Home News & Events Alternative Agriculture News -- July '98

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Alternative Agriculture News
For July 1998, from the Henry A. Wallace Institute for Alternative Agriculture.

red ballSustainable Ag Funds Are Dealt 'Crushing Blows'
red ballSupermarkets Welcomed Natural Products in 1997
red ballHumanity Is Perpetrating A Major Extinction, Says NY Times
red ballResources
red ballOklahoma Cracks Down on Corporate Hog Farms
red ballCoffee Farmers' Cooperative Promotes Fair Trade
red ballSARE Highlights Ten Years of Research and Education
red ballPositions
red ballUpcoming Events

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©1998, Henry A. Wallace Institute for Alternative Agriculture, 9200 Edmonston Road, #117, Greenbelt, MD 20770. Phone: (301) 441-8777. E-mail: hawiaa@access.digex.net.

This newsletter is also available to subscribers to the sanet-mg discussion group. 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

Subscription information for the hard-copy version is 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 13, No. 1) features articles on:

  • The performance, economics, and adoption of cover crops in Wisconsin cash grain rotations.
  • Reduced chemical input cropping systems in the Southeastern United States.
  • Small-scale intensive cultivation methods.
  • Creating positive incentives for farm composting.

Subscriptions to AJAA are $44 for libraries; $24 for individuals; and $12 for students. Find more information about AJAA at he Wallace Institute website.

red ballSustainable Ag Funds Are Dealt 'Crushing Blows'

Federal funding for sustainable agriculture programs in Fiscal Year 1999 was dealt "two crushing blows" in the USDA budget approved late last month by the House of Representatives, according to Ferd Hoefner of the Sustainable Agriculture Coalition.

The House deleted all funding for the Fund for Rural America, which funds agriculture research, and the Conservation Farm Option, which had been created last year to foster innovation in natural resource protection and enhancement. A Senate Committee had also deleted all funds for the Fund for Rural America and the Conservation Farm Option. The full Senate is expected to vote on the USDA budget this month.

"The prospects for restoring funds for the Fund for Rural America in the Senate are slim," said Hoefner. "The chances for restoring funds for the Conservation Farm Option are middling."

Here are the appropriations approved by the House of Representatives last month for several sustainable agriculture programs:

  • SARE: $8 million appropriation approved for the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program, the same as FY98.

  • SAPDP: $3.3 million appropriation approved for the SARE (Chapter 3) Professional Development Program, the same as FY98.

  • ATTRA: $1.3 million appropriation approved for the Appropriate Technology Transfer for Rural Areas, the same as FY98.

  • CFO: All funds deleted for the Conservation Farm Option; the President had requested a $25 million appropriation. FY98's appropriation was $15 million.

  • EQIP: $176 million appropriation approved for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, a decrease from the FY98 appropriation of $200 million.

    WRP: $97.7 million appropriation approved for the Wetlands Reserve Program, a decrease from the FY98 appropriation of $219 million.

  • CFSA: $2.5 million appropriation approved for the Community Food Security Act, the same as FY98.

  • FRA: All funds deleted for the Fund for Rural America; the President had requested a $100 million appropriation. The Farm Bill did not authorize any FRA funds for FY98.
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red ballSupermarkets Welcomed Natural Products in 1997

Supermarkets in 1997 started to "boast about the organic produce available in their produce section, while their grocery shelves are lined with integrated conventional, organic and natural products," according to Natural Food Merchandiser's 17th Annual Market Overview 97.

There are three reasons for the mass-market interest in natural products: "consumer demand, a new customer base, and higher margins," according to the survey. "Today's mainstream supermarkets are more respectful of organics. Larger chains are feeling a sharp competitive thrust from natural products stores...and consumers are asking for organics."

The organic produce supply is still lower than demand, according to the report. "So, supermarkets are now avidly looking for organic growers and food manufacturers....As if consumer demand isn't enough, natural products also offer supermarket retailers higher profit margins."

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red ballHumanity Is Perpetrating A Major Extinction, Says NY Times

Humanity has become "so dominant on the planet and so powerful an influence on the rest of the biosphere that many experts fear it is perpetrating, willy-nilly, a sixth major extinction," according to a special section of The New York Times focusing on biological diversity, called "The Natural World" (June 2, 1998).

Biodiversity is expressed in the "bewildering variety" of plants, animals, and ecosystems which support the human economy by providing services such as water purification, soil formation, pollination, flood control, and outdoor recreation. But human activity is "narrowing the variety of life...on all levels."

