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Inside The Beltway -- October '99

Ag policy update from the Midwest Sustainable Agriculture Working Group.

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red ballAg Approps: Bizarre at the Bazaar
red ballHouse Moves Crop Insurance
red ballTerminated!
red ballCRP 20th Sign-up
red ballWho’s against Anti-Degradation?
red ballBeginning Farmer Advisory Commission
red ballUSDA Backs Hormone-free Beef… for Europe
red ballWetland Permits
red ballFSMIP Awards
red ballUSDA Entrepreneur Initiative
red ballComment on NRCS Conservation Standards
red ballUSGS Pesticide Reports

red ballPrevious editions of Inside the Beltway

Inside 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 bdevries@cais.com for more information.

Farm Aid 1999 came to D.C.’s doorstep last month and was, to the ears of this undeniably aging reporter, loud.  Very loud.  Like, is there any difference between Supersucker and Bare, Jr., other than the fact that one is loud and angst-ridden, and one is the other way around?  Then again, I learned that I really do like the Barenaked Ladies, so maybe I can put off the subscription to Modern Maturity a few more years.  Maybe I’ll go get a tattoo.

Of particular note were the scathing reviews the whole Freedom to Farm approach got during the press events (a Farmer Forum and a press conference with several of the artists) that preceded the concert, and from many of the artists on stage.  

With the concert so close to Washington, the Campaign for Family Farms (including several MSAWG member groups) and Family Farm Coalition took the opportunity to organize farmer and activist meetings with legislators, USDA officials and others.  They also organized a spirited “Stop Freedom to Farm” rally on Capitol Hill.  

While in town, about 40 hog producers and supporters paid an unscheduled visit to the offices of the National Pork Producers Council to demand of Al Tank, CEO of the NPPC, that the Council stop trying to delay or derail a required vote on the continuation of the mandatory pork checkoff.  While participants generally agreed the meeting went well, it’s not clear that Mr. Tank would share that assessment.

Farm Aid co-founder Neil Young noted at the rally that it might be worth having Farm Aid near the Capitol every year, “until we get this thing fixed.”  In that case, I’ve got plenty of time to pick up a set of earplugs before Supersucker returns.

red ballAg Approps & Emergency $$$

The House-Senate conference report for the combined $61 billion FY 2000 agriculture appropriations and $8.7 billion emergency farm aid spending package was filed after midnight on October 1, with the House approving the package 240-175 later that morning.  Senate action is expected as we go to press (week of October 4), although it is subject to a “hold” by northeast supporters of the dairy compact, and a threatened filibuster by mid-Atlantic states Senators who think the legislation shortchanges drought-damaged farms in that region.

Emergency Supplemental: The final emergency aid package includes $1.2 billion in disaster relief, well short of the amount expected to be needed for drought and natural disaster victims -- an amount that among other things demonstrates the relative weakness of east coast legislators in ag debates.  A separate $508 million for farm relief for Hurricane Floyd is pending in the Labor-HHS appropriations bill.  The rest of the emergency package remains the same as the Senate-passed bill:

  • $5.54 billion for a 100% increase in AMTA payments (not subject to payment limitations)
  • $400 million for crop insurance premium subsidies
  • $475 million for soybean and oilseed farmers
  • $328 million for tobacco farmers
  • $201 million for cotton exports (step 2 program)
  • $200 million for livestock producers
  • $125 million for dairy producers
  • $42 million for peanut producers
  • $15 million for Alaska fishing companies
  • $56 million for FSA salaries

The bill doubles the payment limitation for Loan Deficiency Payments to $150,000, bringing to a whopping $460,000 the combined payment limitation for crop 1999 farm program payments.  It also provides for marketing certificate payments in cash or in-kind that would be completely exempt from payment limitations.  The bill extends dairy price support levels for one year, makes permanent the provision to distribute AMTA payments in a lump sum at the start of the fiscal year, and requires USDA to make LDPs on grain sorghum grown for silage or hay and on wheat that is grazed.

