Southern SAWG Newsletter Volume 5, #10
The frost is almost
on the pumpkin, and Thanksgiving, the winter holidays, and the Southern SAWG annual conference will all be here before
we know it! We're thrilled to be rolling out the details of Southern SAWG's
nineteenth annual conference. Our amazing team is putting together a stellar
event that you won't want to miss.
We continue to see
progressive changes in the relationship of sustainable agriculture and the
USDA, with priorities and relationships shifting, and money and resources being
allocated. The more attention paid to organic and sustainable farming, healthy
nutrition, and clean, fair local food systems, the better; in the past few
weeks we've seen the launch of the USDA's "Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food"
website and outreach campaign, plus significant gains in funding for important
programs for organic and sustainable farming and rural development.
Something the USDA is not addressing is the impact on
farmers of the recent epic flooding in Georgia. The U.S. Geological Survey
has called it a 500-year flood, because the likelihood of its occurrence is so
rare. Not as rare are the extreme challenges faced by farmers by the weather.
Read on for information about campaigns for assistance, as well as updates on educational
activities, conferences, and some good new about the Immokalee farmworkers
ongoing push for economic and social justice.
Be sure to keep us posted about news and events in your
--Your friends at Southern SAWG
The 2010 Conference Program is Now Online
information." "Great people." "Simply inspiring." Year after year, attendees at
Southern SAWG's Practical Tools and Solutions
for Sustaining Family Farms Conference come for the practical information and
go home with so much more. While over 90 percent of past attendees reported
they learned something they would use immediately, even higher numbers say
meeting so many folks doing so many great things around the South was a highlight.
With the high-rated practical sessions and pre-conference offerings, and the
great networking opportunities, this event attracts over 1,000 farmers and
advocates every year.
This conference is
an absolute must-attend event for those serious about sustainable and organic
farming and creating more vibrant community food systems. Here's what else
attendees have to say.
"Good practical info with real examples delivered by people with real
"I learned a ton about many different aspects in profiting off a farm
"Most useful thing was the affirmation and validation from others like
myself. Renewed confidence in my initial decision to farm."
annual conference will be held January 20-23, 2010 at the Chattanooga
Convention Center in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
pre-conference events begin on Wednesday and include one-and-a-half day
intensive short courses as well as several half-day field trips and mini
courses. Pre-conference offerings include farmers' market management,
start-up organic vegetables, hoophouses, community supported agriculture (CSAs)
and management intensive grazing of beef.
conference, held on Friday and Saturday, offers eight tracks of highly
essential conference sessions covering: organic and sustainable production of
vegetables, flowers, seeds, honey, poultry, hogs and beef; direct marketing
strategies such as farmer's markets and CSAs; successful farm stories;
community food systems; and new farm programs for sustainable farmers- a broad
range of offerings for start-ups and seasoned producers alike.
In addition to the
sessions and networking opportunities, the conference offers field trips, a
trade show, silent auction, video show, Taste of Tennessee dinner and more.
schedule is available on our website or call 678.494.0696 to request a brochure.
cross-fertilization of ideas awaits you in 2010. See you in Chattanooga!
|Southern SAWG Professional
SARE PDP Organic Vegetable Training in Virginia
held the first of five training events for agricultural professionals on September 14-15, 2009 as part
of a project funded by the SARE Professional Development Program, Developing
Successful Organic Horticulture Farms: Practical Training for Agricultural
Professionals. The training took place in
the Tidewater region in eastern Virginia,
and attracted more than twenty Extension, Natural Resources Conservation
Service (NRCS) and Farm Services Agency (FSA) personnel.
The workshop began with a full day of classroom instruction
by Alex Hitt of Peregrine Farm and Southern SAWG Board member Mark Schonbeck.
The second day took place at Dayspring Farm in King and Queen County
for a farm tour and field day led by CSA farmer and Southern SAWG Board Member
Project coordinator Jesse Strassburg and Extension Specialist Andy Hankins of Virginia State University
worked together to organize and produce the workshop. The project team will
review evaluations and meet by teleconference to fine tune training content and
approach in preparation for additional trainings at the 2010 Southern SAWG
Conference, two more trainings in Virginia
next year, and one that will take place at another southern region conference.
