Home News & Events Alternative Agriculture News -- August '97

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Alternative Agriculture News
For August, 1997, from the Henry A. Wallace Institute for Alternative Agriculture.

Congress Maintains Funding for Sustainable Ag Programs
USDA Appoints National Commission on Small Farms
New York Times Buys a Share of a CSA
World Food Prize Seeks Nominations
Sustainable Ag Enters Mainstream, Says LA Times
Hog Farms Contribute to Toxic Algae, Magazine Reports
Upcoming Events

©1997, Henry A. Wallace Institute for Alternative Agriculture, 9200 Edmonston Road, #117, Greenbelt, MD 20770. Phone: (301) 441-8777. E-mail: hawiaa@access.digex.net.

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This newsletter is also available to subscribers to the sanet-mg listserv. To subscribe, send a message to: almanac@ces.ncsu.edu. Leave the subject line blank and in the body of the message type only: subscribe sanet-mg

The current issue is also available at the Wallace Institute website.

In addition to this monthly newsletter, the Henry A. Wallace Institute for Alternative Agriculture publishes the American Journal of Alternative Agriculture, a quarterly, peer-reviewed journal of research on alternative agriculture. It is a scientific forum for disseminating technical, economic, and social research findings about the character and requirements of alternative agriculture systems.

The current issue (Volume 12, No. 1) features a comparison of organic versus conventional grain production in the Mid-Atlantic region, with an economic and farming system overview. Other articles examine:

  • A laboratory experiment involving nutrient release from decomposing crop residues.
  • Farm structure, market structure and agricultural sustainability goals in New York state dairying.
  • Farmers' commitment to continued use of the late spring soil nitrogen test
  • Local food systems and sustainable communities.
  • Community-controlled economic development as a strategic vision for the sustainable agriculture movement.

Subscriptions to AJAA are $44 for libraries; $24 for individuals; and $12 for students.

Congress Maintains Funding for Sustainable Ag Programs

The U.S. Congress last month approved final appropriations for Fiscal Year 1998 that maintain funding levels for most sustainable agriculture programs. A House-Senate conference is expected to meet in the near future to resolve the few differences between the House and Senate versions of the USDA appropriations bill.

Here are the funding levels approved by the House and the Senate for several discretionary sustainable agriculture programs:

  • SARE: An $8 million appropriation was approved by both the House and the Senate for the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program, the same as last year.

  • SAPDP: A $3.3 million appropriation was approved by both the House and the Senate for the SARE (Chapter 3) Professional Development Program, the same as last year.

  • ATTRA: A $1.3 million appropriation was approved by the House for Appropriate Technology Transfer for Rural Areas, the same as last year; the Senate approved $1.5 million.

  • OFPA: A $500,000 appropriation was approved by the House for the Organic Foods Production Act, the same as last year; the Senate approved $1 million, the same amount President Clinton had requested.

In addition, funding for mandatory programs was "unscathed" and unchanged from the requested amounts, according to Ferd Hoefner of the Sustainable Agriculture Coalition.
  • CFO: A $15 million appropriation was approved for the new Conservation Farm Option, created to foster innovation in natural resource protection and enhancement.

  • EQIP: A $200 million appropriation was approved for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, the same as the FY97 appropriation.

  • WRP: A $164 million appropriation was approved for the Wetlands Reserve Program, an increase from the FY97 appropriation of $119 million.

  • CFSA: A $2.5 million appropriation was approved for the Community Food Security Act, the same as the FY97 appropriation.

  • FRA: A $100 million appropriation was approved for the Fund for Rural America, the same as the FY97 appropriation.
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USDA Appoints National Commission on Small Farms

The USDA last month formed a National Commission on Small Farms to study the problems of "the foundation of our rural communities," according to the USDA. Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman directed the Commission to look at a range of problems and issues, including credit, risk management, education, and outreach, and to recommend improvements to better serve small and beginning farmers.

The Commission will also look at ways in which the USDA can ensure that small farms are treated fairly and have an equal opportunity to compete in vertically-integrated agricultural systems, and ways to encourage small farms to adopt farm operations and production practices, such as value-added cooperatives or direct marketing, that can help to improve their profitability.

"We must continue to find ways to help small and disadvantaged producers find ways to make a decent living, keep their land, and make their small farms economically viable," said Glickman.

Dr. Desmond Jolly of Davis, California, a member of the Wallace Institute's Board of Directors, is Vice Chair of the Commission. Dr. Frederick Magdoff, another member of the Wallace Institute's Board of Directors, is also a member of the Commission. For more information about the Commission, contact Jennifer Yezak Molen at (202) 690-0648. Find Commission member bios at USDA's website.