Mandatory Price Reporting: Nearly a year after last year’s conference committee turned down mandatory livestock price reporting language, a version close to the one passed by the Senate Ag Committee this summer was incorporated into the conference agreement.  This language is considerably stronger than the version approved by the House Ag Committee, but still weaker than we wanted.  Nonetheless, it is a major step forward and at least a partial victory for all the hog and cattle producers who raised hell following last year’s inaction.  We will report on this new law in the next issue after further analysis of the final language and its implications.

Dairy and Trade with Cuba: In the final weeks of conference consideration of the bill, the two biggest points of contention were the Northeast Dairy Compact and proposed removal of food embargoes to a variety of countries including Cuba.  The debate was so hot that in the end the conference was actually canceled and the shape of the final bill determined solely by the House and Senate Republican leadership and subcommittee chairs.  Both the dairy compact and trade with Cuba sections were ultimately dropped, with a promise on dairy for a Senate vote on the milk marketing order bill before adjournment, at which time the Compact could presumably re-emerge.  Trade with Cuba, a hot new Farm Bureau priority, will also likely re-emerge on another vehicle soon.  If nothing else, it’ll be great fun to be able to rail against the AFBF for “losing” Cuba!  

In the end, the leadership was able to secure the signatures of 15 of the 24 members of the “virtual” conference to report the bill, but only after considerable arm-twisting.  Among the Republicans, Senator Specter (dairy) and Representatives Walsh (dairy) and Nethercutt (Cuba) refused to sign, while Democratic Senators Harkin, Dorgan, and Durbin and Representatives Kaptur and DeLauro refused to sign (emergency package), as did Representative Hinchey (dairy).  The regional politics of dairy made it impossible for the GOP to force the bill through a regular conference session on a partisan basis, but nonetheless did allow them to secure critical Democratic signatures to the report once the dairy compact was removed.

More to Come?:  Obviously, we were unsuccessful in receiving any consideration in conference (since it did not actually meet) for emergency spending for conservation, credit, or marketing and rural development, nor was there a chance to debate weakened payment limitations.  Some of these issues were addressed in a Democratic alternative that would have been offered by Senator Harkin and Dorgan.  Everyone concedes that additional funding will be required at least for credit and for disaster aid, and House Chairman Skeen has already been quoted as saying another emergency supplemental will be pulled together soon -- the fourth since last October!  This will give us another opportunity to try to put other issues in play.

Final Outcomes for FY 2000: Despite budget caps, there were some big winners in the regular appropriations bill.  For instance, food safety activities across all agencies received a $52 million increase, the Agricultural Research Service research budget shot up nearly $50 million, and FSA salaries and expenses went up $80 million in addition to the $56 million in emergency money.

On our priority programs, ATTRA went up by $200,000 to $1.5 million, rural coop development grants went up $2 million to $4 million, state mediation grants went up $1 million to $3 million, and the Wetlands Reserve program went up by 30,000 acres to 150,000 acres.  Everything else stayed at level funding, except for direct farm ownership and operating loans, which took a huge nosedive but will likely be included in another emergency supplemental bill early next year.  Some miscellaneous observations on other funding matters follow.  

Research:  The ARS research budget continues to climb.  No existing ARS programs were cut and more money was added for ARS-proposed research on such issues as genomics, germplasm preservation, manure handling, pathogen control, carbon cycle, hypoxia, invasive weeds, plus a nearly equal amount for congressional earmarks.  The latter included small earmarks for an organic specialist and a sustainable vineyard specialist in California.  

A similar observation for the CSREES budget -- over $2 million was added in earmarks for “sustainable agriculture” projects in MT, NE, PA, MI, and CA, with increases for the PA and MT projects and a new start for CA exceeding the $500,000 increase for SARE proposed by the President’s budget.  Despite the predictable annual special earmarks jamboree, the sustainable and organic movements have not engaged in this funding route to any significant degree.

