The Saudi Organic Farming Association (SOFA) is working in connection to create a state-of-the-art organic sector, better market place for organic goods, and close adherence to worldwide food safety standards.
GTZ will also set up the SOFA’s organizational framework, and share expertise with the government.
While SOFA will monitor organic production, protect farmers, promote consumer awareness, and keep with food quality policies of many European countries.
Saudi Arabia is a major importer of agricultural goods, with figures expected to grow 25%. So successful organic farming would keep more food raised in house.
As an, at times, ethnocentric American, it surprises me to see non-Western nations taking interest into issues like this. I seem to think a country like Saudi Arabia has more pressing matters at hand than organic farming.
Muslim residents of Thailand’s Yala province, who make up 80% of the population, say they are treated like second-class citizens in the predominantly Buddhist country.
In 2004, minor violent outbursts morphed into full blown conflict, with both Buddhist monks and Muslims being murder, forcing a strong military presence in the region.
The organic garden serves as tool to teach all of Yala’s citizens, who are among the poorest in the nation, the merits of organic agricultural and how supporting the community garden can help citizens help themselves.
Officials say that thousands of villagers and local businesspeople have attended training courses on using bio-fertilizer and composting. Buddhist army officers regularly give lessons on how to use the fertilizer to Muslims in the area.
Even though violence continues to wage in the region, members of the Military say the organic farming is an important attempt to win hearts and minds.
Community Supported Agriculture is a great way to get people working together, so maybe it’ll help on such a large-scale too.
Oregon joins states like Maryland, Iowa, Washington, and Idaho.
So if you have an aspiring organic farm in Oregon, it’ll cost you $75 an hour for the state to audit your books and check fields for certain pesticides and fertilizers, before you join the organic club.
Good news for the state, because organic sales in Oregon jumped from $10 million in 2002 to $90 million in 2007.
I wonder why Oregon waited. And what’s the deal with the other states too!
One farm in Asturias, producing vegetables, cider apples, and lambs, ships 65% of its yield to nearby customers and uses the other 35% to sustain a small hotel farmhouse and restaurant on the property.
The sheep travel the furthest from the farm to buyers 60 miles away, with most of the apple juice and vegetables consumed in Asturias.
Small farms thrive because they are not dependent on mega supermarkets and selling their goodies to local specialty stores has helped small organic shops boom, while large retailers have faltered.
I love it! But the only thing I worry about is safety. If one of these small farms causes an outbreak of something nasty, a whole community could be infected, quickly.
Leanne Skelton, chief of the Fresh Products Branch of the USDA’s Agriculture Marketing Service, is working with the FDA to help develop new food safety rules.
Through this coordinated effort, the FDA will gather information and feedback from the fresh produce industry—including small and organic farmers—on the impact food safety rules have on their businesses.
“President Obama, like most Americans, wants immediate improvements in our food safety system,” says Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. “As such, we are pulling together all our best resources—state and federal—to improve the safety of our foods and to work with growers to protect and promote the health of our nation.”
“The USDA and the FDA have joined together on listening sessions and farm tours, and are eager to develop a system of regulation that will work for American families and the growers,” adds the USDA’s Rayne Pegg.
In media statements, the Feds are emphasizing that they want to speak with local growers across the country to hear their ideas, concerns and experiences.
Time will tell whether local and organic farmers get the attention they deserve.
We don’t need yet another seal when it comes to food safety – we need real change in the production process that creates a safe food system, (especially when it comes to contamination-causing manure!) not another seal to trick consumers. The so-called Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement doesn’t guarantee safer food for consumers. Worse, it could actually harm small and medium size vegetable growers.
The proposed marketing agreement would allow corporate leafy green handlers to attach a USDA-backed “food safety seal” to lettuce, spinach, cabbage and other vegetables while prohibiting organic and local farmers at farmers markets, CSAs and roadside stands, and those selling directly to retailers, from using the same seal.
The California Certified Organic Farmers (COOF) and The Cornucopia Institute, a farm policy group, are just two organizations that have expressed concerns about the agreement’s transparency and validity.
Clearly, consumers who see a USDA-seal on some veggies and not another’s will assume the first is safer, when in fact, most likely the very opposite is true! In fact, in an ironic twist, one of the signatories to the California Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement Industry, Ippolito International, recalled 1,715 cartons of spinach due to salmonella contamination just the other day.
“This proposed food safety agreement will do nothing to tackle the root cause of the food safety problem, which is, in most cases, manure from confined animal feeding operations that is tainted with disease causing pathogenic bacteria,” said Will Fantle, of the Wisconsin-based farm policy group, The Cornucopia Institute.
I’m passionate about poor animal conditions and its impact on food quality and safety. Clearly, the focus should be on the cause of most food contamination outbreaks: improper handling of mountains of manure containing pathogenic E. coli and salmonella that are generated on livestock factory farms that contaminate our surface water, groundwater and farm fields.
“I am concerned that organic, and small and medium sized local growers like myself, will become marketplace ‘second-class citizens’ in the eyes of some consumers, by implying that my produce is less safe – when the very opposite is likely to be true,” said Tom Willey, a certified organic vegetable grower from Madera, CA.
Growers and consumers are being encouraged to show up at one of a series of hearing sessions in September and October across the country – the USDA isn’t accepting comments in writing. Read the entire Leafy Greens Marketing Proposal for yourself, and stay tuned to OA.com for updates.
