Weekly Harvest Newsletter
Agriculture News Briefs - December 8, 2004
sustainable agriculture news and resources gleaned from the
Internet by NCAT staff for the ATTRA - National Sustainable
Agriculture Information Service Web site.
* FDA Issues Controversial Guidance on Biotech Foods
* Free-Range Pork Favored for Flavor
* New Hampshire Markets Need More Farmers
* Panelists Look at Local Food for University of Pennsylvania
* FDA Analysis Shows Perchlorate Contamination in Food Samples
* FAO Releases Small-Scale Food Processing Booklet
* Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program
* National Ag Workers Pesticide Safety
& Training & Education Program
* Sam Noble Scholarships in Agriculture and Technology
* Foraging for Profit$ Appalachian Grazing Conference
* Northeast Regional Community and Urban IPM Conference
* Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association Annual Conference
News & Resources
FDA Issues Controversial Guidance on Biotech Foods
The November 24 issue of the Federal
Register announced the availability of draft guidance for food biotechnology industries from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The guide is titled “Recommendations for the Early Food Safety Evaluation of New Non-Pesticidal Proteins Produced by New Plant Varieties Intended for Food Use." According to the announcement, “FDA believes that any potential risk from the low level presence of such material in the food supply would be limited to the possibility that it would contain or consist of a new protein that might be an allergen or toxin.” The nonprofit group Friends of the Earth disagrees, citing the flimsy requirements for safety assessment, the lack of requirements for safety tests in animals, and the illimitable amount of contamination allowed in foods. The group notes that 47 percent of genes in current field trials are trade secrets, thus protecting them from public detection and scrutiny.
Free-Range Pork Favored for Flavor
The Boston Globe recently ran a feature on the increasing number of farmers who are producing free-range pork. Their product is finding favor with restaurant chefs who prize the meat for its flavor and are willing to pay a price premium to obtain it. According to the article, the pork industry carried the quest for a leaner pig too far, to the point where the meat became dry and tasteless, and production methods stress the pigs, all detracting from the pork's flavor. The feature includes stories on the production of Berkshire
hogs for premium pork, and a look at local prices
for free-range and natural pork brands.
Related ATTRA publication: Hog Production Alternatives
New Hampshire Markets Need More Farmers
Farmers' markets are booming in New Hampshire, says The Union Leader. The number of markets in the state has doubled in the last ten years. Federal and state food assistance programs that provide for purchases at farmers' markets are making up a significant portion of the revenue for some markets, and are responsible for about 25 percent of purchases statewide. Meanwhile, the markets are suffering from a lack of produce vendors that results in long lines. To address the problem, the New Hampshire Farmers' Market Association and the state's Cooperative Extension Services will team to offer classes on how to grow and sell food for farmers' markets.
Panelists Look at Local Food for University of Pennsylvania
The Daily Pennsylvanian recently reported on a panel discussion convened by students interested in bringing more local food to the dining service offerings of the University of Pennsylvania. Food systems, local agriculture and food service experts on the panel discussed some of the reasons to use more local produce on campus, opportunities to start doing so, and some of the barriers that are standing in the way of more local food use.
Related ATTRA publication:
Local Food to Local Institutions
FDA Analysis Shows Perchlorate Contamination in Food Samples
Data posted by the Food and Drug Administration in November shows perchlorate contamination levels in samples of lettuce, bottled water and milk tested in August 2004. Most of the perchlorate manufactured in the United States is used as the primary ingredient of solid rocket propellant, and FDA acknowledges that it recognizes the potential for perchlorate contamination in food through the use of contaminated irrigation water, processing water, and source waters for bottling. In its testing, the FDA reported finding perchlorate in 217 of 232 samples of milk and lettuce in 15 states. The samples included both conventional and organic milk and lettuce. The Organic
Trade Association has issued a statement addressing the findings, pointing out that the contamination issue is not exclusively an organic agriculture concern.
FAO Releases Small-Scale Food Processing Booklet
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations has just published Processed
foods for improved livelihoods (PDF / 384 kb) as Number 5 in its FAO Diversification Booklets series. FAO Diversification Booklets aim to raise awareness and provide information about opportunities at the farm and local community level to increase small-scale farmer income. This 65-page publication describes some of the opportunities and constraints faced by communities in developing countries that wish to introduce or improve food processing. It focuses on secondary processing, in which fresh foods or the products of primary processing are made into processed foods such as bread, wine/beer, fermented pickles, etc.
more news and resources, visit the ATTRA - National Sustainable
Agriculture Information Service Web site: Breaking News section: http://attra.ncat.org/management/geninfo.html.
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Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program
NRCS, on behalf of the Commodity Credit Corporation and using its authorities, requests proposals from Federally recognized Indian tribes, States, units of local government, and nongovernmental organizations to cooperate in the acquisition of conservation easements on farms and ranches. Eligible land includes farm and ranch land that has prime, unique, or other productive soil, or that contains historical or archaeological resources. These lands must also be subject to a pending offer from eligible entities for the purpose of protecting topsoil by limiting conversion of that land to nonagricultural uses. Over $78 million in FRPP funds is available to purchase conservation easements in fiscal year 2005. Proposals must be received in the NRCS State Office by April 5, 2005.
Agricultural Workers Pesticide Safety & Training & Education Program
EPA's Office of Pesticide Program (OPP) is soliciting proposals to provide financial
assistance to continue an effort to conduct a national train-the-trainer program
to educate farm workers about how to reduce risks from pesticides. As part of
this program the grantee will train pesticide safety educators who will work
with farm worker service organizations, growers, and other members of the agricultural
community to key rural areas with high pesticide use and large numbers of farm
workers conducting pesticide safety programs for agricultural workers and their
families. Applications are due January 18, 2005.
Sam Noble Scholarships in Agriculture and Technology
High school, technical school and college students living in 15 Oklahoma counties can apply for the Sam Noble Scholarships in Agriculture and Technology. Agriculture undergraduate scholarships are $2,500 per semester up to nine semesters; graduate scholarships are $3,125 per semester up to five semesters. Applicants must plan to pursue a degree in an agriculture-related field at a university awarding baccalaureate or higher agriculture degrees through a College or Division of Agriculture. Completed scholarship applications must be received by the Noble Foundation on or before Feb. 15, 2005.
For additional funding opportunities, visit http://attra.ncat.org/management/financl.html.
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Foraging for Profit$ Appalachian Grazing Conference
March 22-24, 2005
Morgantown, West Virginia
The conference will provide for exchange of information, marketing of products,
identification of needs, services, and other benefits of grazing. The need for
sound, scientific technical assistance will be emphasized. Increased public awareness
on the economic and environmental benefit of grazing is the goal.
Northeast Regional Community and Urban IPM Conference
March 15-16, 2005
Manchester, New Hampshire
Community and urban settings present special challenges when it comes to managing
pests. Researchers, educators, regulators, and pest managers from across the
Northeast will gather to share their insights and expertise on the emerging issues
of community and urban integrated pest management.
Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association Annual Conference
March 5-6, 2005
"Seeding the Soil, Setting the Table: Working Together to Grow" offers speakers, workshops and a trade show, focusing on organic and sustainable farming, gardening, markets, and lifestyles.
events at http://attra.ncat.org/calendar/index.php.
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