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Posts Tagged ‘organic food production’

Moving toward Sustainable Rice Production in Northwest Dominican Republic

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Derek Sindler of Quality Certification Services (QCS) was one of four authors who contributed to a recent study (through the University of Florida) on sustainable rice production. The work is currently in circulation through Scientific Research, an academic publisher.

The following is an excerpt from the study:

” Pesticide runoff from the rice production area of Las Matas de Santa Cruz in NW Dominican Republic degrades biodiversity in the ecosystems of the Yaque del Norte River, Montecristi National Park, and Caribbean Sea. This degradation prompted the Dominican NGO AgroFrontera to develop a program for the creation of a new sustainable rice value chain, starting with the formation of a rice growers association in Las Matas. This project was to evaluate “organic” as a potential certification for the new growers association. The project found that while organic certification is years away, other barriers to a sustainable rice value chain exist: competition with US rice imports due to Dominican Republic-Central American Free Trade Agreement (DR-CAFTA), an informal labor system, and access to credit. Recommendations for the new growers association include: to lower the cost of production to compete with imports, to formalize the labor system, to mediate financing for rice producers, and to maintain balanced leverage across the value chain. A recommendation for future research is the resiliency of farmer institutions against internal corruption and in-fighting.”

For a more in-depth look into the study, please visit the link provided:

FDA Proposes New Food Safety Rules

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January 4, 2011 –  The Food and Drug Administration released a proposal that has the potential to be a major step in the implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), which President Obama signed into law two years ago.  These proposed rules detail the standards for produce safety and human food production standards, the first significant update to our nation’s food safety laws since the 1930s.

When writing S.510 (111th), Congress needed to be sure that the bill’s regulations work for small businesses and mid sized farms alike to accommodate the diverse sectors of American agriculture. Congress assured, in the proposed standards, that the reporting requirements and prevention planning requirements could be accomplished without costly investments.

“With the aim of improving food safety through FSMA, Congress rejected a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to food safety regulations,” said Ariane Lotti, Assistant Policy Director with the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition.  “Which would put small and mid-sized farm operations out of business, consolidate agricultural markets, and eliminate opportunities for food and farm entrepreneurs in emerging sectors of agriculture – including organic and local and regional food systems. Ultimately, we want to ensure a safe food supply, strong on-farm conservation of natural resources, and thriving family farms.” Read more on NSAC’s Blog>>



Upcoming Organic Farming Workshop in Vero Beach

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Florida Organic Growers (FOG) is organizing a Free Organic Farming Workshop at Osceola Organic Farm in Vero Beach Florida. The event will take place on  November 5th 2012 , from 8:30 am to 2:00 pm. The workshop will provide practical information and advice about organic vegetable production, sustainable soil and pest management, marketing, and organic certification. The workshop is designed for current and prospective farmers, as well as service providers who are interested in learning and sharing about organic farming.

Long time organic inspector and experienced organic vegetable grower Kevin O’Dare has been running Osceola Organic farm since 1993, and obtained organic certification since 1996.  Kevin successfully markets his produce through a farm stand, area restaurants and farmer markets. He’s an expert grower interested in promoting a new generation of farmers.

USDA Researcher Dan Chellemi & organic farmer Kevin O'Dare inspect a raised vegetable bed that is being solarized in Vero Beach. Photo by Randall Smith, USDA/ARS.

Kevin will lead participants through an interactive farm tour of his diversified 7 acre vegetable, herb and edible flower farm. Kevin will touch on all aspects of organic production, including fertility, soil and pest management. One of the highlights of the tour will be the discussion on soil management. The host farmer and USDA researcher Dr. Dan Chellemi will share with growers the exciting results of more than 10 years of study related to soil solarization. This innovative technique has promoted healthy and successful crops at Osceola Organic Farm.  Dr. Ariena Van Bruggen, from the Emerging Pathogens Institute at UF and also an expert researcher on organic agriculture, will also share with growers her insights into creating healthy soil ecosystems.

Another interesting element of the tour will be the participation of Dr. Bob Adair and Matt Adair, from the Florida Research Center for Agriculture Sustainability, who will share with growers the outgoing results of a research study in which beneficial insects have been introduced at the farm to manage leaf miners, Asian psyllids and other insect pests in the citrus orchard.

Chef Christopher Bireley puts the finishing touches on a dish at the Osceola Bistro.

Additionally Chef John Farnsworth of Johns Island Club and Chef Chris Bireley of Osceola Bistro will speak about the marketing opportunities that small organic local farms have in the area. Details will include the volume, quality and timing requirements in order to market to restaurants in the area, and other marketing strategies. These chefs are important potential buyers for family farms interested in the organic market in the region.  Finally the FOG staff, along with the host farmer will briefly discuss the requirements, benefits and challenges of the organic certification process.

The Farmer workshop is organized by Florida Organic Growers (FOG), a non-profit organization established in 1987 in Gainesville; and supported by a Specialty Crop Block Grant administer by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. FOG’s Education and Outreach Program promotes organic agriculture and healthy and just food systems, informing producers, consumers, media, institutions and governments about the benefits of organic and sustainable agriculture.


Click here to view the workshop agenda>>

Click here to download the workshop registration form>>


Space is limited and registration is required. Mail your completed registration form to P.O. Box 12311, Gainesville, FL 32604, fax to 352.377.8363, call 352.377.6355 or e-mail For more information visit .

Florida Small Farms and Alternative Enterprises Conference – July 27 to 29

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Hosted by University of Florida’s (UF) Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS), Extension and Florida A&M University’s (FAMU), College of Agriculture and Food Sciences (CAFS) the 2012 Florida Small Farms and Alternative Enterprises Conference has a full packed program that promises to provide practical and useful information for growers, researchers, retailers and consumers. The conference program includes a track for Sustainable and Organic Agriculture.

FOG invites you to come, share and learn with us. FOG staff will be tabling at the Trade Show open on Friday from 5 to 7 pm and Saturday morning and afternoon. Additionally FOG staff will be moderating on two Saturday sessions. FOG’s Executive Director Marty Mesh will be speaking and moderating the session “Capturing the Organic Market” from 11am to 12:30 pm, while FOG’s project coordinator Jose Perez will be moderating the session “Organic Pest Management” from 2:00 to 3:00 pm.  There will be plenty to see, share and learn. Hope to see you there.

For Registration and more information check the Conference website >>here.



FOG Signs 2, 4-D Opposition Letter

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FOG signed on to a letter of opposition against DOW AgroScience’s herbicide resistant corn strain. This letter was sent to Agriculture Secretary Vilsack and EPA Administrator Jackson. The corn mutation is of grave concern for the health of humans and the environment. Farmers will now be more inclined to use stronger herbicides, such as 2,4-D with glyphosate, a powerful chemical agent. Not only will this chemical agent cause damage to neighboring crops that are not resistant, wide-spread use can exacerbate the problem of “super-weeds”. Furthermore, more chemicals mean more nutrient build up and polluted run-off in our water supply and our environment. DOW is seeking approval from the USDA for use on farms in the United States.

To read the letter in its entirety, view the .pdf here.

For more information and commentary, check out the New York Times article, the True Food Network blog post, Marion Nestle’s take over at her Food politics blog.