Sustainable Ag Community Gains Federal Funding Victories
Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) reports that once again the huge
response of the sustainable agriculture community to respond to action alerts
and contact the key appropriators has yielded very positive outcomes in
important funding. On September 30, the House and Senate completed negotiating
their differences in the Fiscal Year 2010 agricultural appropriations bill. During
what NSAC calls "a tremendously difficult budget year, when programs were cut
left and right," here is what was achieved:
Organic Transitions Research Program was increased from $1.8 million last year
to $5 million.
Value Added Producer Grants program was increased from $18.9 million last year
to $20.4 million.
Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program had $5 million added to its $4
million mandatory base, so that $9 million will be available to help support
rural microbusiness development in this program's first year.
- The Appropriate
Technology Transfer for Rural Areas (ATTRA) program was increased from $2.6
last year to $2.8 million.
Organic Marketing and Data Collection Initiative was increased from $500,000 to
Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program received only a small
increase, but NSAC says there is reason to expect that next year's (Fiscal Year
2011) Obama Budget will propose a significant increase, making it easier to
persuade Congress to increase it.
For more information...
Cost Share in Florida: Deadline to Apply is October 15!
The Organic Certification Cost Share program, reauthorized
by Congress 2008 Farm Bill, is designed to assist organic processors, handlers,
growers, and livestock producers certified by a USDA NOP accredited certifier. Qualified
organic operations are eligible for reimbursement of 75 percent of the costs of
organic certification, up to a maximum of $750.00. Reimbursement funds will be issued on a first-come, first-served
basis until funds are depleted. The period covered is for certification costs
paid between October 1, 2008 and September 30, 2009: The deadline for
submitting applications is October 15, 2009.
For more information and to receive an application click here or contact Sharon Larsen:
For those in other states: if you have a question about your state's
implementation of this program, find your state contact on the National Organic Program Participant Contact List.
|Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced in September the implementation
of Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food, an initiative
that features new online tools designed to help consumers make healthier food
choices, help connect people more closely with farmers, and increase the
production, marketing and consumption of fresh, healthy food that is grown
locally and sustainably grown.
"There is a disconnect between the farmer and the food that consumers buy
and we want to re-connect these long standing ties between the people who
produce the food and those who purchase and prepare it," said Vilsack.
The initiative includes topics such as
supporting local farmers and community food groups; strengthening rural
communities; enhancing direct marketing and farmers' promotion programs;
promoting healthy eating; protecting natural resources; and helping schools
connect with locally grown foods.
Kathleen Merrigan, Agriculture Deputy Secretary, said, "We
want this website to serve as a hub of ideas, success stories, and USDA
resources for linking local producers with consumers, because by rebuilding our
local and regional food systems, we can spur economic opportunity in rural
communities and strengthen American agriculture. Americans are more interested in food and agriculture than they have been
at any other time since most families left the farm and we are marshalling
resources from across all of USDA to help create and strengthen the link
between local production and local consumption."
The new website will feature social networking tools such as
information on the USDA blog, Facebook discussions, Twitter, and YouTube
videos. You will be able to send stories, ideas, or videos to the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food team at email@example.com.
The initiative builds on
the 2008 Farm Bill, which provides increased support for USDA programs that
promote local foods. Consumer demand for locally grown food in the United States
is expected to rise from an estimated $4 billion in 2002 to as much as $7
billion by 2012.
Flood Relief for Georgia Farmers
The recent floods in Georgia
have caused a lot of heartbreak and damage to local family farms. The situation
is being assessed as to the number of farmers that will need assistance and the
extent of the losses. Some farms suffered extensive damage. Many have lost most
or lost all of their crops, sustained devastating livestock losses, and seen
the disappearance of their topsoil. Unfortunately, FEMA does not provide relief
funds to farmers affected by the floods; they will only offer loans. In order
to assist Georgia
farmers the Georgia Flooded Farms Relief Fund has been created by Slow Food
Atlanta.Checks can be made to Flooded Farms Relief Fund and mailed
to Georgia Flooded Farms Relief Fund, P.O.
Box 2641, Smyrna, GA 30081.
You can also donate via credit card, debit card, or Paypal at www.slowfoodatlanta.org, where more
information is also available. Contributions are tax deductible.
Cane Creek Farm in Cumming, Georgia. Photo Courtesy of Lynn Pugh
Landmark Win for Florida Farmworkers
Compass Group North America and the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) have
forged a partnership that will bring big changes to the working and living
conditions of agricultural workers who harvest fresh tomatoes grown in Florida.
The Immokalee region is the heart of the Florida
tomato industry, providing 95 percent of all U.S. grown tomatoes eaten by
Americans from October to June.
