the MOF&G Online
Sept/Nov 2002 News
The SuperMarketCoop--Spreading Global Democracy and Organic Goods
The Small Farm Connection at www.SuperMarketCoop.com is a
subscription delivery service by which members receive, for $35 a month, a
variety of food and craft products from diverse member coops in the United
States or Mexico; favorite recipes from cooperative members; stories of farmers
and coops; and action alerts and educational materials on food and farm policy.
Products include fresh, organic produce from rural farmers in Mississippi, North
Carolina, and California; pesticide-free smoked pork and ham from Missouri; rice
and garlic flavored chips from California; cheese made from cows that were not
treated with recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone; organic hibiscus tea and coffee
from Mexico; maple syrup, honey, jams and jellies, honey mustard and natural
botanicals from Maine (H.O.M.E. in Orland is a member); and more.
This project of Rural Coalition (1411 K St., NW, Suite 901,
Washington DC 20005; Tel. 202-628-7160; Fax 202-628-7165) is a collaborative
effort of rural, community-based agricultural coops to employ technology to help
preserve their communities, cultures and farms. It focuses on three
opportunities for opening new markets and increasing the competitive advantage
of small farmers: the subscription-based food of the month program noted above;
an online retail storefront; and an online product availability database.
Participating groups "have learned that cooperation is a viable strategy in
today’s marketplace," says www.SuperMarketCoop.com.
The website also features a Newsletter called The Juicer,
with the mission of "squeezing the truth out of the News on food and farms." It
promotes, for instance, "global democracy" rather than the current model of
globalization that the World Trade Organization, World Bank and International
Monetary Fund are trying to impose on the world.
Creole Pigs as a "Parable of Globalization"
Creole pigs once served as essential, sustainable "bank accounts"
for up to 85% of Haitian households. These hearty pigs could survive for three
days without food and could thrive on available waste. They helped maintain soil
fertility, feed peasants, and were sold occasionally to pay for weddings, school
books, and so on. In 1982, international agencies told Haitians that their pigs
were sick and must be slaughtered to stop the spread of disease. They were
promised replacement pigs from Iowa. The "better" pigs required clean drinking
water, imported feed and roofed pens. Haitians called them "four-footed
princes." The pigs failed, and Haitians lost an estimated $600 million. School
attendance, soil fertility and protein consumption declined.
Grassroots International and Toward Freedom are now working with
Haitians to reintroduce Creole pigs. For more information, including a video
about throwing "pig parties," contact GI at 179 Boylston St., Boston MA
02130-9901; 617-524-1400; www.grassrootsonline.org/what_pigparty.html. The story
of the Creole pig is available in a documentary called "A Pig’s Tale" from
Source: "Globalization and Creole Pigs," by Jean-Bertrand
Aristide, Earth Island Journal, Summer 2001.
Working Horse and Oxen Association Forms
The Working Horse and Oxen Association (WHOA) is an informal organization of
men and women interested in working with draft animals, particularly to perform
traditional farm tasks. The acronym WHOA represents more than the interaction
between human and draft animal; it also represents a way of life. Its purpose is
to give anyone who wishes the opportunity to work and to learn together,
recapture sustainable farming skills, and extend the knowledge of these skills
and techniques to future generations. The group members range from novices to
experienced teamsters, and the group is open to everyone interested—whether or
not owning a draft animal. It meets regularly at MOFGA to exchange information
and ideas, its goal being to encourage the revival of interest in farming with
This summer the Haystack Project is exploring the use of hay stacking as an
appropriate, inexpensive technology for small-scale farmers. Unlike widely
accepted round bale technology, which requires large capital investment and
creates bales that are impossible to move manually, hay stacking enables farmers
to utilize draft or low-horsepower (low-cost) machinery. Traditional technology
eliminates the need for major capital output and/or financing for equipment and
the high cost of maintaining modern mechanized equipment. It alleviates the need
for financially burdensome infrastructures (hay barns) or for plastic wrapping,
which uses both major equipment and a non-renewable resource in the plastic
wrapping. Baling equipment required for larger scale hay storage also becomes
unnecessary. Freely stacked hay can be transported more easily than round bales,
in desired quantities, rather than by expensive equipment.
