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 News – Fall 2006 Minimize


WoodPrairie Acknowledged for Super Spuds
Building a Maine Center for Food Sovereignty
Input Sought on Poultry Processing Facility
John Piotti Heads Maine Farmland Trust
FarmLink Has New Web Site
Church-Farm Connections Forming
Women’s Agricultural Network (WAgN) Celebrates Tenth Anniversary
Marketing Assistance for Small-Scale Farms
Maine Micro-dairy Development Cooperative Forms
USDA Organic Research Program Increased but Still Small
Genetic Engineering News
GE Corn May Result in Herbicide Production in Human Intestines
Chickens Engineered to Produce Medicines
Santa Cruz County to Adopt GE Moratorium
CFS Sues FDA Re GE Foods
Churches Say Stop Terminator
Update on the Scrapie Program: The Clock is Ticking for Maine
Pesticide News
Pesticide Applications: Your Right to Be Notified
Study Bolsters Link between Pesticides and Parkinson’s
USDA Publishes Final Rule on NOP Regulations
Driving Down the Wrong Ethanol Road?



WoodPrairie Acknowledged for Super Spuds

Congratulations to Jim and Megan Gerritsen of WoodPrairie Farm, a MOFGA-certified organic vegetable farm in Bridgewater. Widely known for the 16 varieties of potatoes they raise and sell as tablestock and seed, the Gerritsens were asked by Gallo Family Vineyards to apply for its Gold Medal Award this year. The award recognizes outstanding bread/baked goods, dairy, meat and charcuterie, fish and seafood, confectionary goods, condiments, oil and vinegar, and fruit or vegetable. Winners get to attend a business training program in Sonoma County, California, and exhibit their product at the Fancy Food Show for the specialty food industry.

While the Gerritsens were finalists this year, they did not win Gallo’s award. We assume someone just didn’t eat enough of their luscious potatoes.


Building a Maine Center for Food Sovereignty

GE Free Maine plans to build a Maine Center for Food Sovereignty in Thorndike. The group envisions this Center as a place to coordinate it activities, share resources with the community, and research and develop the new strategies, policies and structures required to build a more just food system in Maine. The Center will contain living space for staff and interns, and nearby garden plots will be available to local schoolchildren and community members. The Center will also enable GE Free Maine to move beyond policy and into the fields, cultivating rare varieties of local vegetables and grains to maintain a genetically diverse seed pool. The Center will be based in a log home recently donated by a supporter.

Food Sovereignty in action, according to the National Family Farm Coalition, includes “empowered communities everywhere working together democratically to advance a food system that ensures health, justice and dignity for all … Farmers, ranchers, and [fishermen and women] will have control over their lands, water, seeds, and livelihoods...”

Efforts to promote food sovereignty in Maine may include:

• disavowing dependency on patented and genetically modified seed and chemicals, and preventing patenting of Maine’s forest and marine resources;

• encouraging seed saving;

• encouraging eating locally and seasonally;

• assuring an adequate supply of healthy food in the face of Peak Oil;

• educating Maine’s youth on the importance of local, sustainable food systems and how to be a part of them.

For more information, please contact GE Free Maine at 207-244-0908, info@gefreemaine.org or visit www.gefreemaine.org.


Input Sought on Poultry Processing Facility

Cooperative Poultry Producers (COOPP) has received a $30,000 Agricultural Development Fund grant from the Maine Department of Agriculture, Food and Rural Resources to study the feasibility of developing a cooperatively owned, State inspected poultry processing facility. COOPP has hired the Cooperative Development Institute of Massachusetts to implement the project.

The first step in the COOPP project is a feasibility study. This will examine alternatives to achieving a state inspected facility, from various sizes of a stationary building to a mobile unit that could serve many areas of Maine. If you are interested in working with COOPP on this project, please contact Bill Blaiklock, 443-3725, or Diane Schivera, 568-4142.


