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Inside The Beltway -- February '99
Ag policy update from the Midwest Sustainable
Agriculture Working Group.
Jump down menu:
Weaving the Safety Net
Dancing for $$$ at Approps
Farm Credit Update
Time To Act: USDA Not Making the Grade
Miller AFO Bill
AFO Comments Online
Tired of AFO Strategy Updates yet?
Still More Concentration Hearings
Livestock Price Reporting News
Organic Meat Regs
Chem Reg Schedules
CAN Ag Group
Farmers Market Info
State Non-Point Website
Previous editions of Inside the Beltway
the Beltway is Sustainable Farming Connection's online version of the Midwest
Sustainable Agriculture Working Group's Washington Report. We reproduce
it with MSAWG's permission. Do not reproduce or post to any electronic network
without specific permission. Contact Brad DeVries
email@example.com for more information.
Weaving the Safety Net
Perhaps the biggest potential ag spending issue for the year is how and how
much to pay for crop insurance reform. On February 1, the Administration
issued a concept paper on "Strengthening the Farm Safety Net" to
accompany its budget materials for FY 00.
Rather than a specific
legislative proposal, the document lists principles and broad themes. The
budget document also does not propose any budget or offsets for achievement of
the principles and concepts, though Secretary Glickman suggested they would
cost a billion or more dollars over and above the current roughly $2 billion
for the programs. Rumors of huge, volume purchase of lottery tickets by
Secretary Glickman at convenience stores around the area have proven unfounded.
So, aside from riotous laughter, how will Congress deal with this issue
substantively and financially? Last year, Congress came up with $6 billion in
emergency farm crisis funds, but funding for permanent crop insurance reform
may prove more difficult to enact.
Importantly, the Administration's
very preliminary proposals include backing for revenue-based insurance
products that cover a whole farm's production and revenue, including coverage
for livestock. Whole farm coverage and coverage for livestock has been
advocated by the Sustainable Agriculture Coalition for the past two years as a
way to insure the up-and-coming "safety net" program does not
discriminate against sustainable and highly diversified farms.
Charles Stenholm (D-TX) recently has endorsed whole farm revenue insurance
coverage. Two other SAC priorities, relinking conservation requirements to
receipt of insurance subsidies and enacting a payment limitation on those
subsidies, do not appear in the Administration's proposals. However, in a
public forum earlier in January, Deputy Secretary Rominger put USDA on record
in support of legislation to apply sodbuster, swampbuster, and conservation
compliance to crop and revenue insurance.
Some members of both parties are talking openly of greatly increasing
the crop and revenue insurance subsidy budget by combining the existing
spending baseline with additional new spending and some or all of the remaining
years of the Freedom to Farm (AMTA) payments, for a big new $6-8 billion
quasi-insurance, quasi-income transfer program. Others, especially those in
states that traditionally dont have major or frequent crop disasters, are
becoming more openly critical of such an approach.
It's safe to say
the safety net debate will become increasingly intense and divisive
before showing any clear signs of resolution.
Dancing for $$$ at Appropriations
Secretary Glickman and his entourage appeared before the Senate and House
Ag Appropriations Subcommittees the week of February 9th, signaling the start
of the annual appropriations ritual. Senator Kohl (D-WI) queried the
Secretary near the start of the hearing on the bizarre proposal to
kill the Conservation Farm Option in favor of new legislation to add money to
the Farmland Protection Program. The Secretary was taken aback momentarily,
but regained his footing and responded that if Congress wanted to fund CFO,
the Department would not resist implementing it. On the House
side, new subcommittee member Sam Farr (D-CA) pressed Glickman on the national
organic rule, soliciting a promise the new draft rule would be issued before
the end of 1999.
In general, the hearings went about as expected.
Questions covered a wide range of issues, including many parochial ones.
Republican members generally beat up on the Administration for not having any
budget plan for crop insurance reform (see above) and for
loading up the ag budget with the normal gimmicks that never fly (user fees
that are never considered, elimination of special grants that routinely are
appropriated, pushing spending past the fiscal year in question, etc.). Leave
out these items and the USDA proposal is roughly $700 million in the red, which
means not only wont the Administration get its proposed increases, but
that ag programs are in for some rather serious cutting. That is, unless
Congress decides to start spending the so-called surplus.
of spending the surplus (lifting the discretionary caps in
congressionalese) in fact becomes the major early-year decision with huge
ramifications for all appropriations bills. Appropriators of both parties
will push hard for lifting the caps, but other factions will push as hard or
harder for big defense spending, big tax cuts, a Medicare bailout, a big-time
bicentennial celebration for Sen. Strom Thurmond , etc. Without a change in
the caps, current spending gets whacked to the tune of some $17 billion so bet
on some change in budget rules. Whether they make up the difference in whole
or in part, and just how much winds up the ag bill, only the Shadow knows.