The Haystack Project began at MOFGA’s Common Ground Education Center in early
spring by raising the center pole for the derrick, followed by mowing in June.
Participants created a traditional haystack with hay mowed at the Center. Draft
animals were used to mow the hay, and hand scythes helped mow the steeper
inclines. A derrick, or support frame for the haystack, was built, and the hay
was placed within the structure. Once full, the structure will be removed and
the haystack will be combed (as a thatch).
Samples of the hay will be sent to the University of Maine Cooperative
Extension for analysis of nutrient value during cutting and handling. When the
stack is broken open, the amount of spoilage will be estimated, and new samples
will be analyzed for nutrient value. These results will be compared with recent
research conducted by the University of Maine on round bale technologies.
The completed haystack, on display at MOFGA, is a learning experience for
people from Maine and beyond. Signs describe the project and illustrated panels
explain the derrick’s construction and importance in storing the hay.
The 2000 USDA report on small farms cited farmers as the lowest income group
in the nation, with most living at or below the poverty line. By encouraging a
method that cultivates community involvement and farmer cooperation, the
Haystack Project will contribute to moving farmers away from their marginalized
position in society. This project will offer this extremely important and
under-served population an economical alternative for an essential farming
Organic & Beyond: A Campaign for a New Vision of
A campaign in support of a new vision of farming was launched on
May 30, 2002, with publication of Fatal Harvest: The Tragedy of Industrial
Agriculture. Published by the Foundation for Deep Ecology, the large format
photo book provides compelling evidence of the extensive and unnecessary costs,
both human and ecological, of the U.S. system of industrial agriculture and
envisions food production in greater harmony with human communities and with the
The organizations behind the Organic & Beyond
campaign bring an impressive track record of research and advocacy on
sustainable agriculture, pesticide reform and food safety. (A list of campaign
partners follows.) Led by the Center for Food Safety in Washington, D.C., the
national and international campaign will focus on supporting strong organic
standards and promoting local and small-scale agriculture that is biologically
diverse, humane and socially just.
At the heart of the campaign is a
vision of a new agrarian consciousness, one that enables urbanites to
reestablish a relationship to nature, farmers and the land. Fatal Harvest's
editor, Andrew Kimbrell, challenges environmentalists to forge this connection
in their daily life; "We cannot do this if we remain food "consumers,"
destroying and wasting our lands and farm communities. We must learn to be
"creators" and truly see and understand that each action we take does make a
Fatal Harvest, with its stunning photos and
penetrating essays, is a valuable tool to educate consumers and decision-makers
on the deep costs of the U.S. system of factory farming. With essays by a
diverse group of poets, ecologists, activists and chefs that include Wendell
Berry, Hope Shand, Vandana Shiva and Alice Waters, the book begins with a deeply
poetic and provocative section on breaking the industrial paradigm, and proceeds
to up-end the seven corporate myths of industrial agriculture. The total effect
is a powerful vision of the bio-diversity and the cultural, social and economic
benefits of re-visioning agriculture.
Monica Moore, co-director of
Pesticide Action Network North America, contributes an article on the
destruction caused by pesticides. Her essay celebrates the accomplishments of
the worldwide movement to reduce pesticides, and lays out an agenda to ban the
worst offending chemicals, improve reporting on pesticide use, challenge
genetically engineered (GE) food, and hold corporations accountable for the
environmental impacts of pesticide and GE use and production.
Harvest's persuasive force and the campaign it supports, Organic &
Beyond, are valuable new resources for the community of activists working for
sustainable and just agriculture.
"A healthy farm culture can be based
only upon familiarity and can grow only among a people soundly established upon
the land; it nourishes and safeguards human intelligence of the earth that no
amount of technology can satisfactorily replace. The growth of such a culture
was once a strong possibility in the farm communities of this country. We now
have only the sad remnants of those communities. If we allow another generation
to pass without doing what is necessary to enhance and embolden the possibility
now perishing with them, we will lose it altogether. And then we will not only
invoke calamity--we will deserve it." -Wendell Berry
Beyond Campaign Partners:
Californians for Pesticide Reform
Community Alliance with Family Farmers
Community Food Security
Food & Water
International Forum on Food and
National Campaign for Sustainable
Occidental Arts and Ecology Center
Rural Advancement Foundation International USA
For information on the Organic & Beyond Campaign contact Center for
600 Pennsylvania Ave. SE # 302, Washington, DC 20003. Phone
(800) 600-6664 or (202) 547-9359; Fax (202) 547-9429;
Fatal Harvest: The Tragedy of Industrial
Agriculture, 2002 Andrew Kimbrell, ed. 384 pages. US$45 paperback, US$75 hard
cover, discounts on bulk orders. Contact Island Press, 58440 Main Street, P.O.
