Sustainable Agriculture Week
Produced by the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy
July 14, 1994
Volume 3, Number 16
- USDA FIELD HEARINGS ON AG AND THE ENVIRONMENT
- INTENSIVE MANAGEMENT CAN EXTEND GRAZING SEASON,
- USDA ASSISTANT SECRETARY SAYS MOST CRP WILL RETURN TO
- APPEALS COURT UPHOLDS HERBICIDE USE IN CALIFORNIA FORESTS
- SIX COMPANIES FINED FOR UNREGISTERED PESTICIDE SALES
- AARC NOW ACCEPTING GRANT PROPOSALS
- TOUR TO SHOW HOW CROP MANAGEMENT AFFECTS WATER
- DUTCH FARMERS SEE LIVELIHOODS CHANGING
- DEBATE HASN'T CHANGED MUCH IN FOUR YEARS
USDA FIELD HEARINGS ON AG AND THE ENVIRONMENT
USDA officials will hold field hearings beginning this month on
"Agriculture and the Environment." Hearings are scheduled as
follows: July 14 in Spokane, WA; July 19 in Springfield, IL; July 21 in
Abilene, TX; July 25 in Reading, PA; July 28 in Sioux Falls, SD; August
2 in Longmont, CO; August 4 in Columbus, GA; and August 11 in
Sacramento, CA. Invited speakers will share their views on
agriculture and the environment. In addition, the public can air its
views during open microphone periods. Information on the Sioux
Falls forum can be obtained from Max Schenpf, Soil and Water
Conservation Society, Tel: (800) THE-SOIL, ext. 22.
Source: SOIL AND WATER CONSERVATION SOCIETY MEMORANDUM,
July 5, 1994; "Organizing Opportunity for Sustainable Agriculture,"
CENTER FOR RURAL AFFAIRS/MSAWG MEMO, July 1994.
INTENSIVE MANAGEMENT CAN EXTEND GRAZING SEASON, IMPROVE
Matt Stewart, an Iowa dairy farmer, said that by converting the
majority of his land to managed intensive grazing, he has increased
his profits. "We are feeding to the most milk out of grass," he said.
"We have turned down the 'welfare check,'" referring to government
support payments. Currently, the Stewarts rent some land to
rotational graze two groups of 70 total heifers on 19 paddocks. An
additional 21 younger heifers are grazing on six acres or seven
paddocks. Nearer their home, they rotational graze 80 cows on 14
two-acre paddocks. "This year, we started grazing on the 10th of
April. I don't know when we will stop but my guess is they will be
done sometime in October because we are concerned with milk
production," he said. The family's plans include expanding their herd
for spring, summer and fall grazing. In the winter, they will reduce
their milking herd to 80. While per cow milk production is down
about 10-15 pounds, grazing saves money on feed costs. "That is
about $1.50 per cow on income, but we have cut $2 in feed costs per
cow," he added.
Source: Joyce Vogelman, "Intensive Management Extends Grazing
Season," IOWA FARMER TODAY, June 25, 1994; Joyce Vogelman, "New
Zealand Fencing Helps Change American Grazing," IOWA FARMER
TODAY, June 25, 1994.
USDA ASSISTANT SECRETARY SAYS MOST CRP WILL RETURN TO
Keith Collins, assistant secretary of agriculture for economics,
recently predicted that one-half to one-third of land currently
enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) will return to
production when contracts expire. As a result, Collins said the
amount of land required to be taken out of production under the
Acreage Reduction Program (ARP) would rise from zero percent for
wheat and feed grains. However, he added ARP requirements would
remain "modest," at around 5%. He said one of the major concerns of
the upcoming 1995 Farm Bill debate will be depleted corn and
soybean stocks as a result of last year's flooding in the Midwest. But,
as CRP contracts expire, more land would be used to replenish stocks.
"We project planted acreage to major crops will increase by about 15
million acres," he said. Even with increased production, Collins said
commodity prices should rise later this decade with increases in
"domestic use" and exports under the North American Free Trade
Agreement (NAFTA) and the General Agreement on Tariffs and
Source: Gordon S. Carlson, "USDA Focuses Farm Bill Debate on
Commodity Support Payments," FEEDSTUFFS, July 4, 1994.
APPEALS COURT UPHOLDS HERBICIDE USE IN CALIFORNIA FORESTS
Last week, the U.S. Court of Appeals in San Francisco upheld a law
allowing the use of herbicides in the national forests of California and
parts of Oregon and Nevada. The three judges ruled that the U.S.
Forest Service (USFS) could use herbicides "only when essential to
curb vegetation that might inhibit tree growth during reforestation."
The appeals court upheld an earlier ruling, which determined the
USFS had conducted adequate risk assessment of the effects of 13
chemicals -- four of which are banned -- it proposed to use in the
spraying. The decision affects about 6 million acres in northern
California and the Sierra Nevada.
Source: "Herbicides: Appellate Court Upholds Spraying in CA
Forests," GREENWIRE, July 7, 1994.
