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Organic Broadcaster Online Issue 20.1 January/February 2012
Table of Contents
- The Organic Broadcaster: Twenty Years of Inspiration
- News From MOSES
- What Does MOSES Do?
- Inside Organics Is Bullying the Best Way to Protect Integrity?
- Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association et al. v. Monsanto David Takes on Goliath
- Book Review Sharing the Harvest: A Citizen's Guide to Community Supported Agriculture
- Long-running Iowa State Experiment Shows Organic Farming is Profitable
- The Organic Research Forum Bringing New Organic Research to the OFC
- Tools to Help Assess Costs, Markets, and Profits
- Farmer Veterans Coalition Farmers Helping Veterans, Veterans Helping Farmers
- 23rd Annual MOSES Organic Farming Conference
- National Organic Standards Board Update
- Upper Midwest Organic Grains and Feedstuffs Report
- News Briefs
The Organic Broadcaster: Twenty Years of Inspiration
By Jody Padgham
“Arise Ye Organic Partisans” reads the banner on the inside spread of the January - February 1998 issue of the Organic Broadcaster. These stimulating words headlined a call for comments on the newly proposed USDA draft Organic Rule. Hundreds of special inserts of this article were distributed throughout the Midwest to help farmers and others understand exactly what was happening, and inspiring them to let the USDA know what they thought. A record number of comments later, the modified Rule became law and now governs the U.S. National Organic Standard.
This is only one example (a very significant one) of the key role that this publication has played in informing, educating, and inspiring organic farmers and members of the organic community. First appearing in 1992, the Organic Broadcaster is celebrating its twentieth year of publication in 2012. Throughout its history, the Organic Broadcaster has served as an important link – bringing often isolated organic producers production tips, best practices and techniques, news of the community, and updates about government and corporate activities.
The Broadcaster’s Start
Started as the print voice of the newly formed WI Organic Crop Improvement Association (WI OCIA), the Organic Broadcaster began under first editor Lila Marmel as an eight- to ten-page quarterly newsletter distributed to WI OCIA #1 members. “I was aware of the example of OEFFA (Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association) as an organization, and their newsletter and conference, and, most importantly, their 501(c)3 non-profit that their newsletter and conference were under,” WI OCIA #1 founding member Dave Engel (now with Nature’s International Certification Services, NICS), reminisces. “Holly Harman Fackler and several other people in Ohio helped us here in Wisconsin, sharing their ideas and experiences with newsletters and conferences. From this our Driftless/Coulee region area started a newsletter, (the Organic Broadcaster), a conference (the Upper Midwest Organic Farming Conference, now the MOSES Organic Farming Conference), and a nonprofit (WI OCIA Educational Fund) to house initially the conference, with eventually the newsletter also becoming part of the nonprofit.”
Dave also notes that while the CROPP cooperative (Organic Valley) was intertwined in the beginning with the start of the WI Chapter OCIA#1, the conference, and the newsletter, “Several of us felt it was important to keep a clear demarcation between the CROPP marketing co-op and the OCIA Chapter, conference, and newsletter, as we were different entities and each was created to address our own needs.” Each of these important institutions remains as a cornerstone in the organic community today.
“The early days were very different,” Lila notes. “Farmers using organic practices were few and far between. They were isolated, there weren’t any resources available.” Dave and Lila worked together to envision newsletter content that would help to pull the community together - news of what the certification agency was doing, production stories, and broader information about political issues such as the rise of GMOs. “Transitioning farmers were closely watched by their neighbors, to see if they’d fail, and how their crops would do. Good production information was very valuable to them. The Organic Broadcaster was also an important link to a sense of shared purpose, reinforcement that they were a part of something larger, a movement,” Lila remembers.
The newsletter was dense with a wide diversity of valuable information. Beginning as a quarterly publication, it quickly moved to six issues per year, which is maintained today.
Lila was the one that came up with the Broadcaster’s name. “Dave asked me to start the newsletter, and I wanted to come up with a great name, so I went to my local newspaper office, which happened to have a display of a lot of small town newspapers.” Though Lila came away with a lot of ideas, the name of her local publication – the Vernon County Broadcaster – really stuck with her. “The Organic Broadcaster just seemed perfect,” she says.
WI OCIA was the largest chapter of the national OCIA organization for six or seven years. Other chapters looked to them, and expressed interest in getting the Organic Broadcaster newsletter too. Offering other chapters a discounted rate, the Organic Broadcaster was soon found in homes throughout several Midwestern states.
With changes occurring in the later 1990s and the development of the Midwest Organic Services Association, the WI Chapter OCIA #1 Educational Fund became MOSES, a non-member, board-run nonprofit whose mission was solely to “…educate, inspire and empower…” farmers in their efforts to grow organically. The Chapter graciously gave the conference to MOSES at this time, as well as the Organic Broadcaster.
Reflecting on how the newsletter, and the organic community, changed in the nine years that she oversaw the publication, Lila mentions how the growth of the organic market really fueled change. “In those years the market was growing 20 to 25 percent each year. It was phenomenal. When the market share was pretty small, organic farmers were serving a tiny niche market. But, once we got to one percent of the U.S. food market, large conventional food corporations began to take notice.” This created a new tension in the organic community, as large companies got into the organic business, buying up successful small organic companies.“This was a whole new issue that the organic community wrestled with, viewed both as evidence of our success and a possible challenge to our ideals,” Lila notes. “The large corporations wanted to take advantage of the growing organic market, but some lacked understanding of the deep ideological basis. But organic farmers and consumers forced them to play by organic rules.” The Organic Broadcaster was, and continues to be key in keeping organic farmers and their advocates current and informed on this and other breaking issues.
A survey of readers done in the late 1990s indicated that the readers really loved the focus on production issues. “We had several comments from farmers who sat down and read every word on the day the newsletter came,” Lila laughs. That is real reinforcement of a job well done. Lila, as well as her successor editors, was responsible for all of the content, editing, and layout of the publication.
“I’m very proud of my work with the Organic Broadcaster,” Lila comments. “I tried farming and it wasn’t a fit. The newsletter allowed me to contribute my skills to the organic community in a way that was very valuable.”
Changing of the Guard
By the time Lila passed on the duties of editor to neighbor Paul Bransky in late 2001 the publication had grown to 24 densely packed pages. Paul had been involved with the publication for several years, as a writer, but perhaps most noticeably showing his acerbic “organic” wit though a series of cartoons. Paul, an organic farmer himself, says that there was a “huge learning curve” for him as he moved into the role of editor, for though he was a good writer and had editorial experience, he was not a computer user. “I had to learn how to use email, and learn the layout program,” Paul sighs. But, he rose to the occasion well and continued to fill Lila’s large editorial shoes.
Under Paul’s management the newsletter was changed into its current newspaper format, expanding in size from an 8.5 by 11 inch page to an 11 by 17 inch page, printed on newsprint and folded like a typical newspaper. This change not only affected the look and feel of the publication, but also offered a lot more publishing space and significantly reduced printing and mailing costs.
As a farmer, Paul decided to focus on what he most liked to read: in-depth production stories. He wanted to provide answers to the question: How do you successfully farm organically? “This is a simple question with very complex answers,” Paul says. “I thought it was my job to help farmers answer it.” During his three and a half year tenure Paul enjoyed working with a diversity of talented writers offering a host of in-depth articles on subjects such as organic weed management, improving soil health, and special interest interviews with successful organic farmers. “I didn’t flinch with the details,” Paul notes.
Both Lila and Paul also managed subscriptions, billing, advertising, and mailing list management. This was an ever growing task as the circulation of the paper continued to rise, with distribution to OCIA and other certification agencies in four states as well as privately paid subscriptions.
MOSES Brings the Paper In-House
By early 2005 MOSES was growing strongly and it became apparent that there would be significant advantages to bringing the production of the publication into the MOSES office in rural Spring Valley. In June of 2005 I (Jody Padgham), a MOSES employee, took over as editor of the paper. The support of other MOSES staff in soliciting and managing advertisers, subscriptions, and managing the mailing list helped to make the editor’s job more manageable, as I could focus entirely on content and layout. Bringing the paper in-house also allowed MOSES to better highlight its projects and activities.
Maintaining a goal of offering information to help organic farmers succeed, we have continued to emphasize detail-filled articles based on successful farm experiences. The popular “Inside Organics” political commentary was initiated by Roger Blobaum in 2005, targeting recent and pressing activities and issues from the Washington, DC side of organics. Harriet Behar took over the column when Roger took a sabbatical from the work in 2010. The size of the paper expanded from 16 large-format pages in 2005 to the current 20. The circulation also grew steadily, reaching over 2,000 households nation-wide by 2009.