Box 7, Covelo, CA 95428; phone (800) 828-1302; fax (707) 983-6414; email
firstname.lastname@example.org; Web site www.islandpress.org.
Action Network Updates Service
Floriculture: Pesticides, Worker Health and Codes of Conduct
many cultures fresh cut flowers are deeply symbolic. As a gift they embody a
universal desire for connection--to other people, to the beauty of nature, to
God. What is deeply ironic is the extreme disparity between the symbol and the
real circumstances of their production. In fact, the rapidly growing
floriculture industry is a heavy user of pesticides and is poisoning its workers
and the environment in a number of Latin American and African nations.
May 2002 cover story in Environmental Health Perspectives, published by
the U.S. Department of Health, pulled together current research on worker and
environmental health in the cut flower industry, which is increasingly
concentrated in countries that are near the equator with low labor costs.
Holland remains the world's largest producer of cut flowers, but Colombia is now
a close second--one of every two flowers sold in the United States is grown in
the Colombian savanna surrounding Bogota. Colombia flower workers number 80,000,
with another 50,000 in packaging and transportation. China, Costa Rica, Ecuador,
India, Malaysia, Mexico, Kenya, Tanzania and Zimbabwe all now export cut
flowers. According to a report by the International Union of Food, Agricultural,
Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers and Food First
Information and Action Network (FIAN), 190,000 people in developing countries
work in the flower business.
A 2000 report by Gwen Curtis, "One Woman's
Present, Another Woman's Poison," traces the growth and globalization of the cut
flower industry, which grew by a factor of nine between 1994 and 1999.
International development agencies push floriculture as an exportable
alternative to traditional crops, but increased competition for water and
croplands near transportation centers has created conflicts with indigenous
farmers. In rural economies where food shortages are routine, the large-scale
production of resource-intensive, non-edible crops does not contribute to food
Environmental & Worker Health
pesticide use in the industry are hard to obtain, but flower growers use a
variety of fertilizers, insecticides, fungicides, nematocides and plant growth
regulators. In the United States, flower imports are not inspected for pesticide
residues because they are not edible; however, since flowers are considered an
agricultural product, they must be pest-free when imported. As a result, trade
regulations in countries like the United States and Japan actually promote use
of the highly toxic fumigant methyl bromide, also a potent ozone depleter, for
some flower exports.
Pesticides can cause cancer, birth defects, and
reproductive and nervous system damage; and floriculture workers are exposed at
numerous stages of plant growth. Worker exposure is of particular concern in
greenhouses, where up to 127 different chemicals are used in enclosed
spaces--increasing risk of exposure through the skin and by inhalation.
According to one study, some flower greenhouses in Mexico's state of Morelos use
36 different pesticides, including the persistent organochlorines DDT, aldrin
and dieldrin. A study of fern and flower workers in Costa Rica found that over
50% of respondents had at least one symptom of pesticide poisoning, such as
headache, dizziness, nausea, diarrhea, skin eruptions or fainting. In Ecuador,
nearly 60% of workers surveyed showed poisoning symptoms, including headaches,
dizziness, hand-trembling and blurred vision. Reproductive problems are also a
concern; studies of the largely female workforce in Colombia found moderate
increases in miscarriages and birth defects among children conceived after
either parent started working in floriculture. A Danish study of Colombian
flower workers concluded that female floriculture workers had reduced ability to
become pregnant, and that sperm concentrations were 40% lower in male workers
with long term exposure (more than 10 years). Indications of genetic damage were
also found in studies of workers exposed to organochlorines in greenhouses in
Environmental Health Perspectives also reports disturbing
environmental impacts. For example, after intensive water use by floriculture,
the water table has dropped under the savanna surrounding Bogota. In Costa Rica,
pesticide residues are directly discharged into waterways, pesticide equipment
is washed into streams and rivers, and runoff is allowed to enter important
aquifer recharge areas.