John Piotti Heads Maine Farmland Trust

In July, John Piotti of Unity became executive director of Maine Farmland Trust (MFT). He succeeds LouAnna Perkins of Penobscot, who was executive director since 1999, when the organization began. Perkins will now work for Maine Farmland Trust as a special projects manager and legal counsel.

Piotti was director of the Maine Farms Project for Coastal Enterprises, Inc. (CEI) in Wiscasset for the past 11 years. At CEI, he helped channel over $12 million in critical services to over 400 Maine farms. He is also a state legislator representing eight Waldo County towns and co-chairing the Committee on Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry. He led the Legislature’s effort to stabilize and support dairy farms in 2003-2005. More recently, he led the effort to get the Legislature to approve adding Katahdin Lake to Baxter State Park. He will balance both jobs by scaling back his work for MFT when legislative work is most intense.

“I got involved in agriculture almost 15 years ago,” Piotti states, “when I co-chaired Unity’s Comprehensive Plan Committee with a local dairy farmer. He and other local farmers challenged me to learn more about farming. I began to see the struggle many farmers face, but also to understand how farms could play a bigger role in Maine’s future.”

Piotti has served for six years on the board of MFT, four years as vice-president. MFT holds protective easements on 17 farms in 11 counties, totaling 2,480 acres. Its 12 pending easements will preserve another 1,856 acres of farmland.

For information, visit www.mainefarmlandtrust.org, email info@mainfarmlandtrust.org or call 338-6575.


FarmLink Has New Web Site

Maine FarmLink, www.mainefarmlink.org, connects retiring farmers, farmland owners and exiting farmers with experienced, prospective farmers. FarmLink also helps farmers transfer their agricultural businesses and lands within the family.

In addition to finding application forms and general information on the program, farmers can now access information on farm transfer and retirement services, including estate planning, financing, grants and loans, tenure options and business planning. Those using FarmLink to find new farmland in Maine can access the program’s farm list on the Web page.

Maine FarmLink has over 70 farms ready for transfer to a next generation farmer.

The service is free to farm owners; prospective farmers pay a $25 yearly.


Church-Farm Connections Forming

In the June-August 2006 MOF&G, we featured efforts of the Maine Council of Churches (MCC) to connect congregations with farmers, through CSA farms, for example. The MCC and MOFGA applied for and received a three-year SARE (Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education) grant to bring together new and existing CSAs, provide technical expertise, share stories, recruit and train growers, and use congregations as hubs for local foods.

The program is one farm and 15 shares closer to its goal of increasing by 50% the 2,500 CSA shares sold by Maine’s 60 CSA farms, thanks to efforts by the First Unitarian Universalist Church of Rockland.

The UU church’s Green Sanctuary Team chose food as its year-long focal point for its sustainable living, environmental justice, and education and participatory programs. It garnered many ideas on this topic from a “Who Is Your Farmer?” talk by Russell Libby, coupled with a Maine Harvest Pot­luck; and from Andy Burt and the Maine Council of Churches’ Environ­mental Justice Program.

The church has partnered with small organic CSA farmers Bill and Reba Richardson of Hatchet Cove Farm in Friendship. Fourteen Rockland UU members bought shares with the farm this year. Additionally, the Green Sanctuary Team purchased a full CSA share to give to its local area Interfaith Outreach, so that those who struggle to put good food on their tables can enjoy the fresh vegetables. The first delivery took place on June 11, at the Church after services.

Partnering with this CSA connects church members with local farmers and enables the farmer to make just one stop instead of many. It is just a part of Rockland UU’s Eat Local: Eat Healthy Food Program, which also includes the Be A Good Apple Pledge Drive. About 30 individuals and families had pledged to buy at least $10 per week of Maine-grown food as of early June. Pledge tags hang from an apple tree branch in the Church meeting room.

