A recent article in FEEDSTUFFS makes the claim that budgetary
pressures may force an end to the popular Conservation Reserve
Program (CRP), which pays farmers to keep highly erodible land out
of production. Next year, an estimated 2.04 million acres of CRP
contracts are set to expire followed by an additional 13.67 million in
1996, 8.76 million acres in 1997, 5.36 million acres in 1998 and 4.1
million acres in 1999. The cost of the program, farm policy changes
and definitions of eligible land are likely to shape the upcoming
debate over extending the CRP.
"Traditional agricultural groups are likely to want a future program
that emphasizes incentive" for participation, said Jeffrey Zinn of the
Congressional Research Service, which authored a recent report on
the program. Zinn said he expects much of the debate which took
place around CRP and the 1985 Farm Bill to take place again within
the context of the 1995 Farm Bill. He described CRP as the "carrot"
portion of conservation programs as it provided positive incentives
for participation. The "stick" part became conservation compliance
plans for farmers who plant on vulnerable acreage.
Overall, CRP has reduced erosion by 700 million tons per year since it
began after the 1985 Farm Bill. States with the most enrolled acres
are Texas, North Dakota, Kansas and Montana. A 1993 survey
showed only about 13% of enrolled acreage would remain out of
production if CRP were not continued. The article says if current
rates were extended, 76% of enrollees would keep their land out of
production. However, extending current rates is unlikely given
Source: Gordon S. Carlson, "Budget Pressure to Force Congress to
Dismantle Popular CRP," FEEDSTUFFS, June 13, 1994.
SOME THINK THERE WILL BE NO NEW FUNDING FOR SUSTAINABLE
AG IN 1995
Some legislators are reaching the conclusion that there will be no
new funding for sustainable agriculture programs in the 1995 Farm
Bill. The reason, they say, is a budget-cutting atmosphere in
Washington. "We're going to be confined. I don't think there's going
to be any new dollars," said Representative Tom Ewing (R-IL).
Minnesota Representative Tim Penny (D-MN), know for his fiscal
conservatism, agreed saying he expected the trend of agriculture
budget-cutting to continue. "If the budget deficit rises, it will be
unavoidable that agriculture will be expected to shoulder some of the
cuts," he said. Representative Richard Durbin (D-IL) recommended
that legislators "face reality" when they write the 1995 Farm Bill.
Others see the problem as not necessarily budget-related but as the
consequence of a loss of influence by House and Senate Agriculture
Committees. For example, legislation for reauthorizing the Clean
Water Act (CWA), the Safe Drinking Water Act, the Endangered
Species Act (ESA) and the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and
Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) has been or will be drafted by
environmental committees. "My feeling is that the 1995 Farm Bill
will be the heart of a response to a number of other pieces of
legislation," said Paul Johnson of the Soil Conservation Service (SCS).
Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA) said legislation such as the CWA will
have a significant impact on agriculture. He called the act "a new
beast ... with serious ramifications for the viability of American
agriculture." He also called nonpoint source pollution a "weather-
related problem" that cannot be blamed solely on agriculture. Loni
Kemp of the Midwest Sustainable Agriculture Working Group said
the CWA and the 1995 Farm Bill are integrated policies. The CWA
will direct states to deal with run-off while the Farm Bill will handle
agriculture programs for stemming run-off pollution. Kemp said
commodity programs need to be re-directed toward environmental
stewardship and research and extension funding should emphasize
Source: Edward Felker, "1995 Farm Bill Debate ...," AGRI NEWS, June
2, 1995; Jean Caspers-Simmet, "House, Senate Ag Panels Lose Power,"
AGRI NEWS, June 2, 1994; "New Call to Reduce Farm Runoff," Farming
Today, UPI, June 9, 1994.