According to an article in the section on preserving a diversity of plant strains, "since the early 70's, plant breeders have worried that the abundance of the world's food supply is balanced on a narrowing supply of wild and domestic plant genes." A handful of varieties make up most of the world's rice production, while "irreplaceable genetic traits that enabled old varieties of rice to grow in harsh conditions have disappeared."

Growers are reluctant to experiment by introducing unfamiliar varieties because production costs are too high and profit margins too slim, according to the article. But there are places such as Cornell University, which keeps a "well-stocked germ-plasm repository" of apple varieties in Geneva, N.Y., and is collecting wild seeds from the Caspian Sea region and from Kazakhstan.

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red ballResources
  • "The Greatest Story Never Told: The Food Miracle in America," the text of the 1998 Henry A. Wallace Annual Lecture by Hugh Sidey, Contributing Editor, Time Magazine, is $5 from the Wallace Institute, 9200 Edmonston Road, Greenbelt, MD 20770; (301) 441-8777.

  • "Hungry for Profit: Agriculture, Food and Ecology," a special double issue of Monthly Review co-edited by Fred Magdoff, a member of the Wallace Institute's Board of Directors, is $10 plus $3 postage from Monthly Review, 122 West 27th St., New York, N.Y. 10001.

  • Resources from the Sustainable Agriculture Network include "Steel in the Field: A Farmer's Guide to Weed Management Tools," $18; "Managing Cover Crops Profitably," $19; "Sustainable Agriculture Directory of Expertise," $18.95; "Source Book of Sustainable Agriculture," $12; and "The Real Dirt: Farmers Tell About Organic and Low-Input Practices in the Northeast," $13.95; all are available from SAN Publications, Hills Building, Room 12, University of Vermont, Burlington, VT 05405-0082; (802) 656-0471; e-mail nesare@zoo.uvm.edu

  • "Integrated Pest Management for Tomatoes," an illustrated manual, is $30; "Specialty and Minor Crops Handbook, Second Edition" is $42.89; both are available from University of California, DANR Communication Services-Publications, 6701 San Pablo Ave., Oakland, CA 94608; 1-800-994-8849; e-mail danrcs@ucdavis.edu

  • "Water Quality in the San Joaquin-Tulare Basins, California 1992-95" is free from USGS California District Office, Placer Hall, 6000 J St., Sacramento, CA 95819; (916) 278-3000; an order form is on the Internet at http://www-nmd.usgs.gov/esic/to order.html

  • "Sustainability Assessment in Agriculture: Annotated Bibliography and Resource List of Methods" is available from Luanne Lohr, Assistant Professor, Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics, 301 Conner Hall, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602-7509.
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red ballOklahoma Cracks Down on Corporate Hog Farms

Oklahoma Governor Frank Keating last month signed into a law a bill strengthening regulations on large confined hog feeding operations.

The bill was opposed by the Oklahoma Farm Bureau, which called it the nation's toughest hog law, but praised by the Oklahoma Family Farm Alliance, which said it would "give independent family producers some breathing room," according to Feedstuffs (June 6, 1998). The law requires odor control plans, waste tracking systems and analysis, and certified evidence of no connection between effluent and groundwater.

According to The New York Times (June 24, 1998), the rapid growth of hog factory farms is "perhaps the most contentious issue in the nation's farm country....The desperation of smaller farmers, along with anger among townspeople in rural areas offended by the foul smell of the huge hog barns, has stirred debate in a dozen states that are now considering plans to curb such plants, which can threaten underground water supplies."

South Dakota residents will vote in November on a ballot initiative that would "effectively outlaw corporate livestock production," the article said.

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red ballCoffee Farmers' Cooperative Promotes Fair Trade

Equal Exchange, a worker-owned cooperative, works to promote sustainable agriculture and maximize benefits to small-scale coffee farmers in the developing world by trading according to European Fair Trade standards, according to an article in Ecological Economics Bulletin (Second Quarter, 1998).

It works with 12 farmer cooperatives in eight countries, and offers more than 50 types of coffee. In Mexico, the Union of Indigenous Communities of the Region of the Isthmus improved its revenue and power after launching its organic coffee program. The program was accompanied by a series of seminars on organic fertilizer production, soil conservation, terracing, intercropping, and pest control.

In Nicaragua, the PRODECOOP cooperative has provided farmers "a stable and profitable venture in growing for the organic fair trade market," according to the article. The benefits of the Equal Exchange include doubling of per capita incomes, secondary schools, health clinics, farming seminars, health clinics, quadrupling of prices paid to farmers, and family self-sufficiency "because farmers have organized and used their resources wisely, and because consumers in other countries have supported that work by buying their coffee."

