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

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

red ballUSDA, EPA Plan Would Clean Up Animal Feeding Operations
red ballHog Farming on the Ballot Next Month in Colorado and S.D.
red ballWallace Board Meets in Iowa, Names President's Council
red ballResources
red ballOrganic Acres Increasing in Iowa
red ballGenetically Engineered Plants Backfire
red ballAnnual Thompson Farm Report Details Research
red ballOrganic Standards Board to Meet This Month
red ballPosition
red ballUpcoming Events

Back Issues

©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. 2) features articles on:

  • The start-up of a successful alternative dairy farm in Wisconsin.
  • Feedlot manure nutrient loadings on South Dakota farmland.
  • Organic vegetable production in the United States.
  • Natural terrace formation through vegetative barriers on hillside farms in Honduras.
  • Erosion effects on soil moisture and corn yield on two soils in Tanzania.
  • A behavioral approach to alternative agriculture research.

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 ballUSDA, EPA Plan Would Clean Up Animal Feeding Operations

The USDA and EPA last month announced a draft voluntary and regulatory strategy to reduce the pollution from animal feeding operations. The draft strategy's goal is for all animal feeding operations to develop and implement comprehensive nutrient management plans by the year 2008.

These plans would include manure handling and storage, application of manure to the land, record-keeping, feed management, integration with other conservation measures, and other manure utilization options. Of the country's 450,000 animal feeding operations, about 6,600 are large operations with more than 1,000 animals, called concentrated animal feeding operations. The regulatory part of the plan intends to focus its permitting and enforcement activities on these large operations.

An estimated 15,000 to 20,000 livestock operations will be required to develop comprehensive nutrient management plans as part of permits under the Clean Water Act; the other operations will be encouraged to implement voluntary plans. EPA and the states will expand their efforts to ensure that all permits include comprehensive management requirements, including land application conditions, and will revise regulations by December, 2001. In addition, EPA will revise national environmental guidelines to limit discharge from poultry and swine facilities by December, 2001, and national guidelines for cattle and dairy facilities by 2002.

The draft strategy contains "significant flaws," according to Martha Noble of the Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, including:

  • There is no moratorium on construction of large-scale animal feeding operations while USDA and EPA revise their standards and regulations.

  • The strategy places the entire financial burden of dealing with animal feeding operations on taxpayers and individual growers.

  • The strategy ignores sustainable, non-confined livestock production systems as an alternative to concentrated, confined animal feeding operations.

USDA and EPA will be accepting public comments on the draft strategy until mid-January. They should be addressed to Denise C. Coleman, Program Analyst, USDA, Natural Resources Conservation Service, P.O. Box 2890, ATTENTION AFO, Washington, D.C. 20013-2890.

The draft strategy is available on the Internet at http://www.nhq.nrcs.usda.gov/cleanwater/afo or http://www.epa.gov/owm/afostrat.htm.

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red ballHog Farming on the Ballot Next Month in Colorado and S.D.

Voters in Colorado and South Dakota will decide on ballot initiatives restricting large commercial hog facilities when they go to the polls on Election Day, November 3.

In Colorado, Initiative 113 would further regulate the construction and operation of large commercial hog feeding facilities, and the disposal of manure and wastewater to minimize odor and water pollution. It would also require the facilities to monitor water quality and pay a permit fee to help reduce the costs of enforcing water quality laws.

In South Dakota, a proposed Constitutional Amendment would prevent concentrated animal feeding operations from acquiring or otherwise obtaining an interest in any land used for farming in the state. An organization called "Vote Yes For the Future of Family Farms" sponsored the initiative, which the group says will protect family farmers.

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red ballWallace Board Meets in Iowa, Names President's Council

The Wallace Institute's Board of Directors held its mid-year meeting in Ames, Iowa, on September 10-12, when members attended the Dick and Sharon Thompson Annual Field Day and Farm Tour in Boone, Iowa.

They also toured a Murphy Family Farms hog facility, and the Optimum Quality Grains operation in Des Moines, which is a joint venture of Pioneer Hi-Bred International, Inc., and the DuPont Co.; that evening, the board attended a reception sponsored by the College of Agriculture at Iowa State University and the North Central Regional Center for Rural Development.

Most of the board meeting was devoted to reviewing a proposed long-range plan to guide the Institute for the next 5 to10 years. Following the meeting, the board attended a dinner at the Wallace House in Des Moines.

