Southern SAWG Newsletter Volume 6, #2
|| February 2010
Thanks to all of you who attended the Southern SAWG conference, and to all of you who shared your knowledge and
expertise, provided support, and helped make the conference a great success. Each year we strive to bring you
the best of practical educational and networking opportunities, adding new
activities, short courses, field trips, and sessions based on what we learn
from you. Your feedback this year has given us great gratitude and pleasure to
know that we are succeeding. Our goal is to make each conference even better
than the one before, and we appreciate your suggestions that allow us to
continue this tradition.
The conference began with a deeply moving invocation from Ben
Yahola, co-director of the Mvskoke Food Sovereignty Initiative, representing the
Native American people who lived in the Chattanooga
area before being forced to relocate in Oklahoma. Ben inspired us with the Mvskoke vision of
deep respect for the earth, and respect for our relationships
with all life on the earth. What a wonderful start for two days of non-stop educational and social experiences!
By the time we
gathered together to savor the Taste of Tennessee Dinner, we were ready to again
be deeply moved and impacted, this time by the wisdom and fire of longtime
civil rights and sustainable agriculture activist Hollis Watkins. You had to be
there to really absorb the history, feelings, and vision for the future, not to
mention the beautiful songs that Hollis shared with us, but here is one
memorable thing he had to say about our organization. "Southern
SAWG has taken on the attitude of a song I heard, and here are the
words. 'I need you, and you need me. I need you to survive. And I will never
harm you with words from my mouth.'"
We all certainly do need each other, and our community. So whether it will be your first time or your twentieth, we
look forward to seeing you in Chattanooga
--Your friends at Southern SAWG
Initiative Funds Available for Organic Transition and Practices
Deadline to sign up
is March 12, 2010
The Natural Resources Conservation Service
is again offering financial support and technical assistance to organic
farmers and farmers transitioning to organic production systems. NRCS has
committed $50 million nationally for the 2010 Organic Initiative, available
through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP).
Each NRCS State Conservationist will develop a
list of practices offered through the initiative to support organic and
transitioning farmers. In certain states, transitioning farmers will have
the option to apply for funds to develop a Conservation Activity Plan to
support their transition to organic production. To find out which practices are
available in your state, and to apply, contact your state office. (http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/about/organization/regions.html)
Farmers will be paid 75 percent of the cost of implementing the organic
practice, including income that may be forgone. The payment rate is set at
90 percent for beginning farmers, limited resource farmers, and applicants of
historically underserved communities.
For more information click here.
Breaking News: USDA to End the National Animal
Identification System (NAIS)
The NAIS, which has met with strong
opposition from small-scale sustainable farmers and ranchers, conventional
large-scale farmers, and many organizations, including the American Farm Bureau
Federation, is being cancelled by the Obama administration. When Secretary of
Agriculture Tom Vilsack began his stint last year he held a series of public
meetings, which were attended by many in the sustainable agriculture community,
during which he was "bombarded by strident
opposition," according to an article in the New York Times by William
Neuman, dated February 5, 2010.
Neuman reports that new federal rules will be developed, but
they would apply only to animals being moved in interstate commerce. Plans for
making the new rules have not yet been announced, but it is expected that USDA
officials will now start over to come up with a tracing program that will be
supported by the livestock industry, and would have many aspects that would be designed
by the states.
Participation in the system, which aimed to give every
animal, or group of certain animals, a unique identification number that could
be tracked, was voluntary, but there was concern that it would be made
mandatory, and that it would be prohibitively expensive and cumbersome,
especially to small- and mid-scale producers.
Agriculture Policy News
The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) held its winter meeting
on January 13-15, 2010, in Santa Fe,
New Mexico. About 60 people,
including representatives of over 30 member organizations and NSAC staff, met
in smaller groups to explore four topic areas covered by issues committees.
With the 2008 Farm Bill signed into law, much of NSAC
members' attention has turned to rule making, program implementation, and
funding for Farm Bill programs related to organic and sustainable agriculture,
rural development, and community food systems. A few legislative issues
are also pending at this time, including food safety, climate and energy, and
farm-to-school grant funding.
Last month at the Southern SAWG Conference in Chattanooga,
participants in the pre-conference networking session for organizational
representatives identified a need to work together on policy issues, with a
focus on removing obstacles to small, organic, and sustainable farming, and to
promote job creation in decentralized food and agricultural systems. During the conference networking session time, about 30 people attended the session on
Policy. Much of the discussion focused on how to establish Food Policy
Councils at the local and state level, and how to link local efforts into the
national policy dialogue. For more
information, and to get involved, write to Lydia Villanueva, Southern SAWG's policy coordinator, or
Hot Issues and action items for spring 2010 from the recent
Food Safety Bill in the Senate
NSAC's Food Safety Task Force will coordinate a farmer
fly-in, probably in February, to Washington,
DC to lobby for changes in the
legislation to reduce burdens on smaller farms and businesses, while optimizing
food safety and environmental outcomes. For more information, including
how to participate in this fly-in, contact Dave Runsten, write to Kate Fitzgerald, or call Kate at 202.547.5754.
USDA-Department of Justice workshops on corporate agriculture
and antitrust issues
Farmers are needed to attend a workshop to be held March 12 by the USDA and the Department of Justice, which is the first of a series of
workshops to explore competition and regulatory issues in the agriculture
industry. The March workshop will address issues of concern to crop
farmers, including seed technology, and may be an opportunity for farmers to
draw government and public attention to Monsanto's monopoly control of the seed
supply. Subsequent workshops will address issues of concentration in
poultry, dairy, and livestock, and price discrepancies between farmgate and
consumer. To learn more and participate, contact Aimee Witteman at NSAC; 202.547.5754.
