Weekly Harvest Newsletter
Agriculture News Briefs - November 17, 2004
sustainable agriculture news and resources gleaned from the
Internet by NCAT staff for the ATTRA - National Sustainable
Agriculture Information Service Web site.
* New Book Takes a Critical Look at Organic Agriculture in California
* Study Challenges Biotech Crop Safety Testing
* Florida Inmates Raise Biocontrol Insects for Researchers
* New Farm to Hospital Research Brief Available
* Citrus Farm Proves Solar Irrigation Feasible on a Large Scale
* Food Retailers Introduce Organic Products
* CSREES Tribal Colleges Extension Services Program
* EPA Pesticide Safety Program for Agricultural Workers
* Organic Farming Research Foundation Grants
* Niche Pork Marketing Conference
* A Table Set for Central Ohio Women Farmers
* Soil Basics Workshop
News & Resources
New Book Takes a Critical Look at Organic Agriculture in California
The first comprehensive study of organic agriculture in California challenges the popular notion that organic farming is dominated by small family-owned farms and shows how the industry's regulatory structure has thwarted the very benefits that have generated strong public support for organic agriculture. "Organic farming is seen as an answer to the crisis in our food system, but organic agriculture in California has evolved in some peculiar ways that effectively limit the number of acres that are in organic cultivation," said Julie Guthman, author of the new book, Agrarian Dreams: The Paradox of Organic Farming in California (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2004). "One percent of U.S. agricultural acreage is organic, compared to nearly 30 percent in Australia," said Guthman. "We have 2,000 organic farms in California, but Italy has 45,000. There's been much more widespread transformation in different political environments. We really have to ask ourselves how successful our approach has been."
Study Challenges Biotech Crop Safety Testing
A peer-reviewed scientific paper published recently in Biotechnology and Genetic Engineering Reviews challenges claims that biotech or genetically modified (GM) crops are thoroughly tested, regulated and proven safe. The paper, “Safety Testing and Regulation of Genetically Engineered Foods,” reveals fundamental flaws in how biotech companies test and the U.S. government regulates GM crops. The paper thus raises serious questions about whether GM foods, which have been on the market since 1994, are in fact safe, as claimed by the biotech industry and U.S. regulators. The scientific paper includes a comprehensive case study of two types of insecticide-producing GM corn, showing how flawed testing and regulation permitted these varieties onto world markets despite evidence that they could cause food allergies.
Florida Inmates Raise Biocontrol Insects for Researchers
Inmates at the Seminole County Correctional Facility, who have been growing their own vegetables for more than 10 years, are now raising thousands of beneficial bugs that attack insect pests and feed on troublesome weeds in Florida. The insect “farming” program – the first of its kind in the nation – will generate about $2,000 a year for the inmate welfare fund at the facility and help inmates develop marketable skills for future employment. Twelve women inmates participating in the biocontrol program receive training and certification from UF, which launched the project in cooperation with USDA, Taylor said. UF training and certification as “insect scouts” – recognized by nurserymen and wholesale plant growers in Central Florida – could help the women find employment when they are released from the correctional facility. URL:http://www.leopold.iastate.edu/news/newsreleases/
New Farm to Hospital Research Brief Available
The Center for Food and Justice at Occidental College has published a new paper that explores the contradictions between the missions of many hospitals and the reality of their on-site food options and offers suggestions for improvement along with several case examples. Just as farm to school programs can be an effective way to improve school food options and support local farmers, this report promotes expanding the scope of the model to include hospitals and clinics as institutions through which the same goals can be accomplished. Titled Farm to Hospital: Promoting Health and Supporting Local Agriculture (PDF / 110 kb) the report says farm to hospital programs could result in fresher and healthier patient and cafeteria foods, facilitate health education and promotion strategies, and help support small local farms with a portion of the health care industry’s annual $3.3 billion food budget.
Citrus Farm Proves Solar Irrigation Feasible on a Large Scale
A commercial citrus farm in California is now home to the largest solar-driven irrigation system in the world. WorldWater & Power Corporation installed the 200-horsepower solar-powered irrigation system, which is also the largest solar power installation in San Diego County. WorldWater's proprietary AquaMax™ solar motors are powering the $2 million dollar water pumping installation.
Food Retailers Introduce Organic Products
East Coast grocery chain Giant has introduced a 25-item natural and organic product line, called ”Nature's Promise," reports The Business Gazette. The product line will be carried in Giant's 200 stores, as well as those of sister chains. Giant isn't the only food retailer to have its own natural and organic line, says the article. Safeway, Kroger, and Trader Joe's are among other chains to have their own lines, and even stores that don't maintain their own brands are stocking more natural and organic products to meet consumer demand.
more news and resources, visit the National Sustainable Agriculture
Information Service Web site: Breaking News section: http://attra.ncat.org/management/geninfo.html.
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CSREES Tribal Colleges Extension Services Program
CSREES announces the availability of grant funds and requests applications for the Equity in Educational Land-Grant Status Act of 1994 (Tribal Colleges Extension Services) Program for fiscal year (FY) 2005 which provides funding for the 1994 Land-Grant Institutions to conduct non-formal education and outreach activities to help meet the needs of the Native American people and to provide essential services to their communities.
This program provides funding to (1) increase Extension program capacity at 1994 Institutions; and (2) address special needs, take advantage of important opportunities, and/or demonstrate long-term sustained benefits of Extension projects at 1994 Institutions. Awards will be made to support one or more of the following Extension base program areas: Agriculture; Community Resources and Economic Development; Family Development and Resource Management; 4-H and Youth Development; Leadership and Volunteer Development; Natural Resources and Environmental Management; and Nutrition, Diet and Health. Applications are due January 14, 2005.
EPA Pesticide Safety Program for Agricultural Workers
EPA's Office of Pesticide Programs (OPP) is soliciting proposals for financial assistance to support a continuing national and international pesticide safety program to analyze occupational safety programs and information for agricultural workers, pesticide providers, and health professionals to reduce exposure to pesticides. As part of this program, the grantee will analyze the current status of private and public program on pesticide safety, conduct outreach meetings with experts from the agricultural community to assess needs and develop education and training programs, outreach materials and improved hazard communications for pesticide applicators, agricultural workers, health providers, growers and local, state, national and international organizations, and government agencies. Estimated funding for this program is $3 million. Applications are due by December 27, 2004.
Organic Farming Research Foundation Grants
The Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF) funds research into organic farming and food systems and dissemination of research results to organic farmers and to growers interested in making the transition to organic production systems. Projects should involve farmers in both design and execution and take place on working organic farms whenever possible and appropriate. OFRF will not fund a project for more than $15,000 per year. For the current round of funding, applications are due by December 15, 2004.
For additional funding opportunities, visit http://attra.ncat.org/management/financl.html.
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Niche Pork Marketing Conference
November 30, 2004
A conference created for pork producers who are currently involved in or considering production outside traditional markets.
A Table Set for Central Ohio Women Farmers
December 5, 2004
Women who are currently farming independently, or with a spouse, or who are considering embarking upon a farming enterprise, are invited to Stratford Ecological Center in Delaware at 6:00pm for a special dinner to kick-off Growing Together, Innovative Farmers of Ohio’s first extended program specifically targeting women in agriculture.
Soil Basics Workshop
December 11, 2004
Concord, New Hampshire
"Soil Basics: Creating Soil Fertility Using Organic Materials and Techniques" will be presented by Eric Sideman of MOFGA, Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association, who will guide workshop participants carefully and clearly through what is needed to know about creating soil fertility the organic way.
More events at http://attra.ncat.org/cgi-bin/event/calendar.cgi.
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