Sustainable Agriculture Week
Produced by the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy
July 1, 1994
Volume 3, Number 14
- BRITISH GOVERNMENT TRIPLES FUNDS FOR SUSTAINABLE
- ORGANIC TAKES ROOT IN MEXICO OUT OF NECESSITY
- SCS PROGRAM SEEKS TO RESTORE GREAT PLAINS
- HRM: FARMING THAT LOOKS AT BIG PICTURE
- NEW LEGISLATION WILL ADDRESS NONPOINT SOURCE POLLUTION
- PATHOGENS BEING TESTED ON CITRUS CROP PEST
- UFW STILL SEEKING TO BAN SOME PESTICIDES
- LSP BEGINS POLICY DISCUSSION FOR FARM BILL OPTIONS
BRITISH GOVERNMENT TRIPLES FUNDS FOR SUSTAINABLE
The British government has tripled the amount of funds allocated to
sustainable agriculture in the interests of reducing pesticide use. In
an unprecedented move, Agriculture Minister Gillian Shephard said
the chemical industry is providing an additional #12 million to the
scheme, which involves sustainable agriculture demonstration
projects designed to encourage environmentally sound production
practices. "Farming needs to find ways of reducing its use of scarce
resources, both to save the farmer money, encourage plant and bird
life and protect the rural environment and the welfare of animals."
Projects under way include new machines, which recognize weeds
and decrease chemical use, using natural predators to eliminate
harmful pests and controlling nitrogen leaching during manure
spreading. Rex Chester, a farmer and member of the project
committee, said, "Farmers need to respond to the growing public
concern for wildlife and the environment." He added, "We can't
compete with people who think eating meat is a sin. At the extreme
ends, the demands become irrational."
New Zealand reports sustainable agriculture is catching on there as
well. A recent study showed that biodynamic farms, which
essentially involves the use of soil preparations from manure, silica
and plants, have better quality soil. Perhaps more importantly, the
study also showed biodynamic farms are as profitable as their
conventional neighbors. The four-year study compared the soil
quality and profitability of 16 neighboring conventional and
biodynamic farms. The study concluded the biodynamic farms had
"significantly greater organic-matter content and microbial activity,
more earthworms, better soil structure, lower bulk density and
thicker topsoil." In addition, the biodynamic farmers were able to
market their products at a premium of as much as 25% higher than
conventionally produced products.
Source: Deborah Hargreaves, "Support Grows for 'Green' Farming,"
FINANCIAL TIMES, June 27, 1994; "Gaining Ground," AUDUBON,
ORGANIC TAKES ROOT IN MEXICO OUT OF NECESSITY
In Mexico, organic farming is growing, but not to serve the food
conscious needs of the urban populations, as in the United States.
Hector Marcelli, coordinator for the Ecosolar consulting firm, said
there is no national market for organics in Mexico. However,
subsistence farmers are producing organically out of necessity. "At
the peasant community level, organic farming has been growing a lot
because agriculture based on chemicals is more and more expensive
for them," he said. He estimates that about 50 organic operations are
running in the Mexican countryside. He hopes producers will
eventually be able to crack the markets of the U.S. and Europe, once
producers are certified.
The Northern Plains Organic Marketing Cooperative said it is close to
reaching its goal of 120 members. The cooperative was set up to
help secure more stable prices and better premiums for organic
products. Currently, each farmer is doing their own marketing.
Consultant Tim Moore said the ultimate goal will be to have all
marketing functions operating under one roof. Co-op member and
organic farmer Wilfred Schill said, "What this co-op hopes to do is
build overall price stability." For more information about the co-op,
contact Tim Moore at The Management Group, Tel: (701) 224-0565
or Wilfred Schill, Tel: (701) 256-2424.
Source: "Organic Farming Has Economic Roots in Mexico," Farming
Today, UPI, June 22, 1994; Juan Miguel Pedraza, "Securing a Stable
Market," AGWEEK, June 20, 1994.
SCS PROGRAM SEEKS TO RESTORE GREAT PLAINS
A project of the Soil Conservation Service (SCS) seeks to restore and
ensure the integrity of the soil in the Great Plains region of the U.S.
Under the Great Plains Conservation Program, the SCS shares 50-80%
of the cost of helping farmers implement measures aimed at stopping
soil erosion. Contracts can be as long as ten years and have a cost-
share cap of $35,000 per individual. Jerry Krause of the SCS in
Bismarck, North Dakota said cross fences and water development are
the most popular projects under the program in his area. Other
projects include seeding with native and tame grasses, building
windbreaks and other structures to stop erosion, efficient use of
animal waste and irrigation systems and sealing abandoned wells.