Also in the research arena, for the first time some CSREES programs will be run as “integrated activities” under Section 406 of the 1997 Ag Research Bill, with research and extension programs funded under one joint account for water quality, food safety, and several pesticide programs.  The funding is the same as was previously available separately, except for a new $4 million for the FQPA risk mitigation program for major food crops.  

Although not included under this new “integrated activities” account, the SARE program was the pioneer in joint research and extension programming.  USDA had proposed $4 million for a small farm research initiative under this Section 406 authority, but for the second straight year Congress refused to fund it.

Marketing:  The Ag Marketing Service gets $51.6 million for FY 2000, an increase of nearly $3 million, including $321,000 for enhancing market opportunities for small farmers, perhaps the only budget initiative stemming from implementation of A Time to Act that received funding.  With regard to organic certification, the conference agreement includes a directive to AMS to publish draft regulations in 2000 on national organic standards for seafood, a matter of considerable contention within the organic community.

Conservation:  The Natural Resources Conservation Service received a $20 million increase in “conservation operations” (includes technical assistance and other agency expenses), or about $20 million less than the President requested.  Included in this amount is a $2 million increase in the Grazing Lands Conservation Initiative to $17 million, and almost $8 million for Animal Feeding Operation activities.  

With the exception of the acreage enrollment increase for WRP, the conservation incentive programs were shut out of budget increases.  A special earmark of $250,000 was added under the Farmland Protection Program for New Hampshire.  Six pilot projects were authorized for biomass harvesting from CRP land.  USDA can do one in each of six states, provided that no more than one harvest a year is allowed, no more than 25% of acreage in a given district is harvested, no wetlands or buffers are harvested, and a payment reduction is made.

Rural Development: The Rural Business Enterprise Grant program received about $35 million, while $3.5 million was targeted for the similar Rural Business Opportunity Grant program.  Combined that roughly equals last year’s appropriation.  Report language directs the Department to give “consideration” to, among a multitude of other projects, the Land Stewardship Alliance and the Western Massachusetts food processing center, two offshoots of the IFFS Network.  

For rural coop development grants, statutory language was added to target at least 25% of the funds to coops or coop associations that assist small, minority farmers.  The conferees also directed the Department to consider the National Pork Producers Council’s proposal for a feasibility study on national pork producer-owned coops.

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red ballHouse Moves Crop Insurance

H.R. 2599, the “Agricultural Risk Protection Act of 1999,” was approved by voice vote on the House floor on September 29.  The bill would add $1.5 billion per year to the cost of the crop and revenue insurance programs, bringing the total subsidy up to about $3.3 billion per year.  

The $6 billion in new costs to accomplish this from 2001-2004 was approved as part of the budget resolution earlier this year.  In addition, the emergency supplemental appropriation (see above) includes $400 million in additional subsidies for FY 2000.

Only two amendments were approved to the House Agriculture Committee-passed bill.  One would establish a pilot program to insure livestock against natural disasters, and the other expresses the sense of Congress that USDA should encourage minority and limited resource farmer participation in the insurance programs.  

An expected amendment from ranking minority member Charlie Stenholm (D-TX) to transfer a substantial part of the $6 billion to cover the costs of a new “supplemental income payment program” was not offered after the Congressional Budget Office stuck it with a huge budget score.  The Stenholm proposal, which has been endorsed in general terms by Secretary Glickman, would provide cash payments to commodity producers anytime national revenue fell below 85% of the previous five-year average.

As reported in previous Washington Reports, the crop insurance reform bill would increase premium subsidies for buy-up coverage, establish pilot programs for livestock and specialty crop coverage, and fund research for new crop insurance options.  It also adds language preventing discrimination against sustainable and organic farming practices.  

The House bill would not provide for whole farm revenue insurance coverage, link receipt of subsidies to conservation compliance, nor target subsidies to family farms.  On these grounds, the Sustainable Agriculture Coalition wrote to House members opposing passage of the bill in its current form.