In fall 2009 the MOSES board of directors began talking about how to better make this valuable information, with a proven delivery format, available to more farmers and members of the organic community. There was frustration that the important information the paper provided should be more available to more farmers. As a result of these discussions, the MOSES board decided in April 2010 to try a revolutionary idea - to discontinue the subscription base of the newspaper and instead give it away.
Throughout the spring and summer of 2010 MOSES staff worked on redesigning the paper, initiating a new look, new logo, and new columns. New regular features include “Proof Positive,” an ongoing column dedicated to current organic research, “MOSES Projects Updates,” featuring details on MOSES activities, a regular book review, and continuing News Briefs, classified advertising, and a calendar of events as well as the continuation of in-depth features on organic production.
Starting in November of 2010 MOSES now distributes approximately 9,000 copies of each issue free to farm households around the Midwest and beyond. We now also offer a free online version of the publication that is available to anyone, anytime. Electronic copies are also available in an online archive. This transition was originally made possible by a $20,000 grant from the Ceres Foundation, with the goal that advertising income would eventually support the broader distribution. We are close to meeting this goal as we complete the first year of broader, non-subscription distribution.
The MOSES Organic Broadcaster has become known nation-wide as one of the most valuable print-source resources for diverse and specific organic farming information. This would not have been possible without the vision and hard work of the early team who brought the paper to life and made it an invaluable mainstay in the lives of organic farmers and organic supporters. We offer thanks to those whose inspiration and hard work have made this important publication what it is today. And, it is possible that we may need to fall back on some of their valuable material in the future. Given the nature of politics and farming, we won’t be surprised if we need to bring out the banner “Arise Ye Organic Partisans” again someday!
To celebrate the Organic Broadcaster’s twentieth year, throughout the coming year we will reprint some of Paul Bransky’s classic cartoons from past issues.
Jody Padgham is the current editor of the Organic Broadcaster. She can be reached at email@example.com.
News From MOSES
Here we are at the start of another year. I hope that 2011 brought you much insight, and that you feel prepared for strong growth (on your farm and perhaps in yourself!) in 2012.
As for growth, MOSES continues in its commitment to helping more farmers succeed in being sustainable organic farmers. If you are new to MOSES, or haven't paid attention in awhile, you may be surprised and impressed by all that this small organization of eight full-time staff, three part-time staff, and several dedicated contractors undertakes. Please see the list below to refresh your memory!
It seems like it wasn't that long ago when the numerous discussions about a national organic certification program were occurring around the country. It was fun to check in with the people responsible for getting this publication off the ground to re-live some of that old excitement. We appreciate all of the effort and vision that the early OB crew and others brought to what started as a certification newsletter. As one of them said during our interview, "We had no idea that the newsletter would grow to be such a significant publication." We hope that you appreciate receiving the news and information offered here, and we welcome your financial support to ensure that it continues.
Those planning on attending the diverse activities presented this year at the MOSES Organic Farming Conference will want to get on their computers and register online TODAY! Registration fees jump by $15 after January 16th. Online registration is even smoother this year, and will save us and you time and hassle. Please take a minute to go online to www.mosesorganic.org and get signed up for this great event.
I hope your winter season of learning, distilling, and planning goes well, and that your snow plow starts every time you need it!
Good luck in these cold winter months,
Jody Padgham, Organic Broadcaster Editor
What Does MOSES Do?
Did you know that Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service (MOSES) manages dozens of projects affecting thousands of farmers, in the Midwest and beyond? The end of the calendar year is a great time to take stock of the organization’s activities and projects.
Organic Farming Conference. In 2012 our 23rd year, MOSES producers the largest organic farming conference in the U.S. We expect close to 3,000 participants in La Crosse again in 2012.
Organic University. Since 2001 MOSES has planned day-long intensive courses to precede the OFC. In 2012 we offer ten courses and expect close to 600 participants.
Wine and Dine. This intimate and elegant evening meal is sponsored by the MOSES Board of Directors and occurs annually on Friday night at the OFC.
Field Days and Trainings. As an educational institution, MOSES’ on-farm field days and trainings are a cornerstone to our farmer-focused programming. Dozens of events are offered each season, in numerous Midwestern states.
Farm Tradeshow Booths. With a goal of helping to develop more certifiable organic acres, outreach to non-organic farmers is key to MOSES’ mission. For several years we have been present at large traditional agriculture shows in several Midwestern states, distributing valuable organic literature while our organic specialists answer hundreds of questions.
Other Conferences and Events. MOSES also is committed to supporting project partners and offering resources to those attending a variety of farming conferences throughout the region via our resource booth.
Resources and Publications
Website. The MOSES website receives almost a million hits annually from close to 300,000 locations. Offering everything from fact sheets on organic production and certification, to book sales, an events calendar, and an online searchable database of products and services for organic farmers, the MOSES website is a remarkable resource for farmers and others.
Upper Midwest Organic Resource Directory. Available online as a searchable database, this important listing of seed and feed dealers, veterinarians, marketing companies, certification agencies, organizations and more is regularly updated and also available in print form.
Info Requests and Response. Office staff and Specialists answer hundreds of emails and online requests each year from farmers and others looking for production and marketing information and resources.
888 Farmer Info Line. An important resource for farmers, MOSES offers a toll free info number staffed by organic specialists to answer pressing questions about organic production and certification.
Book Store. MOSES offers dozens of titles of important books on organic and sustainable production and marketing. Over 600 titles are also offered annually at the annual Organic Farming Conference.
Fact Sheets. Over 20 organic fact sheets help producers answer simple production and certification questions.
Guidebook to Certification. This very popular question-and-answer booklet covers the basic questions relating to organic certification and is available free online or in print.
MOSES Monthly e-news. Monthly informational updates are brought into thousands of households and farms with the MOSES e-news. Information about government programs, organic industry highlights and MOSES projects are regularly distributed.
Organic Broadcaster Newspaper. Expanded to broad distribution in the fall of 2010, this farmer-focused publication now has a distribution of over 9,000 households and is available free on the web.
Projects and Activities
Farmer-to-Farmer Mentoring Program. This very popular program pairs experienced organic farmers with transitioning organic farmers to promote the successful adoption of organic methods through one-on-one interaction.
Rural Women’s Project. With a goal of increasing the voice and impact of women in the organic and sustainable farming and food community, this project provides networking, educational and media training opportunities to women farmers in the Midwest.
Organic Research Forum. This ongoing project brings dozens of researchers working on organic projects to the Organic Farming Conference each year to present their results and engage in discussions with peers and farmers about additional needs for organic research.
Young Organic Stewards. The cornerstone of this program is a track of conference workshops planned by and for young farmers interested in organic production. Youth can receive scholarships to attend the conference and other activities, planned to create both an in-person and online community of support.
Fearless Farm Finances. A three year project funded by the USDA Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development program, the primary products of this project are a book on farm financial management titled Fearless Farm Finances, due to be published in February 2012. Several conference workshops, an OU course and a successful 2-day training held in December 2011 are also offered through this project.
Midwest Season Extension Website.
MOSES, in partnership with Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Ag (MISA) and Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP), this website connects farmers with resources, books, websites, and listservs, along with recent articles and the latest research in the area of season extension.
Organic Farmer of the Year Award. Also a project of the MOSES Board, this annual award is given to a farmer or farm family practicing outstanding land stewardship, innovation and outreach. First awarded in 2003, this honor is presented at the OFC each year.
Farm Bill/ Government Policy Work .MOSES Executive Director Faye Jones and Organic Outreach Specialist Harriet Behar participate on various coalitions, travel, and attend meetings to offer a farmer voice to political discussions and decisions on priorities for action. As members of both the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) and the National Organic Coalition (NOC), MOSES participation is well respected. Harriet also regularly attends meetings of the USDA-National Organic Program advisory committee, the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB).
We invite you to visit the MOSES website at www.mosesorganic.org to learn more about and support any of these important MOSES projects and activities.
Inside Organics: Is Bullying the Best Way to Protect Organic Integrity?
by Harriet Behar
I learned a valuable lesson while on my high school debate team; you must understand your opponent’s point of view in order to bring them to your “side,” or to build a compromise that is acceptable to both. I learned that bullying tactics, including threats, intimidation, or humiliation won’t get you what you ultimately want, since these kinds of communication stifle discussion.