Krause said in North Dakota, "right now we have a backlog of
applications amounting to $1.7 million waiting to be funded." He
described the program as ecosystem based, meaning it is a total
resource management system which considers soil, water and plant
concerns as well as human needs. "The Great Plains program is
really very amiable to farmers. The long term contracts assure
farmers that assistance will be available every year for the length of
the contract," he said. The program, which will end in the year 2001,
covers the states of North and South Dakota, Montana, Wyoming,
Colorado, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas and New Mexico.
The North Dakota Stockmen's Association recently recognized Bart
Davis and McElroy Farms in Jamestown, ND for their stewardship
efforts. Their project, which is part of the Great Plains Conservation
Program, involved bringing together ranchers, sports enthusiasts,
environmentalists and the federal government to design a grazing
system the benefited the land, livestock and the local environmental.
Davis worked with the SCS and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to
establish a 10-pasture, twice-over, 1,600 acre grazing system. The
system involves rotating cattle through two five-pasture systems,
allowing each pasture a 70-day rest. "I take the most pride in being
able to bring together three different agencies, two government and
one private, and doing something all on private land," said Davis.
McElroy Farms is a diversified family farm with crops and cattle.
Source: Ryan Taylor, "Truly Great Plains," AGWEEK, June 27, 1994;
Ryan Taylor, "Grazing and Environmental Stewardship Go Hand in
Hand," AGWEEK, June 27, 1994.
HRM: FARMING THAT LOOKS AT BIG PICTURE
Advocates of holistic resource management (HRM) say farming must
consider the big picture. Over 200 farmers turned out to a talk by
Alan Savory, the founder of the Center for Holistic Resource
Management in Albuquerque, New Mexico, at a farm in Minnesota.
Contrary to popular belief, HRM is not necessarily grass-based
dairying, as many farmers expected to hear. HRM, said Savory, is
more a way of life than a technique. It begins with the farm family
settling upon a single goal. Next, a statement of values is written up.
It is up to the farming family to figure out what the farm must do in
order to achieve those goals. Last, farmers decide how they want
their farm to look in the future. Quality of life and environmental
protection is key to HRM. Once the statement is done, farming
families must consider every decision they face within the context of
Farmers can survive by making simple business decisions, too many
of which are based on short-term gain. This short-term outlook has
lead to the decline of rural life as seen throughout the U.S. over the
past twenty years. "Thousands of families have gone bust and left
the land, leading to social problems and the towns, villages and cities
collapsing," he said.
The hope of greater profits is what turned so many Minnesota
farmers out last week. Savory says that economic decisions
ultimately become social and environmental decisions as well. He
said farmers can use HRM can turn around their profitability in a
short time. Savory said some proponents have realized a 50%
increase in their profit margins through HRM. Each decision farmers
make will affect the environment, the local community, the quality of
life and the bottom line, he said. And all must be considered equally
and at the same time.
HRM, said Savory, is a decision-making process "that connects our
values, spiritual, material, etc., right back to the land and enable us
to make decisions that are consistently better at being ecologically
sound, economically sound and socially sound."
Source: Paul Adams, "Holistic Farming A New Way of Life," AGRI
NEWS, June 30, 1994.
NEW LEGISLATION WILL ADDRESS NONPOINT SOURCE POLLUTION
Minnesota Commissioner of Agriculture Elton Redalen said new
legislation will help the state's farmers address the problem of
nonpoint source pollution. In an effort to better feedlot management
and clean up the Minnesota River, state lawmakers passed legislation
this session which emphasizes farmer involvement and provides low
interest loans to clean up pollution. In addition, the establishment of
a feedlot advisory task force will work to develop procedures for on-
farm investigations of potential pollution violations. "I hope these
changes will go a long way to resolving some of the difficulties
farmers have had with these investigations and they way they have
been conducted," said the commissioner.
Recently, a Minnesota River Assessment Project pinpointed areas
along the 355-mile river where water quality is affected by
pollution. In response to the report, Minnesota Governor Arne
Carlson said one of his goals would be to make the river swimmable
and fishable. In response, Commissioner Redalen established the
Minnesota River Ag Team. "A finger of blame has been pointed by
some at agriculture, and particularly feedlots, as the source of all
problems on the Minnesota River," he said. The ag team, which
includes farmers, university researchers and government agency
representatives, will work to respond to the problems highlighted in
the report. "It's important for everyone to understand ag practices
are not the only culprit," said Redalen. He said other factors include
stormwater discharge, septic tanks and run-off from roads.
Source: Amy Jo Brandel, "Farmers Get Help for Nonpoint Source
Pollution," AGRI NEWS, June 30, 1994.