Attention now turns to the Senate, where it remains unclear whether the Ag Committee will approve a bill yet this year.  Chairman Lugar circulated a draft copy of his proposed bill to members the last week of September.  The Lugar proposal is very different than the House bill or any of the three major Senate bills already introduced (see previous Reports for summaries of these bills).  This would make it difficult for a mark-up to proceed quickly.

Instead of direct premium subsidies, the Lugar bill would create a new “risk management payment” which the producer could pocket or use to pay down a crop or revenue insurance premium.  The payment would be based on actual production history, with a payment rate determined by USDA.  The total amount of payments per year would be capped at $1.275 billion. 

In return for the payment, the producer would agree to use at least 2 of 8 “risk management practices”: 

  • obtain crop insurance
  • enter a futures or options contract
  • purchase an agricultural trade option
  • enter into a cash forward or marketing contract
  • make a deposit into a tax deductible trust
  • attend a marketing or risk management class or seminar
  • reduce farm debt or increase farm liquidity
  • diversify production

 The Lugar bill also creates a whole farm revenue insurance pilot project, not to exceed $10 million in producer paid premiums in 2001 rising to $40 million in 2004.  The Coalition endorses this concept, but is urging the Chairman and Committee members to increase the size of the pilot and include provisions to directly encourage crop and enterprise diversification.

Like all the other bills under consideration, the Lugar bill does not link subsidies to conservation compliance and does not attempt to limit payments to any one operation or target benefits to smaller farms.

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red ballTerminated

In an October 4 open letter to the Rockefeller Foundation, Monsanto Prez Robert Shapiro made the surprise announcement that his company would not pursue Terminator or other sterile seed technologies … for the time being.  

While we pride ourselves on spunky writing here at the MSAWG DC Report, it’s hard to beat the lead line in the press release from the best Terminator terrorizers in the business, the Rural Advancement Foundation International.  They write:“With biotech's Silver Bullet firmly imbedded in its own foot, Monsanto is dropping its guns, abandoning the Terminator, and telling farmers that it wants to play nice. Not so fast, hombre!”

The Shapiro letter (which is available on the web at http://www.monsanto.com/monsanto/gurt/default.htm ) says that Monsanto is making a public commitment to not commercialize any “sterile seed technologies.”  The letter does leave the door at least slightly ajar for other “gene protection systems,” such as those that would inactivate only a specific gene or genes responsible for a bio-engineered trait, which RAFI has dubbed “traitor” technologies. For more info, be sure to check out RAFI’s Website at: http://www.rafi.org.

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red ballCRP 20th Sign-up

The USDA has announced that the 20th CRP sign-up will be held from January 18, 2000 through February 11, 2000.   CRP contracts awarded under this sign-up will become effective October 1, 2000.  As of October 1, 1999, approximately 31.5 million acres were enrolled under CRP contracts, with an additional 400,000 acres currently under CRP contracts expected to expire by October 1, 2000.   

The announcement did not indicate how much acreage the USDA intends to hold in reserve for the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program or the CRP continuous sign-up program, although Secretary Glickman did encourage producers to consider enrolling acreage in the continuous sign-up program and previously committed to a goal of 4 to 5.5 million acres.  

MSAWG and SAC have urged the USDA to modify the continuous sign-up program to provide greater incentives for enrollment and the USDA has indicated at recent Congressional hearings that it intends to make some changes.  The SAC staff, however, has heard that modifications by USDA may be delayed for 2 to 3 months.  

If Congress does not expand the current total enrollment authorization of 36.4 million CRP acres, the next sign-up will likely be highly competitive with a relatively small amount of acreage enrolled in the program.  The CRP program announcement and the Environmental Benefits Index for the 20th sign-up, which is combined with a cost-factor in ranking acreage offered for enrollment, are available at the website http://ww.fsa.usda.gov/dafp/cepd/crpinfo.htm.

