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News for February 1, 2010

Obama's pick for food safety chief surprises consumer advocates

Soon after taking office, President Obama highlighted food safety as a domestic priority. A string of national outbreaks of food illnesses were a "troubling trend," the president said. He called the problems "critical" and said they presented a "risk to public health."

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Tagging laws are costing farmers dear

The new electronic identification tagging scheme could cost farmers dear - according to sheep farmers who now have to comply with European rules brought in at the beginning of the year.

And Dorset farmer Andy Foot is warning that the new tagging regulations could be the final nail in the coffin for young farmers starting up and for those with smaller farms

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Organic Farming Pioneer Found Dead

“Our national territory is a sacred place,” the so-called Korean godfather of organic agriculture said on the last day of his fast.
“Even bees are not coming because it’s too cold,” he said on the 61st day.

“Organic agriculture is the only way for survival,” he said on the 51st day.

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Food author pushes for national food policy in Guelph speech

GUELPH — Canadians are aware of the country’s broken food system and need a national food policy.

It was the message delivered by author Margaret Webb at the 2009 Organic Agricultural Conference’s keynote address Saturday. Her book Apples to Oysters won a silver at the 2009 Cuisine Canada/University of Guelph National Culinary Book Awards. Last fall, Webb also wrote an eight-part investigative series for The Toronto Star called Crisis on the Farm.

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Hope on the farm

EAU CLAIRE — John Rosenow does what rural development experts say needs to be done to create jobs and grow the economy in rural areas.

He’s expanded with value-added components to his Buffalo County dairy farm, created new products, and now employs 53 people. Plus, he’s a member at a cooperative that’s operating its own small cheese plant, employing 53.

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In uncertain times, growing your food is fashionable again

THE HEADY DAYS of high horticulture, when gardeners would kill for the newest and coolest perennial, are well and truly over. The resurgence of food gardening has ushered in a post-competitive era, where people share seeds and meals, and even welcome landless gardeners into their backyards for a little communal cultivation.

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Interview: Joel Salatin

Joel Salatin is America's most celebrated pioneer of chemical-free farming – but if you want to taste his beef or chicken you'll have to move to Virginia. He talks to Gaby Wood about why local is best and his role in the documentary Food, Inc which attacks the giants of industrialised food production

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Robert F. Kennedy Jr Backs Vertical Farming

There's already been a lot of buzz around Valcent's VertiCrop vertical farming systems. And while some of the more fanciful vertical farm concepts are derided by many as unrealistic, and while there's some debate as to whether soil-less growing systems can be regarded as organic, making optimum use of growing space can only help in the quest for truly sustainable agriculture. Now Robert F Kennedy Jr is putting his weight behind vertical farming—presenting on vertical farming and urban agriculture featuring Valcent's VertiCrop system at the U.S. Conference of Mayors.

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TN green crusader puts ecovillage message to work worldwide

As delegates to last month's climate change summit in Copenhagen debated a possible carbon reduction treaty, one Tennessean at the assemblage was talking about practical ways communities can go ahead and make a difference.

And no, it wasn't Al Gore.

Albert Bates, who has lived on The Farm in Summertown since 1972, has emerged as an internationally recognized leader in the ecovillage and sustainable design movement.

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UPDATE 3-Obama wants to end wealthy farmers' crop subsidies

President Barack Obama asked Congress on Monday to slash crop subsidies to "wealthy farmers" and to pare federal support for crop insurance, moves estimated to save $10 billion over 10 years.

Obama targeted those areas for large cuts last year without success. Another fight is likely this year. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack offered to work with Congress to concoct a palatable package.

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S.2758: Growing Safe Food Act of 2009

A bill to amend the Agricultural Research, Extension, and Education Reform Act of 1998 to establish a national food safety training, education, extension, outreach, and technical assistance program for agricultural producers, and for other purposes.

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Plant a Row Project enlists local gardeners to aid food pantries

When Walpole resident Tracy Firth heard about the new community garden at Adams Farm last summer, she saw an opportunity to help out local food pantries with fresh produce. Firth is the campaign chair of Plant a Row for the Hungry (PAR) in Norfolk County, a neighbors-helping-neighbors program for home gardeners, originally launched in 1995 by the Garden Writers Association. 

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