The Rockland UU church has connected with the Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance (NAMA) and the National Environmental Trust. Church members are concerned about developing sustainable policies and practices for ocean fisheries. They envision developing a system that allows Maine fishermen to sell finfish and under-utilized species directly to the public in Maine. Currently this is not the case, other than for lobster and scallops. Church members hope to work with NAMA, MOFGA and others to develop such a system. “There are parallels between the farming and gardening situation and the plight of fishermen along the coast,” say Annie Keirmaier and Bob Birk of the UU church. “We followed up with letters to our Congressmen about pending fisheries legislation,” they add.

The Green Sanctuary Team planned other informative and participatory programs regarding food, including showing the film, Politics of Food .


Women’s Agricultural Network (WAgN) Celebrates Tenth Anniversary

WAgN, an educational network connecting underserved farmers with resources to meet their educational needs, is celebrating its tenth anniversary. The Women’s Agricultural Network of Maine (WAgN) enables women and other underserved people to successfully own, operate and support agriculture-related enterprises.

The Women’s Agricultural Network offers its members access to an extensive network through its meetings and events throughout Maine and New England. It provides opportunities for mentoring, a safe environment to discuss common experiences and needs among farmers, and acts as an information clearinghouse. The Network empowers its members and prepares them to take on the tasks necessary to successfully operate their agricultural businesses.

In addition to statewide programming, WAgN supports groups that serve the special needs of its members. The Aroostook County chapter was formed to provide more localized events for Aroostook farmers. Another chapter serves a minority group’s needs.

The Women and the Woods Program provides educational activities to women woodland owners and managers through collaboration with the Maine Forest Service.

WAgN collaborates closely with the Maine Centers for Women, Work and Community. This partnership provides small, rural business entrepreneurs with information, advice, coaching and skills to help them grow and prosper by maximizing their access to resources.

On-farm network meetings are held in different areas of the state in an effort to accommodate as many people as possible. Over 1300 people are on WAgN’s mailing list, with the potential for many more.

The Women and the Woods Program holds kitchen table gatherings throughout the state and will have a multi-day educational track at the WAgN conference in December 2006. Last October, Maine WAgN and other WAgN-type organizations from around the United States conducted a three-day international conference for Women in Sustainable Agriculture for over 400 people.

This spring, WAgN published the 2nd edition of the WAgN Member-to-Member Directory, which enables women in agriculture to network and to create mentoring relationships among its members.

WAgN celebrates its 10th anniversary with a three-day conference on December 8, 9 and 10, 2006. For more information call 1-800-287-1458 or email vholmes@umext.maine.edu


Marketing Assistance for Small-Scale Farms

Do you struggle to develop promotional materials for your farm business? Need to look professional to compete in new markets? No money to hire a designer? Image Building Concepts may be your answer.

Image Building Concepts (IBC), a program of Coastal Enterprises Inc., provides a full spectrum of promotional services to primarily low-income Maine farmers, as well as farmers’ markets and farm organizations.

Since 2000, IBC has been operating statewide, assisting over 200 farms and organizations with design consultation and development of promotional materials. Services include:

• Print and Web design (logos, labels, brochures, business cards, catalogs, newsletters, Web sites, etc.);

• Design consultation (critique of existing marketing materials, assistance with layout and general design, printing advice, etc.).

Any farmer, farmers’ market or farm organization within Maine is eligible to apply for IBC services. Applications must be received by the second Friday of November to be considered for the program for the upcoming year. IBC charges a reasonable fee per project, but grants to help cover costs are available to income-eligible applicants. Clients are responsible for the cost of all materials and printing.

For more information contact the IBC Program Coordinator at 207/322-9832 or glm@ceimaine.org or download an application at www.ceimaine.org/.


Maine Micro-dairy Development Cooperative Forms

Eaten any good Maine cheese lately? If so, you’re lucky. The product is becoming more available, thanks partly to concerted efforts of the Maine Cheese Guild. Still, the shortage of milk available for making cheese means that local cheese can be hard to find.