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red ballSARE Highlights Ten Years of Research and Education

Celebrating "a decade of programs, partnership and progress in sustainable agriculture research and education," the SARE program has published "1998 Project Highlights" that review its achievements and look ahead to the next decade.

The 10 research projects highlighted in the report include work that tested cover crops and new tillage regimes, established a vegetable producers cooperative, harbored beneficial insects, trained farmers and ranchers in management-intensive grazing, and boosted profits of organic dairies.

For a copy of the highlights, contact Sustainable Agriculture Publications, Hills Building, University of Vermont, Burlington, VT 05405-0082; (802) 656-0471; e-mail nesare@zoo.uvm.edu

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red ballPositions
  • Community Alliance with Family Farmers seeks an Executive Director; for full job description, application, and schedule for hiring process, contact Mary Westcot, CAFF, P.O. Box 363, Davis, CA 95617; (530) 756-8518, ext. 10.

  • Center for Agroecology and the University of California Extension are offering a six-month Apprenticeship in Ecological Horticulture, from April-October, 1999; for information and application brochure, contact Apprenticeship Information, Center for Agroecology, UC Santa Cruz, 1156 High St., Santa Cruz, CA 95064; (408) 459-4140.
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red ballUpcoming Events

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

  • July 23, Milan No-Till Crop Production Field Day and Research Tours will be held in Milan, TN; contact Dr. Blake Brown, Milan Experiment Station, 6505 Ellington Drive, Milan, TN 38358; (901) 686-7362; e-mail utmilan@usit.net

  • July 24, "Agricultural and Conservation Policies: 2002 and Beyond," a workshop in honor of Norman A. Berg co-sponsored by the Wallace Institute, will be held in Sycamore, IL; contact Teresa Bullock, American Farmland Trust, P.O. Box 987, DeKalb, IL 60115; (815) 753-6365; e-mail tbullock@niu.edu

  • July-August, Farm Ecology Tours will be held in Ohio: July 26, Sassafras Farm, New Marshfield; August 1, George Clutts Farm, Circleville; August 22, Curly Tail Organic Farm, Fredericktown; August 27, Hartzler Farm & Dairy, Smithville, Riggenbach Farm, Wooster, and Logan Brothers Farm, Kinsman; contact Ohio Ecological Food & Farm Association, P.O. Box 82234, Columbus, OH 43202; (614) 267-3663.

  • July 29, "Tools for Transition" Field Day will be held in Holtwood, PA; contact Steve Groff, Cedar Meadow Farm, 679 Hilldale Road, Holtwood, PA 17523; (717) 284-5152; e-mail sgroff@epix.net; information is available on the Internet at http://www.cedarmeadowfarm.com

  • August 5-9, "Beyond Politics: Rethinking the Future of Democracy," the 61st Annual Meeting of the Rural Sociological Society, will be held in Portland, OR; contact RSA, Rabel Burdge, Treasurer, c/o Department of Sociology, 510 Amtzen Hall, Western Washington University, Bellingham, WA 98225-9081; (360) 650-7295; e-mail ruralsoc@cc.wwu.edu

  • August 7, Midwest Sustainable Agriculture Working Group Meeting will be held at Stratford Ecological Center, OH; contact Duane Hovorka, (402) 994-2021; e-mail dh43048@navix.net.

  • August 7-9, 24th Northeast Organic Farming Association Summer Conference will be held in Amherst, MA; contact NOFA, 411 Sheldon Road, Barre, MA 01005; (978) 355-2853.

  • August 10-14, "Ecology and Design: Northeastern Landscapes," and August 21-23, "Selecting a Native Plant Palette: Using Native Plants in Public and Private Landscapes" will be held at Conway School of Landscape Design, P.O. Box 179, Conway, MA 01341; (413) 369-4044; e-mail workshops@csld.edu

  • August 13-21, "Permaculture Fundamentals for Women" will be held at Culture's Edge, 1025 Camp Elliott Road, Black Mountain, N.C. 28711; (828) 298-2399; e-mail culturesedge@earthaven.org

  • August 14-16, "HerbFest'98" will be held in Norway, IA; contact HerbFest '98, P.O. Box 299, Norway, IA 52318; 1-800-669-3275.

  • August 22, "Organic Farming for the Future: Views from Illinois Farmers and Consumers" will be held in Decatur, IL; contact Illinois Stewardship Alliance, P.O. Box 648, Rochester, IL 62563; (217) 498-9707.

  • September 10, Thompson On-Farm Research Field Day will be held at the Thompson Farm, Boone, IA; contact Dick and Sharon Thompson, 2035 190th St., Boone, IA 50036; (515) 432-1560.
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Home News & Events Alternative Agriculture News -- July '98

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