Compass Group, which buys 10 million pounds of tomatoes annually, will pay an
additional 1.5 cents per pound for all the tomatoes they purchase, with one
cent per pound being passed from the supplier directly to the harvesters. That might
not sound like a lot, but it will increase workers' wages from 50 cents for a
32-pound bucket to 82 cents per bucket, a 64 percent raise.
An agreed upon Code of Conduct will improve working conditions and give
harvesters the opportunity to advance beyond the field. Workers also will have
the ability to voice their concerns over safety and working conditions, and
report Code violations, without fear of retribution
Compass Group manages over 10,000 accounts in the United States--including schools,
corporate offices, hospitals, and cultural centers. Compass' agreement and
the supplier code of conduct will apply to all its operating companies,
including Restaurant Associates, Canteen Vending Services, Chartwells, Morrison
Management Specialists, and Wolfgang Puck Catering. Compass Group is the parent
company of Bon Appétit Management Company, which also signed an agreement with
the CIW in April 2009. Compass Group will only purchase tomatoes from those
growers and suppliers willing to meet the standards set out in the Code of
Conduct and pass the raise on to their workers.
"There's no question that this is the
greatest victory for farmworkers since Cesar Chavez in the 1970s," said Eric
Schlosser, author of best-selling Fast Food Nation, who testified at last
year's Senate hearings on Florida's
For more information visit www.ciw-online.org.
Walking with Many Worlds: American Indian Intertribal
November 5-7, 2009
Pembroke, North Carolina
The purpose of this
intertribal conference is to build bridges by empowering Native Americans with
quality health information, education, professional agri-business development,
and spiritual awakening.
Events on the first
day, November 5, will be centered on growing an agricultural business, with sessions
on agribusiness, sustainable agriculture, organic farming, forest management,
and estate planning. Day two will focus on health and wellness issues that affect
Natives. On the final day leaders will participate in a talking circle round
table discussion of American Indian Issues.
Registration is open
to all who are interested in participating
For more information
contact Beverly Collins-Hall, American Indian Mothers, Inc.: 910.843.9911; firstname.lastname@example.org.
Farm Stewardship Association Conference
Safe, Local, Organic:
Building a Healthy Food Economy
December 4-6, 2009
Set in the beautiful southern Appalachians,
is a small mountain town that provides a great setting for participants to come
together to rebuild our food economy.
Conference highlights include half and full day farm tours; a
panel discussion with local and organic farm experts Jim Riddle, Mark Winne, Bu
Nygrens and Nancy Creamer; and John
O'Sullivan's presentation, "Farming Around the World." Workshop topics include
biochar, medicinal herbs, organic strawberries, pastured poultry, hogs and
farrowing, mushrooms, vegetable diseases, crop mobs, regional food systems,
Soils101, food preservation, organic weed control, renewable
energy on the farm, and organic grains. Two Saturday panels offer one for food activists and one
on the latest farm-related research.
Keynote speaker Dr.
Timothy J. LaSalle, CEO of the Rodale Institute is a holistic thinker and
visionary whose address is sure to be inspiring.
For more information and to register, click here.
Michael Fields Agricultural Institute Public
Policy Internships for 2010
In January of 2010,
the Michael Fields Agricultural Institute (MFAI) begins their seventh year of
public policy internships. MFAI is a non-profit agricultural institute in Wisconsin that works to
revitalize farming and help both urban and rural populations meet common
Policy interns will have many exciting opportunities with
this program, including: assist in coordinating the Fiscal Year 2010 grassroots
agricultural appropriations campaign; work on Farm-to-School provisions in the
2009 Child Nutrition Reauthorization; and work as National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition interns for
two weeks in Washington, D.C.
To apply, submit a letter expressing
reasons for interest in this position, relevant background, a writing sample,
names/contact information for three references, and confirmation of housing and
other arrangements by Friday, October 30, 2009. Please send applications to
Margaret Krome, MFAI Policy Program Director, 2524 Chamberlain Avenue, Madison,
WI 53705. For more information, write or
Michael Fields Agricultural Institute
actively encourages students of all races, colors and national and ethnic
origins to apply.
Fall activities at J & J Century Farm Southside, Tennessee
Photo courtesy of Beverly Wall
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|Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group, Inc. (Southern SAWG) is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization founded in 1991 to promote sustainable agriculture in the Southern United States.