Speaking of appropriations, we expect a supplemental ag spending bill for
the current year (FY 99) from the Administration any day. It will include
roughly $100 million in subsidy costs to cover about $1 billion in additional
emergency and regular loan authority, some funding for the Emergency
Conservation and Emergency Watersheds programs, additional salary funding for
FSA and possibly NRCS, and perhaps a few other items. Details are still being
discussed at USDA and OMB. Once the package gets to the Hill, additional items
and dollars are likely to at least have a hearing.
We have been encouraging friendly appropriators to push hard for
conservation funding in the supplemental, including re-opening the CFO and
upping EQIP funding. Well continue the encouragement and hope to not
come away empty this time around. We also expect to be faced with a wee bit
of policy legislating on the erstwhile funding supplemental, especially in the
credit area. This may be an opportunity on some needed beginning farmer
program changes, but may also put us back into the battle to salvage the
family farm requirement for farm loans -- a battle we won last year. The
supplemental might also give us a first shot at changing some of the Commodity
Credit Corporation provisions that hinder conservation programs.
always, the big question on the supplemental will be whether the bill gets
treated as emergency spending or whether offsets will be required in cuts
elsewhere in the ag budget. Stay tuned!
Farm Credit Regulations Finalized
A final rule was published in the Federal Register on February 12th for
implementation of the Preferred Lender Program (PLP) and streamlining of
guaranteed loan requirements. The PLP grants banks with an established track
record in using government guarantees on their private loans greater authority,
more flexibility, and less paperwork in using the programs.
new rules come at a time when, due to the continuing farm price crisis,
guaranteed loan demand is at an all time high, as banks scramble to stay with
borrowers by passing much of the risk onto taxpayers. Guaranteed farm
ownership loans are being used extensively to refinance existing bank
customers, and hence the program is out of money less than half way through
the fiscal year and in need of supplemental funding.
The new rules
also implement a section of the 1992 credit act relaxing the need for
documentation on small loans of less than $50,000. Importantly, it also
finalizes the congressional directive that operating or ownership loans made
in conjunction with an FSA Beginning Farmer Down Payment Loan, as well as any
guaranteed loan for used to graduate a direct loan borrower, be
guaranteed at 95% instead of the usual 90% or lower rate. This was an
MSAWG/SAC initiated and secured provision in the 1996 farm bill.
submitted comments recommending revisions to the proposed rules concerning
beginning farmer and conservation provisions, none of which were adopted by the
final rule. We had noted the banks and the agency have consistently failed to
reach statutory targets for guaranteed lending to beginning farmers and
wondered why the rule was silent on this issue. We proposed that banks be
required to make good faith efforts to reach the targets as a condition of
achieving and maintaining preferred lender status, but the Department rather
flippantly rejected this idea, stating the agency does not feel
revocation of lender status would be a reasonable method of encouragement
but of course coming up with no alternative method of encouragement
themselves. So the rule grants banks enormous new authority to act on the
publics behalf, but without any conditionality.
alarming, the final rule reversed a sensible provision in the proposed rule
requiring that banks given PLP status have a history of using guarantees for
new loans and not just for refinancing existing loans and existing customers.
In response to 88 negative comments, the agency changed its mind, calling its
original proposal ambiguous, burdensome, and of
limited value. With self-flagellating internal reviews like these, just
imagine what the private sector critics had to say!
In response to our
comments suggesting the rule was ambiguous with regard to the banks
versus the agencys responsibilities with respect to swampbuster,
sodbuster, and conservation compliance, the agency maintained the existing
conservation regulations are clear and dont need repeating in credit
rules, but agreed that agency handbooks (forthcoming) will need to clarify the
procedures for the agencys review of conservation documentation to be
held by the banks. This will deserve our continuing careful scrutiny, both
with respect to conservation requirements and NPDES and animal waste/nutrient
management plans. They did at least agree to cross reference HEL and wetlands
conservation requirements with respect to the borrower in the final rule, a
modest step in the right direction.