USDA also recently issued an assessment of CRP acreage by state as of September, 1999 and CRP contract payments by state as of October, 1999.  The CRP currently pays an average of $5,000 per farm and $45.16 per acre on more than 400,000 contracts and 270,000 farms.  Texas leads the states in CRP acreage, with 12.2 percent of the total CRP acres, followed by North Dakota with 10.3 percent and Montana with 9.9 percent.   Iowa CRP acres receive the highest percentage of CRP payments, 10.2 percent of the total, followed by Texas with 9.6 percent of the total and Kansas with 7.6 percent of the total.  For the entire state-by-state table, see the website http://www.usda.gov/news/releases/1999/10/0391.

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red ballWho’s against Anti-Degradation

The EPA has released two proposed rules to strengthen the Clean Water Act’s Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) process.  64 Fed. Reg. at pp. 46011-46055 and at pp. 46057-46089 (August 23, 1999).  

Under this process, the total amount of pollutant a water body can receive without exceeding its water quality standard is estimated and the sources of pollutants, both point source and non-point source (including agricultural runoff), are also estimated.  The proposed rules provide the details as to how these estimates are made and what procedures should be adopted to ensure that the pollutants do not exceed the water quality standards.  

A copy of the TMDL rules is available in the Federal Register announcement or on the EPA website at: http://www.epa.gov/owow/tmdl/proprule.html.  The EPA recently extended the due date for comments on the proposed ruled to December 22, 1999.  Federal Register, Vol. 64 at p. 53304 (Oct. 1., 1999).  

Comments on the TMDL proposed rules may be submitted to the Comment Clerk for the TMDL Rule, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 401 M Street, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20460 or by e-mail to OW-Docket@epa.gov.  Note that comments on the rule focusing on the TMDL program should be submitted with reference to Water Docket (W-98-31) and comments on the accompanying rule concerning water quality standards and anti-degradation policy should reference Water Docket (W-99-04).   

The SAC office has been tracking TMDL issues and plans to submit comments focused on agricultural pollution issues relevant to the TMDL process.  For more detailed information, we recommend that you check the Clean Water Network TMDL website http://www.cwn.org/, which also has links to EPA sites.   For more information on TMDL issues, contact Kathy Nemsick, Clean Water Network, phone: 202-289-2395, or email: knemsick@nrdc.org.

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red ballBeginning Farmer Advisory Committee

The long-delayed USDA Advisory Committee on Beginning Farmers and Ranchers, established by the 1992 credit act, held its first meeting in Washington on August 30-September 2. SAC’s Ferd Hoefner is one of 18 committee members appointed by Secretary Glickman.

At the conclusion of its meeting, the committee unanimously forwarded to the Secretary 6 urgent recommendations from among the several dozen that it began to develop. In a letter to Glickman, the committee calls on USDA to actively support $120 million in funding for direct and guaranteed credit programs as part of the pending emergency supplemental appropriation to bring total farm ownership and operating loan funds up to 110% of the FY 99 levels. 

The committee also urged USDA leadership to change the tax code to allow USDA loan guarantees on state “aggie bond” loans and to exempt aggie bonds from state volume caps on industrial revenue bonds. To enhance the federal-state partnership for beginning farmers, the committee recommended a comprehensive assessment of existing programs, as well as the personal involvement of the Secretary in encouraging inactive states to step up to the plate. Improved staffing to handle the huge increase in loan activity, and continued support for full funding for the outreach and technical assistance program for minority farmers, rounded out the urgent action items.

The Committee hopes to meet again in March in Kansas City, at which time it will finalize many of the other recommendations already discussed at the first meeting. For more information, contact Ferd Hoefner.