Not Everyone Knows
Unfortunately, at the most recent National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) meeting in Savannah, GA, there was an incident that proved that not everyone has learned this same lesson. At the meeting, a person providing information in support of a proposed recommendation was verbally threatened by someone representing a self-named “consumer watchdog” organization. This popular and well known physician was warned to not speak in favor of a nutrient commonly used in organic products. Damage to the physician’s reputation that could result in a negative impact to his financial position was threatened. Although very few in the audience felt that the threats were acceptable, the attacker has defended his actions with comments implying that anything is okay when protecting “organic integrity.”
I disagree with this assessment, and believe that this type of activity works against the person doing it and damages both their and their victim’s reputations. The use of intimidation does not help the organic community, since it obviously stifles healthy discussion. Bullying and trying to stifle the voice of others who have different viewpoints should not be condoned by the organic community. It is only through open and respectful discussion that we can continue the rapid growth and acceptance of organic by consumers and producers.
Misinformation Also Not Helpful
Unfortunately, attacks I have witnessed from within the organic community have not only been threatening, but have also included misinformation. The use of half-truths by organic supporters to make a point does not provide more than sensational soundbites that confuse consumers and alienate producers from organic. Those who engage in these disrespectful tactics need to reflect more fully on if their activities are actually helping or hurting their cause.
There are plenty of powerful businesses and people outside of organics that view our “niche” either as not viable or as a threat to their livelihood. It is the attacks and misinformation from those outside of organics that the organic community must rebut, with clear facts and a single voice. When members of the organic community provide partial truths or use bad behavior to attack others within the community this strengthens the position of those who want to see organics fail. An open discussion where intimidation does not prevent the voice of any contributors builds the foundation we need to prove integrity in the organic marketplace.
Bad Behavior Leads to Mistrust
If an organization wants to speak for integrity in the organic label, then they need to act with integrity themselves. Otherwise, they and their message about organic both lose respect. I find it difficult to trust the work done by any organization that utilizes bullying tactics. I am reluctant to trust that any research that does not support desired outcomes would be released, or that results would not be skewed in other ways.
I hope we have all learned from the distasteful experience at the NOSB meeting and can move forward in a respectful way to work through the controversial issues we face.
Improvement Comes From Honest Debate
Our organic regulation is very good, with perhaps five percent of the law needing some improvement. Many of the issues brought up by internal critics have clearly been identified by the organic community as needing to be fixed, either through the marketplace or through the regulatory process. The National Organic Program is moving in the right direction on many fronts, with better enforcement of the regulation and encouraging clarification of areas where there have been inconsistencies.
The organic community is well known for is its passionate support of the protection of organic integrity. Of course, integrity means different things to the diverse stakeholders who make up our community or “industry”. Consumers may believe there are no synthetics allowed in agricultural production, or as ingredients in organic foods. However, if you tell them that baking soda or ascorbic acid (vitamin C) are considered to be synthetic, or that the dormant oil spray they have been using on their backyard fruit trees is petroleum based, then they may think that perhaps some synthetics should be allowed. Organic farmers have a wide variety of tools necessary in the production of their crops, including a few that have significant environmental impact, such as copper sulfate, or antibiotics used to control fireblight in pear and apple production. Food manufacturers, retailers, and distributors seek to continually increase the offerings of organically labeled products and push for the inclusion of synthetic processing aids and ingredients so more and more conventional processed foods would have an organic equivalent.
No Clear Line
There is a healthy tension between those who do not want any synthetics what-so-ever in organic products and those that feel that if the FDA has allowed a certain synthetic in conventional food (for instance, an artificial sweetener), then it should be considered for allowance in organic. The dance between these two extremes plays out at every National Organic Standards Board meeting, with the decisions made on materials and production methods somewhere in between allowing nothing and allowing everything.
The NOSB discussions are typically civil and educational, with both sides doing their best to bring forward expert testimony that makes the best case for their position. Farmers often explain that a synthetic substance has no natural alternative and is necessary in order to produce a specific crop. Processors explain how a specific synthetic would open the market for a product that has not been in the organic marketplace, and would encourage the growth of more raw organic agricultural crops. Information provided by all who have a stake in the outcome allows us to make decisions on materials and production practices that build a trusted organic label.
The purpose of public testimony at the National Organic Standards Board meeting is to influence the decision making of the board. It is understood that every person comes with their own point of view, and many have an economic stake in the outcome of the decision. I know that there will always be those that feel that their point of view is the only right way to see an issue, but I hope that everyone involved will learn to treat others with respect. In this way those with strong opinions won’t become marginalized and shunned by the organic community.
Harriet Behar is a MOSES organic specialist. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association et al. v. Monsanto: David Takes on Goliath
In March 2011, Public Patent Foundation (PUBPAT) filed suit on behalf of 60 family farmers, seed businesses, and organic agricultural organizations against Monsanto company to challenge the chemical giant's patents on genetically modified seed. The organic plaintiffs were forced to sue preemptively to protect themselves from being accused of patent infringement should they ever become contaminated by Monsanto's genetically modified seed, something Monsanto has done to others in the past. The case, Organic Seed Growers & Trade Association, et al. v. Monsanto, was filed in federal district court in Manhattan and assigned to Judge Naomi Buchwald. In June, 2011, 23 additional plaintiffs were added to the suit, bringing the total number to 83.
According to Dan Ravicher, patent attorney and Executive Director of PUBPAT, Monsanto made a Motion to Dismiss shortly after the lawsuit was filed, which was an expected delay tactic. The Motion to Dismiss is now under review by the judge, who is expected to make a ruling on the motion early in 2012. A complicated case like this one often takes up to four months to review. "We are confident in our case. It is common for defendants to make a Motion to Dismiss- it is in their best interests to try," notes Dan.
Dan expects for the judge to deny the motion, but will appeal if the Motion to Dismiss is granted. "We are prepared to litigate," he emphasized. "We are not seeking money from Monsanto. We want to ensure that they never sue our clients for patent infringement. Contamination is a real risk that should not give Monsanto the right to sue. The bottom line is that we seek peace of mind for our clients."
To learn more about the complaint and to keep up to date on the process, visit the PUBPAT website at: http://www.pubpat.org/monsanto-seed-patents.htm
Summary of the First Amended Complaint- OSGATA et al. v. Monsanto
1. Society stands on the precipice of forever being bound to transgenic agriculture and
transgenic food. Coexistence between transgenic seed and organic seed is impossible because transgenic seed contaminates and eventually overcomes organic seed. History has already shown this, as soon after transgenic seed for canola was introduced, organic canola became virtually extinct as a result of transgenic seed contamination. Organic corn, soybean, cotton, sugar beet, and alfalfa now face the same fate, as transgenic seed has been released for each of those crops, too. Transgenic seed is being developed for many other crops, thus putting the future of all food, and indeed all agriculture, at stake.
2. Plaintiffs in this matter represent farmers and seed businesses who do not want to use or sell transgenic seed. Plaintiffs are largely organic farmers and organic seed businesses, but also include nonorganic farmers who nonetheless wish to farm without transgenic seed. Plaintiffs are increasingly being threatened by transgenic seed contamination despite using their best efforts to avoid it. This causes Plaintiffs to fear that, if they do indeed become contaminated by transgenic seed, which may very well be inevitable given the proliferation of transgenic seed today, they could quite perversely also be accused of patent infringement by the company responsible for the transgenic seed that contaminates them. Thus, Plaintiffs bring this action to protect themselves from ever being accused of infringing patents on transgenic seed.
3. Monsanto is a chemical company that was previously responsible for introducing to the world Agent Orange, DDT, PCB's and other toxins. Monsanto is now the world's leading proponent of transgenic seed and holds many patents relating thereto that it has aggressively asserted against literally hundreds of farmers, including those farmers who became contaminated by Monsanto's transgenic seed through no fault of their own. Public awareness of Monsanto's patent assertion activities is high and it contributes mightily to Plaintiffs' fears that they, too, could most assuredly be accused of patent infringement in the near future if and when they become contaminated by Monsanto's transgenic seed.