The Federal Register notice also
specifically requests additional comments on how they should operate the
revised interest assistance guarantee loan program. Under this program, in
addition to the federal guarantee, the public also buys down the interest rate
through a direct subsidy. At issue is whether to use a straight 4% interest
rate subsidy or whether to use a graduated system based on need. A graduated
system would allow guaranteed funds to service a considerably greater number of
Time to Act: USDA Not Making the Grade
Earlier this month, the Time To Act Campaign (having dropped the A
from the front, it appears we can no longer refer to them as our ATTAC
dogs) issued its 1999 report card on USDAs one year performance on
the recommendations of the National Commission on Small Farms. Looking over
their report card, lets just say that if little Johnny USDA had
classmates, hed be falling behind them.
The report card read:
- Market Access D
- Market Development B+
- Research & Extension C
- Conservation C+
- Credit C
- Beginning Farmers B
- Farm Workers D
- Civil Rights C
- Risk Management B
- Outreach & Organization C+
The report pointed out several areas that need improvement, most notably
active enforcement of market access provisions of the Packers & Stockyards
Act and continuing efforts on Civil Rights.
For more information on
the report or the Time to Act Campaign, contact the Center for Rural Affairs
at (402) 846-5428, or at http://www.cfra.org/.
Miller AFO Bill
On February 10, 1999, Representative George Miller of California introduced
H.R. 684 -the Farm Sustainability and Animal Feedlot Enforcement Act, or Farm
SAFE. This bill is similar to the feedlot bill introduced by Miller in the
last session of Congress. The bill is posted on the Web and can be accessed
through the http://www.house.gov website or
you can request a copy from Martha Noble at SAC.
Many of the provisions are similar to those endorsed by SAC in our
comments on the USDA-EPA Draft Unified National Strategy for Animal Feeding
Operations. H.R. 684 would require the following:
- Individual permits for CAFOs under the Clean Water Act.
- Phasing out of open air lagoons on CAFOs within the next 10 years.
- Nutrient/waste management plans as part of the CAFO permit, with land
application standards for nitrogen and phosphorus based on sound agronomic
- Improved monitoring, recordkeeping, and reporting for CAFO permits.
- Inclusion of all large-scale poultry operations within the CAFO permit
- Joint liability of CAFO operators and vertical integrators who own the
animals or exert control over the operation through a contract or other
The bill would also lower the animal unit threshold for determining whether
an operation is a CAFO, by including operations with one-half the number of
animal units provided under the current CAFO regulation. In its most recent
livestock policy paper, the MSAWG has not reached a consensus on the issue of
decreasing the animal unit threshold but has taken the consensus position that
the threshold number should not be increased.
AFO Comments Online
The comment period on the USDA-EPA Draft Unified National Strategy for
Animal Feeding Operations closed on January 19, 1999. At USDA and EPA
briefings held after the close of the comment period, the agencies announced
that they would accept as part of the official record testimony presented at
the regional listening sessions on the Draft Strategy, held from November 16
through December 15, 1998.
As of last week, the agencies had an unofficial count of about 1700
comments on the Draft Strategy, including over 300 comments made at the
listening sessions. The EPA and USDA have announced that the comments will be
posted on the Web at http://www.epa.gov/OWM/afos/letters.htm.
The EPA and USDA expect to release the Final Unified National Strategy on
AFOs sometime in March.
Tired of AFO Strategy Updates yet?
The SAC office has submitted several documents to USDA suggesting language
and recommendations to be added to the forthcoming final version of the joint
USDA-EPA strategy concerning sustainable agriculture and alternative livestock
production systems and practices. It appears likely that a dozen or so
specific references will be added to the strategy, including a new guiding
principle to promote and support sustainable systems and some type of
sustainable systems incentives.
We also now expect
somewhat better language on joint liability for integrators, public access to
information under general permits, and perhaps clearer delineations on certain
regulatory matters. On the negative side, a new section has been added to
provide a process for states to declare functional equivalency with
the national strategy and thereby opt out of some or all of what might be
proposed in the detailed follow-up to the strategy. We have not seen the
specific language on state coordination, so cant yet judge just how
damaging it might be.
On the nutrient management policy front, we have
seen semi-final drafts on the nutrient management standard, which appear to
include strong phosphorus standard language, at least general new language on
siting, and a reference to whole farm planning. The standard itself will not
include any phase in, but the nutrient management policy is
rumored to still contain a so-called progressive planning provision
allowing up to 10 years to reach the standard. These documents are still in a
final clearance stage and are subject to further change. We dont expect
them to be released until after the final unified strategy goes public sometime
Still More Concentration Hearings
The 106th Congress began its first session with hearings and legislative
action on the issues of livestock market concentration and livestock price
reporting. The Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry led off
on January 26, 1999 with a Hearing on Economic Concentration in Agriculture.