GROUP TARGETS AG RUNOFF
A coalition of fishing interests on the West coast recently called for
tougher provisions in the CWA, including a crackdown on nonpoint
source pollution, due to the dwindling salmon populations in the
Pacific Northwest. The Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's [sic]
Association (PCFFA) criticized the current act as having done little to
save fish and wildlife populations from polluted runoff. "The Clean
Water Act is essential to the recovery of salmon and steelhead in
Oregon, California, Idaho and Washington," said Zeke Grader of the
Source: "New Call to Reduce Farm Runoff," Farming Today, UPI, June
IOWA FARMERS' OPINIONS ON LARGE HOG LOTS DIFFER
Iowa Governor Terry Branstad's Environmental Agriculture
Committee has been holding hearings in an attempt to find solutions
to some of the problems facing the state's hog producers. The
committee was set up under the governor's Livestock Revitalization
Task Force to study how livestock operations have affected water
and soil quality and community development.
Opinions about the direction Iowa agriculture should take with
regard to large hog operations is sharply divided. At a recent
hearing, one farmer accused the committee of "goose stepping to the
drum beat of conglomerates." Another producer and representative
of the Iowa Pork Producers said he resented such a statement and
praised the committee for trying to make sense of the diverse
opinions they were being presented with. "We're trying to do what
is best for Iowa and for animal agriculture," he said. Many called for
stricter environmental regulation and local control while others said
there was already too much regulation over the hog industry. One
farmer suggested that producers who want to raise hogs should own
enough land to spread the manure on. Another farmer countered
that this would exclude those with limited capital from participating
in hog production. The main theme to emerge from the meeting is
that it will be very difficult to find a "one-size-fits-all" proposal to
help Iowa hog farmers. The committee expects to give the governor
their recommendations this fall.
A recent survey by Iowa State University says that most farmers
and their non-farming neighbors believe that progress is being made
in watershed protection. While both groups recognize attempts to
protect groundwater supplies by farmers, farmers were more likely
to believe they were making significant progress. Steve Padgitt, ISU
sociologist, said 95% of farmers surveyed thought they were doing
better or much better at soil conservation than 10 years ago; only
76% of non-farm residents concurred. Likewise, 81% of farmers said
water quality improvement efforts are better or much better while
only 59% of their non-farm neighbors agreed. Padgitt also said,
ironically, "non-farm residents felt the general public has more
responsibility for soil and water care than individual farmers." He
added, "Attitudes and perceptions of Iowa farmers and non-farm
residents are positive, but as you might expect, the survey shows
farmers are somewhat more likely to believe they are good stewards
of the land than their non-farm counterparts."
In other state news, a study recently completed by the Illinois state
departments of Energy and Natural Resources, Public Health and
Agriculture and the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency
proposes improvements to state laws governing the use of pesticides.
The plan would assign state townships a rating based on the level of
aquifer sensitivity. Areas with high ratings would be required to use
fewer pesticides. Agriculture Department Director Becky Doyle, said,
"The plan was developed in response to the federal government's
pesticides and groundwater strategy, which could prohibit future use
of certain pesticides unless states have an approved plan in place."
The Clinton plan, which calls for pesticide use reduction among other
things, is not expected to make progress in Congress this session.
Source: Jean Caspers-Simmet, "Iowa Hog Farmers Divided on Big
Feedlots," AGRI NEWS, June 16, 1994; "Iowa Soil, Water Care
Progressing: Survey," IOWA FARMER TODAY, June 4, 1994; Michelle
Groenke, "Midwest Farming Today," UPI, June 6, 1994; Email
communication, June 12, 1994.
NOSB TO DEBATE SYNTHETICS IN OCTOBER
After meeting earlier this month, the National Organic Standards
Board (NOSB) said it will decide on materials, including synthetics, to
be added to the National List this fall. Synthetics are currently
allowed in organic production only if their chemical structure is
unchanged, if no solvent is left in the end product and if the solvents
are on the approved list. The NOSB will develop recommendations
for adding prohibited natural and synthetic substances to the
National List. The meeting will take place in California October 11-
16, 1994. Products of biotechnology are considered synthetics
under organic production regulations.
Source: "National Organic Standards Board Full Board
Recommendations," June 5, 1994; Robert Greene, "Federal Panel
Winnowing Rules for 'Organic' Crops," AP, June 12, 1994.
