Sustainable Agriculture Week
Produced by the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy
April 11, 1994
Volume 3, Number 7
- CLINTON SIGNATURE POSTPONES WORKER PROTECTION RULES
- SARE UPDATE
- CONGRESSIONAL UPDATE
- EPA APPROVES CARCINOGENIC HERBICIDE
- CLEAN WATER AMENDMENTS COULD HARM AGRICULTURE, THE
- SUSTAINABLE ADVOCATE SEES PROFITABILITY IN INNOVATION
- CRP ENROLLEES ASK "WHAT'S NEXT?"
- MONSANTO LAUNCHES SECOND ROUNDUP BEAUTIFICATION EFFORT
- PURDUE RESEARCHERS SAY GRAIN CHILLER IS ALTERNATIVE TO
- ORGANIC COTTON POISED TO GAIN SIGNIFICANT MARKET SHARE
CLINTON SIGNATURE POSTPONES WORKER PROTECTION RULES
President Clinton signed a bill last week that postpones the
implementation of farmworker protection rules until January 1995.
The Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Worker Protection
Standard was supposed to go into effect this month; however, farm
state lawmakers managed to get the rules postponed. "My number
one concern through this whole ordeal has been that the worker
protection standard must be workable and done right from the start,"
said Representative Bill Emerson (R-MO), who co-sponsored the
delaying legislation. "I hope this delay will give all those concerned
more time to find common ground for a sensible EPA policy
regarding farm workers and agricultural pesticides," he said.
The rules are designed to protect farmworkers from some of the
dangers associated with pesticides. Specifically, the rules require the
following: Safety posters containing emergency assistance
information must be displayed; particulars about the applied
pesticides, including name, registration number and active
ingredients, must also be displayed; notification of the date and time
of application; workers must be notified where information is
posted; safety training must be given to applicators; and a
decontamination site must be established within 1/4 mile where
pesticides are being applied. Senator Larry Pressler (D-SD) said the
delay was necessary as only a few farmers knew about the rules.
Lloyd Anderson, an EPA field officer in Lincoln, NE, expressed
disappointment about the delay. "Some people say it's going to cost a
lot, but I don't know if you can put a value on life. The whole thing
is designed to save lives. We've got to give it a chance." The rules go
into effect January 1, 1995.
Source: Sheri Poore, "Farmers Get Reprieve on Complying With
Worker Protection Rules," THE NEIGHBOR, March 25, 1994; Curt
Anderson, "EPA-Pesticides," AP, April 7, 1994; FARMWORKER
JUSTICE FUND ACTION ALERT, March 11, 1994.
Last month, the USDA's Western Region Sustainable Agriculture
Research and Education (SARE) program announced it is moving
administration facilities from the University of California-Davis to
Utah State University. The Logan branch of Utah State University
was chosen to administer the program after a selection process by
SARE's administrative council and was approved by the USDA's
Cooperative State Research Service. SARE is a competitive grants
program that funds sustainable agriculture projects throughout the
country. Other regional policy-making bodies are North Central,
Northeast and Southern. Inquiries will continue to be handled at UC-
Davis until next year.
Last year, the sustainable agriculture community celebrated a
victory when Congress appropriated funding for the Sustainable
Agriculture Technology Development and Transfer Program,
otherwise known as Chapter 3. Essentially, the program involves the
training of extension agents around the country in sustainable
agricultural practices so that techniques can be passed on to
producers. The USDA had recently been debating exactly how to
spend the appropriations. With the help of USDA Deputy Secretary
Richard Romminger, an agreement was reached whereby a training
consortia will be established in each of the four SARE regions. These
consortia will address the training of extension agents, Soil
Conservation Service and Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation
Service staff in sustainable agriculture. A sustainable agriculture
extension coordinator will be selected by each state and each region
will have a consortium coordinator. Training monies will be awarded
on a competitive basis.
A call for proposals is expected to be issued soon. The anticipated
deadline for proposals is May 16, 1994.