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red ballUSDA Backs Hormone-free Beef… for Europe

USDA’s Food Safety & Inspection Service (FSIS) and Ag Marketing Service (AMS) announced the development of a system of third-party certification for the European Union (EU) Non-Hormone Treated Cattle program. The EU requires that imported beef come from cattle not treated with growth-promoting hormones. I

n place since 1989, FSIS suspended its EU Non-Hormone Treated Cattle program on July 16, 1999, over concerns with control and credibility of the certification. As a result, AMS is taking more responsibility for the program. The certification program has three basic components:

  1. Cattle are grown in approved (by the EU) farms/feedlots, in accordance with a written farm program, and delivered to slaughter (only at USDA inspected, EU approved facilities) with an affidavit from the farmer attesting to their non-hormone treated condition.
  2. Non-treated cattle and beef are segregated at the slaughter facility throughout the process.
  3. Tissue samples from non-treated cattle are collected at slaughter and analyzed at accredited, independent laboratories for residual levels of restricted compounds.

Copies of the FSIS program requirements for farms and packing plants are available from the Sustainable Agriculture Coalition.

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red ballCorps Wetland Permits

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is proposing to phase-out Nationwide Permit No. 26 and replace it with 5 new permits and revisions to 6 existing permits, including revision of NWP 40 which deals with wetland conversion for agricultural uses.  NWP 26 has allowed the conversion of up to 3 acres of isolated or headwater wetlands without public notification or analysis of alternatives.   Although this proposal to replace NWP No. 26 has significant flaws, particularly for agricultural lands, overall it may improve wetlands protection.   

In an attempt to block any significant reform to the Nationwide Permit No. 26, pro-development riders had been added to the House Energy and Water Development Appropriations Act for FY2000.  One rider would have allowed a developer to sue the federal government based solely on a determination that land contained wetlands, regardless of whether the developer requested a Section 404 permit to develop the land.  The second rider would have delayed indefinitely any administrative reforms to the NWP No.26.   

A successful fight to remove these riders was led by Rep. Peter Visclosky (D-IN). The comment period on the Army Corps proposal closes October 7, 1999 and the SAC office is submitting comments. The full text of the proposed modifications to the NWP program may be found in the Federal Register, July 21, 1999 at pp. 39251-39371 or on the web at the Army Corps website http://www.usace.army.mil/inet/functions/cw/cecwo/reg/.    For more information on this issue, contact Martha Noble at the SAC office.

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red ballFSMIP Awards

USDA has announced the award of the second and final round of 1999 Federal-State Marketing Improvement Program (FSMIP) grants to fifteen states.  The awards are granted by USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service to state Departments of Agriculture, or other appropriate state agencies, to assist in conducting studies or developing innovative approaches related to the marketing of agricultural products. 

State agencies can cooperate with non-profit organizations in submitting a proposal.  For example, in this round of grants, $45,000 was awarded to the Minnesota Department of Agriculture for a project in cooperation with the Organic Alliance to develop educational materials that explain organic farming and provide for better informed consumer food choices.   

The Illinois Department of Agriculture, the other MSAWG state agency granted an award in this round, was given $80,000 for a project in cooperation with the University of Illinois to develop a system for collecting and distributing information on the compositional characteristics of corn and soybean products, and the associated price differentials.  Any wagers on whether or not they’ll be tracking differentials between GMO and non-GMO corn and beans?

This year, USDA indicated that the FSMIP would focus on the marketing issues and concerns identified in the Time to Act report of the National Commission on Small Farms, including projects aimed at developing marketing strategies and initiatives that primarily benefit small farms and projects in which state agencies partner with community-based organizations interested in pursuing local or regional food system strategies.  

We here at SAC will be encouraging USDA to retain this focus in subsequent years and will also be working to urge Congress to increase the FSMIP budget from $1.2 million in FY99 to $15 million in FY01.  More information on the FSMIP is available on the website http://www.ams.usda.gov/tmd/fsmip.htm.