4. Through this action, Plaintiffs ask the Court to declare that, should they ever be contaminated by Monsanto's transgenic seed, they need not fear being sued for patent infringement. As set forth below, there are several legal bases for this declaration, the principal one of which is that patents on transgenic seed fail to satisfy the requirement of both the Constitution and the Patent Act that only technology with a beneficial societal use may be patented. U. S. Const., Art. I, § 8, cl. 8 ("To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts") (emphasis added); 35 U.S.C. § 101 ("Whoever invents or discovers any new and useful process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof, may obtain a patent therefor") (emphasis added). As Justice Story wrote in 1817, to be patentable, an invention must not be "injurious to the wellbeing, good policy, or sound morals of society," and "a new invention to poison people ... is not a patentable invention." Lowell v. Lewis,15 F. Cas. 1018 (C.C.D. Mass. 1817).
Because transgenic seed, and in particular Monsanto's transgenic seed, is "injurious to the wellbeing, good policy, or sound morals of society" and threatens to "poison people," Monsanto's transgenic seed patents are all invalid.
5. Monsanto's patents are additionally invalid for other failures to meet the requirements of patent law, including that each violates the prohibition against double patenting, each is anticipated or rendered obvious by prior art, and each fails to satisfy the requirements of written description, enablement and best mode. Monsanto's patents would also not be infringed by Plaintiffs because, amongst other things, Plaintiffs do not intend to use Monsanto's transgenic seed, any seed possessed by Plaintiffs that may be contaminated by Monsanto's transgenic seed is not covered by any valid and properly construed claim of any patent in suit, and Monsanto's patents rights in transgenic seed exhaust upon the authorized distribution by Monsanto to its customers. Monsanto's patents are also unenforceable because, among other things, Monsanto has committed misuse, Monsanto is equitably stopped from enforcing them, and Monsanto commits trespass when its transgenic seed contaminates another. Lastly, Monsanto would not be entitled to any remedy under law or equity even if its patents were held to be valid, infringed and enforceable against Plaintiffs, as no economic injury happens to Monsanto and the public interest would not support granting Monsanto an injunction when its patented seed contaminates another.
6. As nontransgenic seed farmers and seed sellers, Plaintiffs already have to deal with the constant threat of transgenic seed contamination that could destroy their chosen livelihood. They should not also have to live with the threat of being sued for patent infringement should that travesty come to pass. They now ask this court to provide them the declaratory relief to which they are entitled.
Book Review: "Sharing the Harvest: A Citizen's Guide to Community Supported Agriculture" By Elizabeth Henderson with Robyn Vam En
Reviewed by Jody Padgham
I started my farming career working on a 75-member CSA (community supported agriculture) farm in Washington State. One of the things that impressed me that year was the complexity of the CSA business. There are endless things to plan and track in a CSA – from a careful crop rotation that assures each box is bountiful, to a member billing system that guarantees each subscription is paid in full, to a knowledge of how many boxes of each type are delivered to each drop off point on each delivery day.
As a new laborer, my head was spinning just trying to follow instructions in each of many complex areas of management. The lead farmers had a lot they needed to understand and know in managing the very diverse critical aspects of the CSA. Clearly their years of experience had allowed them to slowly evolve their complex and well-functioning systems. It was obvious that my 10 months of exposure was not enough for me to move off and create a CSA if I had wanted to do that.
In the 15 years since my CSA farm experience the model has flourished across the country. One can find CSAs even in rural areas (unheard of in the late 1990s), and in every state. For those who have polished their production, the opportunity to succeed at using the CSA marketing model is great. But, how does one learn the intricacies of this complex farm model?
A valuable resource is the book "Sharing the Harvest: A Citizen's Guide to Community Supported Agriculture" by Elizabeth Henderson with Robyn Van Ent. Robyn developed the majority of the content of the original text in the late 1990s, at the same time that I was learning about CSAs on the ground. Unfortunately, Robyn suffered a tragically early death to asthma before the book was published in 1997, and Elizabeth, who had contributed some chapter material, finished the project. The book went through a major revision, with much updating and additional material under Elizabeth's guidance, in 2007. The result is an excellent, comprehensive primer on the whys and hows of CSA farming.
I was a little put off by the title, as reading "A Citizen's Guide.." I imagined that the book would be geared for consumers. However, it seems the term "citizen" is used here more as "anyone can do it and everyone is involved" than in a narrower definition of the term.
The book has a host of background and philosophy, from Chapter One titled "What is Community Supported Agriculture and Chapter Two "CSA and the Global Supermarket" to Chapters 20 and 21 titled "Matching Biodiversity with Social Diversity" and "Agriculture Supported Communities." This is balanced with the practical information needed to get a CSA set up and running well. Major sections in the book are titled: "CSA in Context," "Getting Started," "Getting Organized," "The Food," and "Many Models." There are numerous pages that focus on the financial and organizational aspects of CSAs, and even a chapter that discusses the decision of whether to have the CSA be certified as organic.
Having met and talked with Elizabeth Henderson, it doesn't surprise me that this book is full of very useful, practical, and well described detail. Although there are examples from many CSAs from around the country, many of the paragraphs start with the word "we" and a reference to the way something is done at Elizabeth's Genesee Valley Organic CSA in New York State. I find the very personal style of writing very friendly and attractive- it feels as if Elizabeth is there in the room telling you about her many years of experience and the many things she has learned from friends and peers.
Another thing that I find very attractive about this book is that it is not representing that there is "one way" to thrive in running a CSA. Each farm example is framed by the context of why the farmers decided to do things they way they have, and what advantages or disadvantages the decision may have brought. Seeing a sentence beginning "Yet another way of calculating…" brings a smile to my face, as it is my belief that there are as many ways to successfully farm as there are farmers. I appreciate being given a diversity of styles and rationales so that I can make decisions that fit my own style and situation.
Occasional sidebars highlight the words of a particular CSA manager on a specific topic, another nice touch that helps a reader see some of the logic and thinking behind a particular opinion or way of doing something.
Detailed charts in the Growing the Food chapter offer very specific details on what yields per row foot are for a large number of vegetables, and includes a recommendation of per share distribution per year. This chart multiplies out the numbers to give an estimate of numbers of row feet needed for each vegetable planned. This is actual data from Elizabeth's farm, and I'm surprised that it isn't made more clear in the table that your own numbers may be very different, as your production methods, soil, climate, and customer demands may lead you to a very different production list. However, this and other charts (succession planning, CSA distribution [box content], total share content,) will be extremely useful for any CSA farmer, whether just starting out or several years in. Those starting out will find these very helpful in making your initial faming plans, those with experience can see models of handy charts that would be beneficial for your own operation. Other charts in the book include examples of CSA share content per week, the quantity of each item that constitutes a share, and a list of the various crops that could be given out in each season, from a few different farms.
For anyone interested in, or already managing a CSA, Sharing the Harvest is a really great resource. The amount of information gathered is almost staggering. As Joan Dye Gussow points out in the forward: "In listing these topics I realize that I risk making this book sound like a dull instruction manual or a guidebook on CSAs. It is a guide, and it is instructive, but it is far more than either of those, and it is surely not dull. It is, in fact, a delight to read, since the woman who brought it together, after the original author succumbed to an unacceptably early death, is a strong and gifted writer." I certainly concur with Joan's assessment.
However, those who are not dedicated readers may find the layout of the book a bit intimidating. It is clear that the vastness of the content led the publishers to design a book with very tight paragraphs. Minimal use of sub headings leads me to think that you will get the most out of this book if you can dedicate time in larger chunks to digest the content. This isn't just a pick-up and skim kind of book, although it does have a nice index and so can be used to answer specific questions if you prefer to use it that way. But, I certainly think that it is worth taking the time to get fully involved in all that the book has to tell, as it does such an excellent job of doing.
Sharing the Harvest is published by Chelsea Green, 304 pages, and available from the MOSES Bookstore for $40. To order go to www.mosesorganic.org or call us at 715-778-5775.
Long-Running Iowa State Experiment Shows Organic Farming is Profitable
November 15, 2011
GREENFIELD, Iowa -- Organic crop systems can provide similar yields and much higher economic returns than a conventional corn-soybean rotation, according to thirteen years of data from a side-by-side comparison at Iowa State University's Neely-Kinyon Research and Demonstration Farm.
The Long-Term Agroecological Research Experiment (LTAR) began in 1998 with support from the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture. The LTAR is one of the longest running replicated comparisons in the country. Kathleen Delate, professor in ISU Agronomy and Horticulture, leads the project.
"The transitioning years are the hardest years," Delate said, explaining that the project was originally designed to help farmers make the shift into an organic system. To sell a product as organic, the crop must be raised on land that has received no synthetic chemicals for three years prior to harvest.