Source: Kristen Kelleher, "USDA Moves Sustainable Ag Grants
Program From UC to Utah," Email communication, March 1, 1994;
Ferd Hoefner, "SARE Chapter 3," Email communication, April 1, 1994;
Phil Rasmussen, "Pre-CFP Notice of Western Regional Sustainable
Agriculture Extension Training Grants," Email communication, March
Representative Sam Farr (D-CA), member of the House Committee on
Agriculture, announced in February that he intends to establish a
congressional working group on sustainable agriculture. The purpose
of the working group will be to keep members of Congress informed
about the progress of the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB)
and to ensure that organic agriculture is considered in the upcoming
debate over the 1995 Farm Bill.
Late last month, Representative Henry Waxman (D-CA) introduced
legislation aimed at reforming the nation's pesticide laws. The bill's
requirements include: a review of all Class C pesticides, which are
probable carcinogens; consideration of the effects of pesticides on
children in the wake of last year's study by the National Academy of
Sciences; phase out of highly hazardous inert, or inactive, ingredients;
and phase out of tolerances for many dangerous pesticides over the
next five to seven years.
The National Campaign for Pesticide Policy Reform, a coalition of
national and local groups working on pesticide use reduction issues,
called the introduction of the Waxman bill "a landmark move." Dr.
Philip Landrigan, who chaired the NAS committee that examined the
effects of pesticides on children, said, "The bill provides a prevention
and public health-based approach to environmental regulation that
specifically protects children's health. It goes a long way towards
ensuring that America's children will be able to eat a normal diet of
fresh fruits and vegetables and processed food with pesticide levels
that will not exceed acceptable risk standards for cancer and other
Reaction from the chemical industry was negative. The National Food
Processors Association called the bill "unrealistic." John McCarthy,
vice president for science and regulatory affairs at the National
Agricultural Chemical Association (NACA), said, "There's almost a
feeding frenzy on this issue right now. Everyone is searching for the
answer on the breast cancer issue," he said. Pesticides, he said, are
simply an easy target.
A recent article in the NATIONAL JOURNAL said passage of the bill
looked dubious. The bill is bound to be caught between Waxman's
health subcommittee and the Agriculture Committee, which tends to
side with the chemical industry. A similar fight between the Labor
and Human Resources Committee and the Agriculture, Nutrition and
Forestry Committee in the Senate is also anticipated. "Until scientists
come up with definitive evidence that pesticides are triggering
breast cancer, lowering sperm counts or causing some other horrible
health effects in humans, congressional gridlock is likely to prevent
passage of any aggressive food safety legislation," the article
Source: "Congressman Sam Farr to Establish a Sustainable
Agriculture Working Group," HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
MEMORANDUM, February 25, 1994; "National Campaign for Pesticide
Policy Reform Applauds Introduction of Waxman Bill Reducing Use of
Toxic Pesticides," Email communication, March 22, 1994; SUMMARY
OF THE NEW WAXMAN BILL, March 1994; Margaret Kriz, "Warning:
Congress May Be Hazardous," NATIONAL JOURNAL, March 26, 1994.
EPA APPROVES CARCINOGENIC HERBICIDE
Last month, the EPA announced it approved the use of acetochlor, a
carcinogenic herbicide, for use on corn crops. The two companies
that received the right to market the product are Monsanto and
Zeneca AG. The herbicide is considered a B-2 grade carcinogen and
has been shown to cause cancer in laboratory rats. EPA Assistant
Administrator Lynn Goldman, who addressed a crowd at the National
Coalition for the Misuse Use of Pesticide's (NCAMP) annual meeting
the day before approval was announced, defended the action. "Other
herbicides already used on corn in this country are also carcinogenic.
We believe this one puts the American public at less risk than the
alternatives," she said. She justified the decision, saying only half the
amount of acetochlor is needed to combat weeds compared with
other herbicides. Therefore, the overall use of chemicals will be
reduced. Goldman also said traces of acetochlor did not appear in the
form of residues in food.
The EPA did place limits on the use of acetochlor. For example, the
two companies must assure that within five years, U.S. farmers will
reduce their use of all pesticides similar to acetochlor by 66 million
pounds, or overall use by 1/3. If the condition is not met,
registration will be revoked.
Environmental groups criticized the move, implying that it
demonstrated a double-standard on the part of the Clinton
administration. "Given the cancer crisis we are facing in this country,
it's ludicrous for this administration to be registering a chemical
which has carcinogenic effects for use by farmers," said Jay Goldman
of NCAMP. "The use of this chemical or other chemicals is not really
necessary for successful farming," said Rhonda Janke of the Rodale
Potential public health risk should not even be a concern, according
to Arnold Donald, a vice president at Monsanto. "A human would
have to drink 1.7 million gallons of acetochlor a day for life for it to
produce the kinds of toxic effects it had in rats and mice," he said.
