November 22, 2011
- Secret Farm Bill Fails! According to Bloomberg (11/21), “the plan, which was never publicly released, would have done away with about $5 billion in annual payments to farmers made regardless of crop prices. The subsidy would have been replaced partially with insurance against ‘shallow losses’ created by drops in revenue, according to lawmakers including Representative Ron Kind, a Wisconsin Democrat. Some lawmakers said the budget-cutting proposal may form the foundation of the next farm bill, due in 2012.”
- Blue Hill, Maine, Rallies Around Farmer Brown: On Friday, November 18, Blue Hill residents and neighbors from surrounding towns rallied in support of Farmer Dan Brown of Gravelwood Farm in Blue Hill, Hancock County (Bangor Daily News, 11/18). Brown is being sued by the State of Maine and Agriculture Commissioner Walt Whitcomb for selling food without state licenses. Blue Hill was the first of five Maine towns to have passed a “Local Food and Community Self-Governance Ordinance.” These ordinances permit the kind of sales Brown has been engaged in.
Speakers at the rally included Dan Brown, Penobscot farmer Heather Retberg of Quill’s End Farm, and Jeff Beyea, who was was Walter Whitcomb’s herdsman for over a year before he became Agriculture Commissioner. Beyea said that Whitcomb himself was in the practice of selling raw milk from his herd on his farm without a license.
- USDA Proposes “Organic” Use of Tetracycline, Formic Acid and Attapulgite: Pesticide & Toxic Chemical News reports (11/15) that “USDA‘s National Organic Program on Nov. 8 proposed allowing the use in organic agriculture of tetracycline, formic acid and attapulgite.” What’s next? Will sewage sludge from industrial and human waste be allowed to be spread on organic farms as well? Tetracycline is one of many toxic contaminants found in sludge.