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New York Times Buys a Share of a CSA

The New York Times has bought a share of Threshold Farm Community Supported Agriculture and will write periodically about the CSA project, according to the newspaper (July 9, 1997).

In this CSA project, "city dwellers commission a local grower to supply them with high-quality produce for a 30-week growing season, and pay in advance. ... By sharing a farmer's production costs, members aren't 'buyers' as much as they are partners in planning crops and budgets and sharing the harvest, along with the vicissitudes of nature."

In the last 12 years, 600 CSA projects have been started in North America. "The program's appeal and its steady growth seem to be a confluence of appetite and health concerns, pastoral longings and political leanings," wrote reporter Molly O'Neill. "As thousands of small family farms have been razed for residential and commercial complexes across the country, more and more farmers have begun to market their produce directly to the public to trim costs and increase profits. A grower selling directly from his farm stand or in a city-operated Greenmarket can make about 30 percent more than one who sells to a wholesale distributor."

Community supported agriculture also lets a grower "plan exactly what to plant and what to deliver and cuts about 18 hours from my workweek," said one farmer. According to the article, "in addition to the freedom of growing techniques, the financial security of prepaid shares allows farmers to set their own prices."

For more information about CSA projects, contact Community Supported Agriculture of North America at (413) 528-4374.

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World Food Prize Seeks Nominations

The World Food Prize seeks nominations for the 1998 prize, with a deadline of December 31. The prize is the highest individual honor for outstanding achievement in improving the world's food supply, and recognizes achievements in any field involved in the world food supply, including food and agricultural science and technology, manufacturing, marketing, nutrition, economics, political leadership, social sciences, and other related fields. It emphasizes the importance of a nutritious and sustainable food supply for all people.

For nomination applications, contact David Acker, World Food Prize, Office of the Secretariat, College of Agriculture, 104 Curtiss Hall, Iowa State University, Ames, IA 50011; (515) 294-2883; e- mail bjelland@iastate.edu.

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Sustainable Ag Enters Mainstream, Says LA Times

Once a "fringe notion," sustainable agriculture "is entering the agricultural mainstream, endorsed by big vintners in California, corn growers in Wisconsin, and truck farmers in Maine," according to a front-page article in The Los Angeles Times (July 21, 1997).

"The reason: a spreading realization that the abundance resulting from the post-World War II push toward high-yield industrial agriculture has produced enormous consequences -- in tainted ground water, depleted soil and shrinking farm towns."

Sustainable agriculture, the article says, "favors techniques that preserve the environment and people's health while providing the nation's dwindling ranks of family farmers with a decent living and a reason to plow on instead of relinquishing their fields to agribusiness giants or housing developers." The movement now includes approximately 5 percent of U.S. farmers who use sustainable practices -- including the California vineyards owned by E&J Gallo Winery.

The article prominently features Fred Kirschenmann, President of the Wallace Institute's Board of Directors, whose "innovations have won over many a reluctant ag advisor, researcher and farmer."

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Hog Farms Contribute to Toxic Algae, Magazine Reports

Corporate hog farms are contributing to the spread of a toxic alga called pfiesteria which is poisoning fish, marine life, and even fishermen, according to an article in U.S. News & World Report (July 28, 1997).

The toxic alga has been spreading since 1991, when it was first discovered in North Carolina, where "scientists and environmentalists seeking answers to the algal assault believe much of the blame lies with the industrial-scale hog farming that has mushroomed in the eastern part of the state," the article says.

"Hundreds of millions of gallons of untreated, nutrient-rich hog feces and urine produced at these loosely regulated factory farms are stored in earthen lagoons that sometimes leak or collapse. In 1995, for example, 25 million gallons of liquid swine manure -- more than twice the volume of the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Prince William Sound -- flowed into the New River after a lagoon was breached." Solutions may include controlling farm runoff, better sewage treatment, and improved wetlands protection.

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  • Michigan State University's Department of Agricultural Economics seeks an Associate or Full Professor of Food Industry Management; applications should include curriculum vitae, three reference letters, and copies of no more than three publications; inquiries should be sent to Dr. Larry G. Hamm, Chairperson, Department of Agricultural Economics, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824; (517) 355-4567.
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  • "Second Thoughts on the Agricultural Revolution: Henry A. Wallace in His Last Years," the 1997 Henry A. Wallace Annual Lecture, is $5 from the Wallace Institute, 9200 Edmonston Road, #117, Greenbelt, MD 20770; (301) 441-8777.
  • The 1996 Annual Report of the Wallace Institute is available at no charge from the Wallace Institute, 9200 Edmonston Road, #117, Greenbelt, MD 20770; (301) 441-8777.
  • "The Herbal Green Pages," a resource guide, is $25 plus $2 shipping from the Herbal Connection, P.O. Box 245, Silver Spring, PA 17575; (717) 393-3295.
  • "The Source Book of Sustainable Agriculture," a list of 559 resource materials published by the Sustainable Agriculture Network, is $12 from Sustainable Agriculture Publications, Hills Building, UVM, Burlington, VT 05405-0082; contact (802) 656-0471; e-mail msimpson@zoo.uvm.edu.
  • "Part-time Farming, Small Farms, and Small-scale Farming in the United States;" "Direct Marketing and Related Topics;" and "Compost: Application and Use," all publications in the Quick Bibliography Series, are available from USDA, National Agricultural Library, Public Services Division, Room 111, Beltsville, MD 20705.
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Upcoming Events

