Say NO to Genetically-Engineered (GE) Alfalfa

Sometimes you don’t get a second chance.  Our ecosystem is resilient and we have put it through quite a test, especially with intense conventional agricultural practices (fertilizers, chemical pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides).  For the most part, up until a decade ago, even this unsustainable methodology of growing plants was at least something that could be eventually mitigated and developed into alternative means of farming (i.e. low-intensity, no-till, natural and organic methods).

Genetically modified organisms (GMO) and genetically engineered (GE) substances – specifically seeds and crops – are a whole different issue.  The genetic modification of ANY seed, could never be tested enough to see and understand if it is safe.  But, no need to worry, we are now experimenting on ourselves, because much of the corn and soybean products that we may eventually consume already have genetically modified ingredients.

However, Monsanto now wants to use a GE alfalfa.  Alfalfa is used as forage for cows that produce milk.  Organic farmers who rely on organic alfalfa have reason for their concern of this GE alfalfa – once the product is in the environment, it can easily be spread around the entire ecosystem, thus destroying the potential for NON-GE anything. (We have yet to see the current impact of all of the GE-products already in our ecosystem.)

Want to read more?  Visit Food Safety News, and call your congressmen to make sure this does not get into our environment!  Ask them to sign on to the
“Dear Colleague Letter to USDA about Banning GE Alfalfa”

Senators should contact:
Adrienne Wojciechowski, Sen. Leahy’s office;
Adrienne.w@judiciary-dem.senate.gov

House Representatives should contact:
Emily Rohlffs in Rep. DeFazio’s office
emily.rohlffs@mail.house.gov

– Joni Cave

Slow Money Alliance

Meet the Slow Food Alliance – an organization with an outstanding mission to build sustainable local food systems (which are inherently better for the economy).

Their Goal?

A million Americans investing 1% of their assets in local food systems…within a decade.

Their Reasoning?

In order to enhance food security, food safety and food access; improve nutrition and health; promote cultural, ecological and economic diversity; and accelerate the transition from an economy based on extraction and consumption to an economy based on preservation and restoration.

Their Method?

Have people sign onto their principles – you can access those HERE!

Want to Learn More?

Watch what they are working on via their BLOG, which you can find HERE!

We applaud the Slow Money Alliance in their efforts to educate our communities about the importance of supporting and maintaining sustainable food systems.  Please take the time to listen to what they are creating, and take action to support local food.

SARE 20/20: Sustainable Innovations Are Revitalizing American Agriculture

Beltsville, MD – A New Mexico farmer cut annual greenhouse heating costs from $2,000 to zero using the power of the sun. Perched at the edge of the Sonoran desert in New Mexico, Don Bustos’ family farm is endowed with ample sunshine – but cool temperatures limit the growing season to only four or five months. When rising fuel costs threatened his farm and family, Bustos tapped nature’s own energy source: the sun. With the help of a grant from the USDA/CSREES-supported Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program, Bustos tested a new system that uses solar heated fluid to warm greenhouse beds, lengthen his growing season and increase profits.

Bustos’ innovative approach is just one of dozens profiled in SARE’s newest free publication, SARE 20/20: Celebrating our First 20 years, Envisioning the Next. Featuring farmers and ranchers who are turning to sustainable agriculture to boost profits, protect the environment and build their communities, SARE 20/20 chronicles two decades of agricultural innovation supported by SARE.

“We are proud of how SARE grantees – from every corner of the nation – have used sound research to advance the frontier of sustainable agriculture,” said Jill Auburn, SARE director.

SARE 20/20 highlights cream-of-the-crop projects from more than 3,700 SARE funded grants, illustrating how producers, researchers and educators are collaborating to advance sustainable innovations to the whole of American agriculture. A few examples:

  • A nonprofit uses innovative marketing strategies to open new markets for more than 40 produce farmers, resulting in a tenfold increase in sales spanning six years.
  • Researchers in the South develop a toolbox of low-cost strategies to detect and target parasites in goats and sheep, reducing the use of chemical dewormers.
  • Minnesota researchers find success using reduced tillage and rotations to control corn rootworm.