Consumers’ Choice for Workers’ Rights
the early 1990s, as consumers were increasingly concerned about conditions in
the cut flower industry, Food First Information and Action Network and Bread for
the World began a European campaign to certify flower producers. In 1999, the
Flower Label Program was launched in Germany. Growers sign on to an
International Code of Conduct (ICC) for the socially and environmentally
sustainable production of cut flowers. Based on the UN Universal Declaration of
Human Rights, the ICC mandates living wages, the freedom to join trade unions, a
ban on child labor, guaranteed health and security standards, reduced use of
pesticides and protection of the environment.
The industry has responded
with voluntary certification programs, such as Florverde in Colombia, Sello
Verde in Ecuador, and the Kenyan Flower Council, each with different standards
based on its country's regulations. The programs offer some improvements in
worker safety but do not approach the protections in the International Code of
Conduct, particularly for workers’ rights to free association and to form their
own unions. A current FIAN campaign is focused on basic organizing rights for a
Colombia flower workers’ union. (Contact FIAN Deutschland e.V. for information,
As the Flower Label Program's coalition of labor and
environmental advocates continue their course, the cut flower industry's
promotional phrase, "Say it with flowers" will gain a new subtext; "Say yes to
environmental health and social justice."
Sources: "The Bloom on the
Rose, Looking Into the Floriculture Industry", Focus, pp. 240-247;
Environmental Health Perspectives, Journal of the National Institute of
Environmental Health Sciences, May 2002, Vol. 110, #5; Public Health Service,
U.S. Dept of Health & Human Services, Washington D.C.; and Gwen Curtis, "One
Woman's Present, Another Woman's Poison," for the abstract:
For more on the Flower Label
Program: FoodFirst Information and Action Network, FIAN Deutschland e.V., Die
Blumen-Kampagne, Overwegstr. 31, D-44625 Herne, Germany; phone (49-02323)
490-099; fax (49-02323) 490-018; email email@example.com; Web site
From: Pesticide Action Network North America (PANNA), 49
Powell St., Suite 500, San Francisco, CA 94102; Phone: (415) 981-1771; Fax:
World Food Summit In Rome--Food Is a Human
Governments' efforts to end world hunger are failing. That was the
major point of consensus at the United Nations World Food Summit in Rome. The
Summit, held from June 8 to 13, was convened by the U.N. Food & Agriculture
Organization (FAO) when it recognized that its 1996 Global Plan of Action to
eliminate world hunger would not reach its target of halving the world
population of undernourished (currently estimated at 815 million) by the year
2015. Representatives from 183 countries attended the Summit--including heads of
state from many developing countries and two from wealthy industrialized
countries. At the same time, representatives of 650 nongovernmental and civil
society organizations (NGOs and CSOs), including numerous producers, fisherfolk,
pasturalists, rural residents and many groups linked with Pesticide Action
Network, met for a productive parallel Forum on Food Sovereignty also sponsored
Government and U.N. leaders at the Summit cited a lack of
political will and the need for wealthy nations to commit more resources as the
primary reasons for the failure. However, the NGOs/CSOs Forum participants took
issue with this analysis and issued a statement faulting their basic approach to
the problem: "The 1996 Plan of Action has not failed because of a lack of
political will and resources, but rather because it supports policies that lead
to hunger." In contrast, the people's organizations at the NGO/CSO Forum
identified unbridled free trade and privatization policies as primary causes of
hunger, and pointed to true land reform, support for local markets, and
agro-ecological production practices as key solutions.
Summit, the United States successfully blocked incorporation of the human right
to food in official statements and action plans, and diluted language referring
to this right in the Summit's concluding resolution. Proponents of ecological
and organic agriculture were also bitterly disappointed by the official Summit's
incorporation of the U.S. emphasis on genetically engineered (GE) crops as a
means of reducing hunger for people with little or no access to food, and the
omission of any reference to the need for precaution in dealing with GE crops.
