Sustainable Agriculture Week
Produced by the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy
May 25, 1994
Volume 3, Number 10
- SAWGs BEGIN CAMPAIGN FOR SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE
- PUBLICATION PRAISES APPROVAL OF ACETOCHLOR
- USDA RELEASES 1992 PESTICIDE RESIDUE SUMMARY
- BRITISH FARMERS DEBATE SET-ASIDE
- ECOGEN WORKING ON BIOPESTICIDES
- GRAZING PROMOTED AT RECENT BEEF EXPO
- IOWA EXTENSION SELLING IPM RESOURCES
SAWGs BEGIN CAMPAIGN FOR SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE
The regional Sustainable Agriculture Working Groups (SAWGs),
which have been working to promote sustainable agricultural policy
initiatives at a national level, have launched a Campaign for
Sustainable Agriculture. The campaign will focus on the upcoming
debate over the 1995 Farm Bill. Campaign strategies include
activating member organizations; action alert networks; organizing
meetings; and building support among congressional members. The
SAWGs met in a National Dialogue earlier this year to prioritize policy
options for the 1995 Farm Bill. Among the Dialogue's priorities are
"green payment" incentives for farmers who produce sustainably;
fair trade policies; community-oriented development and marketing;
total farm resource management; and minority farmers and
farmworkers rights. For more information, contact the National
Sustainable Agriculture Coordinating Council, 32 North Church Street,
Goshen, NY 10924, Tel: (914) 294-0633, Fax: (914) 294-0632.
California joined the National Dialogue with the recent formation of
its own sustainable agriculture working group. Members of the
California SAWG include the California Alliance with Family Farmers,
California Certified Organic Farmers, the Tri-County Pesticide
Coalition and the California Rice Industry Association. The California
SAWG joins the Midwest SAWG, the Northeast SAWG and the
Source: Amy Little, Memo to Participants in the National Dialogue,
May 9, 1994; Kai Seidenburg, "SAWGs: Changing Policy, Changing
Agriculture," RURAL CALIFORNIA REPORT, Spring 1994.
PUBLICATION PRAISES APPROVAL OF ACETOCHLOR
A recent issue of FOOD PRODUCT DESIGN, a publication of the food
processing industry, praised the approval of the herbicide acetochlor
(see Sustainable Agriculture Week 4/11/94), a known carcinogen, for
use on corn. Robert Weeks said approval made sense for three
reasons: acetochlor is more efficient than other chemicals and will
reduce overall use; the carcinogens acetochlor will replace are far
more potent and dangerous; and the herbicide will be subjected to
continuous monitoring and reapproval after 10 years. He said the
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) deserves praise for trying to
reduce the health risks associated with pesticide use. "These actions
on acetochlor indicate a continuing common sense approach by the
EPA under [Administrator] Carol Browner's leadership," Weeks said.
In other EPA news, the agency is reportedly holding off on
completing reviews of some pesticides. In a statement released in
April, the agency said it was holding off "to avoid wasting resources
on actions that may be revised once various policy issues ... are
resolved." Sources believe the delay is in anticipation of changes to
the federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act's Delaney Clause, which
prohibits the presence of carcinogens in processed foods.
Source: Robert F. Weeks, "A Common Sense Solution," FOOD PRODUCT
DESIGN, April 1994; "EPA Stops Review of Some Pesticides, Pending
Legislation," FEEDSTUFFS, May 2, 1994.
USDA RELEASES 1992 PESTICIDE RESIDUE SUMMARY
In April, the USDA released its 1992 summary of pesticide residues
on selected produce. The data comes from the department's
Pesticide Data Program (PDP), set up in 1991 to gather data about
pesticide residues on fruits and vegetables. For the 1992 summary,
samples were collected randomly at terminal markets and
distribution centers "to be as close to the consumer level as possible."