Download SARE 20/20 for free at www.sare.org/publications/highlights.htm. To order print copies, visit www.sare.org/WebStore, call 301/374-9696 or write to Sustainable Agriculture Publications, PO Box 753, Waldorf, Md. 20604-0753. (Please specify SARE 20/20 when ordering by mail.) Allow 3-4 weeks for delivery.

SARE 20/20 was published by the national outreach office of the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program and based upon work supported by the Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service (CSREES), USDA. SARE’s nationwide research and education grants program advances farming systems that are profitable, environmentally sound and good for communities.  The national outreach office operates under cooperative agreements with the University of Maryland and the University of Vermont to develop and disseminate information about sustainable agriculture. Visit www.sare.org for more information about SARE.

Innovations in Agricultural Marketing

Beltsville, MD Years ago, Indiana farmer Brian Churchill won a grant from the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program to experiment with new pest management strategies on his 100 acres of sweet corn, melons, tomatoes and other produce. Scouting for pests, withholding routine spraying and building habitat for beneficial insects cut his insecticide use drastically. He decided to use that as a marketing hook by inviting chefs to an “expo” and opening a now-thriving farm stand.

“We drive the point home about using less chemicals all the time,” he said. “The customers keep coming back and bringing friends with them…Our farm has grown a lot since the grant.”

Marketing Strategies for Farmers and Ranchers, a 20-page bulletin recently revised by the Sustainable Agriculture Network, features innovative SARE-funded research in a range of marketing options, including additional resources for further information. Throughout, farmers and ranchers like Churchill share how farmers markets, CSA, tourism, direct-marketing, season extension, adding value, restaurants, and/or the Internet improved their bottom line.

Marketing Strategies is the latest of a series of publications that feature the most creative research funded by SARE.  Preview or download the entire publication at www.sare.org/publications/marketing.htm.

To order free print copies, visit www.sare.org/Webstore, call 301/504-5236 or email san_assoc@sare.org. Agricultural educators may place orders for print copies in quantity at no cost.

“Marketing Strategies for Farmers and Ranchers” was published by the Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAN) for the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program. SARE is a program of the Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service (CSREES), USDA, and works with producers, researchers and educators to promote farming systems that are profitable, environmentally sound and good for communities.  SAN operates under a cooperative agreement between CSREES and the University of Vermont and the University of Maryland to develop and disseminate information about sustainable agriculture. For more information about SARE grant opportunities and other SAN resources, visit www.sare.org.

Rancher Ingenuity Improves Range, Increases Profit

Beltsville, MD When federal environmental regulators cut his herd sizes to protect an endangered fish, Arizona rancher Rich Collins got busy. With three other ranchers and armed with a USDA SARE farmer/rancher grant, Collins installed new irrigation pipe, built fences and developed rotational grazing plans. Intensive monitoring helped them document improvements to the rangeland and riparian areas.

“The riparian areas have come back amazingly and the uplands have improved,” Collins says. “Monitoring showed we were in compliance…and helped us make management decisions, too.”

Rangeland Management Strategies, a free 16-page bulletin published by the Sustainable Agriculture Network, features innovative SARE-funded research on creating and sustaining a healthy range. Throughout, researchers and ranchers like Collins share goals and successes in winter and multi-species grazing, managing forage and other vegetation and protecting riparian areas.

Rangeland Management Strategies is the latest of a series of publications that feature the most creative research funded by SARE.  Preview or download the entire publication at http://www.sare.org/publications/rangeland.htm.

To order print copies, visit www.sare.org/Webstore, call 301/504-5411 or email san_assoc@sare.org. Agricultural educators may place orders for print copies in quantity at no cost.