Institute President Dr. Cornelia Flora has announced the members of the 1998-1999 President's Council, formed eight years ago to provide guidance and support for Wallace Institute activities in promoting a more sustainable agricultural system in the United States and abroad.

Members are:

  • Dr. Charles Benbrook, Benbrook Consulting Services
  • Norman A. Berg, Washington Representative, Soil and Water Conservation Society
  • Robert Gray, Resource Management Consultants
  • Ralph Grossi, President, American Farmland Trust
  • Dr. R. Jim Hildreth, Elmhurst, IL
  • Ms. Dana Jackson, Land Stewardship Project
  • Dr. Dennis R. Keeney, Director, Leopold Center
  • Hon. Patrick J. Leahy, U.S. Senate
  • Dr. Ned S. Raun, Stillwater, OK
  • Ronald L. Rosmann, farmer, Harlan, IA
  • R. Neil Sampson, President, The Sampson Group, Inc.
  • Edward Sills, Pleasant Grove Farms, Pleasant Grove, CA
  • Dr. David G. Topel, Dean, College of Agriculture and Director of Experiment Station, Iowa State University
  • Dr. Stephen Viederman, President, Jessie Smith Noyes Foundation.
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red ballResources
  • "Natural Enemies Handbook" is $35 from University of California, DANR Communications Services-Publications, 6701 San Pablo Ave., Oakland, CA 94608; 1-800-994-8849.

  • "Statistical Review of California's Organic Agriculture, 1992-1995" is $18 from Agricultural Issues Center, One Shields Ave., University of California, Davis, CA 95616; (530) 752-2320.

  • "Women in Agriculture and Rural Life: An International Bibliography" is available from USDA's Alternative Farming Systems Information Center, National Agricultural Library, Room 304, 10301 Baltimore Ave., Beltsville, MD 20705; (301) 504-6559; e-mail afsic@nal.usda.gov

  • "Whole Farm Planning: Combining Family, Profit and Environment" is $2.50 from University of Minnesota Extension Service, 1-800-876-8636.

  • "Sharing the Responsibility: What Agricultural Landowners Think About Property Rights, Goverment Regulation and the Environment" is available from American Farmland Trust, 1920 N St., NW, #400, Washington, D.C. 20036; (202) 659-5170.

  • Sustainable Agriculture Source Lists are available free from North Central Region SARE, 13A Activities Bldg., University of Nebraska, Lincoln, NE 68583; (402) 472-7081; e-mail sare001@unlvm.unl.edu; on the Internet, http://www.sare.org/ncrsare
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red ballOrganic Acres Increasing in Iowa

Iowa's organic farming acres have increased from less than 10,000 in 1993 to more than 62,000 in 1997, according to an article in Wallaces Farmer (September, 1998).

"The acreage of organically-produced crops in Iowa is increasing, as consumers are demanding more organic food and closer connections to local food systems," the article concludes.

Only half of one percent of the organic crops are horticultural crops; the majority of organic acreage is in corn, soybeans, small grains, and forage. The value of the organic crops is more than $22 million a year, with organic soybeans and soybean products accounting for $15.5 million.

Responding to the increase in organic acres, the Iowa Legislature this past spring passed a bill providing funding for an organic certification program. Currently, six private certification operations handle that program.

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red ballGenetically Engineered Plants Backfire

Genetically engineered plants are backfiring, helping weeds and killing beneficial insects, according to an article in The Washington Post (September 21, 1998). In the September 3 issue of Nature, researchers described "their shocking discovery that mustard plants engineered to be tolerant of a DuPont Co. weedkiller passed their fancy genes to nearby wild mustard plants."

Another scientist found that "weeds that are pollinated by engineered plants can pass those new genes to their offspring for generations. With additional pollinations from other engineered varieties, that could lead to the creation of weeds resistant to multiple herbicides," reported the article.

Beneficial insects such as ladybug beetles and lacewings may also be inadvertently harmed by Bt when they feed on insects that have fed on Bt plants, according to several studies. "In some cases, mortality rates for these insect predators were about double those seen in predators raised on Bt-free diets."

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red ballAnnual Thompson Farm Report Details Research

"Alternatives in Agriculture," the 1998 annual report just published by Thompson On-Farm Research, details the research conducted by Dick and Sharon Thompson on their farm in Boone, Iowa.