In case you missed it, Mad Money host Jim Cramer did a killer segment a couple of weeks ago on Monsanto, the seed behemoth and Roundup weed killer manufacturer. He stated the Obama administration is stepping up its antitrust enforcement, and Monsanto is a sitting target for the Department of Justice to slap an antitrust suit against it for their monopoly on seeds.
This is great news for small, local and independent farmers.
Tom Brennan writes about Cramer’s segment:
” A series of competition-crushing acquisitions made this biotech disguised as an agriculture outfit the market leader in genetically modified US corn, soybean and cotton seeds. And Monsanto maintains strict agreements with its farmer clients that leave them virtually no choice but to feed at the corporate trough. Plus, the company plans to push through a 42% price increase on its new seeds, and there’s nothing these farmers can do about it.”
The behemoth seems to have farmers in an iron grip. Cramer states:
“When farmers buy Monsanto’s seeds they have to sign a stewardship agreement, and a contract saying they won’t save the seeds from one year to the next, or replant seeds reproduced by the crops they grow from Monsanto’s genetically modified seeds. This forces the farmers who want to buy Monsanto’s seeds to buy new ones, year after year, and pay ever higher and higher prices.”
Cramer goes on to state, “… Why is this important? Traditionally farmers have always tried to save seeds from year to year, but if you try to do it with seeds bought from Monsanto, some people say they will sue your pants off until you cave…”
Cramer says he thinks “the government is worried about the family farmer being destroyed by Monsanto’s practices” and to make matters worse, Monsanto’s increase in seed prices is “begging the Justice Department to go after them [.....] They are tempting the wrath of Obama.”
In addition, Cramer says, Monsanto “better hope the guys at [The] Justice [Department] don’t go to the movies” and see the documentary film Food, Inc. which goes head to head with Monsanto’s methods, and our industrialized food system.
Not only is it great that the current administration cares, but I think it’s pretty cool that those interested in personal financial growth – Cramer’s audience – have been turned on to this issue. I’ll be keeping an eye on this topic as it develops…in the meantime, let me know what you think!
Sadly, it’s just the opposite. This encouragingly-named, but off-the-mark bill, will adversely impact small farms and food producers. It fails to provide significant reforms for the industrial food system, like the big ‘agribusinesses’ exposed in Food, Inc.
HR 2749 takes a one-size-fits-all approach, making local producers subject to the same regulations as huge, industrial firms.
Cow Poop: Just One Reason Big Agribusiness is a Bummer
There’s so many reasons to be opposed to big, industrialized food manufacturers (and oppose HR 2749, since it indirectly supports them)!
For starters, poop in your meat. Huge agribusinesses allow cattle to eat a poor excuse for a diet in piles of cow manure. This cow poop is often infected with E. coli. Not only do cattle ingest it, but it travels…winds can carry the E. coli to neighboring farms – even organically managed ones. A literal ‘shit storm,’ if you will.
In addition, even though cows are herbivores, big producers feed them grains (which their stomachs are not engineered, biologically, to digest) as well as an unhealthy diet of animal by-products, junk food and who knows what else. It all adds up to a sick cow, that consumers wind up eating.
Eating grass-fed and certified organic meat lowers your risk of ingesting food borne illnesses… and guess who raises this premium quality meat? The same small ranchers and producers at risk from 2749’s alarming provisions.
Take action: oppose HR 2749. And stay tuned…I’ll be following HR 2749 as it heads towards the senate and keep you updated!
Some consumers erroneously believe pesticide use would protect the public from an E. coli outbreak.
“I do not know of any pesticides, used in appropriate concentrations, that would kill E. coli O157:H7,” says Carolyn Hovde Bohach, PhD, a professor of microbiology at the University of Idaho.
So, what, exactly, is the problem?
“First of all, just for some perspective, the spinach is not to blame,” says Michael Greger, MD, director of public health and animal agriculture for the Farm Animal Welfare Division of The Humane Society of the United States. “E. coli is an intestinal bug, and plants don’t have intestines. Any diseases found on produce likely came from contamination with livestock fecal material. Our intensive confinement system of industrialized animal agriculture produces more than 1 billion tons of manure each year in the United States—the weight of 10,000 Nimitz-class aircraft carriers. We crowd billions of animals a year into these crowded, stressful, filthy conditions. No wonder we are plagued with the increasingly common emergence of infectious foodborne disease. Factory farms are a public health menace. We shouldn’t have to cook the crap out of our food.
“There is no significant difference in fecal contamination between certified organic and conventional produce, according to a study published by University of Minnesota researchers in 2004,” Dr. Greger continues. “There is a misconception that manure is only spread on organic crops. Raw manure and even toxic sewer sludge are spread on conventional crops, whereas the use of raw manure is strictly regulated in organic production, and sewer sludge is not allowed.”
One of the key words in Dr. Greger’s comments is “certified” organic.
Growers can contaminate produce if they use improperly composted manure or manure teas as fertilizers, Dr. Bohach explains. This strain of E. coli, she says, “can live in raw manure for more than 21 months and can survive in manure through freeze thaws and through hot weather. It is very dangerous to use improperly composted manures. Likewise, it is very dangerous to eat fresh vegetables that have been irrigated with manure-contaminated water or from fields that have flooded with runoff from cattle farms.”
Dr. Bohach notes that pathogens are killed when manure is properly composted.