“Rangeland Management Strategies” was published by the Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAN) for the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program. SARE is a program of the Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service (CSREES), USDA, and works with producers, researchers and educators to promote farming systems that are profitable, environmentally sound and good for communities.  SAN operates under a cooperative agreement between CSREES and the University of Vermont and the University of Maryland to develop and disseminate information about sustainable agriculture. For more information about SARE grant opportunities and other SAN resources, visit www.sare.org.

New Book Details Cover Crop Use on the Farm

Beltsville, MD: Across America, tens of thousands of farmers are planting cover crops, a time-tested method of revitalizing soil, curbing erosion, and managing pests. Bryan and Donna Davis love what cover crops have done for their corn/soybean rotation. The Grinnell, Iowa couple relies on rye and oats to feed their soil and manage pests on their 1,000-acre, mostly no-till farm. “We have cut our chemical costs cut dramatically, and have reduced fertility costs in some fields by half” says Bryan. “With energy costs these days, you can’t afford not to do this.”

Revised and updated in 2007, the 3rd edition includes a new chapter on brassicas and mustards, 16 farm profiles, and a comprehensive chapter on the use of cover crops in conservation tillage systems. Updates throughout are based on more than 100 new literature citations and consultations with cover crop researchers and practitioners around the country. Appendices include seed sources and a listing of cover crop experts.

“This is the best book I have ever read,” says Wolfgang Rougle, of Twining Tree Farm in Cottonwood California. “It uses science to explain complex concepts, lays out options for different systems and climates, and allows innovative farmers to digest the information and make their own intelligent decisions. Thank you for the practical advice, acknowledgement of complex tradeoffs, specifics, details and conclusions.”

Download Managing Cover Crops Profitably, 3rd Edition at www.sare.org/publications/covercrops.htm. To order print copies ($19 plus $5.95 s/h) visit www.sare.org/WebStore, call 301/374-9696 or send check or money order to Sustainable Agriculture Publications, PO Box 753, Waldorf, Maryland 20604-0753. (Please specify title requested when ordering by mail.) Discounts are available on orders of 10 or more. Allow 3-4 weeks for delivery. Call 301/374-9696 for more information on bulk, rush or international shipments.

Managing Cover Crops Profitably, 3rd Edition, was published by the Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAN) for the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program. SARE is funded by the Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service (CSREES), USDA, and works with producers, researchers and educators to promote farming systems that are profitable, environmentally sound and good for communities.  SAN operates under a cooperative agreement between CSREES, the University of Vermont and the University of Maryland to develop and disseminate information about sustainable agriculture. For more information about SARE grant opportunities and other SAN resources, visit www.sare.org.

Producer’s Innovative Harvest Cuts Costs, Harnesses Renewable Energy

Beltsville, MD – “The concept of being self-sufficient is pretty exciting,” says Roger Rainville, a Vermont Dairy producer who has been working for four years to achieve energy independence on his farm.

Working with UVM Extension Specialist Heather Darby on a SARE funded grant, Rainville conducted three years of trials to identify top producing varieties of canola in northern Vermont. The easy-to-grow canola fit well into his existing corn-alfalfa rotation—and by the third year, after realizing that he could eliminate swathing, Rainville harvested directly from the field, achieving yields of 1.5 tons per acre, leaving him very optimistic about future production.

Clean Energy Farming, a free 16-page bulletin published by SARE Outreach, features Rainville and other innovative SARE-funded farmers who are increasing profits by implementing energy efficient farming practices and producing and using renewable energy. The bulletin is filled with stories of producers and researchers working together to demonstrate how clean energy practices are quickly becoming core to the operations of farmers and ranchers across America.

Cutting fuel costs was just one of Rainville’s incentives. With nearly 10,000 cows in a 20 mile radius of his operation, he quickly grasped the benefits of growing canola oilseed to produce his own fuel and using the by-product for cattle feed.

“Farmers can do this themselves,” says Rainville. “Years ago, farmers used ten percent of their land to fuel the farm — the feed went to the horses. This is the same idea.”