Lon Hatamiya of the USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service said in
general, samples showed pesticide residues well below generally
accepted levels by the EPA. However, residues were detected in
61.2% of all produce tested. For individual commodities, residues
ranged from 35.3% to 88.5% of all samples tested. Hatamiya
attributes this to the sensitive detection capability of the PDP. More
information can be obtained from William Franks or Robert Epstein,
Science Division, AMS, USDA, P.O. Box 96456, Washington, D.C. 20090,
Tel: (202) 720-5231.
Source: "USDA Releases 1992 Pesticide Residue Summary," USDA
NEWS RELEASES, April 11, 1994.
BRITISH FARMERS DEBATE SET-ASIDE
A recent article in the FINANCIAL TIMES reports that farmers are
bitterly debating the pros and cons of set-aside under the European
Union's (EU) Common Agricultural Policy, which requires that 15% of
a farmer's land be kept out of production in an effort to control
production. Patrick Holden of the British Organic Farmers said the
policy is a farce as farmers will simply step up production on their
available land, thereby further damaging the environment. Trying to
promote set-aside in the name of environmental protection "is just
making the best of a bad job," said Holden.
Howard Fearn of the British Ministry of Agriculture disagreed, saying
a recent study by Wye College of the University of London showed
farmers were not necessarily intensifying production on existing
land. He said that the environment was inextricably linked to
agricultural policy and is becoming a way of making agricultural
subsidies more acceptable to the taxpayers. "The only way of getting
the taxpayer rather than the farmer to pay is to introduce something
called the environment," he said.
Most farmers agree that the environment is important, but bottom
line financial concerns will undoubtedly win out in choosing their
methods of agricultural production. "They can look towards the
movement of sustainable farming, but if they take their eye off the
costs, they're in deep trouble," said Jim McCauley, one of the
meeting's organizers. "At the end of the day, farmers have got to
produce a net profit."
Earlier this month, the EU launched its first environmental audit of
farming practices. The audit is the idea of a group known as LEAF --
Linking Environment and Farming -- which seeks to promote
profitable but ecologically sustainable farming methods. Farmers
with 100 or more hectares of land in production will be asked to fill
out a questionnaire which asks about their practices pertaining to
wildlife habitat, the landscape, soil management, crop protection,
energy conservation, pollution control, animal welfare and overall
farm planning and organization. "I hope that carrying out this
exercise will help farmers get and maintain markets for their
produce by building a better image for their products," said U.K.
Minister of Agriculture Gillian Shepherd.
Source: Alison Maitland, "Ankle Deep in Agricultural Controversy,"
FINANCIAL TIMES, May 6, 1994; Alison Maitland, "Best Practice for
Survival," FINANCIAL TIMES, May 11, 1994.
ECOGEN WORKING ON BIOPESTICIDES
The biotechnology company Ecogen is working on a biopesticide that
relies on the use of natural scents, known as pheromones, to sexually
stimulate male insects. The insects become disoriented with
overstimulation and lose their ability to mate. Driving the
development is the notion that "the confused males can't find the
females, no mating occurs and the next generation of pests is wiped
out," according to Ecogen Vice President John McIntyre.
Biopesticide manufacturers like Ecogen hope to catch a significant
market share by the year 2000 by promoting products that prey on
specific pests without harming natural predators or the surrounding
ecosystem. "The goal is to develop biorational products that are
ecologically sound and are not harmful to humans and other living
creatures. Biopesticides are naturally occurring organisms ... Such
products do not contaminate the soil or ground water and leave no
harmful residue on foods. They are safe for consumers, friendly to
the environment and good news for growers who want to remain
competitive in the global market," said Ecogen CEO Jim Reilly.
The company is also reportedly working on inserting Bacillus
thuringiensis (Bt) genes into organisms.
In Florida, citrus growers are experimenting with the use of parasitic
wasps to combat the leafminer moth, which is adversely affecting
this year's crop. The wasps, from Australia, kill the moths by
stinging them and depositing internal parasites, which eventually kill
them. "The initial releases are promising. We've had two
researchers report that they saw the wasps stinging the eggs of the
leafminer, so there's a good possibility we already have some
parasitism going on," said Marjorie Hoy, an entomologist at the
University of Florida in Gainesville. Hoy said the advantage of the
technology is that the wasps often succeed where traditional
Source: "Biopesticides are Tough on Pests, Gentle on the
Environment," PR NEWSWIRE, April 22, 1994; "Citrus Growers Fight
Moths With Wasps," REUTER, May 5, 1994.