That situation may change soon. The Maine Micro-dairy Development Cooperative (MMDC) is a newly funded organization with the goal of supporting and promoting Maine’s artisan dairy producers and processors. Through education, resource distribution and technical consulting, the MMDC hopes to bring new small and micro-dairy producers into production, increase and stabilize the supply of quality sheep, goat and cow milk for Maine’s artisanal cheese makers, and help stabilize prices for farmers, cheese makers and consumers.

Between 2003 to 2005, some natural foods retailers reported more than 40% growth in cheese sales and over 600% growth in sales of locally produced cheeses. Such growth, coupled with a limited supply of quality milk, particularly sheep and goat milk, can make it very hard for cheese makers to keep up with demand, which can frustrate consumers. Those attending the 2005 meeting of the Maine Cheese Guild recognized that demand for Maine-made cheeses far exceeds supply, and buyers at the last two cheese festivals were disappointed by the lack of availability of the cheeses on display.

Since then, the Guild has refocused its efforts on developing more cheese makers, rather than on increasing the demand for cheese, and since the supply of milk often limits a cheese maker’s production potential, developing new sources of Maine milk is critical. Traditionally, small artisan cheese makers’ own herds have produced the milk used in their cheeses. The recent trend toward specializing in cheese making, rather than dairying, has opened the door to two new classes of producer – those who produce milk as a raw material, and those who convert it into a finished product.

Townhouse Farm in Whitefield is an example. After just one season in production, demand for Ewegurt (Townhouse Farm’s sheep milk yogurt) quickly exceeded milk production capacity at the farm. For growth to continue, Townhouse Farm creamery will need to buy sheep milk from other farms. Appleton Creamery of Appleton (famous for its award winning goat milk cheeses) and Oak Leaf Creamery in Kennebunkport are in the same situation.

Townhouse Farm decided to build an organization to promote and help develop small sheep, goat and cow dairies in Maine. The Highlands Dairy Sheep Association is the first of what the MMDC anticipates being a number of small, statewide sheep and micro-dairy associations. These associations will provide the local forum for activities of the MMDC, while connecting their members with the resources of a wider Maine dairy community.

For more information, contact Keith Morgan-Davie at (207)549-3239 or at mainemicrodairy@gmail.com. The MMDC will participate in a session at the Farmer to Farmer Conference in Bar Harbor this November.


USDA Organic Research Program Increased but Still Small

In May, the U.S. House of Representatives passed an amendment to its 2007 Agriculture Appropriations Bill increasing funds for the USDA Organic Transitions research program from $1.8 million to $5 million for the next fiscal year. Offered by Congressman Rush Holt (D-NJ) and Rep. Jim Leach (R-IA), Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR) and Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI), the amendment passed on the House floor by a resounding voice vote.

The Organic Transitions program provides competitive grant funding to research, education and extension projects that help farmers address the challenges of modern organic production and marketing. With the House working to cut nearly $100 million from 2006 spending levels for agriculture programs, the increase for organic research was particularly significant.

“The broad support for the amendment was likely a result of so many members of Congress hearing directly from constituents about the importance of this program,” said Brise Tencer, legislative coordinator for the Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF). Many members of OFRF’s Organic Farmers Action Network, along with colleagues in the rapidly growing organic industry, contacted their Representatives to urge them to support the amendment. The Network, started in January 2006, has more than 500 farmers who have chosen to receive updates and action alerts on public policy issues pertaining to organic agriculture.

The Senate will now develop its version of the 2007 Agriculture Appropriations Bill, then the two chambers will reconcile differing provisions in a conference committee. If the Senate includes the $5 million for the Organic Transitions program in its version, the change is very likely to be included in the final bill forwarded to President Bush later this year for his signature.