The LTAR experiment shows that organic crops can remain competitive with conventional crops even during the three-year transition. Averaged over 13 years, yields of organic corn, soybean and oats have been equivalent to or slightly greater than their conventional counterparts. Likewise, a 12-year average for alfalfa and an 8-year average for winter wheat also show no significant difference between organic yields and the Adair County average.
Organic crops fetch a premium price on the market and eliminate the need for expensive inputs like herbicides and synthetic fertilizers. As a result, they are far more profitable than conventional crops. Craig Chase, interim leader of the Leopold Center's Marketing and Food Systems Initiative and extension farm management specialist, calculated the returns to management—that is, the money left over for family living after deducting labor, land and production costs—for both systems. He based his calculations on actual LTAR data from 1998 to 2004, as well as scenarios modeled with enterprise budgets.
Both methods gave the same result: On average, organic systems return roughly $200 per acre more than conventional crops.
In addition to its profitability, organic agriculture helps build healthy soils. While conventional LTAR plots receive synthetic herbicides, pesticides and fertilizer, organic plots receive only local, manure-based amendments. Total nitrogen increased by 33 percent in the organic plots, and researchers measured higher concentrations of carbon, potassium, phosphorous, magnesium and calcium. The results suggest that organic farming can foster greater efficiency in nutrient use and higher potential for sequestrating carbon.
Delate said they use "a whole suite of practices to manage weeds" in the organic plots, including timely tillage and longer crop rotations. Allelopathic chemicals from rye and alfalfa help keep weed populations under control, as does growing an alfalfa cover crop in winter, which provided cover for beneficial insects and animals.
"I think there's a strong future for organic agriculture," Delate said. "My phone is ringing off the hook. The interest hasn't waned."
When Delate became Iowa State's first specialist in organic agriculture in 1997, the Leopold Center provided start-up funds to develop a program and set up LTAR research plots. The Center has provided annual operating funds for LTAR and, in 2010, the work was moved to a competitive grant in the Leopold Center's Cross-Cutting Initiative.
LTAR's findings concur with recently published results from the Rodale Institute's 30-year Farming Systems Trial in Pennsylvania. The Rodale Institute also concluded that organic systems can provide similar yields and greater profits. In addition, they calculated that organic crops required 45 percent less energy, and contributed significantly less to greenhouse gas emissions. Organic corn proved especially profitable during drought years, when its yields jumped up to 31 percent higher than conventional.
Download a brochure about the LTAR project at www.leopold.iastate.edu/pubs-and-papers/2011-11-ltar-experiment. Read the Rodale Institute report at http://www.rodaleinstitute.org/fst30years.
The Organic Research Forum Bringing New Organic Research to the Organic Farming Conference
The Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service (MOSES) is proud to announce the 3rd Annual Organic Research Forum to be held in conjunction with the 2012 MOSES Organic Farming Conference, February, 24th and 25th, 2012 in La Crosse, WI. Researchers, including government scientists and staff, academic faculty and staff, graduate/undergraduate students, and farmer researchers will present workshops and posters highlighting exciting new developments in organic research.
The last decade has seen remarkable increases in the quantity and quality of organic farming research at land grant universities and on organic farms. This growth is aided by increased public and private dollars, and pushed by the rapid growth and success in the organic marketplace.
MOSES has developed this ongoing Research Forum to offer an opportunity for organic farmers to learn about cutting edge research that could enhance their farming practices. It is also an opportunity for farmers to talk to researchers about the kinds of questions they have on their farms that would be benefited by in-depth research. The Forum provides an additional opportunity for researchers and graduate students to learn of each other's research and interests, and to form collaborations that will strengthen further activities.
We invite you to participate in the offerings of the 2012 Organic Research Forum. These activities are a part of, and spread throughout, the 2012 MOSES Organic Farming Conference.
Made possible by a generous grant from the CERES Trust, the 2012 Organic Research Forum is made up of four main components:
The 2012 OFC will highlight several workshops where researchers, and often the organic farmers that assisted, will present the findings and implications of their recent work. We have selected a broad range of agronomic, horticultural and livestock research projects from several research institutions throughout the Midwest. Look for the RF notation before the titles to find these workshops in the conference flyer (recently mailed) and program (handed out at the conference).
Nine production-oriented Research Forum workshops will be featured during the conference:
- "Advances in Flame Weeding in Agronomic Crops"- University of Nebraska
- "VeggieCompass: Which way will you grow? Determining Profitability on your Diversified Farm"- University of WI
- "Nitrogen Mineralization and Available Nitrogen Patterns in Organic Cropping Systems With Varying Nutrient Inputs"- University of WI
- "Impact of Organic Management (Project COW) on Dairy Animal Health and Well-being"- University of WI
- "Vegetable Variety Selection on your farm: Participatory Research and Variety Development"- NOVIC
- "Organic Raspberry and Sweet Cherry Production under High Tunnels"- Michigan State University
- "Soil Microbes in Organic Vegetable Production"- Kansas State University
- "Systems Strategies for Weed Control on Organic Grain Farms"- Western Illinois University
- "Cover Crop Innovation on Organic Farms"- Western Illinois University
New for 2012 is a special workshop tailored for researchers, students, university staff, and organic farmers interested in developing university student organic farms and the next generation of organic farmers and researchers.
"Engagement though Student Organic Farms and Participatory Research: Incubators of the Next Generation of Organic Farmers and Researchers"- OFRF and University of Illinois
Jane Sooby, Grants Program Manager of the Organic Farming Research Foundation, will present findings from OFRF's most recent land grant organic assessment and Michelle Wander (University of Illinois) will present a description of student farms and sustainable agriculture programs that summarizes the variety of approaches and associated outcomes that exist. Teams (students, researchers, and affiliated farmers) will be invited and recruited from conference attendees to share examples of successful participatory research. Our goal is for workshop attendees to come away with a better understanding of the relative strengths and weaknesses of different types of student farms, or methods for student-farmer engagement. We would like to identify models that have the ability to train new farmers and/or that provide organic farmers with access to useful information, ongoing training, and a way to direct research or student projects toward problems of interest to them.
Research Poster Display
The poster session will document on-going research projects related to organic and sustainable agriculture. Conference attendees are welcome to browse the poster display in the ballroom foyer at their leisure, or visit with the researchers from 12:30 to 2:00 pm each day of the conference. We are looking for more poster applicants; if you would like to submit a proposal for consideration, please submit summaries to email@example.com either as a Microsoft Word compatible attachment or simply in the text of your email on or before Friday, January 9th, 2012.
Organic Research Forum Social
On Friday morning, from 7:00 until 8:15 am, researchers, students and farmers are invited to a breakfast social to network, and to talk about organic farming and current/future organic research projects.
For full Organic Research Forum details, please visit the MOSES website at: http://www.mosesorganic.org/ofc_researchforum.html
Tools to Help Assess Costs, Markets, and Profits
How much money did your farm make this year? Or, more specifically, how much did your salad mix, or your carrots, or your beef enterprise make? How much did it cost you to raise the garlic that you sold this year? What were the costs of production of the organic milk produced by your herd? Did you lose money at the farmers' market? How profitable is your farm?
If you not only don't know the answers to these kinds of questions, but also wonder how anyone can ever figure these things out, you may be happy to hear about several tools, resources, and online calculators designed to make it easy for you to figure costs of production and profitability of not only a diversity of crops and enterprises, but also whole farm systems. We'll introduce you to a few of them here.
Each of these tools requires the input of financial and management data describing a specific farm's operation. Some of this data, such as farm expenses, is relatively accessible and can be obtained from records used for organic certification or tax purposes. A farm bookkeeping system will provide much of the basic data needed to use the tools. In lieu of that, growers can compile receipts, invoices, and other farm records throughout the year to fill in the necessary information in the spreadsheets and calculators.
More effort is required, however, to collect crop-specific data necessary to understand things at the enterprise or crop level. For example, in order to generate detailed figures determining the break-even prices and profitability of specific crops in specific markets, it is necessary to enter the total labor hours required to both produce and harvest each crop over the course of a growing season. In addition, accurate numbers for the amount of produce sold in each market channel are also required. You will need to collect this more detailed information for your farm to get the full impact of the tools we list here. Each tool will give some basic guidance on how to generate this more specific information.
Check out the following financial tool resources, and choose one, or several, that might be a good fit for you. For more on WHY you may want to use these tools we recommend the new MOSES book Fearless Farm Finances.