GRAZING PROMOTED AT RECENT BEEF EXPO
At the recent World Beef Expo, management-intensive cattle grazing
was promoted as an alternative to traditional feedlot production. Jim
Gerrish of the University of Missouri's Forage Systems Research
Center said the notion of management intensive grazing is built on
four principles: meeting the nutrient needs of the livestock;
optimizing forage yield; protecting and enhancing the natural
resource base of the farm; and making a profit. "All of these factors
are closely interrelated and should be considered from a total
systems approach," said Gerrish. He said in designing an intensive
grazing system, farmers need to consider the availability and quality
of forage in order for the system to work and be profitable. The
expo took place in Madison, Wisconsin in April.
Source: Jeff DeYoung, "Grazing System Emphasizes Importance of
Management," IOWA FARMER TODAY, May 14, 1994.
IOWA EXTENSION SELLING IPM RESOURCES
The Iowa State University Extension Service is selling a variety of
publications on Integrated Pest Management (IPM) and Integrated
Crop Management (ICM) techniques. The ICM HANDBOOK (MFD-5)
helps people integrate overall knowledge of their farming system,
said Jerry Miller, and extension agronomist. The handbook costs $15.
Four publications on IPM are also available. They are entitled:
"Beneficial Insects in Field Crops" (IPM-34); "Insects Pests of
Soybeans" (IPM-32); "Insect Pests of Corn" (IPM-31); and "Insect
Pests of Alfalfa" (IPM-31). The first copy is free, with additional
copies costing 50 cents.
The handbooks are available from Extension Publications
Distribution, Printing and Publications Building, ISU, Ames, IA 50011.
Source: Dan Zinkand, "Handbooks Tell How to Blend IPM Into Farm
System," IOWA FARMERS TODAY, May 14, 1994.
AN ECONOMIC ANALYSIS OF ORGANIC COTTON AS A NICHE CROP IN
TEXAS is a report prepared by the Graduate School of Business at the
University of Texas-Austin for the Texas Bureau of Business. The
report examines the advantages and economic implications of organic
cotton production in Texas. Recommendations include: creating
incentives for producing and processing cottons in ways that are
environmentally friendly; encouraging value-added enterprises;
developing local producers' groups to promote a local value-added
industry; funding for research on producing and processing niche
cottons; and eliminating disincentives for alternative methods of
agricultural production. For a copy, contact the Bureau of Business,
Austin, TX Research, P.O. Box 7459, Austin, TX 78713, Tel: (512)
471-1616l Fax: (512) 471-1063.
The Center for Alternative Plant and Animal Products at the
University of Minnesota has available an annual report on the
center's activities and a bibliography of publications on alternative
agricultural commodity opportunities. For more information, contact
Center for Alternative Plant and Animal Products, 340 Alderman
Hall, 1970 Folwell Avenue, University of Minnesota, St. Paul, MN
CALENDAR OF EVENTS
PRAIRIE FESTIVAL 1994: THE PATTERN WHICH CONNECTS, May 27-
29, 1994, Salina, KS. FFI, contact: The Land Institute, 2440 East
Water Well Road, Salina, KS 67401.
LEGUMES IN CROPPING SYSTEMS OF THE TROPICS AND SUBTROPICS,
May 30-June 24, 1994, Stuttgart, Germany. FFI, contact: Course
Coordinator, Centre for Agriculture in the Tropics and Subtropics,
University of Hohenheim, 70593 Stuttgart, Germany, Tel: (49) 0711
459-3742, Fax: (49) 0711 459-3315.
ROLE OF THE UNIVERSITY OF THE PHILIPPINES IN THE
DEVELOPMENT OF A SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE: DEALING WITH
INSTITUTIONAL CONSTRAINTS, June 1, 1994, St. Paul, MN. FFI,
contact: Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture, Tel: (612)
625-8235, Email: email@example.com.