SIX COMPANIES FINED FOR UNREGISTERED PESTICIDE SALES
Six companies were recently fined for selling unregistered pesticides.
The companies, three of which are based in Minnesota, paid more
than $92,500 in fines to the Minnesota Department of Agriculture
(MDA) for using and distributing an unregistered pesticide. The
companies, according to an MDA press statement, were selling
unlabeled and mislabled formaldehyde for use as a disinfectant in
turkey operations throughout the state. The companies are: Hacors
Chemical of St. Paul, Minnesota, Poultry Health Specialities of St.
Cloud Minnesota; Ashland Chemical of Columbus, Ohio; PALS Division
of Willmar, Minnesota; and I.D. Russell of Longmont, Colorado. "This
case was important because the use of formaldehyde without proper
label instructions poses a health risk to workers and the turkey
industry," said Paul Liemandt, head of inspection and enforcement at
MDA. The penalties, he said, would be used for on-going pesticide
regulatory work, including programs that review and register
pesticides for sale in the state.
Source: "Companies Fined for Selling an Unregistered Pesticide,"
AGRI NEWS, July 7, 1994.
AARC NOW ACCEPTING GRANT PROPOSALS
The USDA's Alternative Agricultural Research and Commercialization
(AARC) center recently announced it is accepting funding proposals
for projects that use agricultural products to produce an industrial
materials. AARC defines an industrial product as a nonfood, nonfeed
or nontraditional fiber. Agricultural products that can be used
include traditional or new crops, forest products and animal by-
products. Interested parties are invited to submit either full
proposals or brief pre-proposals. The center prefers faxed inquires
at (202) 401-6068; however, if a fax machine is not available, the
center can be reached at (202) 401-4860. The deadline is September
Source: "Potential Applicants for AARC Center Funding," AARC
CENTER MEMORANDUM, June 13, 1994.
TOUR TO SHOW HOW CROP MANAGEMENT AFFECTS WATER QUALITY
The Minnesota Extension Service will hold a walking field tour on
July 26 near Princeton, MN to show how crop management practices
can affect water quality and farm profits. The tour will be at the
Management Systems Evaluation Area (MSEA), where researchers
are conducting field studies with commonly grown Midwest crops on
a sensitive watershed, known as the Anoka Sand Plain. Bruce
Giebink, education coordinator for MSEA, said the purpose of the
MSEA field trial is to help farmers improve their crop management.
He believes the results will demonstrate how agriculture policies
should be shaped by reliable and locally relevant scientific data,
rather than information that may not apply to local conditions. He
said the threat of more strict regulations on agriculture might be
minimized if researchers can show that agriculture and groundwater
protection can be compatible. The tour will cover the MSEA project,
nitrogen and herbicide leaching and crop rotations. Giebink can be
reached at Tel: (612) 625-4749.
Source: "Farming Systems, Water Quality Field Tour July 26,"
MINNESOTA EXTENSION SERVICE NEWS/INFORMATION, July 8, 1994.
DUTCH FARMERS SEE LIVELIHOODS CHANGING
A variety of new rules are changing the face of agriculture for Dutch
farmers, whose numbers have declined by 25,000 since 1980. The
Netherlands owes the much of its annual $15 billion trade surplus to
one of the most intensive agricultural production systems in the
world. However, all that is changing as the government and the
European Union (EU) impose stricter environmental regulations and
production caps and global agricultural economics undergoes a
change. "Our success has been based on increasing production, but
international agreements tell us we must reduce production levels,"
said Gerit Meester, an agriculture ministry official.
The Dutch farming tradition of intensive production stems from the
fact that the country has very little land mass. Intensive production
has left the landscape saturated with phosphates, copper and other
chemicals and metals. In addition, ammonia emissions from animal
feedlots have soared. A high proportion of surface water makes the
country vulnerable to the effects of runoff.
Consumers, environmentalists, animal protection interests and even
windsurfers are also demanding a change. Dutch farmers are
increasingly viewed as land hogs and as the cause of pollution.
"Consumer preferences have changed," said Meester. "They want a
product that looks and smells real -- but which is still undamaged
and is produced in environment- and animal-friendly conditions. We
need to be more specific than Gouda and Edam."
Farm group leaders have launched the "Great Debate" in order to
initiate a dialogue among farmers, consumers, environmentalists and
government officials about the changes facing agriculture. "We saw
that the necessary changes couldn't be achieved with another report
and new policies, but required making the farmers themselves aware
of how things have changed and what the public expects of them,"
said Ir van Dijk of the National Council for Cooperative Agribusiness.
One dairy farmer said he keeps his cows off the wettest fields during
the wet season from February to September to cut down on runoff.
In addition, he stores manure in a pit lined with plastic until spring,
when it can be spread. Despite some successful changes, farmers
remain skeptical about their future. "We're just going to have fewer
farms but bigger farms," said one farmer. "The future is really with
having a farm and an off-the-farm job."