For additional listings, see the Sustainable Agriculture Network's Calendar of Events.

  • August 25-27, "Composting and Organics Recycling: Making the Economics Work," the BioCycle Northeast Conference '97, will be held in Albany, N.Y.; contact BioCycle at 1-800-661-4905.
  • August 29-31, Biodynamic Conference will be held in Blairsville, GA; contact Union Agricultural Institute, 8475 Dockery Rd., Blairsville, GA 30512; (706) 745-6056.
  • September, farm and market tours will be held throughout Ohio; contact Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association, P.O. Box 82234, Columbus, OH 43202; (614) 294-3663.
  • In September, Practical Farmers of Iowa will hold Farm Field Days:
    • Sept. 2, John and Pam Cowles, Bloomfield, (515) 675-3414
    • Sept. 4, Ron and Maria Rosmann, Harlan, (712) 627-4653
    • Sept. 10, Matt and Diana Stewart, Oelwein, (319) 283-1337
    • Sept. 13, Kenneth Rosmann, Harlan, (712) 627-4217
    • Sept. 14, Tom Wahl and Kathy Dice, Wapello, (319) 729-5905
  • September 9, "Profitable Farming in a Changing Environment: Rich Bennett Farm Tour" will be held in Napoleon, OH; contact Ohio State University Extension, (330) 627-4310.
  • September 11, Iowa State University Agronomy Field Day and Thompson On-Farm Research Field Day will be held at the Thompson Farm, Boone, IA; contact Dick or Sharon Thompson, (515) 432-1560.
  • September 15-16, "Sustainable Communities: New Opportunities for Achieving Sustainability" will be held in Des Moines, IA; contact In Business magazine, 1-800-661-4905.
  • September 17, "Your Access to the European Organic Food Market -- A Practical Primer for the U.S. Organic Food Industry" will be held in Baltimore, MD; contact Aleen Rothschild-Seidel, Organic Food Seminar, 1101 17th St., NW, #1100, Washington, D.C. 20036; (301) 365-9560 or (202) 294-5555; e-mail Hanspeter Schmidt, 100574.1042@compuserve.com.
  • September 19-21, Natural Products Expo East will be held in Baltimore, MD; contact New Hope Natural Media, 1301 Spruce St., Boulder, CO 80302; (303) 939-8440.
  • September 22-26, National Watershed Water Quality Project Symposium will be held in Washington, D.C.; contact Conservation Technology Information Center, 1220 Potter Drive, #170, West Lafayette, IN 47906; (765) 494-9555.
  • September 24-25, "Working with Wetlands and Wildlife" will be held in Denver, CO; contact Wildlife Habitat Council, 1010 Wayne Ave., #920, Silver Spring, MD 20910; (301) 588-8994.
  • September 24-27, "The Future Agenda For Organic Trade," the 5th IFOAM Conference on International Trade in Organic Products, will be held in Oxford, England; contact IFOAM Conference, 86 Colston St., Bristol BS1 5BB, England; phone (44) 117-929-0661; e-mail soilassn@gn.apc.org.
  • September 24-28, "Taking Root: Building Community from the Ground Up," the 18th Annual Conference of the American Community Gardening Association, will be held in Indianapolis, IN; contact Tom Tyler, Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service, 9245 N. Meridian St., #118, Indianapolis, IN 46260; (317) 848-7351; e- mail tom@marion.ces.purdue.edu.
  • September 27, Fourth Annual Country Living Field Day will be held on three farms in Carroll County, OH; for information and a map, contact Ohio State University Extension, (330) 627-4310.
  • September 27-29, "Small-Scale Agricultural Production and Marketing for the Southwest," Part Three: "Cooperative CSA and Value Added Production" will be held at New Farms Agricultural Training Center; contact New Farms, HC 69 Box 62, Rociada, N.M. 87742; (505) 425-5457.
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Home News & Events Alternative Agriculture News -- August '97

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