PATHOGENS BEING TESTED ON CITRUS CROP PEST
Researchers are working with fungi, bacteria, nematodes and viruses
to fight the citrus leafminer, which has destroyed many acres of
Florida's citrus crop. USDA entomologist Jeffrey Shapiro said the best
thing about these biological controls is they are environmentally
friendly. William Schroeder, another entomologist on the project,
said all of the biological weapons they are working with to fight the
leafminer are commercially available and host-specific, which means
they will harm only the intended pest and not the surrounding
environment. Schroeder said these types of control are
advantageous as they are safe to the environment and the person
applying them. The problem with the leafminer, Schroeder said, is
they have the ability to tunnel into leaves which makes them
difficult to kill by chemicals. He said they plan to mix the pathogens
with a surfactant so they can be applied to plants through a sprayer.
"This will enhance the activity of the pathogen with little or no
toxicity to the plant or to the pathogen."
Brazil's Ministry of Agriculture said it is considering spraying all
flights from Florida out of fears that the leafminer will make it to Sao
Paulo, Brazil's major citrus producing state. About 14 flights a day
arrive in Sao Paulo from Florida.
Source: Margaret Scherf, "Farm Scene," AP, June 24, 1994; "Brazil
Seeks to Prevent Citrus Leaf Miner Disease," REUTER, June 23, 1994.
UFW STILL SEEKING TO BAN SOME PESTICIDES
On year after the death of farmworker leader Cesar Chavez, the
United Farm Workers (UFW) is still trying to ban suspect pesticides.
Arturo Rodriguez, who took over after the death of Chavez, recently
criticized an EPA rule, which requires pesticide manufacturers to
label their products in accordance with regulations approved in 1992
to try to protect farmworkers. "They are nice regulations on paper,"
said Rodriguez. "However, they do not exist in real terms."
He said daily exposure to pesticides by mixers and applicators
continues. Approximately 1,000 cases of pesticide poisonings
occurred on California table-grape farms in 1993. Many
farmworkers are migrants and undocumented and therefore unable
to report infractions to supervisors or government officials. The
union is continuing its demand for a ban on the pesticides it
considers to be most dangerous. Among them are captan, parathion,
Phosdrin, Dinoseb and methyl bromide. The EPA maintains that it
cannot scientifically make the link between pesticides and cancer.
Source: Siddartha Dubey, "After Chavez," AUDUBON, July/August
LSP BEGINS POLICY DISCUSSION FOR FARM BILL OPTIONS
The Land Stewardship Project's (LSP) Federal Policy Committee of
Minnesota met earlier this month to review policy priorities and
develop strategies for advancing sustainable agriculture reforms in
the 1995 Farm Bill. "WeUre looking for a change, an end to the 'get
big or get out' policies of Earl Butz and his successors," said
committee member Jennifer Rupprecht. "We believe the people want
to see federal policies that lead to environmentally sound family-
sized farms that build prosperous rural communities. ItUs time for a
LSP farm bill priorities include establishing "green payments" that
base program payments on responsible soil and water stewardship
instead of production; providing assistance for producer-controlled
marketing and community-controlled development strategies;
encouraging total farm resource planning; and removing commodity
program penalties on resource conserving crop rotations.
The committee decided on a plan of action for this summer that
includes small group house meetings, meetings between LSP
constituents and U.S. Representatives and Senators, and mailings to
supporters of sustainable agriculture and family-sized farms
throughout the state. LSP is a founding member of the Midwest
Sustainable Agriculture Working Group.
Sources: Gigi DiGiacomo, 1995 Farm Bill Review, June 29, 1994; "LSP
Happenings," THE INTERIM LAND STEWARDSHIP
LETTER, Spring 1994; Interview with Mark Schultz, LSP Policy
Program Director, June 16, 1994.
VICTIMS WITHOUT VOICE -- A STUDY OF WOMEN PESTICIDE
WORKERS IN MALAYSIA is a 1992 book by Malaysian lawyer
Vasanthi Arumugam for Pesticide Action Network/Asia and Pacific
and Tenaganita. The book examines the "invisible farmers" --
women in agriculture in Malaysia. It says many women are
employed as pesticide sprayers on a contractual basis, which means
they are underpaid and unprotected from the hazards of pesticide
use. The book seeks to provide a voice for women who have worked
as pesticide sprayers for the plantation farms of Malaysia. The book
interviews fifty women who have been involved in agriculture and
their experiences. For more information on the book, contact
PAN/Asia and Pacific, P.O. Box 1170, 10850 Penang, Malaysia, Tel:
(60) 4 870271, Fax: (60) 4 877445 or Tenaganita, 6-1 Jalan 4/56
Rumah Kedai, Kewasan E (AU3), 54200 Ulu Keland, Selangor,
Malaysia, Tel: (60) 3 4071826.