Source: Gary Lee, "EPA Approves Carcinogenic Herbicide;
Environmentalists Object," WASHINGTON POST, March 13, 1994.
CLEAN WATER AMENDMENTS COULD HARM AGRICULTURE, THE
Much of the testimony before a recent House Agriculture committee
panel concluded that agriculture should not be tied into clean water
compliance laws and amendments to the Clean Water Act (CWA)
currently under consideration. The "goal line" for water quality
under the CWA could be unrealistic if all water is required to be
fishable and swimmable, in addition to drinkable. "Better
identification of impaired watersheds and better programs to
manage sources that have been associated with impaired water
quality are important goals," said Judy Olson of the National Wheat
Growers Association. She criticized proposed amendments to the
CWA that would mandate best management practices for agricultural
nonpoint sources in all areas, whether or not the watershed is
impaired. Effective management practices need to be emphasized,
she said, not necessarily control and source reduction.
Ron Jones and Larry Frarey of Tarleton State University in Texas said
moving toward environmental compliance will put agricultural
interests at a disadvantage. Agriculture should have been consulted
in the country's pollution control efforts in the past. Now, the
agriculture community must "react to legislative proposals from the
environmental community rather than create alternative initiatives
that include the perspective of agricultural producers," they said.
Also testifying was John Tarburton, Delaware secretary of
agriculture, on behalf of the National Association of State
Departments of Agriculture. "Science should be used as the
foundation of all water quality decision," he argued. Farmers and
ranchers will respond in a reasonable time then they know there is a
problem. He also recommended the involvement of the private
sector, particularly land owners, in amending the CWA, which is up
for reauthorization this year.
Source: Gordon Carlson, "Ag Interests Warn Against Stringent Clean
Water Rules," FEEDSTUFFS, March 28, 1994.
SUSTAINABLE ADVOCATE SEES PROFITABILITY IN INNOVATION
Speaking at the annual meeting of the Sustainable Farmers
Association in Minnesota, Craig Cramer, editor of NEW FARM
magazine, said innovative farmers can make a profit if they use
sustainable practices. Reducing inputs and increasing diversification
has lead to increased profits for many farming enterprises, he said.
Only recently have farmers emphasized high-production and high
inputs in agriculture. "Farming gets a little more fun," he said, "when
you look beyond the bushels."
Three ways to increase profitability are farming more land, spending
less on inputs and adding value to crops or livestock on the farm. "I
don't recommend the getting bigger route," Cramer said.
Cramer recommends what is known as Holistic Resource
Management. Advocated by groups such as the Land Stewardship
Project (LSP), HRM involves identifying those resources available on
the farm and determining goals for the farm and the farming family
while developing ways to achieve these goals and maintain the
farm's ecosystem simultaneously. "It does not devalue the how-to's,
but it puts it into perspective," said Richard Ness of LSP.
Source: Amy Jo Brandel, "Sustainable Ag Proponent Sees Innovation
in Farming Practices," AGRI NEWS, March 24, 1994.
CRP ENROLLEES ASK "WHAT'S NEXT?"
Participants in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) who receive
government assistance to take highly erodible land out of production
are asking "What's next?" as contracts begin to expire next year.
"Our hopes would be that some kind of a contract would be renewed
so that it can be extended. If not, we're prepared to farm it again
with the help of the Soil Conservation people as we are concerned
about holding our soil erosion loss to a minimum," said Dan Foss, who
farms with his son in Kandiyohi County in Minnesota. Foss said he
currently has about 200 acres enrolled in CRP and an additional 200
acres of highly erodible land, which is farmed using conservation
tillage methods. Greg Anderson, who runs the CRP in Minnesota, said
most farmers either want to see contracts extended or highly
erodible land put into some long-term easement. "It's all up to
Congress. In talking to farm groups, environmental groups, federal
and state agencies, I think there's a general consensus that CRP
extensions need to take place in some fashion, not necessarily in the
total number of acres," he said.
