USDA opens comment period on 2,4-D ready crops
The USDA has released its draft Environmental Impact Study (DEIS) on 2,4-D ready corn and soybeans. The comment period
is Jan. 10 through Feb. 24. We are working on getting that comment period extended.
2,4-D is much more harmful to plant life than RoundUp (glyphosate). Specialty crops (like grapes, tomatoes, beans and sweet corn) and non-GE soy and cotton are extremely sensitive to 2,4-D. Both spray and volatilization drift can devastate adjacent ecosystems. Such damage poses a very real threat to both organic farmers and conventional farmers not growing 2,4-D resistant crops. Scientists say widespread planting of 2,4-D corn could trigger as much as a 30-fold increase in 2,4-D use on corn by the end of the decade. For more information and talking points to use when submitting a comment, see our Take Action
Comment on USDA's Coexistence proposal
The USDA has extended the deadline to comment on "Enhancing Agricultural Coexistence"
to March 4, 2014. The USDA is seeking ideas on how GMO and non-GMO producers can coexist, and how the department can support communication between farmers. The USDA is considering compensation mechanisms, such as crop insurance purchased by farmers who are harmed economically by GMO contamination. Comments needed:
GMO contamination threatens farmers' access to organic and non-GMO markets. Farmers should be protected by
USDA regulations and compensated by the patent holders of the GMO
technology if they are victims of contamination. Communication and crop insurance, while small steps in the right direction, do not prevent GMO contamination. These "tools" also place the burden on the victim rather than on those who profit from this uncontrolled technology.
The USDA needs to hear not only from producers who have experienced GMO contamination, but also from those whose crops are threatened and those who have incurred additional expense to avoid contamination. Read more about this issue on our Take Action
Certification Cost Share in Farm Bill?
The Senate and House Farm Bill Conference Committee has not yet sent a bill to the full Congress. There's still time to contact your senators and representatives to tell them you support the National Organic Certification Cost Share Program. Learn more about this issue on our Take Action
Comment period for GE apple ends soon
The USDA's extended public comment
period on the request by Okanagan Specialty Fruits, Inc. to deregulate its GE browning-resistant apple ends Jan. 30, 2014. Read Okanagan's description of the Artic apple.
California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF) covers the talking points on its blog
, including the fact that there has not been independent study of the apple or its effect on pollinators.
USDA to survey organic farmers about pricing
The USDA Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) will send surveys in February to self-identified organic producers to learn how they price and market their products, and to measure awareness of AMS price reports. Surveys should be completed by March 15, 2014. The goal is to enhance AMS coverage of the organic market sector. The AMS publishes biweekly reports
with data on pricing, volume and more for both conventional and organic production.
Videos highlight weed management strategies
An arsenal of tools and techniques has been developed to battle weeds, and yet they are still one of the largest challenges on farms. There is no single strategy for managing weeds, and when deciding how to manage them farmers must make complex decisions based on their values and available tools, time and labor. A team from Purdue and Ohio State
universities collected weed management insights from more than 100 seasoned organic farmers, and created videos profiling six different approaches. Two of the videos are posted on the MOSES website
. A series of webinars on strategies for managing weeds organically is planned for later this year.
Grants available to improve conditions for livestock
Food Animal Concerns Trust (FACT) is accepting grant applications from livestock farmers for its Fund-a-Farmer Project
, which supports humane conditions for raising farm animals. Working, independent family farmers who raise pigs, broiler chickens, laying hens, dairy cows and/or beef cattle are eligible to apply for any of the three types of grants. Projects involving goats and sheep are only eligible for marketing grants. Applications must be submitted online or postmarked by May 1, 2014 for awards made in August 2014.
Online information sessions about the Fund-a-Farmer grant application process are scheduled for Feb. 11 and 12. Join the FACT
email list to receive details about these sessions.
Grant program helps farms, orchards with sustainability, outreach
The FruitGuys Community Fund
offers grants up to $5,000 to help small, independent American farms and orchards operate more sustainably, both environmentally and economically, as well as strengthen community outreach. Preference is given to farms located 150 miles from Chicago, San Francisco, or Philadelphia. The deadline to apply is Feb. 15, 2014. Grants will be awarded in April for projects to be completed by Dec. 1, 2014.
Online conference focuses on CSAs
MOSES is partnering with Small Farm Central for the 2014 CSA Expert Exchange
March 6 and 7 for farmers involved in community supported agriculture. The online conference includes a two-hour evening session Thursday, March 6 aimed at beginners. This session covers finding land and starting a CSA. The main event (for all levels of experience) is a four-hour session Friday, March 7 with topics such as marketing, crop planning, and legal issues. The beginning session is $25, the main event is $55, and combined registration is $70. Participants receive a $10 discount with the code "MOSES."
Grow your organic food business
The Organic Processing Institute's School for Organic Processing Entrepreneurs
Jan. 14-April 22, 2014, can be taken as a series or as individual sessions online or on location in Madison. These interactive classes focus on business and operational issues, organic requirements, and networking with professionals and other food entrepreneurs. The classes run Tuesdays from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Sessions cost $30 each if attending 1-5 sessions, $25 each if attending 6-9 sessions, and $20 each if attending 10-15 sessions.
Workshops teach Holistic Management
The Land Stewardship Project (LSP) and Practical Farmers of Iowa (PFI) are sponsoring a series of Holistic Management workshops in Iowa and Minnesota. Holistic Management is a decision-making framework that has helped farmers and ranchers achieve a “triple bottom line” of sustainable environmental, social, and economic benefits. An introductory course will take place prior to PFI’s annual conference
Jan. 23-24 in Ames, Iowa
. “Financial Planning with Holistic Management”
will be Feb. 5 and 6 in Decorah, Iowa. For more information or to register, contact Caroline van Schaik at firstname.lastname@example.org or 507-523-3366.