MOSES Fearless Farm Finances Book
In February 2012 MOSES will be publishing a comprehensive book on farm financial management titled Fearless Farm Finances: Farm Financial Management Demystified. This book will offer detail on how to set up farm bookkeeping systems, as well as how to create and analyze standardized financial statements, how to do enterprise analyses and partial budgets, factors that affect profitability, and much more. Look for more information about the book in upcoming announcements, on the MOSES website, and at the MOSES Organic Farming Conference.
UW Vegi Compass
UW-Madison offers the "Veggie Compass," a whole farm management approach for diversified fresh market vegetable growers. The system is based on a comprehensive financial spreadsheet designed to help in the analysis of farm records. Using farmer-provided cost, sales and labor data, the spreadsheet calculates the cost of production for individual crops and the profitability of different marketing options (e.g., CSA, farmer's market, wholesale, retail). For example, a grower can learn if broccoli sales are more lucrative at farmers' markets or through wholesale distributors. The tool can also be used to estimate what might happen to profits if you make changes in future farm production or marketing outlets. The cost of production data generated by the spreadsheet can help farmers identify their production, harvest, and marketing inefficiencies, set prices for each market, and increase farm profits.
The Veggie Compass project originated from a partnership between the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Jim Munsch, an organic farmer in southwestern Wisconsin. Several years in the making and guided by much farmer input, trial and feedback, the result is a cost accounting spreadsheet to help fresh market vegetable growers improve their farm profitability.
In order to ease the burden of collecting the labor hours associated with growing and harvesting each crop, the Compass offers two types of data sheets to assist growers in the task of compiling labor data. The design of the sheets allows workers to quickly record the time spent on a crop by task. The research team is also gathering labor data from participating farms to generate default labor values for vegetable crops. This research is still ongoing; currently, growers need to collect their own labor records to fill in the spreadsheet. Labor data can be entered into the spreadsheet throughout the growing season or at the end of the growing season.
The spreadsheet is designed to be easy and sensible to use. The spreadsheet uses the data from the input pages to calculate each crop's cost per pound ($/lb), breakeven price, and gross margin by market channel. Growers can use the tool to see which market channel (wholesale, farmer's market, etc.) is most profitable, and which crops are best suited for each channel. Farmers can then adjust which crops to grow, how much to grow, and pricing to increase profits as well as make more informed farm management decisions through the use of a holistic farm financial tool.
Iowa State University Ag Decision Maker
Ag Decision Maker is a decision-oriented agricultural business web site designed for farmers, lenders, farm managers, agriculture instructors, and others. Ag Decision Maker is written by economics and farm management specialists at Iowa State University and other Universities and institutions across the mid-west. The site contains numerous resources and tools that can help you not only calculate costs and profits for various product streams and whole farm scenarios, but also has a monthly newsletter, numerous written fact sheets, videos and teaching activities for those wishing to teach the topics to others.
Areas of information include Cost and Return Analysis, Market Assessments, Machinery Management Assessments, and more, for crops, livestock, and whole farms. Each production area listed in the Ag Decision Maker has its own webpage, with numerous informational fact sheets, links to specific tools related to those fact sheets, and associated recordings and videos.
A monthly Newsletter provides analysis and insight into many of the issues facing modern agriculture. All of the newsletter articles appearing in Ag Decision Maker since its inception in October of 1996 are available at this site.
Information Files (fact sheets) provide a concise written description and explanation of the subject matter. Some files also include companion tools. An audio and visual presentation of the information is available in the Voiced Media Presentation. Decision Tools are available to do economic analysis for your individual situation. Teaching Activities are also available for those doing classroom instruction.
Decision Tools (electronic spreadsheets) are for on-line computation. You can enter your own figures into a spreadsheet to conduct an analysis for your individual situation and then save the analysis as a file on your computer.
Wisconsin Dairy Ratio Benchmarking Tool (WisDRBT)
The Wisconsin Dairy Ratio Benchmarking Tool allows you to compare your financial ratios to your farm's past performance, and do a comparative analysis with the industry. Assessment tool categories include: Feeding, Heifers, Reproduction, Production, Replacement, Financial, Environment, Price Risk, and Misc with several tools available in each area. For example, there is a tool that you can enter your own numbers into that can help assess the impact of switching from two milkings to three per day. Another worksheet titled "Income Over Feed Costs" allows you to calculate the income over feed cost (IOFC), the marginal value of milk to corn, and the optimal level of corn usage for defined milk price, feed costs, and stage of lactation.
AgSquared is the online software toolkit built to help you create a plan for your diversified vegetable farm at the beginning of the season, and help you manage that plan and stay on track as the season progresses, all while keeping detailed, meaningful records in the process.
AgSquared is currently being tested by a small group of farmers as it is being prepared for an upcoming launch. The ever evolving product will be a set of free online software tools that combine farm planning and management with automated record keeping to track all the details of your farm's operation. With AgSquared software you will be able to: create an annual farm plan, manage your farm's daily and seasonal work schedule, keep a daily journal log, track inventory, track harvest and sales. The tool will be free and online (not downloadable, as others listed above are). At this time the AgSquared folks are accepting new names to put on the list for joining as the capacity expands. There are eventual plans to expand the product beyond vegetable enterprises.
This is only a small sampling of the online resources available to help you evaluate the costs and profits of your enterprises. We invite you to explore the tools and find the ones that seem that they would work for your system.
Farmer Veterans Coalition: Farmers Helping Veterans, Veterans Helping Farmers
A vineyard tour from the 2010 FVC Retreat.
Veterans returning from the recent wars face challenges on multiple fronts. In the current economy, finding a satisfying occupation after four, eight, or more years out of the normal career path is one of the many big hurdles they must overcome. Thanks to the help of the Farmer Veteran Coalition, sustainable farming is opening up as a reachable career option for many new veterans.
Providing numerous services, networking, and educational opportunities, the mission of the Farmer Veteran Coalition (FVC) is "to mobilize our food and farming community to create healthy and viable futures for America's veterans by enlisting their help in building our green economy, rebuilding our rural communities, and securing a safe and healthy food supply for all." The coalition's goal is to assist in developing a new generation of farmers while helping returning veterans find viable careers.
Offering on-farm retreats, mentoring, internships, counseling, and financial assistance in the form of small grants, the coaltion's greatest strength is its focus on partnerships. Started in 2008 in California by Michael O'Gorman, a farmer with 40 years of experience, the coalition is multiplying its reach and impact by utilizing alliances with existing educational organizations to broaden the outreach to veterans and assist in delivering programs.
After four years of steady, and recently explosive, growth, the coalition will be focusing a lot of energy on the Midwest in 2012. Several partners are helping with this push, including the Center for Rural Affairs, the Kansas Rural Center, National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) and Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service (MOSES).
The Farmer Veteran Coalition is being supported by MOSES through the gift of a booth in the exhibit hall at the 2012 Organic Farming Conference and scholarships for ten veterans to attend the conference. MOSES is excited to be able to bring FVC staff and participating veterans to the conference, allowing the MOSES community to learn more about how they can participate in and support FVC's programming, while also introducing the coalition to the area's returning veteran population. Goodness Greenness, a distribution company in Chicago, is also offering support to make the veteran's OFC participation possible.
"We currently serve about 400 veterans in 46 states," Executive Director Michael O'Gorman says, "The Upper Midwest is our next area of focus for outreach. We are really excited to be coming to the MOSES conference."
Michael outlines several goals in coming to the MOSES Organic Conference:
- Introducing the project to the Midwest farming community.
- Soliciting farmers' help. This help can be through knowledge, providing mentorships to new veteran farmers on production, farm business, entrepreneurism and marketing techniques.
- Providing an opportunity for Midwestern veterans to network with each other about their goals in sustainable farming, and,
- Develop new partnerships with other organizations to continue the development and growth of the coalition's programs and outreach.
One new program that Michael is especially excited about introducing at the conference is a product and services donation program for veterans that are setting up farms. "Companies or farmers will be able to donate services or credits for seed or farm supplies, or even farm equipment and livestock. We will make these available to the veterans." The four full time and two part time staff of the coalition that work with Michael are working hard to get this new program set up and expect to have it in place by the time we see them at the end of February.
The 2010 FVC Retreat. Photo by Susanna Frohman
"It is really important for veterans wanting to farm to be able to come together, to see people a few years out in front of them succeeding. This is a real inspiration," Michael says. He notes that an FVC goal is to create hubs of farmer veterans in various regions of the country so that they can support each other, visit each other's farms, learn together and form bonds. "With such a large number dealing with disabilities, veterans can better understand each other's limitations, and find support and encouragement from each other," he explains.