Source: Howard LaFranchi, "Tradition in Turmoil: Dutch Agriculture
Evolves," CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR, July 6, 1994.
DEBATE HASN'T CHANGED MUCH IN FOUR YEARS
A 1990 article on the debate over alternative agriculture reveals the
debate has not changed much. The article outlines a Congressional
Joint Economic Committee hearing where the Iowa-based Council on
Agriculture Science and Technology (CAST) testified that alternative
agricultural practices, such as sustainable agriculture, could lead to
lower yields, lower profits and require more land and labor. The
nation's food supply, CAST said, could be cut by as much as 15-26% if
adoption of sustainable agriculture is widespread.
The committee hearing was scheduled to hear the opposing views on
a 1989 National Academy of Sciences report, which questioned
whether current agricultural practices could be relied on to continue
providing a safe and secure food supply, given its reliance on natural
resource exploitation. "Negative reaction on the report and its
authors, I believe, were predictable, and due more to long-standing
preferences or self-interest in not discussing these problems than to
any new technical information of policy issues raised in the report,"
said Arnold Paulsen, professor of agriculture and economics at Iowa
State University and a CAST reviewer.
CAST said a shift back to traditional practices is essentially
unrealistic. Manure, for example, "is bulky, difficult to handle,
expensive to transport, odiferous, dirty, possibly disease-ridden and
weed-seed infested," said Paulsen. In addition, while using legumes
in crop rotations may help replenish soil nitrogen, many legumes
cannot supply enough nitrogen and some produce nitrates that can
cause groundwater pollution. Because the majority of American
farms rely on off-farm income to support their families, there are
simply not enough hands to service the labor-intensity required by
alternative forms of agricultural production.
The key, according to CAST, is a combination of the best available
cost-effective technologies, including chemicals, crop rotations,
reduced tillage and pest resistant plants. John Pesek, the Iowa State
University agronomist who led the NAS team that produced the
alternative agriculture report said he does not disagree. But, he said,
"we have to have an agriculture that will sustain us for centuries."
He said future viability will be the litmus test for the current system.
Source: George Anthan, "Our Agriculture System: How Safe is It?"
GANNETT NEWS SERVICE, June 8, 1990.
The Summer 1994 issue of the JOURNAL OF PESTICIDE REFORM by
the National Coalition for Alternatives to Pesticides (NCAP) addresses
pesticide use in local communities. Articles examine the use of
pesticides in municipalities, uses of Integrated Pest Management and
updates on pesticide-related topics. The journal is published
quarterly and memberships begin at $15.00/year. For more
information, contact NCAP, P.O. Box 1393, Eugene, OR 97440, Tel:
(503) 344-5044, Email: email@example.com.
CITIZENS PESTICIDES HOECHST is a new publication by Pesticide
Action Network (PAN) Asia and the Pacific. The book chronicles the
actions by the chemical company Hoechst against two citizens of the
Philippines. Hoechst sued Dr. Romeo Quijano after he allegedly said
the company's endosulfan product, Thiodan, may cause cancer at a
pesticide conference. Also at the conference was farmer Erminia
Abongan who talked about the ill effects of another Hoechst product,
Brestan. After her report, she was harassed by company personnel.
For more information on the book, contact PAN Asia and the Pacific,
P.O. Box 1170, 10850 Penang, Malaysia, Tel: (60) 4 657-0271, Fax:
(60) 4 657-7445.
CALENDAR OF EVENTS
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:
SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE AND INTEGRATED PEST MANAGEMENT
FIELD DAY, July 20, 1994, Beltsville, MD. FFI, contact: Don Bulls or
Dana Lamberti, Tel: (301) 504-7338.
ESTABLISHING PASTURES USING LOW-INPUT PRACTICES FIELD DAY,
July 20, 1994, Lake City, MN. FFI, contact: Ralph Lentz, Tel: (612)
GREENHOUSE SYSTEMS INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON
AUTOMATION, CULTURE AND ENVIRONMENT, July 20-22, 1994, New
Brunswick, NJ. FFI, contact: Chris Browner, Northeast Regional
Agricultural Engineering Service, Cooperative Extension, 152 Riley-
Robb Hall, Ithaca, NY 14853, Tel: (607) 255-7654.
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.
NATIONAL ALFALFA GRAZING CONFERENCE, July 28-29, 1994,
Nashville, TN. FFI, contact: Jennifer Garrett, Extension, University of
Missouri, Tel: (314) 882-6642, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
RECYCLING LANDSCAPES -- COMMUNITY FORESTRY AND THE 1995
FARM BILL, August 3, 1994, Minneapolis, MN. FFI, contact: Institute
for Agriculture and Trade Policy, 1313 5th Street SE, Suite 303,
Minneapolis, MN 55414, Tel: (612) 379-5980, Fax: (612) 379-5982,
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: email@example.com.
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
CATCH THE CONSERVATION WAVE, August 7-9, 1994, Norfolk, VA.
FFI, contact: Soil and Water Conservation Society, Tel: (800) the-soil.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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
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
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