GE Corn May Result in Herbicide Production in Human Intestines

Liberty herbicide (glufosinate ammonium) does not kill Pioneer Hi-Bred’s genetically engineered (GE) Liberty Link corn, even though it is taken up and translocated throughout the plant, because the corn inactivates the herbicide. Genes engineered into the corn produce enzymes in every cell of the corn plant that change glufosinate ammonium into N-acetyl-L-glufosinate, or NAG. When you eat the corn, though, you are also eating NAG that accumulated in the crop with each herbicide application. Some of that NAG may be transformed back into the toxic herbicide in your gut, possibly by bacteria. Two studies with rats showed conversion rates of 1% and 10% respectively, while a study with goats showed conversion of more than one-third. The revived herbicide may travel to kidneys, liver, muscle, fat and milk, where it may be toxic.

More information about this conversion is presumably found in “Toxicology and Metabolism Studies” on NAG, submitted to European regulators by AgrEvo (now Bayer CropScience) as part of the application seeking approval of herbicide-tolerant canola. When the UK government’s Pesticide Safety Directorate attempted to provide some of this information to an independent researcher, the company threatened legal action. The studies remained private.

Source: GMWatch #177, 2/6/2006, at www.gmwatch.org/. Original article: “Genetically Engineered Crops May Produce Herbicide Inside Our Intestines,” by Jeffrey M. Smith, Spilling the Beans/Institute for Responsible Technology, www.responsibletechnology.org; reproduced in Organic Bytes #83, June 8, 2006. Organic Consumers Association. www.organicconsumers.org.

(Jeffrey Smith is the author of Seeds of Deception and a forthcoming book, Genetic Roulette: The documented health risks of genetically engineered foods, due out this fall.)


Chickens Engineered to Produce Medicines

Origen Therapeutics has engineered white leghorn chickens that carry inserted genes in their sperm or egg, thus passing traits to future generations. Previously, the same company engineered human genes into chickens one at a time so that their eggs contained human monoclonal antibodies to fight cancer; the trait was not passed to offspring. The newer technique incorporates a fluorescent market gene that makes the chickens glow under ultraviolet light, showing only that the techniques works. The company now wants to use the technique to engineer monoclonal antibodies into birds’ eggs, which it sees as a cost-effective way to produce these medicines.

Source: “Biotech company makes chickens with new gene,” by Lisa Krieger, MercuryNews.com, www.mercurynews.com, June 7, 2006.

Santa Cruz County to Adopt GE Moratorium

The Santa Cruz County, California, Board of Supervisors voted recently in favor of the concept of a county moratorium on genetically engineered (GE) crops, says the San Francisco Chronicle. The precautionary action addresses the lack of adequate federal and state oversight of GE crops. Three other California counties have ordinances against GE crops, but the state Assembly is considering a bill that would take away the right of municipalities and counties to enact regulations on GE crops. Fifteen states have passed laws to prevent local seed regulation.

Source: ATTRA Weekly Harvest Newsletter, June 15, 2006. http://attra.ncat.org/newsletter/archives.html

CFS Sues FDA Re GE Foods

The Center for Food Safety sued the Food and Drug Administration on June 7, seeking to force the U.S. government to review genetically engineered (GE) foods and require labeling of approved GE foods. Currently, GE crops and food products are neither labeled nor independently tested. The FDA ignored a 2000 petition filed by the CFS and 50 environmental and consumer groups regarding testing and labeling.

Source: “Consumer group sues FDA over biotech foods,” Reuters, Jun 7, 2006

Churches Say Stop Terminator

The World Council of Churches (www.wcc-usa.org) has called for an end to “terminator technology,” a genetically engineered way to sterilize plants. This technology “turns life, which is a gift from God, into a commodity. Preventing farmers from replanting saved seed will increase economic injustice all over the world and add to the burdens of those already living in hardship,” says the Council.

Source: “World Council of Churches Leader Says ‘Stop Terminator,’” HortIdeas, June 2006.