LANDMARK is a bi-monthly publication of the Farmers World
Network in the U.K. Articles of interest in the May/June 1994
edition include "Sustainable Agriculture in the U.K.?;" "Improving
Production for Ugandan Smallholders;" and "Farmers' Seed Exchange."
For information about Landmark and the work of the Farmers World
Network, contact them at the Arthur Rank Centre, National
Agriculture Centre, Stoneleigh, Warks CV8 2LZ, U.K. Tel: (44) 0203
696969, Fax: (44) 0203 696900.
CALENDAR OF EVENTS
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.
PERMACULTURE DESIGN COURSE, July 4-18, 1994, Colville, WA. FFI,
contact: Kirk Hanson or Mark Mueller, 3138 Overhulse Road NW,
#75, Olympia, WA 98502, Tel: (206) 786-5394 or (206) 866-7224,
INTERNATIONAL SYMPOSIUM ON EARTHWORM ECOLOGY, July 5-9,
1994, Columbus, OH. FFI, contact: Dr. Clive Edwards, Department of
Entomology, Ohio State University, 1735 Neil Avenue, Columbus, OH
43210, Tel: (614) 292-3786.
CONSERVATION TILLAGE ON HIGHLY ERODIBLE LAND FIELD DAY,
July 12, 1994, Fergus Falls, MN. FFI, contact: Harold Stanislawski,
Minnesota Extension, Tel: (218) 739-2271.
GRAZING HOGS ON GRAINS AND FORAGES FIELD DAY, July 13, 1994,
Gibbon, MN. FFI, contact: Michael and Jason Hartmann, Tel: (507)
INTERNATIONAL COURSE IN NEMATOLOGY, July 13-August 10, 1994,
UC-Davis. FFI, contact: Alice Warrick, International Training and
Education Center, University of California Extension, Davis, CA 95616,
Tel: (916) 757-8686, Fax: (916) 757-8676, email:
TRANSITION TO CERTIFIED ORGANIC PRODUCTION FIELD DAY, July
15, 1994, Morris, MN. FFI, contact: Craig and Joanie Murphy, Tel:
ESTABLISHING PASTURES USING LOW-INPUT PRACTICES FIELD DAY,
July 20, 1994, Lake City, MN. FFI, contact: Ralph Lentz, Tel: (612)
TWO YEARS AFTER UNCED: EXPLORING PARTNERSHIPS FOR
SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT, July 20-24, 1994, Davenport, IA. FFI,
contact: Patrick Frese, Tel: (319) 324-4941, Email:
MARYLAND ORGANIC FOOD AND FARMING ASSOCIATION SUMMER
SOCIAL, July 24, 1994, Stevenson, MD. FFI, contact: MOFFA, 6201
Harley Road, Middletown, MD 21769, Tel: (301) 371-4814.
SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE CONFERENCE, July 29-30, 1994,
McIntosh, MN. FFI, contact: Vince Crary, Extension, P.O. Box 69,
McIntosh, MN 56556, Tel: (218) 563-2465.
PEOPLE, PRODUCTS AND PROFITS, August 4, 1994, Ames, Iowa. FFI,
contact: Richard Pirog, Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture,
126 Soil Tilth Building, Iowa State University, Ames, IA 55011, Tel:
(515) 294-1854, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
NORTHEAST ORGANIC FARMING ASSOCIATION CONFERENCE, August
5-7, 1994, Hampshire, MA. FFI, contact: Julie Rawson, 411 Sheldon
Road, Barre, MA 01005, Lynn Klein, Pine Street, Wheelwright, MA
AGROFORESTRY AND SUSTAINABLE SYSTEMS, August 7-10, 1994,
Fort Collins, CO. FFI, contact: Kim Isaacson, Center for Semiarid
Agroforestry, Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station,
UNL East Campus, Lincoln, NE 68583, Tel: (402) 437-5178.
MEASURING AND MODELING Q SPECIES TO ECOSYSTEMS, August 8-
26, 1994, Newcomb, NY. FFI, contact: Dr. William F. Porter,
Adirondack Ecological Center, Tel: (315) 470-6798, Fax: (315) 470-
6779, Email: email@example.com.
INTERNATIONAL SYMPOSIUM ON ORGANIC AND SUSTAINABLE
AGRICULTURE, August 13-23, 1994, Beijing, PeopleUs Republic of
China. FFI, contact: D. Michael Rennaker, Citizen Ambassador
Program, Dwight D. Eisenhower Building, Spokane, WA 99202, Tel:
(509) 534-0430, Fax: (509) 534-5245.
Produced by: Michelle Thom, Institute for Agriculture and Trade
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