Highlighting the sense of community that is of critical importance to the veterans exploring farming as a career, Michael points out that "This is really more of a movement than an organization. We are here to appeal to the broader farming community to help make this happen. We are just scratching the surface of the number of veterans that are interested in farming."
Please visit the Farmer Veteran Coalition booth at the 2012 Organic Farming Conference to honor a farmer veteran and find out how you can support this good work.
23rd Annual MOSES Organic Farming Conference
February 23-25, 2012 La Crosse, Wisconsin. You should have received a flyer in the mail. To register or for additional information, visit the MOSES website www.mosesorganic.org
Register online to save time and trouble!
Save $15 if you register by January 16th.
10 Full Day Pre-Conference Courses
The Inspiring 2012 OFC Keynote Speakers:
Margaret Krome, Friday, February 24
Growing Food, Health, and Democracy: How Farmers, Activists, and Consumers are Finding Our Power and Transforming the Food System
Everyone knows the destructive role that many foods – and the food system – play in many current health epidemics. For reasons both political and social, the nation has come to a turning point in agricultural policies: will we reinforce the institutions that have created the current system, or find our power and create change to support the pragmatic goals of personal and community health, fair markets, and fair access to good food? Michael Fields Agricultural Institute Policy Program Director Margaret Krome will explore the principles and building blocks for individual action, political influence and how we can use our movement's creativity and energy to build a sound agriculture that can be a foundation for restoring democracy in our nation.
Curt Ellis, Saturday, February 25
Growing Forward: The New Faces of Food and Farming
There's a hot new trend going viral among our nation's youth: farming! Who are these young leaders that are stepping up to work the fields, milk the goats, and write the policies that are transforming the way we farm and eat? What galvanized their interest in healing the environment and fixing food? And how can we harness their passion and create a world where every child can grow up with knowledge of what good food is, a hands-on connection to where it comes from, and daily access to its nutrients? Join King Corn filmmaker, FoodCorps co-founder, and Heinz Award winner Curt Ellis for a video-rich, multi-format talk about how a new generation of leaders is getting back-to-the-land.
Join the MOSES Board of Directors for an intimate and elegant dinner hour, preceded by hors d'oeuvres, wine, beer and beverages. Relax while supporting MOSES organic educational programs with an opportunity to bid in an exclusive vocal auction.
National Organic Standards Board Update
by Harriet Behar
Notes from the November/December 2011 National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) meeting in Savannah Georgia.
The NOSB is a 15-member Federal Advisory Committee appointed by the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture to advise USDA on National List materials and regulatory topics. Recommendations made by the NOSB are not official policy until they are approved and adopted by USDA.
People from all over the country converged on this history laden southern coastal city in early December 2011 for the last meeting of the year for the National Organic Standards Board. On the agenda were a long list of diverse of subjects, from organic animal welfare to the allowance of synthetic materials in foods, from wine to infant formula.
The next meeting in Albuquerque NM in May will see five new faces on this 15 member board, as a long-vacant seat was recently filled and four board members end their terms at this Savannah meeting.
Two full days of public comment from farmers, processors, consumers, retailers, certifiers, and others focused on issues where there has been no clear consensus in the organic community, I felt that this interactive process led to fair NOSB final recommendations, which dealt with the community's concerns of organic integrity while also meeting the practical needs of production and marketplace demand.
Many commentators observed that qualitative requirements, (overall principles), rather than quantitative requirements, (specific numbers to be achieved), provide a vision for animal welfare within an organic production system, while allowing organic farmers the freedom to create production systems that meet that vision. However, the NOSB felt that they needed to provide the National Organic Program a document so it could begin the process of rule-making and provide the opportunity for public input before the law was created. Many of those commenting cited the very specific details of the new pasture regulation as something we did not want to repeat with animal welfare, as the accompanying paperwork requirements have added burden to farmers and increased organic inspection times. It seems that a good middle ground is to include a few minimum numerical requirements to provide clarity and prevent abuse of the spirit of the proposed regulation. The full recommendations can be found at www.regulations.gov, (search for docket ams-nop-11-0081-1016), A portion of what was proposed for poultry is as follows, with the changes made at this meeting to the original recommendation in italics
(1) Access to the outdoors.
(i) Laying hens must be provided with no less than 2 square feet of outdoor access per bird. This space is dependent upon the producer's ability to manage vegetation and provide cover, shelter, and blinds; manage erosion and bird boredom / aggression; minimize mortality, lameness, and disease; maintain good feather cover, hygiene, body condition, and low levels of mortality.
(ii) Enclosed spaces that have solid roofs overhead do not meet the definition of outdoor access and cannot be included in the space calculation of outdoor access.
(iii) Pullets must be provided outdoor access by 12 16 weeks of age when weather permits.
(iv) Broilers must be provided outdoor access by 4 weeks of age, provided that they are fully feathered and weather permits.
(iix) Outdoor area must have 50% vegetative cover which may include but is not limited to pasture, bushes, shrubs, and trees.
(ix) Shelter may be provided by trees or other objects in the environment
(xi) All housing systems must outline in the Organic System Plan how ventilation will be managed and how birds will be encouraged to access the outdoors.
A broad spectrum herbicide, ammonium nananoate, was NOT approved in organic production, based on the belief that organic weed control should be an overall systems approach including rotations, cover crops etc. rather than use of an input. A synthetic rooting hormone was also NOT listed, based on its noncompatibility with organic systems. Odorized propane, used in a product to kill burrowing animals (rodentanator or gophernator) was also not approved, From public comments and NOSB discussion it seemed the unintended consequences of killing non-target and possibly at-risk species was the reason for this close vote which did not have enough yays to approve.
A manufacturer of a natural alternative to silicon dioxide had petitioned to remove this synthetic from the national list. From public discussion, it was ascertained that the natural product, while having many uses, still could not be used in all applications, so the NOSB changed the annotation to Synthetics allowed- Silicon Dioxide- For use as a defoamer. May be used in other applications when non-synthetic alternatives are not commercially available.
A petition to change the labeling category from "made with" to "organic" when synthetic sulfites are added to wine had many negative public comments and was defeated by the NOSB.
One controversial topic was the addition of the synthetic nutrients DHA and ARA to liquid milk, infant formula and other products was hotly debated, with some noncivil discourse marring the otherwise respectful interaction at these meetings. The board made their decision to allow these products with a limiting annotation, based upon the information provided by their third party Technical Review, as well as extensive public information provided by the petitioners of this product. The annotation for both products is as follows: Not hexane extracted, other ingredients that are agricultural must be organic.
Miles McEvoy, Deputy Administrator of the National Organic Program, described the wide ranging activities of the National Organic Program, and their continued emphasis on consistent implementation of the regulation as well as enforcement in the marketplace.
Harriet Behar is a MOSES organic specialist, reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org
Upper Midwest Organic Grains and Feedstuffs Report
Seventy–eight Percent of U.S. Families Say They Purchase Organic Foods
Seventy eight percent - more U.S. families than ever before - say they are choosing organic foods, according to the Organic Trade Association's newly released 2011 U.S. Families' Organic Attitudes and Beliefs Study. Four in ten families indicate they are buying more organic products than they were a year ago. Read all about it at http://www.organicnewsroom.com/
Long-term Study Shows Higher Returns from Organic Agriculture
Organic crop systems can provide similar yields and much higher economic returns than a conventional corn-soybean rotation, according to 13 years of data from the Long-Term Agroecological Research Experiment, a side-by-side comparison in Iowa. This study found that, on average, organic systems return roughly $200 per acre more than conventional crops. The organic systems helped build healthy soils, as well. http://www.leopold.iastate.edu/news/releases/archive
New Members Appointed to National Organic Standards Board
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has appointed five new members to the National Organic Standards Board. The new members include Carmela Beck (Producer), Andrea (Zea) Sonnabend (Scientist), Tracy Favre (Environmentalist), Harold V. Austin, IV (Handler), and Jean Richardson, Ph.D. (Consumer/Public Interest). More at http://www.ams.usda.gov select "Newsroom."
