The MOF&G Online
Tips and News
Incorporate Manure Quickly to Reduce Nitrogen LossesManure is a great source of nutrients for crops and, when managed well, can often eliminate most of the need for fertilizer. Average dairy manure contains about 23 pounds of nitrogen per 1000 gallons or 10 pounds of nitrogen per ton. However, about a third to a half of the nitrogen is in the ammonium, or urea, form and can easily be lost as ammonia gas when left on the soil surface. To maximize N for annual crops, manure should be tilled into the soil as soon as possible. A delay of even six or eight hours can mean a loss of about a quarter of the ammonium-nitrogen.
The nutrient content in manure can vary two- or three-fold from farm to farm. Sample the manure on your farm for a better estimate of the application rate needed for crops. Adjust fertilizer P and K rates by crediting those nutrients in manure.
Source: "Quick Manure Incorporation Reduces Nitrogen Losses," in Extension News, reprinted in Weekly Market Bulletin, N.H. Dept. of Ag., May 7, 2003.
Maine Environmental Policy Institute Studies Blueberry Cultivation, Salmon RecoveryThe Maine Environmental Policy Institute (www.meepi.org) has received a $37,000 grant from the Downeast Maine Salmon Restoration Fund to identify opportunities for blueberry growers to cultivate their crop in a way that is economically competitive yet ecologically compatible with salmon recovery in Down East Maine. The Fund has so far awarded $255,000 to local organizations committed to environmental research, education and watershed restoration projects focused on Washington and Hancock Counties.
This May, MEPI was awarded $6,000 from the Fund to develop and publish forest management guidelines for forestry operations located in critical salmon habitat areas.
"We will be researching ways that forestry and blueberry cultivation can be pursued profitably in watersheds that will support a recovering population of salmon," says MEPI director William Sugg. "We believe that endangered species can recover and coexist in areas of intense human activity with some careful research and planning."
The $375,000 Downeast Maine Salmon Restoration Fund was established last year through a settlement between the United States Public Interest Research Group (U.S.PIRG) and Heritage Salmon, Inc. The Fund provides grants for environmental research, restoration, preservation, protection and/or education projects intended to benefit wild Atlantic salmon and their habitat and ecosystems in Down East Maine. For more information, contact Downeast Maine Salmon Restoration Fund, c/o Josh Kratka, National Environmental Law Center, 29 Temple Place, Boston, MA 021111;
Downeast Maine Salmon Restoration Fund, c/o Michael Nelson, Jensen Baird Gardner & Henry, 10 Free Street, Portland, ME 04112; for more information on applying for Fund grants, contact Ariana Wohl, at (617) 422-0880 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
New England States Unite to Promote Local AgricultureThe New England state departments of agriculture have formed a cooperative marketing program called Harvest New England to support the sale of New England food products through supermarket channels. The program recognizes that many consumers prefer food products from local producers, because the products are fresher and the sales help keep local farms in business. The products include fruits and vegetables, milk and dairy products, eggs, meat, fish, maple syrup, honey and processed foods (for which 85% of the product must be produced in New England). The program also supports plants and flowers from local greenhouses.
Several supermarket chains have agreed to use the logo of Harvest New England in their ads and on signs in stores to help consumers identify which products are from local suppliers. Because the program includes so many products, promotions can continue throughout the year. A directory of food suppliers is forthcoming for stores to refer to when looking for local suppliers.
Individual states will still have their own "buy local" campaigns. However, if a product is not available from a particular state, buying it from another New England state is preferable to buying it from another part of the country or the world. Not only do local sales help local farms, but they also reduce the pollution associated with long-distance transport.
Harvest New England is also developing a program for communicating with suppliers. A weekly produce availability survey is being discussed as well as a regular newsletter, which would keep suppliers posted on ideas, problems, potential new products and more. The program is developing a Web site, as well. For more information, please contact Lynn Thurston, Marketing Representative, 207-684-2172; email email@example.com.
Green Power GainingAfter its first quarter of existence, the Maine Green Power Connection is building up steam, with more products and tools to bring green power to Mainers. No matter how big the organization or how small the budget, increasingly, "it IS easy being green," says the Connection. Among the green power accomplishments are:
Logos, Labels, Brochures: CEI Program Offers Free Promotional Services to Maine FarmersDo you struggle with making promotional materials? No money to hire a designer? Need to look professional to compete in new markets? Image Building Concepts (IBC), a FREE graphic design and promotional services program, may be your answer. This is a program of Coastal Enterprises, Inc. (CEI), a non-profit, community development corporation based in Maine. Under the direction of CEIís Maine Farms Project, IBC provides low-income, small-scale farmers, farmersí markets, farmer cooperatives, and non-profit farm organizations with a full spectrum of promotional services. This service is coordinated by graphic designer and illustrator Gabe McPhail. A Belfast-area resident with a strong background in both farming and the arts, McPhail launched the program in 2000 with Maine Farms Project director John Piotti.
"In the work we were doing in the ag sector, John and I saw farmers were lacking in time and resources to develop effective marketing materials," McPhail explains. With CEI funding, IBC has been operating full-force statewide for three years, assisting over 50 farms and organizations in developing promotional materials.