EQIP Organic Initiative and other NRCS conservation programs
for organic agriculture
The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has recently issued
guidance to states for the 2010 Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP)
Organic Initiative, and will soon issue the final rule for the Conservation
Stewardship Program (CSP). Signups for Fiscal Year (FY) 2010 funding for
both programs will close on March 12. NSAC and member organizations will
assist farmers to apply for and participate in these programs. For the latest
on EQIP Organic Initiative, click here.
Agriculture and Food Research Initiative: New and
The USDA will soon release Requests for Applications (RFA)
for a greatly expanded Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI), with as
much as $800 million in research funding over the next few years. It is
important that a significant portion of these funds goes toward truly sustainable
systems. NSAC will review the RFA and submit comments; encourage organic/sustainable
programs and projects to apply for AFRI funding, and seek to get farmers and
sustainable ag nonprofit organization personnel on proposal review
panels. For more information contact Brise Tenser.
|New Healthy Urban Food Enterprise
to Fund Grants for Underserved Community Food Enterprises
Deadline for Letters of Interest is March 8, 2010
Wallace Healthy Urban Food Enterprise Development Center
(HUFED) at Winrock International, supported by a grant from the USDA National
Institute of Food and Agriculture, has been launched to help reorganize and transform our agriculture and food systems to better meet the
needs of historically underserved communities. The HUFED Center
will focus on ways to make more healthy and affordable food available in
low-income areas; to increase market access for small and mid-sized
agricultural producers; and to promote positive economic activities generated
by attracting healthy food enterprises into underserved communities.
Through grants, technical assistance and other activities, the Wallace HUFED Center
will be working to build local capacity to serve food needs in urban and rural
low-income, historically excluded, and underserved communities and communities
The HUFED is now opening a grant program and issuing a call
for Letters of Interest (LOI). Grants will range from one year $10,000-$25,000
grants to three year grants up to $100,000. Technical assistance will also be
available to successful grantees. HUFED expects to support approximately 30
projects over the next three years, funding a range of strategies and
organizations ranging from for-profits to not-for profits. LOIs should be brief
but carefully thought out concept papers that provide sufficient information
for their technical review panel. After review, a subset of applicants will be
invited to submit full proposals. LOIs are due March 8, 2010 and should be
submitted through their online submission form after reviewing the complete
To review or download the full set of Grant Guidelines,
which contain instructions for writing and submitting an LOI, further
information about the purpose and goals of the Center, and greater detail on
grant types, click here.
You may also call the Wallace HUFED Center Help Line: 703.531.8810 or write.
Cover Cropping Survey Request for Sustainable Southeastern
Are you a sustainable Southeastern farmer? If so, the Center
for Environmental Farming Systems (CEFS) would like you to fill out their survey
to help focus future research efforts at North Carolina State
University. This survey
is part of an effort to understand farmers' opinions on the benefits and
challenges of cover crop use, and to estimate current levels of cover cropping
on Southeast farms. CEFS would like your opinion, whether or not you currently
use cover crops, so that their studies can provide the most
sought after information, and their research can be focused on areas that are
the most challenging to farmers. The results of the survey will be made
available in a variety of publications, and will be posted online at the CEFS
To participate, click here and look for the heading Online Survey to share your experiences. (Note:
Farmers that attended the CFSA or Southern SAWG
conferences this year may have already filled out a paper-based version of this
survey; please complete the survey only one time.)
Federation of Southern Cooperatives/Land Assistance Fund
27th Annual Small Farmers Conference and Trade Show
February 12-13, 2010
Hosting more than 300 farmers, landowners, and supporters
from across the South, the conference will provide information on USDA
programs, marketing, technical assistance, legal risk management issues,
insurance, conservation, and a variety of agriculture issues that impact the
survival of small farmers. There will also be an update on the Pigford Lawsuit
negotiations. Pearlie Reed, the USDA Assistant Secretary for Administration,
will deliver the keynote address, speaking about the USDA's Office of Civil
Rights and its program delivery to ensure fair treatment to farmers.
Other speakers will include the Federation's former Georgia
Director Shirley Sherrod, who now heads the USDA's Georgia Rural Development
Office, and Georgia Representative Sanford Bishop (D-GA), who will speak about
rural legislation in Congress.
Click here for more information and to register.
now in its 43rd year, assists Black family farmers across the South with farm
management, debt restructuring, alternative crop suggestions, marketing
expertise, and other services to ensure family farm survivability.
Will Allen to Present Workshops at Lynchburg
March 5-6, 2010
Urban farm guru Will Allen, a 2008 MacArthur fellowship
recipient and co-founder of Milwaukee-based Growing Power, Inc., will conduct two days of workshops at Lynchburg Grows, a
Regional Outreach Training
Center for Growing Power.
For more information contact Michael G. Van Ness.
Organic Growers School 17th Annual Spring Conference
March 6-7, 2010
Asheville, North Carolina
OGS will offer 70+ classes and hands-on workshops each day
on a variety of topics, from starting your first vegetable garden, baking
bread, and saving on home energy costs, to raising goats and fine-tuning
aspects of your commercial farm operation. Early-bird registration open through
February 12. For more information and to register click here.
|We appreciate your support.
To make a donation online or download a form to
mail to us with your check click here.
Visit Southern SAWG online at
welcome your feedback and suggestions
To view past Southern SAWG E-Newsletters
Please visit this site if you would like
to browse through past issues.
|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.