A recent article in AGRI VIEW says it is likely that CRP will continue
under the 1995 Farm Bill. "I think it will stick around in some form,"
said Alan King of the USDA. However, participants will likely
undergo closer scrutiny to ensure that highly erodible land has in
fact been taken out of production, he said. "The CRP has fallen short
of it environmental goals because many of the cover crops planted on
the land did not truly take the acreage out of production."
In another story, CRP land is known as the land that is difficult to
sell. Taking erodible land out of production "was one of the things
that helped turn around the farmland market back in 1986 and '87,"
said Lyle Siefering at a recent Realtor's meeting. Now, he said, CRP
land is being discounted at an average of $200-$300 an acre over
non-CRP land. "CRP land has become a very difficult class of land to
sell, if not impossible," he said. He attributed the phenomenon to the
obvious: the high demand for quality land for agricultural
Source: Andrea Jorgenson, "Expiring CRP Contracts Leave Farmers
With Questions," THE LAND, March 25, 1994; "CRP Extension Expected
in '95 Farm Bill," AGRI VIEW, March 25, 1994; "CRP Land is Proving
Difficult to Sell," AGRI NEWS, March 24, 1994.
MONSANTO LAUNCHES SECOND ROUNDUP BEAUTIFICATION EFFORT
City officials in Albany, New York said they were recently
approached by the Monsanto company about "a city beautification
project." The company is reportedly looking for new cities to join its
beautification effort, which began last year, called the Roundup
Spontaneous Weed Attack Team -- or SWAT. A letter to Jane
Schram, director of volunteer services with the city of Albany, from
Holly Holman, an account executive with The Lawrence Company, a
public relations firm, states, "The SWAT city beautification effort is in
conjunction with a national promotion for Roundup grass and weed
killer... The mission of the SWAT Team is to make residential
neighborhoods cleaner, safer and more beautiful places to live."
Operating in 15 cities around the U.S., the SWAT Teams, made up of
local volunteers recruited by the company, will kill weeds using
Roundup in addition to collecting trash, planting flowers, cleaning up
graffiti and" other activities necessary to create a more beautiful
One city official referred the company to an environmental activist
who hesitated at the idea of spraying his neighborhood with
Roundup. "They touted the product as totally environmentally
friendly," said Tom Rowlands. "When I investigated with people who
know more about this than I do, I was told it was not totally safe."
Tracy Frisch with the New York Coalition for Alternatives to
Pesticides, said, "The idea is to make people feel more weed-paranoid
and to position Roundup as a socially conscious brand." The company
has since decided not to pursue Albany as a SWAT site. Other cities
listed as 1994 SWAT markets are San Francisco, Phoenix, San
Antonio, Houston, Tampa, New Orleans, Salt Lake City, Mobile,
Minneapolis, Green Bay and Rochester, New York.
Source: Letter to Jane Schram from Holly Holman, the Lawrence
Company, September 1993; METROLAND, January 1994.
PURDUE RESEARCHERS SAY GRAIN CHILLER IS ALTERNATIVE TO
Researchers at Purdue University introduced the "grain chiller"
recently. The grain chiller is a portable air conditioner which
attaches to aeration ducts in a grain bin and kills pests with a blast of
cold air, eliminating the need for pesticides. They hope that it will be
purchased by grain elevators in warmer climates, organic producers
or those who ship grain to countries with sticter chemical residue
standards. European grain farmers are already employing a similar
The USDA recently discovered that oil from the neem plant can
prevent certain fungi from harming flowering plants like roses and
lilacs -- something the people of India have known for centuries.
James Locke, a plant pathologist with the USDA, said the oil is
extracted from the neem seed and when mixed with water, "acts like
a raincoat" against fungi spores that are spread by wind and rain. "If
the spores can't adhere to a leaf, germinate and penetrate the cells,
they can't cause disease," he said. Locke is testing the oil as a
fungicide under an agreement with W.R. Grace & Company. Last
year, thousands of Indian citizens and farmers protested the
patenting of the neem by a Wisconsin resident who has since turned
over the license to W.R. Grace.
Source: "'Grain Chiller' a No-Pesticide Storage Solution," GANNET
NEWS SERVICE, March 18, 1994; "Neem Oil Protects Flowering Plants
Against Diseases," USDA NEW RELEASES, March 3, 1994.
