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The Conservation Security Program

This is the fourth in a series of five farm bill fact sheets from the Sustainable Agriculture Coalition. For more information about the status of other sustainable agriculture programs in the Senate and House versions of the bill, please see this 2008 Farm Bill legislative tracking chart (PDF). The 2008 Farm Bill conference committee negotiations are just getting underway at the staff level -- please contact members of the Agriculture Committee and weigh in! In addition to food and fiber, farmers and ranchers are in a unique position to help provide healthy soils, clean air and water, habitat for native …

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Cloned meat and milk just as safe as conventional, says long-awaited FDA report

In a nearly 1000-page report, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has concluded that food from cloned animals and their offspring "is as safe to eat as that from their more conventionally bred counterparts." The report effectively removes regulatory barriers to cloned food being offered to U.S. consumers, but practical barriers still remain, and it will be at least three years until the average shopper encounters a cloned product in the supermarket.

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Starbucks will no longer offer organic milk

Photo: gisarah Starbucks will cease offering organic milk to its coffee-quaffing customers at the end of February. The company has offered organic cow juice since 2001 at an extra charge, but "orders of drinks made with organic milk have consistently been a small percentage of total orders," according to a spokesperson. The chain has stopped using milk from cows shot up with artificial growth hormone; says a Starbucks memo to employees, "If a customer requests organic milk, let them know that our milk is now rBGH-free." Organic milk is also rBGH-free, but additionally requires that cows have access to pasture …

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Joel Stein of Time takes a poke at the locavores

The contrarian in me grinned when I read the concept. Time columnist Joel Stein pulls an anti-Pollan: He will cook dinner using only ingredients that traveled at least 3,000 miles from his home in L.A. And -- deliciously -- he will do his shopping at Whole Foods, which he declares "the local-food movement's most treasured supermarket, the one that has huge locally grown signs next to the fruits and vegetables." Ha, ha. It is a pretty funny joke -- especially on those in the local-food movement who treasure Whole Foods (a miniscule number, in my experience). But Stein's article brims …

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Organic production and research

This is the third in a series of five farm bill fact sheets from the Sustainable Agriculture Coalition. For more information on the status of all sustainable agriculture provisions in the Senate and House versions of the farm bill, please visit SAC's farm bill legislative tracking center. Despite the fact that organic agriculture is one of the fastest growing sectors of American agriculture, the U.S. is currently experiencing a domestic shortfall of organically produced food as consumer demand continues to outpace supply. Considering the enormous potential organic practices have to increase farm revenue in our rural communities, preserve and enhance …

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Scientists unveil genetically modified calcium-boosting supercarrot

U.S. scientists have unveiled a new "supercarrot" genetically modified to provide extra calcium, which they hope could ultimately help ward off osteoporosis. Say what you will about genetic modification, but you can't deny that picturing a carrot flying across the sky in a cape is funny.

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Conservation title schemes, youth flee CAFO country, and a side of E. coli beef

In Meat Wagon, we round up the latest outrages from the meat industry. In the business section of Sunday's New York Times, reporter Andrew Martin shined a bright light on a USDA program called the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, or EQIP. Funded through the conservation title of the farm bill, EQIP was originally intended to support farmers who wanted to improve the ecological performance of their farms -- say, by sharing the cost of building a fence to keep grazing cows from polluting a stream. But in 2002 -- reported Aimee Witteman of the Sustainable Agriculture Coalition in a Gristmill …

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What would you ask a ‘Skinny Bitch’?

As our resident foodie Tom Philpott noted a few weeks ago, the bitches behind Skinny Bitch -- "a no-nonsense, tough-love guide for savvy girls who want to stop eating crap and start looking fabulous" -- are back. Tomorrow afternoon I'll be lunching with one of them, and I'm curious what y'all would ask her -- besides, of course, "Are you gonna eat that?" Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin, the self-described "pigs" behind Skinny Bitch, shook up the diet world with their foul-mouthed vegan manifesto about the horrors of the food industry. Once the book was spotted in the hands of …

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Why Omnivore’s Dilemma should be avoided

If I was a pig, and I was president, the first thing I'd do would be to ban The Omnivore's Dilemma. I have a friend -- let's call him PJ -- who'd been a vegetarian for over a decade. Then he read The Omnivore's Dilemma -- which, if you haven't read it, is manifesto of the local-food movement that culminates in a self-sourced meal starring a locally shot feral pig -- and in short order got a hunting license, bought a gun, and started learning how to make salami, bam bam bam. A couple weeks ago, PJ and my other …

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A livestock title for fair and competitive markets

This is the second in a series of five farm bill fact sheets from the Sustainable Agriculture Coalition. Want more details on all of the sustainable agriculture provisions in the next Farm Bill? Go here (PDF) for a matrix that shows the status of provisions in the House and Senate versions. A shrinking number of companies dominate the nation's food supply, exerting market power over the entire supply chain from farm gate to dinner plate. In the livestock sector, the increasingly concentrated market has left farmers and ranchers in a position to negotiate with corporations that have far greater bargaining …