USDA Organic Grant Awards
On October 25, the USDA announced 23 new grants to research and extension programs working to help organic producers and processors grow and market high quality organic agricultural products. The grants, totaling $19 million, are funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) through the Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative (OREI) and the Organic Transitions Program (ORG). A list of awards can be found at http://www.nifa.usda.gov/newsroom/news/2011news/organic_awards.html
Updated Conservation Program Guide
NSAC has released an updated version of its popular Farmer's Guide to the Conservation Stewardship Program. The Guide is intended to help family farmers, ranchers and foresters understand the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) enrollment process. The Guide is available at www.sustainableagriculture.net/publications. or can be purchased by contacting NSAC at email@example.com of 202-547-5754.
Chick-fil-A Says 'Eat More Kale' Shirt Confuses Public
A silkscreen design artist from Vermont is being warned by national fast-food chain Chick-fil-A to stop selling his bestselling t-shirt that simply states "Eat More Kale," citing the phrase muddles the company's famous "Eat Mor Chickin" campaign. To read more: http://www.christianpost.com/news/chick-fil-a-says-eat-more-kale-shirt-confuses-public-63304/
Food Animal Concerns Trust's (FACT) New Farmer Grants Initiative
FACT's Healthy & Humane Farm Funds Project will provide small grants to qualifying humane farmers who need assistance in improving the welfare of their farm animals. Grants will be awarded for projects that (1) help farms transition to pasture-based systems, (2) improve the marketing of their humane products, or (3) more generally enrich the conditions in which farm animals are raised. Applications are due by April 1, 2012 for awards made in June 2012. At least five farms will be funded each year, with grants ranging from $500 to $1,500 per farm. View guidelines and download an application at http://www.humanefarmfunds.org/. Contact Lisa Isenhart at firstname.lastname@example.org, 773-525-4952 with questions.
NASS Surveys USDA Certified Organic Producers
As part of a cooperative agreement between USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) and Risk Management Agency (RMA), all known USDA certified organic producers are asked to take part in the 2011 USDA Certified Organic Production Survey. From December 2011 – April 2012, NASS will collect information on certified organic production including acres planted, acres harvested, quantity harvested, quantity sold, value of sale, marketing practices and more for field crops, vegetables, fruits, tree nuts and berries, livestock, poultry and livestock products. Responding online via NASS's secure Web-based response system at www.agcounts.usda.gov saves time and money. For more information about the 2011 USDA Certified Organic Production Survey, contact the NASS Minnesota Field Office at 800-453-7502 or visit www.nass.usda.gov.
Leopold Center Publishes New Grower's Manual
The Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture and GROWN Locally have developed a "Grower's Manual" to help local food cooperatives improve their handling practices and meet food safety standards. The Grower's Manual describes requirements for personnel procedures, general handling, cleaning, sanitizing, packaging, labeling and transporting, and offers information for planning a mock recall. http://www.leopold.iastate.edu/cool_tools
NCR-SARE Announces 2012 Graduate Student Grant Call for Proposals
The 2012 North Central Region Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program (NCR-SARE) Graduate Student Grant Call for Proposals is now available online at http://www.northcentralsare.org/Grants/Apply-for-a-Grant. Graduate students enrolled at colleges or universities in the North Central Region can submit proposals for up to $10,000 to fund sustainable agriculture projects that will be part of their educational programs. For more info: Beth Nelson at email@example.com or 612-626-4436. Proposals are due in the NCR-SARE office in St Paul, MN by 4:30 p.m. CST, January 26, 2012.
Just Label It
In a country that labels everything from cosmetics to cleaning agents, it's surprising that there are no laws in the U.S. requiring labeling of genetically engineered foods. We have a right to know if what we are eating has been genetically engineered. Visit the Just Label It! website http://justlabelit.org/ to view the Are You Dining in the Dark? video and to tell the FDA to label GE Foods.
Do you have something to buy or sell? Your classified ad will reach over 8,000 households in the print edition, and be available in both the pdf and html version available online. Go to the Organic Broadcaster website to submit an ad electronically.
For Sale: 3pt hitch; 2-man operated seeder or pumpkin planter $325.00. Don Schroeder. 920-526-3510.
For Sale: Buffalo farm equipment and parts, new and used/reconditioned. Check our prices and service. To include Canada. Hansgen Sales & Service, St. Charles, MN. 507-932-4219.
For Sale: 9 Dexter cattle (non-registered), bulls, cows, heifers. Some polled. Call for pictures, pricing. 8am-9pm EST. No Saturday calls please. 260-573-1088.
For Sale: Certified organic bull calves. Freeport, MN. Call 320-260-4084.
For Sale: OCIA certified Angus calves, grass finished, genetics (reference available). Approx 50 head. Must be sold by Jan. 1 (earlier depending on weather). North-central South Dakota. Bill or Julie Rosin. 605-649-7224.
For Sale: Certified organic alfalfa clover baleage, 4x5 bales. G & G Farms, Pittsville, Wisconsin. 715-421-9956.
For Sale: Organic alfalfa grass/hay mix. 23 large round bales, first cutting. 8 large round bales, second cutting. 10 large round bales, third cutting. Hay test available. Also 23+ small square bales organic straw remaining. Located in central IL. Call 815-751-7661.
For Sale: Organic feed, wrapped and dry hay big bales, straw, corn, roasted soybeans. Can deliver. 608-574-2160.
For Sale: Certified organic alfalfa and alfalfa/grass hay. 3x3x8 bales. Good test results. Located in Linton, North Dakota. Dave Silbernagel. 208-867-9939 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
For Sale: Custom grain and seed cleaning for seed. Feed and feed grade, small or big quantities. MOSA certified. Kevin Nuttleman, Bangor, Wisconsin. 608-633-1132.
For Sale: Certified organic oats. 39# test weight. Dave Silbernagel. Linton, North Dakota. 208-867-9939 or email@example.com.
For Sale: 2011 shelled corn. 715-664-8374.
Opportunity: Need manager with tools and ingenuity for transitioning 224 acres of woods and tilled fields into a certified organic farm in southeastern Miami County, Indiana. Call Betty at 262-325-6554.
Help Wanted: Organic grain farm looking for a self-motivated individual. Experience operating and maintaining farm equipment a plus. Call 800-944-6535.
Opportunity: We are looking for an individual or family interested in organic farming of vegetables and possibly setting up a CSA. We have about four acres of farmable land in Wind Lake, WI. In this partnership you will receive salary and profit sharing. You must have experience in farm management and organic methods. Call 262-895-3428 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Help Wanted: Gardens of Eagan Organic Vegetable Farm 25 miles south of the Twin Cities. Several positions available in Equipment Operations, Delivery, Marketing, and Harvesting. Info at www.gardensofeagan.com.
Help Wanted: MOSA is hiring an additional Certification Specialist to begin work in early 2012. Primary responsibilities include customer service for organic producers and handlers, evaluating organic plan information and inputs to determine compliance with the National Organic Standards, and communication with clients about certification requirements. The ideal candidate will have a college degree in a related area, or equivalent by training or experience, and knowledge of organic farming and certification. We require excellent communication skills, verbal and written; strong computer skills; and the ability to do detail-oriented work in a fast paced environment. This is a full-time position with benefits and requires working out of MOSA's office in Viroqua, Wisconsin. Salary is competitive for a non-profit organization. We offer a friendly work environment, challenging work, open communication, and commitment to a job well-done. Interested and qualified candidates are invited to send a resume, letter of interest and job application (available on MOSA website) to email@example.com
For Sale: Organic and locally grown vegetable seeds for the commercial grower and home gardener. Write for 2012 catalog. Ross and Supplies, E16254 Cty V, Hillsboro, WI 54634.
For Sale: Certified organic onion and sweet potato plants. Write for brochure. Ammon Stoltzfus, N5878 Papoose Creek Lane, Black River Falls, WI, 54615.
For Sale: Slash your heating costs! No fancy advertisement! We'd rather spend our resources making the best outdoor water furnaces/boilers with more proven, tested features, giving you greater performance. You owe it to yourself to compare. Get the best value. www.portageandmainboilers.com. 1-800-561-0700.
For Sale: Certified organic onion plants. Yellow: Dakota Tears, Sedona, Calibra, Copra. Red: Red Wing. White: Walla Walla. $6 per bunch of 100. Minimum 10 bunches. 563-379-3951.
For Sale: Surplus insulated glass – perfect for greenhouses, solar homes, sunrooms or ag buildings. Also hardwood butcherblock 30"X100"X1-1/8" for sustainable countertops or bar tops. Oak, ash, cherry, maple, mahogany from $129. www.kissourglass.com or 715-639-3762 before 9 pm. Joe Bacon. Arctic Glass since 1979!