ORGANIC COTTON POISED TO GAIN SIGNIFICANT MARKET SHARE
Organic cotton may gain a 5-10% market share by the end of the
decade, said Philip Wakelyn of the United States National Cotton
Council. Currently organic cotton accounts for only about .02% of the
total market. Any increase will be the result of marketing efforts
aimed at responding to consumer preferences for natural fibers.
Conventional cotton growers, he said, will also seek to stress that
their product is natural. Wakelyn made the comments at the 22nd
annual Cotton Conference held in Bremen, Germany last month.
Source: "'Organic' Cotton May Gain Market Share," REUTER, March 2,
New Farm magazine is published seven times a year by the Rodale
Institute. Articles of interest in the March/April 1994 edition
include: "Herbicide-free weed management;" "The quick N-trapping
cover;" and "Mini-farm, maxi-profits." Subscription rates begin at
$15.00/year. For more information, contact the Rodale Institute, 222
Main Street, Emmaus, PA 18098, Tel: (610) 967-8405.
Farmer to Farmer is a quarterly publication of the Community
Alliance with Family Farmers Foundation in California. The February
1994 issue examines bio-based weapons used by some farmers in
agricultural production. Also included are advertisements for
sustainable agriculture consultants, recent publications and "farm
facts." Subscriptions begin at $15.00/year. For more information,
contact Farmer to Farmer, P.O. Box 73674, Davis, CA 95617, Tel:
CALENDAR OF EVENTS
Global Conference on the Sustainable Development of Small Island
Developing States, April 1994, Barbados. FFI, contact: UN/CSD,
United Nations, UNDC Two Building Room DC2-0803, 2 United Nations
Plaza, New York, NY 10017.
People's Rights and Security: Sustainable Development Strategies for
the 21st Century, April 6-9, 1994, Mexico City, Mexico. FFI, contact:
Tina Liamzon, Society for International Development, Palazzo Civilta
del Lavoro, 00144 Rome, Italy, Tel: (06) 592-5506, Fax: (06) 591-
9836, email: email@example.com.
Planting for the Future, April 9 in Benson, MN and April 23 in Grand
Rapids, MN. FFI, contact: Tree Trust, 4100 Vernon Avenue South, St.
Louis Park, MN 55416, Tel: (612) 920-9326.
Organic Coffee Production, April 11-16, 1994, Chiapas, Mexico. FFI,
contact: AMAE c/o Jose Dardon Hernandez, Calle Central Pontiente
No. 14-A, Tapachula, Chiapas, Mexico, CP 30700, Tel: (52) 962-
51682, Fax: (52) 962-60455.
Together: Communities Creating A Sustainable Future, April 14-16,
1994, Minneapolis, MN. FFI, contact: National Community Education
Association, 3929 Old Lee Highway, Suite 91-A, Fairfax, VA 22030,
Tel: (703) 359-8973, Fax: (703) 359-0972.
A Permaculture Perspective on Agroforestry, Forestry, Windbreaks,
Shelterbelts and Hedgerows, April 15-17, 1994, Ramsey, MN. FFI,
contact: Bruce Bacon, Crandall Garden Farm, 7363 175th Avenue
NW, Ramsey, MN 55303, Tel: (612) 753-5099 or Michael Pilarski,
Friends of the Trees, P.O. Box 1064, Tonasket, WA 98855, Tel: (509)
Integrated Pest Management Symposium, April 19-22, 1994, Las
Vegas, NV. FFI, contact: Ronald Kuhr, Department of Entomology,
Box 7613, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC 27695.
Kansas Sustainable Agriculture Symposium, April 20, 1994,
Manhattan, KS. FFI, contact: Tel: (800) 432-8222, Tel: (913) 532-
Environmentally Sound Agriculture Conference, April 20-22, 1994,
Orlando, FL. FFI, contact: Kenneth Campbell, University of Florida,
P.O. Box 110570, Gainesville, FL 32611, Tel: (904) 392-8534, Fax:
(904) 392-4092, email: firstname.lastname@example.org or Wendy Graham,
University of Florida, Tel: (904) 932-9113, Fax: (904) 392-4092,
Produced by: Michelle Thom, Institute for Agriculture and Trade
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