environmental
Professionals, will be held in New Orleans, LA; contact NAEP,
5165 MacArthur Blvd., NW, Washington, D.C. 20016; (202) 966-1500.