The new report updates all previous reports, and includes major changes in fertility, economics, and livestock research. The introductory chapter describes the "Inspiration, Documentation and Education" for the Thompsons' new ideas.

Descriptive chapters cover:

  • Fertility
  • Cover Crops
  • Alternative Weed Management
  • Rotation of Crops and Tillage
  • Water Quality and Soil Health
  • Economics
  • Livestock
  • Farming Systems and the Viability of Rural Communities.

Detailed tables accompany each chapter. The publication of the report and the 1998 research work is made possible by the financial support of Mrs. Jean Wallace Douglas through the Wallace Institute. The report is available for $10 from Thompson On-Farm Research, 2035 190th St., Boone, IA 50036-7423; (515) 432-1560.

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red ballOrganic Standards Board to Meet This Month

The National Organic Standards Board will meet in Washington, D.C., October 27-29, with October 27 reserved for public comment. The Board has asked the USDA to develop "current thinking" papers on various aspects of the next proposed National Organic Standards rule and make them available to the public at the meeting. According to the Board, these papers would give the public an idea of the USDA's direction and encourage public feedback.

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red ballPosition

Organic Materials Review Institute seeks members for its Advisory Council; for information, contact Kathleen Downey, Executive Director, OMRI, Box 11558, Eugene, OR 97440; (541) 343-7600; fax (541) 343-8971.

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red ballUpcoming Events

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

  • October 27-28, Bio-Dynamic Agriculture Workshop will be held in Fair Oaks, CA; contact Collective Heritage Institute, Sante Fe, NM, toll-free 1-877-246-6337; e-mail chisf@nets.com

  • October 30-November 1, "Biodynamics at Work" will be held in Penticton, British Columbia, Canada; contact Bio-Dynamic Farming and Gardening Association, P.O. Box 29135, San Francisco, CA 94129; 1-888-516-7797.

  • November 5-7, "Food: Nature and Culture" will be held in New York City; contact the New School for Social Research, (212) 229-2488; e-mail kodeshn@newschool.edu

  • November 6-8, the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association's 13th Annual Sustainable Agriculture Conference will be held in Clemson, SC; contact Alyx Perry, CFSA, (919) 542-2402.

  • November 6-7, National Small Farm Trade Show & Conference will be held in Columbia, MO; contact Small Farm Today, 1-800-633-2535.

  • November 8, "New Crops & New Uses: Biodiversity & Agricultural Sustainability" will be held in Phoenix, AZ; contact David Dierig, Association for the Advancement of Industrial Crops, (602) 379-4356 ext. 265; e-mail ddierig@uswcl.ars.ag.gov

  • November 9-11, "The Science of Managing Forests to Sustain Water Resources" will be held in Sturbridge, MA; contact Mike Whalen, Berkshire-Pioneer RC&D, 463 West St., Amherst, MA 01002; (413) 256-1607; e-mail mwhalenrcd@aol.com

  • November 13, in Shelocta, PA, and November 24, in Creamery, PA, "Passing on the Farm" workshop will be held; contact Pennsylvania Farm Link, Inc., Point Shopping Center, #205, Harrisburg, PA 17111; (717) 558-7726; e-mail pafarmlink@redrose.net

  • November 13-14, "Celebrating 75 Years of Service to Rural America and the Church" will be held in Des Moines, IA; contact National Catholic Rural Life Conference, 4625 Beaver Ave., Des Moines, IA 50310; (515) 270-2634; e-mail ncrlc@aol.com

  • November 15-19, "Beyond Growth: Policies and Institutions for Sustainability" will be held in Santiago, Chile; contact International Society for Ecological Economics, phone 56-2-6782308, e-mail iseeconf@abello.dic.uchile.cl; on the Internet, http://www.uchilde.cl/facultades/ISEE3.html

  • November 16-17, "Celebrate Wildlife," the Wildlife Habitat Council's 10th Annual Symposium, will be held in Bethesda, MD; contact WHC, 1010 Wayne Ave., #920, Silver Spring, MD 20910; (301) 588-8994; e-mail whc@wildlifehc.org

  • November 16-19, 12th International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements' Scientific Conference will be held in Mar del Plata, Argentina; contact IFOAM, phone 49-6853-30110; e-mail IFOAM@T-online.de; on the Internet, http://ecoweb.dk/ifoam
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Home News & Events Alternative Agriculture News -- October '98

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