Update on the Scrapie Program: The Clock is Ticking for Maine

By Donald E. Hoenig, VMD, State Veterinarian, Maine

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Scrapie Eradication Program (NSEP) is entering its sixth year with the goal of making U.S. sheep and goats scrapie-free by 2010. In Maine, approximately 60 flocks have enrolled in the NSEP. These flocks receive an annual flock inspection, usually conducted by Dr. Chip Ridky, Maine’s federal veterinarian, as well as free scrapie identification tags and the pliers to apply the tags. Flock owners who do not wish to enroll in the NSEP but who do move animals interstate for sale or show are required by the USDA to have their animals identified with scrapie identification tags prior to movement. These owners can also receive tags and pliers free, but their flocks are not inspected annually. In Maine, about 90 flocks fall into this category.

In order to move sheep and goats in interstate commerce with minimal restrictions, states must meet the requirements of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) as specified for the NSEP. Currently, 27 states are considered “consistent” with the CFR, having enacted the required identification rules. Maine is currently NOT one of these states, because we have not yet adopted a regulation that would require identification of sheep and goats on change of ownership for intrastate movement. (We have until Oct. 1, 2006, to adopt such a regulation, or we become “inconsistent” with the NSEP).

What are the consequences for our producers if we do not adopt such a requirement? First, we will no longer be permitted to have the two-tiered flock status described in the first paragraph. Everyone wishing to move sheep or goats interstate for any purpose will need to enroll in the NSEP. This would be a significant burden for those of us in regulatory roles, as we do not have the staff to meet the needs of the additional influx of enrolled herds. This has the potential to result in significant delays in enrolling new herds or flocks and be a real inconvenience to producers.

Second, and most important in my opinion, producers would need to obtain a certificate of veterinary inspection (often called a “health certificate”) every time they wish to ship an animal out of state, even to slaughter. Of course, this could greatly increase the cost of doing business and would be a major impediment to commerce, since many areas of the state are currently under-served by large animal veterinarians.

We are soliciting input from sheep and goat producers on how to proceed. The fact that this is an “animal ID” issue heightens our desire to be open and transparent before we move in any direction. We welcome your comments. Please call me if you have any questions at 287-7615. To enroll in the NSEP or to request tags, please call the USDA office in Sutton, Massachusetts, at 508-865-1421.


Pesticide Applications: Your Right to Be Notified

Do you want to be notified when a neighbor’s lawn, farm or orchard is being treated with pesticides? Maine law assures you that right through a notification registry or a self-initiated request for notification.

The Notification Registry is a list of Maine residents who wish to be contacted by commercial and at-home applicators before they use pesticides. The registry best serves urban and suburban residents who otherwise have no way of knowing when pesticides are going to be applied on neighboring lawns, in landscapes or around structures.

For an annual fee of $20, residents’ names and addresses are distributed to licensed commercial applicators. Once on the list, residents can expect applicators to provide pretreatment notification via telephone, personal contact or mail. Such communication must occur between six hours and 14 days before outdoor pesticide use within 250 feet of a registrant’s property.

At-home applicators treating their own property will be required to notify registrants too. Pesticides used in agriculture are exempt from notification via the registry, however.

To receive an application in November so that you can be listed on the next registry, contact the BPC at 207-287-2731 or pesticides@maine.gov, or download the Pesticide Notification Registry Application.

Study Bolsters Link between Pesticides and Parkinson’s

People who have been exposed to pesticides are 70% more likely to develop Parkinson’s disease than those who haven’t, according to a new study. The results suggest that any pesticide exposure, whether occupationally related or not, will increase a person’s risk of the disease; so using pesticides in the home or garden may be as harmful as working with the chemicals on a farm or as a pest controller.

The study of over 143,000 people over 20 years, published in the July Annals of Neurology, provides the strongest evidence to date of the link between pesticide exposure and Parkinson’s. The 413 people who developed confirmed cases of Parkinson’s spent more time around pesticides than those who did not develop the disease.