The House Committee on Agriculture followed with a Hearing on Livestock Prices
on February 10, 1999 and a Hearing on Agribusiness Consolidation on February
11, 1999. Specific issues addressed included consolidation of packers and
processors, captive supply, record low prices in the livestock sector,
particularly pork; and the proposed buy-out by Cargill of Continentals
worldwide grain merchandising interests.
As nothing exceeds like
excess, there was considerable overlap in the testimony provided at these
hearings. Most of the written testimony submitted to the Senate Agriculture
Committee is posted on the web at
If you would like a complete list of those testifying at the hearings and/or
copies of the written testimony submitted for the House Committee hearings,
contact Martha Noble at the SAC office, and be sure to seek professional
counseling at the soonest possible date.
Representatives of the National Pork Producers Council, testifying
before both the House and Senate requested that Congress pass legislation with
the following 6 elements:
- Mandatory packer to producer price reporting.
- A mandatory swine marketing contracts reporting program.
- Mandatory monthly retail price reporting.
- Monthly, rather than quarterly, hogs and pigs inventory reporting.
- Uniform carcass measurement and value pricing.
- Swine production building construction reporting.
Nothing, apparently, concentrates the mind quite so admirably as the
prospect of hanging in the morning. Most of these measures, particularly a
call for mandatory price reporting, reflect a 180 degree turn-around of the
NPPC position on these issues taken last fall. The American Farm Bureau
Federation continued to limit its request for price reporting to a voluntary
system, but noted that it would call for mandatory price reporting if
voluntary efforts are inadequate. We here at SAC cannot fathom how the
AFBF finds that the current price reporting system is adequate.
Mark Drabenstott, Director of the Center for the Study of Rural
America of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, opined that consolidation
in U.S. agriculture is generally a positive trend, especially for
consumers but went on to say that with consolidation, rural America will have
to find a new economic engine -- we presume not related to agriculture. Maybe
hes referring to that blown Chevy 350 rusting away out behind Dan Spechts
barn. He also noted that those small and mid-sized producers who wish to stay
in agriculture will have to forge new relationships. In contrast,
Professor C. Robert Taylor of Auburn University, stated that the market power
taken by a limited number of agribusiness firms will not be good for consumers,
producers, or any one else in the long-run, except the powerful agribusiness
Livestock Price Reporting News
On February 10, 1999, Representative Thune introduced H.R. 693, which would
institute a mandatory livestock market reporting program for meat packers
regarding prices, volume, and the terms of sale for domestic and imported
livestock and livestock products. The bill is co-sponsored by Representatives
Minge, Emerson, Pomeroy, Evans, Weller and Clayton
The 18th sign-up for the CRP ended December 11. USDA has announced that
approximately 90,000 offers representing 7 million acres were received. As
usual, North Dakota lead the way (over 1 million), followed by Montana,
Minnesota, South Dakota, and Kansas, each with over 500,000 acres. It will be
a month or more before bid selections are made, but the USDA budget made public
on February 1 estimates a 5.8 million acre sign-up for budget purposes,
bringing CRP total cost for FY 00 to $1.58 billion. For long term
projections, the budget assumes a 36.4 million acre CRP by 2002, including 5.5
million acres of partial field enrollments through the Buffer Initiative and
the CRP Enhancement program. Current buffer enrollment through the continuous
sign-up totals only 760,000 acres.
Word out of FSA is North Carolina will be the next CREP to be finalized.
The focus, like the existing Maryland CREP, will be water quality and
pfiesteria. In the Midwest, both Ohio and Indiana have proposals in the works
and well into the process, while Iowa is just getting started on a plan
(related to hypoxia) and Nebraska has produced a draft plan for the eastern and
south central portion of the state, also focused on ground and surface water,
with particular attention to atrazine setbacks. The existing CREP in Illinois
is reported to have the best sign-up rates of all the approved states. We
continue to encourage MSAWG organizations to find out what is going on in their
states on CREP and on the buffer initiative in general, and to keep the
Washington Office posted on developments.
Organic Meat Regs
The organic community scored a major victory on January 14 when the Food
Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced that it would establish criteria
for approving the "certified organic" label claim on meat, poultry,
and egg products. This decision reverses the FSIS's long standing position
that organic labeling of these products would have to await implementation of
national organic standards.