Clean Energy Farming is the latest of a series of publications that feature the most creative research funded by SARE. Preview or download the entire publication at http://www.sare.org/publications/energy.htm. To order print copies, visit www.sare.org/Webstore, call 301/504-5411 or email tech@sare.org. Agricultural educators may place orders for print copies in quantity at no cost.

Distributed by SARE Outreach for the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program and based upon work supported by the Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service (CSREES), USDA. SARE’s mission is to advance – to the whole of American agriculture – innovations that improve profitability, stewardship and quality of life by investing in groundbreaking research and education. SARE Outreach operates under cooperative agreements with the University of Maryland and the University of Vermont to develop and disseminate information about sustainable agriculture. For more information visit www.sare.org.

Outstanding Youth/Uncommon Wisdom: Youth Renewing the Countryside

Beltsville, MD – Down a winding country road in Garnett, Kansas stands the Bauman farm, where agriculture is a family affair. Upon purchasing the farm in 2001, the family’s first farm venture was to raise pastured chickens and livestock.  Today, the Baumans sell about 7,000 broiler chickens each year and an average 350 dozen eggs a week.

With the help of a grant from the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program, the Baumans experimented with pasturing different species of animals in the same area. With the “pasture stacking” project, the family increased their broiler chickens’ average weight by 50 percent.

Rosanna, the eldest of the Bauman girls, explains that the weight increase was due in part to the addition of a new water system. “The project had a positive social impact on us kids,” explains Rosanna. “It has led each of us to take steps towards farming sustainably.”

Rosanna is just one of dozens of young people returning to the roots of American agriculture who are featured in a new book—Youth Renewing the Countryside. Produced by Renewing the Countryside in partnership with young writers and photographers across the country and with support from SARE and the Center for Rural Strategies, Youth Renewing the Countryside shares remarkable stories of young people in each state changing the world through rural renewal.

Download Youth Renewing the Countryside for free at www.sare.org/publications/youth.htm. To order print copies ($24.95 plus $5.95 s/h) visit www.sare.org/WebStore, call 301/374-9696 or send check or money order to SARE Outreach, PO Box 753, Waldorf, Maryland 20604-0753. (Please specify title requested when ordering by mail.) Discounts are available on orders of 10 or more. Allow 3-4 weeks for delivery. Call 301/374-9696 for more information on bulk, rush or international shipments.

Published by SARE Outreach for the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program and features work supported by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), USDA. SARE’s mission is to advance – to the whole of American agriculture – innovations that improve profitability, stewardship and quality of life by investing in groundbreaking research and education. SARE Outreach operates under cooperative agreements with the University of Maryland and the University of Vermont to develop and disseminate information about sustainable agriculture. For more information visit www.sare.org.

Renewing the Countryside works to strengthen rural areas by sharing information on sustainable development, providing practical assistance and networking opportunities, and fostering connections between urban and rural areas. For more information visit www.renewingthecountryside.org.

Crop Rotation on Organic Farms: A Planning Manual

Beltsville, MD –SARE Outreach announces a new planning resource for farmers seeking sound, science-based guidelines for managing crop rotations in organic farming. Crop Rotation on Organic Farms: A Planning Manual helps farmers avoid crop rotation problems and use rotations to build better soil; control pests, weeds and diseases; and develop profitable farms. Consulting with expert organic farmers, the authors share rotation strategies that can be applied under various field conditions and with a wide range of crops.

“The purpose of this book is to help growers and farm advisors use crop rotations to build better soil, control pests, and develop profitable farms that support satisfied families,” says editor Charles Mohler, a senior research associate at Cornell University.

Crop Rotation on Organic Farms is most applicable for the Northeast but will also be useful in other regions.