U.S. CHEMICAL COMPANIES FARE WELL IN 1993
U.S.-based multinational chemical companies fared well in terms of
dollars last year. Three companies, Monsanto, American Cyanamid
and DuPont, had the highest increases in sales on an international
scale in 1993. Monsanto's sales increased 17.4%, making it the fourth
major chemical producer in the world. The Swiss company Ciba-
Geigy came in first with sales of $2,790 million last year. European
companies Rhone-Poulenc, Schering and BASF all reported drops in
sales, which they attributed to the contraction of the European
market. Recent consolidations between Hoechst and Schering and
Cyanamid and Shell U.S. are expected to produce dramatic results for
these companies in 1994.
Source: "U.S. Agrochem Companies Lead 1993 Sales Growth,"
PESTICIDE ACTION NETWORK NORTH AMERICAN UPDATES SERVICE,
June 3, 1994.
EFFECTS OF CARBOFURAN DISPUTED
In the U.S., the pesticide carbofuran, sold under the brand name
Furadan, has been planted along with corn and sorghum for many
years. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) allows liquid
carbofuran to be used on alfalfa, corn, potatoes, wheat, soybean and
oats. However, the EPA recently issued a ruling that granular forms
of carbofuran can no longer be used on corn and sorghum because of
its toxic effects on birds. Carbofuran granules attract birds, who
utilize sand and grit to digest their food.
Mike Weiss, a North Dakota State University researcher said
carbofuran has killed birds in the U.S. Corn Belt but the situation is
different in the Canola Belt. He said carbofuran is widely used by
canola producers in Canada and only two birds have been known to
die in 20 years as a result. Pierre Mineau of the Canadian Wildlife
Service, which is considering restrictions on carbofuran, said that
figure is incorrect and in one case, a farmer found dead birds
covering 160 acres. Linda Lyon of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
said carbofuran is one of the most toxic pesticides in use. Canadian
canola growers say they need the pesticide carbofuran to combat
infestations of the flea beetle.
Sorghum growers won a victory recently when the EPA relaxed a ban
on the use of the herbicide propazine on sorghum in Oklahoma and
Colorado. Exemptions are allowed on a state-by-state basis. Texas
and New Mexico growers have already received exemptions. "We are
very pleased that the EPA granted our request," said Kenneth Rose of
the Oklahoma Grain Sorghum Producers. A spokesperson for the EPA
said the approval for Oklahoma and Colorado was delayed until
adequate technical data was received and reviewed.
Source: Marilyn Wheeler, "Border Countries Debate Pesticide,"
AGWEEK, May 30, 1994.
PROJECT SEEKS TO INCLUDE WATER QUALITY
Last week, Sustainable Agriculture Week reported on the Anoka
Sand Plains Project which seeks to protect groundwater quality in
central Minnesota. The 42 farmers involved are working with soil
conservationists and researchers to identify ways they can reduce
applications of pesticides, which can leach and damage groundwater
supplies. The article reviewed failed to mention the involvement of
the Minnesota Extension Service. For more information on the
project, contact Fred Bergsrud, Tel: (612) 625-4756 or David Cooper,
Tel: (612) 625-2713.
Source: Jim Walsh, "Soil-Friendly Farming Helps Make Water Safer,"
MINNEAPOLIS STAR TRIBUNE, June 1, 1994; Dean Herzfeld, Email
communication, June 13, 1994.
AUSTRALIAN INITIATIVE LINKS FARMERS, ENVIRONMENTALISTS
An Australian initiative called Landcare is encouraging farmers to
resolve some of the environmental problems they face. Currently
more than 1/3 of Australian farmers are involved in the project,
according to Andrew Campbell, Landcare coordinator. He told
participants at the Sustainable Agriculture, Food and Environment
alliance meeting in London that European farming methods adopted
by Australians had led to many of the country's environmental
problems. The fragile soils were never accustomed to European
techniques, he said, and the result has been salinity, soil destruction
and erosion. "Most farmers don't like to see their land like this --
they can't produce on it and don't want to live with it like this," said
David Clark, a farmer participant.
Landcare links farmers with environmentalists, educators and local
citizens to promote an awareness of farming and the environment.
"In the past five years we've dramatically changed 40 to 50 percent
of the landscape in our area, but it will take 30 years to solve the big
problems," said Clark. He added that the most important thing
Landcare is accomplishing is that it's "making farmers
environmentalists," Clark said.
Source: Deborah Hargreaves, "'Green' Alliance Comes to Aid of
Australia's Degraded Land," FINANCIAL TIMES, June 9, 1994.