Producers who operate under recognized
private certification standards will now be able to petition FSIS to make an
organic claim on their products. This promises to open up a high volume, high
value market niche which had previously been expressly closed to organic
producers. Not only will this benefit livestock producers and consumers, but
it will significantly strengthen the market for organic grains because 100
percent certified feed has become the accepted standard for certification.
Many thanks to the Organic Trade Association and the CROPP Cooperative for
leading this fight for a loooonnnng time.
The National Organic Standards Board enjoyed a highly productive meeting in
Washington between February 9 and 11. Keith Jones, Program Manager of the
National Organic Program, stated that the Department was dotting the is
and crossing the ts on the next Proposed Rule for national
standards. After further editing, internal review and sign-off by other
agencies (EPA, FDA, and OMB), Keith hopes to see the Proposed Rule published
Its apparent that the USDA is responding to the
overwhelming public rejection of the first version. Keith stated that the
Proposed Rule will prohibit the big three (genetically engineered organisms,
irradiation, and biosolids) in organic production, will acknowledge the NOSBs
authority to determine which materials may be added to the national list of
allowable synthetics, and will not attempt to restrict alternative eco-label
language. With regards to livestock, the Proposed Rule will prohibit the use
of antibiotics, restrict the use of parasiticides, require the use of 100%
certified organic feed, and require, with very limited exceptions, access to
the outdoors for all animals. The USDA is also following the NOSBs
recommendation that organically raised ruminants enjoy access to pasture and
that grazing be an integral component of the nutrient management plan.
So can we now join with Neville Chamberlain in declaring peace in our
time? Yeah, right. While the NOSB and the organic community members in
attendance responded favorably to the USDAs outline of the new standards,
several contentious issues remain undecided.
have been adamant that they retain the right to revoke certification from
non-compliant operations, while the Department has maintained that the organic
seal is a federal license which can be removed only after the due process
afforded by an administrative hearing. Participants reached a tentative
compromise during the meeting, which would allow certifiers to revoke a
non-compliant operations certification certificate and to withdraw the
right to use that certifiers seal. The ultimate determination of whether
to revoke the federal license would await the outcome of a hearing before a
USDA administrative law judge.
Under this arrangement, certifiers
would maintain internal appeals processes (as they already do) to insure that
cases are thoroughly reviewed before the decision to revoke the certificate
and possibly initiate federal action on the license is made. Both the private
certifiers and the NOP staff at the meeting expressed preliminary satisfaction
with the agreement, but how the language reads in the Proposed Rule will be
very closely watched.
Keith Jones also announced that the USDA will
go to Congress and request a one time appropriation to cover the cost of
accrediting (or verifying the ability to perform required services) all
certifiers. Many smaller certifiers have expressed concern that the potential
expense of accreditation could prevent them from participating in the federal
The NOSB made substantive policy recommendations on a number of
difficult issues. The Board recommended that inert ingredients from EPA Lists
1 and 2 be prohibited in organic production, and that synthetic inerts on List
3 be prohibited if not specifically recommended for approval within three
years. The recommendation includes a phase out provision to avoid penalizing
producers who have previously used these materials in good faith.
intent of this approach was to compel manufacturers of compounded agricultural
amendments (mostly pesticides) that wish to have their products used in organic
production to disclose which inert ingredients they contain. The USDA has
indicated that it wants to work with the organic community, and especially the
Organic Materials Review Institute, to expedite review of synthetic inerts.
The EPA, which is responsible for the registration of pesticides, will be
called upon to play a large role in these efforts.
In a second major
policy decision, the Board approved a set of criteria for determining which
synthetic ingredients and processing aids can be allowed in the processing of
certified organic products. While the original Organic Food Production Act
established criteria for allowing synthetic materials to be used as production
aids (pheromones, for example), it prohibited their use in processed products.
Earlier recommendations by the NOSB and the policy of the USDA support the
use of reviewed and approved synthetic materials in processing. This issue has
been the subject of considerable debate as more and more processed organic
products enter the market. A vote whether to completely prohibit synthetic
materials in processed products was narrowly defeated.
the end of the three-day meeting was positive -- the next Proposed Rule looks
to be considerably improved, the role of private certifiers is being clarified,
and the Board took clear positions on many significant issues which remain
unresolved. Keith Jones has made an important contribution to bridging the gap
which threatened to divide the organic community and the federal regulators.
The next meeting of the NOSB is scheduled for June 8-10 in Washington, DC.
With all this peace breaking out, it appears that Maddie The Mangler
Albright will call for a delay in airstrikes against NOP strongholds, at least
for the time being.
