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News for April 1, 2010

Farmers, Fans Push To Legalize Raw Milk Sales

MADISON, Wis. -- The question of whether people should be allowed to drink milk straight from the cow is one state lawmakers are asking before they vote on a bill that would legalize the sale of unpasteurized milk on Tuesday.

The proposal seeks to upend a law half a century old. Since 1957, state officials have required milk to be pasteurized. Now, a bill is up for a vote in the Assembly Committee on Rural Economic Development on Tuesday, which would allow someone to buy the milk straight from the source.

The debate has brought out farmers who have recently been the subject of a crackdown for selling raw milk under the radar, WISC-TV reported.

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Senator Vinehout Announces Compromise on Raw Milk Dilemma

(MADISON) Limited sale of raw or unpasteurized milk would be legal in the state under a compromise passed unanimously by the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Higher Education. The bill creates temporary sale and safety standards while Legislators work through the final rules over the next year.

“It is clear consumers will continue to buy raw milk regardless of whether or not the sale is legal,” said Agriculture Committee Chair Senator Kathleen Vinehout. “Our common sense approach allows limited on-farm sales of fluid milk while increasing protections for the public’s health.”

“We heard an out-pouring of support for the sale of raw milk,” said Vinehout.

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Office of Sustainability continues efforts to keep campus food organic, clean

After biting into a juicy hamburger, many simply think about the delicious flavor of the meat, while others ponder where the ground beef came from.

Obviously it came from a cow, but what cow? Where did that cow graze? What did that cow feed on? Or, was that cow given any hormones or antibiotics?

The Office of Sustainability is making efforts to provide students with food made from local organic products, and it is also trying to give students information about where these products come.

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Why We All Need to Demand Organic and . . . Worship the Worm

In her powerful and informative new book, Organic Manifesto: How Organic Farming Can Heal Our Planet, Feed the World, and Keep Us Safe, Maria Rodale has done all of the thinking and the research about organic farming for us. Yay, we don't have to think! Following in the path of her grandfather, JI Rodale, who launched Organic Gardening and Farming magazine in 1942 and her father Robert Rodale, who devoted his life to educating others on health and environmental issues, Maria Rodale explains why and how we must immediately begin to undo the damage we have done to the environment and to ourselves.

The 'Farming System Trial' that her father, Robert Rodale began in 1990, is now the longest running scientific study comparing 'synthetic-chemical' versus 'organic' agriculture. After 20 years of experiments, the trial clearly shows that organic farming is not only more productive than chemical farming, especially during times of flood or drought, but that soil farmed organically is a necessary step toward solving our climate crisis. 'Mycorrhizal fungi' which grow at the roots of plants, stores carbon. These miraculous fungi build our soil and its health while also sequestering excess carbon and pulling it underground.

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Get this: Pig's Milk Cheese!

Well, I think we may be the first anywhere doing this, but I'm excited to announce that Nature's Harmony Farm will be producing organic, farmstead cheese from pig's milk!  This is super exciting!  I don't know of anyone else doing this, and I don't know why.  Pig milk is a fairly rich milk with about 6.8 percent fat, 2.8 percent casein, 2.0 percent whey protein, 5.5 percent lactose, and 1.0 percent ash. On average, pigs will produce 13 lbs of milk in a day which is about what we're getting from our Jersey cows.

Naturally we had to adjust the pulsators in the dairy parlor to accomodate the pigs, but we found it easy to herd them up. They're used to us bringing the whey bucket to them, so we just get them to follow it to the parlor.  I'm kind of up in the air though about the whole idea of us milking them, making cheese and then feeding the whey right back to them.  Seems strange, but...whatever.

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Poultry with a pedigree: Babied chickens & their eggs are flying off the shelves

WHICH CAME first, the local, pasture-raised, free-roaming chicken, or the brown, heritage-breed organic egg?

Most of us eat chicken and eggs regularly. The question is, what are we getting for our money? Where have those chicken and eggs been, and what are your options if you want to branch out from the mass-produced varieties that dominate most supermarket offerings?

Whether you're a newly minted locavore, or a longtime proponent of the buy-fresh, buy-local movement, the notion of supporting smaller farms and producers is gaining popularity, driven by everything from creative chefs to the Food Network's nonstop foodie programming. For goodness' sake, even Walmart is on the buy-local bandwagon, proof positive that the movement has gone mainstream.

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How Obama Sold the Farm

The Obama administration's schizophrenic approach to agriculture policy—making PR gestures toward sustainable farming with one hand while nudging ahead the agendas of agribusiness giants like Monsanto and Dow Chemical with the other—was on full display this weekend when the President used a recess appointment to install Islam Siddiqui as the chief agricultural negotiator in the Office of the United States Trade Representative.

"He was a singularly poor choice," said Dr. Marcia Ishii-Eiteman, senior scientist with the Pesticide Action Network North America. "He is the wrong person with the wrong background. We are surprised and very disappointed that President Obama recess-appointed him. There should have been a full Senate vote."

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EU-funded researchers to tackle food quality and safety genetically

An international EU-funded partnership is leading the way in food quality and safety. Headed by the University of the West of England (UWE) in the UK, the project, which includes eight institutions from seven countries, will study the genetic aspects of food quality to improve safety standards.

UWE's Dr Olena Doran, who is leading the research team, said: 'This project is a successful development of a previous EU project on food quality and food safety by UWE which involved 20 organisations from 12 countries.

'We are bringing together international expertise to develop new effective tools and approaches for the improvement of food quality. The partners' experience and facilities will be used to create and develop an international genetics and food quality network which would ensure sustainable international collaboration and long-term training schemes for both young scientists and senior staff.'

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Austria withdraws study on the long-term consequences of GM maize

Austria has withdrawn a study on long-term feeding trials with mice that was published in November 2008. The study had caused quite a public stir since some of the mice that were fed with genetically modified maize gave birth to fewer offspring. The media and gene technology critics had interpreted the result as evidence of a reduced fertility caused by GM maize.

The Austrian government had already announced in a meeting of the 'Standing Committee for the Food Chain and Animal Health' at the EU commission in October 2009 that the scientists commissioned to do the study had not managed to present a 'satisfactory statistical evaluation' of the data. In addition, the Austrian Ministries that had commissioned the study no longer expected to receive such an evaluation.

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