The researchers found no correlation between Parkinson’s and other materials studied, including asbestos, coal dust, exhaust, formaldehyde and radioactivity. The study could not determine how the frequency, duration, or intensity of pesticide exposure affected the incidence of Parkinson’s. The scientists did note that this is a relative increase; i.e., while the lifetime risk for developing Parkinson’s is 3%, pesticide exposure increases the risk to five percent.

In addition, a recent Emory University study links exposure to dieldrin in lab research and Parkinson’s. Dieldrin, a pesticide targeted by Pesticide Action Network’s “Dirty Dozen” Campaign since 1985, was banned in the United States in 1987 and designated for worldwide phaseout as one of the initial persistent organic pollutants (POPs) listed under the Stockholm Convention. Like other POPs, dieldrin breaks down very slowly and remains dangerous in soil long after application.

Source: “Study Bolsters Link Between Pesticides and Parkinsons,” June 26, 2006, scientificamerican.com. Pesticide Action Network News Update Service, July 13, 2006. www.panna.org.


USDA Publishes Final Rule on NOP Regulations

The USDA published a final rule in the Federal Register on June 7 that revises National Organic Program (NOP) regulations to comply with the final court order in the Harvey v. Johanns lawsuit and to implement the 2005 amendments to the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 (the Act or OFPA).

The final rule restored the National List of synthetics used in products labeled as “organic” to the pre-lawsuit status made by the 2005 amendments to the Act.  It revises NOP regulations to clarify that non-organically produced products listed in section 205.606 of the regulations may be used as ingredients in or on processed products labeled as “organic” only when such organic products are not commercially available.

The final rule also revises section 205.236 of the NOP regulations to eliminate the “80/20” feed provision. Thus, after June 9, 2007, transitioning dairy producers will no longer be able to use 20% non-organic feed during the first nine months of whole herd conversion from conventional to organic production. The final rule further addresses dairy herd conversion by allowing crops and forage from land, included in the organic dairy system plan, of a dairy farm that is in its third year of organic management to be fed to the converting animals.  

While the final regulation eliminates the “80-20” feed exemption for dairy animal conversion to organic, any farmer using this exemption up to the date before this regulation was published in the Federal Register may complete the remainder of the 12 months of conversion under the old rule, provided no milk may be labeled as organic after June 9, 2007. USDA also mentioned that further rulemaking would address dairy animal replacements.

Sources: Agricultural Marketing Service News Release No. 138-06, June 6, 2006; Joan Shaffer (202) 720-8998, Joan.shaffer@usda.gov; Billy Cox (202) 720-8998, billy.cox@usda.gov. “OTA: USDA Moves Ahead with Final Rule,” Organic Trade Association press release, June 8, 2006; www.organicnewsroom.com. For the final rule: www.ams.usda.gov/AMSv1.0/nop


Driving Down the Wrong Ethanol Road?

Congress has approved $5.7 billion in federal tax credits to support the ethanol market, in addition to the $10 billion U.S. corn farmers annually receive in subsidies. While the corn-industry-lobbying-machine has President Bush predicting ethanol will replace gasoline, the science behind corn-based ethanol suggests that this alternative fuel may be more about politics than an actual solution to the energy problem. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, it takes the equivalent of three barrels of oil to create four barrels of corn-based ethanol – and ethanol gets lower miles per gallon than gasoline.

Other nations are demonstrating that plant-based ethanol fuels can help meet our energy needs. Brazil makes ethanol from sugar cane, which is almost eight times more energy efficient to produce than the U.S. corn-based fuel. Crops with high cellulose or sugar content that can be grown easily in the United States, such as sugar beets, hemp or switch grass, make much more efficient fuels.

Source: Organic Bytes #82, Organic Consumers Association, May 27, 2006. www.organicconsumers.org/2006/article_461.cfm

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