Chem Reg Schedules
The EPA has asked for more time to develop risk reduction plans for the
organophosphate compounds for which risk assessments are complete. While the
missed deadlines are not statutory requirements of the FQPA, they do indicate
that the Agency is struggling with its efforts to amend registrations or
re-write labels in response to the new human health protection standard.
August, the Agency indicated that the risk reduction plans would be available
by the end of January, but their release has now been postponed to late
spring. The Agency expects to issue a preliminary risk assessment for
chlorpyrifos, one of the most widely used organophosphates, around the same
date. The next meeting of the Tolerance Reassessment Advisory Committee has
been pushed back until April.
The agency also announced plans for
addressing a number of related pesticide regulatory issues, including farm
worker protection standards and food and water residues of atrazine, during
1999. The Agency will not change the farm worker protection standard but will
use improved implementation and enforcement strategies to improve conditions
in the field. The review will include particular focus upon the risk to the
children of farm workers and farm families. For atrazine, a preliminary risk
assessment should be completed by December, 1999 in preparation for the
compounds reregistration process in 2000.
CAN Ag Group
The Climate Action Network (CAN), a broad coalition of environmental
organizations working on climate change issues, recently started an agriculture
committee. The SAC office prepared a memo for the group on win-win
opportunities for sustainable agriculture and progress on carbon sequestration
through administrative action. The memo included ideas for CFO, EQIP, crop
insurance reform, sustainable agriculture research, CRP buffers, farmland
protection, the organic program, and the AFO strategy. At the next meeting, we
will present a short list of 3 or 4 items CAN members could take to the
Administration as proposals. Colleagues at USDA and at World Resources
Institute are trying to develop estimates of potential net carbon gains from
the various options.
Farmers Market Info
The USDA has two websites up and running with information for farmers
interested in direct marketing.
USDA AMS Farmers' Markets
website features a listing of farmers' market locations by state, facts
about farmers' markets, and information about establishing a farmers' market
on federal property.
The Farmer Direct Marketing
website has information about direct marketing including publications,
resources and Web links, direct marketing resources by state, news and
announcements, and information about USDA's AMS Direct Marketing Action Plan.
State Non-Point Website
As part of the Clinton Administration's Clean Water Action Plan, the
Environmental Law Institute, with support from EPA's Nonpoint Source Control
Branch, has issued a new report "Almanac of Enforceable State Laws to
Control Nonpoint Source Water Pollution (1998)." The report contains
summary reports for laws in the states arranged by Forestry Requirements,
Agriculture Requirements, and Development and Other Earth-Disturbing
Activities. The report may be downloaded in Adobe Acrobat PDF format at
Information on ordering a $30 copy of the publication is also available on
Chairman Mao and his hundred flowers had nuthin on SAREs new 1,000
Ways to Sustainable Farming, which offers all of us the opportunity to
explore and refine the definition of Sustainable Ag by profiling successful,
sustainable farmers and ranchers. This project is in the able hands of former
New Farm editor and Sustainable Farming Connection webmeister Craig
Cramer, who would probably still put up a copy of this DC Report screed on the
Connection even if we didnt say fawning things about him here. Beyond
describing farming practices, the case studies under development also detail
the effects of these practices on farm profitablity, quality of life, rural
communities, and the environment. For more information and to nominate
farmers and ranchers for the project, see
Despite the fact that Ive felt guilty for months now about
that still unreturned fundraising letter from the Organic Farming Research
Foundation sitting right here in my desk drawer (next month, Bob, I promise),
they continue to do spectacular work in charting the state of the art
of organic production. Most recently, OFRF released the Final Results of the
Third Biennial National Organic Farmers Survey, which charts the results
of the 1,192 surveys returned by certified organic farmers from around the
country. It includes great, up to the minute information on research
priorities, marketing, production, and practices throughout the organic world.
Contact OFRF at (831) 426-6670 or firstname.lastname@example.org
for more information, or find them on the web at
Last but not
least, we are thrilled to recognize excellence among us. You see, Iowa may
have a Plan, Minnesota a Project, and even Frisco a Kid, but Wisconsin
has an IDEA. We are proud to announce that our very own Margaret Krome of the
Michael Fields Agricultural Institute is the most recent recipient of the
prestigious Wisconsin Idea Award in Natural Resource Policy, given
each year by the School of Natural Resources at the University of Wisconsin
Madison. She will be honored at a special banquet March 16, but congratulatory
notes and bratwurst would be welcome any time. Way to go, Margaret!
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