IBC services include graphic design of promotional materials: logos, labels, brochures, business cards, farm signs, newsletters and other advertising materials; farm image building: murals, barn art and other innovative ideas that help build an image and attract customers; and design consultation: review and critique of existing marketing materials, assistance with layout and general design, and printing advice.
"My job as IBC coordinator," says McPhail, "is to work one-on-one with farmers. I listen to their promotional ideas and provide them with a design and materials that fit their farm, their budget and their marketing needs."
Examples of IBC projects include:
Anyone who is interested in receiving an IBC application, portfolio samples or further information should contact McPhail at 207/ 338-9832; firstname.lastname@example.org; or Image Building Concepts, attn: Gabe McPhail, PO Box 935, Belfast, ME 04915. For more information about other Maine Farms Project and CEI programs, visit www.ceimaine.org. Burger w/ Pickles & Catsup, Hold the Growth Hormones The European Union is permanently banning beef from cattle given synthetic growth hormones, due to a number of studies showing such meat to be a human health risk. The Bush Administration will likely file a complaint to the World Trade Organization against the European Union, since the vast majority of synthetic hormone-laced beef comes from the United States. Ninety-four percent of U.S. beef cattle have growth promoting hormones implanted in their ears. Organic standards prohibit the use of growth hormones. For more information, see www.organicconsumers.org/Toxic/hormone_beef_europe.cfm. Best and Worst Conventionally Grown Produce After compiling over 100,000 laboratory tests, the Environmental Working Group has released a list of conventionally grown produce that is the most and the least contaminated by pesticides. Among the worst were apples, peppers, celery and cherries. Among the best were asparagus, avocados, bananas, broccoli, cauliflower, corn, kiwi, mangoes, onions, papayas, pineapples and sweet peas. Of course, the safest course of action is to buy organic fruits and vegetables. Download the full list at www.foodnews.org/reportcard.php.
Americans Want GE LabelsA survey funded by the USDA and released on Oct. 15, 2003, found that 94% of Americans want labels on genetically engineered (GE) foods. Of those surveyed 74% weren't aware they had ever eaten any foods with GE ingredients, despite the fact that 80% of foods on U.S. supermarket shelves do contain genetically modified organisms. See www.organicconsumers.org/ge/newpoll102303.cfm
Monsanto StumblingMonsanto, the creator of PCBs and Agent Orange and the world's largest purveyor of genetically engineered seeds, has temporarily bowed out of the biopharm industry (genetically engineering plants to grow pharmaceutical drugs). The company says it wants to continue its focus on what it claims to be a profitable venture: genetically engineered foods. Contrasting its PR profit claims, the company recently closed its 4th quarter with a $188 million loss. Last year Monsanto lost almost two billion dollars on total sales of $4.5 billion. Monsanto is currently laying off nearly 10% of its employees worldwide. Farmers growing Monsanto and other gene giant's "profitable" frankencrops in the United States lost so much money last year that taxpayers had to shell out $12 billion in subsidies for corn, soybeans and cotton. See www.organicconsumers.org/corp/monsanto_biopharm.cfm.
Genetically Krafted FoodsThe Organic Consumers Association and GE Food Alert Coalition organized 300 supermarket leafleting events across the United States in October, pressuring Kraft/Phillip Morris, the largest U.S. food distributor, to go GE-free. Recent laboratory tests of Kraft products reveal that the company may be listening to consumers, as six of seven products containing corn tested as GE free (i.e., under EU standard thresholds: less than 0.9%). Source: www.organicconsumers.org/ge/kraft_protests.cfm
Vending Machines for Organic Foods in SchoolOrganic food companies are testing vending machines in high schools. Perched next to the Coke and Doritos machines at Cranston High School West in Rhode Island is a vending machine with soy chips, rice snack bars and organic yogurt. Stonyfield Farm, an organic dairy product producer, has placed similar machines in schools on both U.S. coasts. Attesting to the overall potential of these programs, Gary Hirshberg, CEO of Stonyfield said, "This could be the tip of the iceberg." Profits are divided between the schools and machine operators. Source: www.organicconsumers.org/Toxic/organic_cafeteria.cfm
"Organic" Body Care Products?The Washington Post released a feature story on the Organic Consumers Association's Coming Clean Campaign, revealing the fraudulent labeling practices of a few of the biggest "organic" body care companies. These companies claim added water as an "organic" ingredient. Consumers beware: Some household cleaners now claim to be organic, based on claiming added water as an "organic" ingredient. To counter the "watering down" of organic standards, sign OCAís petition to the USDA at www.organicconsumers.org/bodycare/action.cfm. Source: Organic Bytes,Organic & Food News Tidbits with an Edge, Issue #22, Oct. 29, 2003. To subscribe, email email@example.com with the word "subscribe" in subject OR body. Organic Bytes is a publication of Organic Consumers Association, 6101 Cliff Estate Road, Little Marais, MN 55614; Phone: (218) 226-4164 Fax: (218) 353-7652
Return to The MOF&G Online