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red ballUSDA Entrepreneur Initiative

The USDA Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service held a workshop on Entrepreneurial Agriculture in Washington, D.C. on September 29, 1999.  The workshop is aimed at building a USDA “toolkit” of opportunities for entrepreneurial agriculture and forestry.  The agency intends that the workshop will be the first of a series of workshops, which will include participation by USDA agencies, partners, and customers involved with entrepreneurial training and support.  

The primary aim of the workshops is to identify needs and opportunities for cross-agency support for agricultural and natural resource based entrepreneurship and value-added opportunities focused on small businesses.  The toolkit itself is currently envisioned as a resource notebook which identifies and compiles or references existing publications, programs, and curricula which can be used by agencies in fostering entrepreneurs and small businesses.  

The USDA intends to identify any missing “tools” and put the toolkit to use throughout USDA.   The workshop series will fulfill one of the fifteen commitments made by USDA in the May, 1999 National Town Meeting on sustainable development held in Detroit, Michigan. 

 Speakers at the first workshop included John Allen of the University of Nebraska, who has developed a new business and marketing curriculum entitled “Tilling the Soil of Opportunity”, with funding from a SARE grant and cooperation with the Center for Rural Affairs among others.  Greg Taylor of Texas A&M University described the agenda for a professional development workshop to be held in November, which is intended to introduce and give training to agency staff on fostering entrepreneurial initiatives in the communities they serve.  This is the first of five pilot programs around the nation to provide this professional agency staff training.

This entrepreneurial initiative parallels efforts underway by the MSAWG Marketing Committee to review critically USDA and other federal agency programs that can be used by farmers and rural communities to foster value-added marketing and local food networks.  In the SAC office, Martha Noble will work with the MSAWG Marketing Committee to provide our perspectives and recommendations to the USDA in improving and coordinating these programs.

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red ballComment on Conservation Standards

The NRCS has given notice that it is seeking public comment on six new or revised conservation practice standards in its National Handbook of Conservation Practices.  See Federal Register, Vol. 64 at p. 49439 (September 13, 1999).  

The standards include Closure of Waste Impoundments, Conservation Cover, Contour Farming, Cover Crop, Contour Stripcropping, Grassed Waterway, and Irrigation System: Microirrigation.  At the request of the SAC staff, and other participants in the Clean Water Network Feedlot Work Group, the NRCS has begun, with this notice, posting conservation practice standards open for public comment on the web at http://www.ftw.nrcs.usda.gov/practice_stds.html.  We have also requested that NRCS include a description of proposed changes to standard revisions and the agency’s rationales for new or revised standards.

Those of you involved in the regulation of animal feeding operations / factory farms, note that one of new proposed practice standards addresses the Closure of Waste Impoundments (Code No. 360).   Comments on these practice standards must be submitted in writing by November 12, 1999 to William Hughey, National Agricultural Engineer, NRCS, P.O. Box 2890, Room 6139-S, Washington, D.C. 20013-2890.  The SAC office will be reviewing and commenting on these proposed new and revised standards.  Contact Martha Noble if you have trouble finding the standards on the web or if you have any questions or comments.

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red ballUSGS Pesticide Report

The U.S. Geological Survey has released two reports on pesticides and water quality, entitled “Distribution of Major Herbicides in Ground Water of the United States” (Water-Resources Investigation Report No. 98-4245) and “Pesticides in the Streams of the United States  Initial Results from the National Water-Quality Assessment Program” (Water-Resources Investigation Report No. 98-4222).  

The reports indicate that pesticides are widespread in the nation’s groundwater and streams.  The reports also note that the EPA has not established drinking water criteria for many of the detected pesticides and that no criteria have been established for the transformation products of any of the pesticides.  

Copies of these reports can be purchased from the U.S. Geological Survey, Branch of Information Services, Box 25286, Denver, CO 80225-0286.  We also have an extra copy in the SAC office available on a first-ask, first-get basis.  Contact Martha Noble or Brad DeVries at (202) 547-5754 or e-mail mnoble@msawg.org.

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red ballPrevious editions of Inside the Beltway

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