Weekly National Sustainable Ag News Roundup (5/6/11)

May 6 news round-up from NSAC:

To access the full articles and leave comments, visit NSAC’s  “Something to Crow About” Blog or click on the title and you’ll be taken to the specific post page. Also check out their ACTION PAGE for breaking legislative news and opportunities to advocate for sustainable policies at the federal level.

ACTION ALERT

  • Stop Cuts to Conservation – The New York Times recently reported that higher prices for corn and soy coupled with severe storms fueled by climate change were producing  unsustainable levels of soil erosion in Iowa and other Corn Belt states.   That same week Congress approved a budget deal that cut $500 million from the 2011 budget from programs that help farmers conserve natural resources. The 2012 budget outlook for programs like the Conservation Stewardship Program, Environmental Quality Incentives Program, and Wetlands Reserve Program is looking even more grim...
  • A small handful of giant meatpackers and processors have been underpaying and unfairly treating farmers and ranchers for decades. 10 months ago USDA issued a proposed livestock and poultry rule (also called the “GIPSA” rule) that would rein in some of their worst practices. The big meat packers and processors have lobbied hard against these rules. Most recently, they convinced Representative Jim Costa of California to circulate a letter for other Representatives to sign asking USDA to withdraw the GIPSA rule and delay its implementation indefinitely. (Don’t Sign This).

CONGRESSIONAL NEWS

USDA NEWS

  • Results – U.S. Supreme Court Declines to Review Jury Award to Poultry Growers…”upholding a federal jury award of $14.5 million to poultry growers from a poultry processor because of the processor’s violations of Section 202(a) of the Packers & Stockyards Act (PSA).
  • Farm Service Agency Makes Good Choice for First BCAP Project – On Thursday, May 5, USDA Secretary Vilsack announced that the first Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP) project area would cover 30 counties in western Missouri and nine counties in Eastern Kansas, with biomass facilities operated by the Show Me Energy Cooperative as the biomass conversion facilities for the project.  About $15 million will be available for payments to farmers who participate in this first BCAP project…
  • Food Desert Locator Tool Released – “…USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS) released the Food Desert Locator this week.  This new tool provides population characteristics of areas considered food deserts …”a low-income census tract where a substantial number or share of residents has low access to a supermarket or large grocery store.

OTHER NEWS

  • AGree? – “On Tuesday, May 3, a new federal food, agriculture, and rural development policy initiative was launched by eight major foundations at a press event in DC.  The new eight-year project will be aimed at “transforming US food and agriculture policy” with an equal focus on domestic and international impacts… 
  • Prince Charles, Vilsack, and others explore Future of Food – “…Prince Charles, who has farmed “as sustainably as possible” for 26 years, explained why conventional agriculture is simply not sustainable…”
  • Niche Meat Processors Assistance Network Releases Business Planning Guide – “…The short guide walks readers through a basic business plan, and provides financial projections for different types of processing facilities, from a mobile slaughter unit to a facility with a full service retail meat counter…”


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