Published by the Natural Resource, Agriculture and Engineering Service (NRAES) and funded in part by SARE, the 154- page book includes instructions for making rotation planning maps and discusses the transition to organic farming. Other features include:

Problems and opportunities for more than 500 crop sequences
Characteristics of more than 60 crops and 70 weeds
Crop diseases hosted by more than 80 weed species
Modes of transmission for 250 diseases found in 24 crops
Thirteen sample four- and five-year vegetable and grain crop rotations
Step-by-step procedure for determining crop rotation plans

Download Crop Rotation on Organic Farms for free at http://sare.org/publications/croprotation.htm. To order print copies ($24.00 plus $5.95 s/h) visit www.sare.org/WebStore, call 301/374-9696 or send check or money order to SARE Outreach, PO Box 753, Waldorf, Maryland 20604-0753. (Please specify title requested when ordering by mail.) Discounts are available on orders of 10 or more. Allow 3-4 weeks for delivery. Call 301/374-9696 for more information on bulk, rush or international shipments.

Published by SARE Outreach for the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program and features work supported by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), USDA. SARE’s mission is to advance – to the whole of American agriculture – innovations that improve profitability, stewardship and quality of life by investing in groundbreaking research and education. SARE Outreach operates under cooperative agreements with the University of Maryland and the University of Vermont to develop and disseminate information about sustainable agriculture. For more information visit www.sare.org.

NRAES is the Natural Resource, Agriculture, and Engineering Service (formerly known as the Northeast Regional Agricultural Engineering Service). NRAES’ mission is to assist faculty and staff at member universities in increasing the public availability of science- and experience-based knowledge. We accomplish this mission by publishing practical books used in educational workshops, in college courses, as management guides, and for self-directed learning. For more information, visit http://www.nraes.org/.

Building Soils for Better Crops

Beltsville, MD –Throughout the 2006-2007 droughts, a West Virginia beef and crop farmer maintained yields and produced quality vegetables on his 1,900-acre operation. His secret: using no-till and other ecologically based soil management methods.

A small-grain and vegetable farmer in Oregon’s Willamette Valley used an intensive, carefully timed cover cropping program for 20 years. The result: little to no soil erosion from his farm into the Willamette River, and significant fuel savings from reducing tillage.

A Lancaster County, Penn., farmer used no-till, rotations and cover crops on his 215-acre farm to reverse the severe erosion on his sloping terrain. Today his farm is a nationally recognized showcase for successful farming using ecologically based soil-building techniques.

These are just a few of the thousands of American farmers and ranchers—large-and small-acreage—using ecologically based soil management methods to build soil quality while leaving a lighter footprint on the land.

And now—with the release of the third edition of Building Soils for Better Crops—there is a state-of-the-art, comprehensive, practical guide to help others build soil health on their farm or ranch.

The 294-page third edition of the landmark handbook Building Soils for Better Crops is now in full color, expanded and updated.  It contains case studies, including the examples above, background information from a what-is-soil crash course to the importance of organic matter, and step-by-step guidance on soil-improving techniques.

Written in easily accessible language, it’s a perfect addition to any farm library, university course syllabus, or ag training manual—a must-read for farmers, ranchers, educators and students alike.

Download Building Soils for Better Crops for free at www.sare.org/publications/soils.htm. To order print copies ($20.95 plus $5.95 s/h) visit www.sare.org/WebStore, call 301/374-9696 or send check or money order to SARE Outreach, PO Box 753, Waldorf, Maryland 20604-0753. (Please specify title and amount requested when ordering by mail.) Discounts are available on orders of 10 or more. Allow 3-4 weeks for delivery. Call 301/374-9696 for more information on bulk, rush or international shipments.

Published by the SARE Outreach office of the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program. SARE’s mission is to advance—to the whole of American agriculture— innovations that improve profitability, stewardship and quality of life by investing in groundbreaking research and education. SARE is supported by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, USDA. SARE Outreach operates under cooperative agreements with the University of Maryland and the University of Vermont to develop and disseminate information about sustainable agriculture. For more information visit www.sare.org.

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