WARNING ISSUED OVER USE OF PESTICIDES, EXPORT CROPS IN LATIN
Agriculture experts in Latin America are warning that the emphasis
on the growth of fruits and vegetables for export has lead to the
neglect of staple foods, such as beans, grown for domestic
consumption. And in their flurry to grow produce which arrive in
the U.S. in good condition, excessive use of chemicals has become
common in the Latin American agriculture industry. Francisco
Morales of the International Centre for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) in
Colombia said that this has opened the way for the introduction of
new plant pests. More and more new pests and diseases are making
an appearance, causing new damage to crops.
In 1980, Chile became the first Latin American country to export as
many beans as it grew for local production. Chile then expended to
fruit and vegetable production for export. "As a result, bean
production in Chile is increasingly affected by epidemics of new
viruses or strains of viruses, such as bean yellow mosaic virus and
alfalfa mosaic virus," said Morales. A similar problem faced Brazil
when it began to grow soybeans alongside its traditional bean crops
in 1970. The golden mosaic virus was introduced, adversely
affecting the growth of crops for local consumption. "The expansion
of vegetable crops in these countries has resulted in the appearance
of new virus problems," said Morales.
As a result of the introduction of new pests, farmers have been
forced to use "incredible" amounts of pesticides, many of which are
not approved for use on a particular crop. In addition, many Latin
American farmers lack the knowledge and technical expertise
needed to apply pesticides safely. Morales said incorrect application
times, often going right up to harvest, and over-use frequently occur.
"Dependence on chemical pesticides has become almost total," he
Another problem is that governments and universities are more
interested in researching export crops than crops for local
consumption. "Governments are more interested in how they use
land for export crops and scientists are being switched to work on
these crops," said plant pathologist Pastor Corrales.
Source: John Madeley, "Latin American's Vegetable Export Drive
Runs Into Trouble," FINANCIAL TIMES, June 15, 1994.
GREEN REVOLUTIONARY SAYS AFRICA NEEDS CHEMICAL FERTILIZERS
Norman Borlaug, 1970 Nobel Peace prize winner for his role in
India's so-called green revolution, told a recent meeting of the
Overseas Development Institute that African countries will have to
begin using excessive amounts of chemical fertilizers if it is ever
going to solve its food problems. "Some people say that Africa's food
problems can be solved without the application of chemical
fertilizers," he said. "They're dreaming. It's not possible."
His said encouraging farmers to exercise traditional agriculture
practices fails to take into account the rapid population growth
occurring on the continent. The population of Africa is expected to
double over the next 22 years, he said, and traditional farming
cannot cope with such growth. He used China as an example, which
transformed its cereal production in five years through the use of
chemical fertilizers. These fertilizers are expensive for African
farmers, Borlaug acknowledged, and he called on the industrialized
world to provide farmers with access to chemical fertilizers.
Source: Deborah Hargreaves, "'Chemicals Vital for African
Agriculture,'" FINANCIAL TIMES, June 10, 1994.
PLAIN MAGAZINE is a publication of the Center for Plain Living in
Burton, OH. The most recent issue focuses on agriculture.
Contributors include Wes Jackson, Wendell Berry and Amish farmer
David Kline. Subscriptions cost $18.00/year. For more information,
contact CPL, 14595 Baird Street, Burton, OH 44021.
IN GOOD TILTH is a publication of Oregon Tilth. The organization
works to educate consumers, farmers, gardeners and politicians
about the benefits of organic production. Articles examine organic
techniques and biological diversity. Subscriptions are $15.00/year.
For more information, contact Oregon Tilth, P.O. Box 3588, Portland,
OR 97208, Tel: (503) 285-8279, Fax: (503) 289-4179.
CALENDAR OF EVENTS
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)
TALK BY ALAN SAVORY, founder of Holistic Resource Management
center, June 24, 1994, LaCrescent, MN. FFI, contact Land
Stewardship Project, Tel: (507) 523-2204.
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.
BASICS OF FARMING AND MARKETING VEGETABLES, farm tour, June
29, 1994, Delano, MN. FFI, contact: Tel: (612) 972-2052.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org or
email@example.com. 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.