DEFINING SUSTAINABLE COMMUNITIES: WHAT ARE THEY? HOW DO WE GET THERE?, June
2-4, 1994, Oakland, CA. FFI, contact: Defining
Sustainable Communities, 2000 P Street NW, Suite 408, Washington,
D.C. 20036, Tel: (202) 833-4667, Fax: (202) 833-4670.
TOWARD THE WORLD GOVERNING OF THE ENVIRONMENT, June 2-5,
1994, Venice, Italy. FFI, contact: International Court of the
Environment, Corte Suprema di Cassazione, Piazza Cavour 1, 00193
Rome, Italy, Tel: (39) 6 6868597, Fax: (39) 6 68300783.
ENVIRONMENTAL AGRICULTURE: TOWARDS 2000, June 5-8, 1994,
Queensland, Australia. FFI, contact: ISEAT Symposium Secretariat,
National Australia Travel Ltd., P.O. Box 9909, Brisbane, Queensland,
Australia, Tel: (61) 75 390333, Fax: (61) 75 390195, email:
SOCIETY AND RESOURCE MANAGEMENT: 5TH INTERNATIONAL
SYMPOSIUM, June 7-10, 1994, Fort Collins, CO. FFI, contact: Jennifer
Pate, Tel: (303) 491-2077.
CUISINE, AGRICULTURE AND SOCIAL CHANGE, June 9-12, 1994,
Tucson, AZ. FFI, contact: Gerry Walter, 59 Mumford, 1301 West
Gregory Drive, Urbana, IL 61801, Tel: (217) 333-9429, Fax: (217)
244-7503, email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
HOUSE AGRICULTURE SUBCOMMITTEE ON DEPARTMENT OPERATIONS AND NUTRITION HEARINGS
ON CLINTON ADMINISTRATION PESTICIDE BILL, June 14-15, 1994, Washington, D.C.
FFI, contact: Stan Ray, Subcommittee Staff, Tel: (202) 2125-1495.
LAKE SUPERIOR ALLIANCE MEETING, June 17-19, 1994, Bayfield, WI.
FFI, contact: Jim Bradley, FOCUS, Tel: (906) 884-4274 or Andrew
Savagian, Sierra Club, Tel: (608) 257-4994.
INTERNATIONAL SYMPOSIUM ON ECOSYSTEM HEALTH AND
MEDICINE: NEW GOALS FOR ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT, June
19-23, 1994, Ottawa, Ontario. FFI, contact: Remo Petrongolo, Office
of Continuing Education, 159 Johnston Hall, University of Guelph,
Guelph, Ontario N1G 2W1, Canada, Tel: (519) 824-4120, Fax: (519)
WOMEN, FOOD AND AGRICULTURE, June 24-26, 1994, Loveland, OH.
FFI, contact: Audrey Sorrento, 932 OUBannonville Road, Loveland, OH
45140, Tel: (513) 683-2340.
GLOBAL FORUM U94: CITIES AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT, June 24-July 3, 1993,
Manchester, England. FFI, contact: Global Forum
U94, Eastgate, Castle Street, Castlefield, Manchester M3 4LZ, England,
Tel: (44) 061 234-3741, Fax: (44) 061 234-3743.
INTRODUCTION TO SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURAL SYSTEMS, June 27-August 18, 1994,
Davis, CA. FFI, contact: Mark Van Horn, Student
Experimental Farm, Department of Agronomy, University of
California, Davis, CA 95616, Tel: (916) 752-7645.
Produced by: Michelle Thom, Institute for Agriculture and Trade
Policy, 1313 5th Street SE Suite 303, Minneapolis, MN 55414, Tel:
(612) 379-5980 Fax: (612) 379-5982 EMail: email@example.com or
firstname.lastname@example.org. In addition to this news bulletin, the
Institute publishes a variety of news bulletins on agriculture, the
environment and international trade. All bulletins may be
reproduced and distributed freely without prior permission as long
as proper attribution is included. A copy of any publication in which
an IATP bulletin is cited would be appreciated.