"Agriculture in most parts of the world is more than 5,000 years old. In
the last 50 years the green revolution has not only destroyed the environment,
but the knowledge base of farmers. The new technologies of genetic engineering
will make problems worse," said Oswald Quintal of the Low External Input
Sustainable Agriculture (LEISA) network. "We have learned that community
approaches and appropriate traditional techniques can resolve the present
agricultural and hunger problems, not what is being promoted by the WTO and
so-called modern agriculture." According to Indian activist and scientist
Vandana Shiva, "the Indian food systems are now being planned and managed as an
investment sector for global agribusiness, not the livelihood security of
millions of farmers and the nutritional and food security of the people."
To dramatize the need for change, a delegation of farmers, fisherfolk,
women, peasants and activists supported by Pesticide Action Network Asia and the
Pacific presented FAO's leadership with more than 50,000 postcards signed in
rural areas of India, Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines and other countries
as part of an ongoing campaign to Get WTO (World Trade Organization) Out of
Agriculture. "Peasants who spend all their days toiling the land are not able to
make a living and are dying of hunger. The WTO has facilitated the dumping of
heavily subsidized cheap food from developed countries, and this has only
benefited the multinationals," explained Prem Dangal of the All Nepal Peasants
The day before the Summit, an estimated 40,000 people
marched peacefully through the streets of Rome demanding food sovereignty and
the right to food, and protesting GE crops and the failure of governments and
the UN effort to end world hunger.
Both the governmental Summit and the
NGO Forum issued final declarations at the meeting's close. The NGO Forum
statement emphasized that food is a human right; that people and nations are
entitled to determine their own agricultural and food policies; and that
development policy should foster agro-ecological agriculture.
Pesticide Action Network press release, July 5, 2002. Original sources:
NGO/CSO Forum for food sovereignty, Food Sovereignty: A Right For All,
Political Statement of the NGO/CSO Forum for Food Sovereignty:
Action Network (PAN) Asia and the Pacific, Press Release, Pallacio dei
Congressi, Rome, June 9, 2002, FAO Told: Take Agriculture Out of WTO! Uphold
Peasants' Rights to Land and Other Resources!
Associated Press, June 8,
2002, Protesters Hold March in Rome Over Genetically Modified Food, Land Reform
Ahead of U.N. Summit.
Website of the World Food Summit, FAO of the
United Nations: www.fao.org/worldfoodsummit.
Daily reports on the World
Food Summit by the FoodFirst Institute for Food and Development Policy:
Maine State Grange Seeks Members
The Maine State Grange is seeking additional members for its local Granges.
We feel that MOFGA members share common interests with us, and we invite MOFGA
members to take a closer look at the Grange and the possibilities of what we
have to offer you.
The Grange was organized in 1867 in Washington, D.C., to help farmers and
rural America rebuild after the Civil War. Most Americans lived on farms then.
We were the first agricultural, family, fraternal organization in America. We
became quite powerful in Congress and in the state legislatures fighting
monopolistic railroads and seeking passage of antitrust laws, the creation of
the Extension Service and rural free delivery, to name just a few
accomplishments. We educated our members on better farming methods and
encouraged education in general. Many Granges served as libraries in an effort
to improve literacy among rural Americans. They formed coops and started
insurance companies to make farming more profitable. They did whatever was
needed to improve rural life.
Today a very small percentage of Americans make a living on the farm, and
Grange membership likewise is made up of a small percentage of farmers. But we
are still strong supporters of Agricultural interests and rural America. We
still can be found lobbying for legislation at the state and national levels. We
still provide membership benefits, such as insurance, to our members. Our
mission remains unchanged: improving rural life.
There is more to rural life than legislation and financial concerns. As one
of our initiation charges states: "To love the country is to take interest in
all that belongs to it – its occupations, its sports, and its improvement." Thus
the Grange gets involved in all sorts of social activities to engage its
members. We have programs for young and old in writing, art, crafts, cooking,
cribbage and bowling tournaments, family campouts, scholarships, community
service projects, dances, suppers and anything else that the members identify as
The purpose of the Grange of improving the human condition will always be in
fashion. The way that we meet those needs will always be changing, and we
welcome new people and new ideas.
The Grange is for the whole family, however you define family. One can join
the Junior Grange at 5 years of age and the local Grange at 14 years.
Take a closer look at your local Grange. If you don’t have one, start one.
The Grange is a tool. Put it to good use in your town. The possibilities are
endless. For more information, contact the Maine State Grange at 146 State St.,
Augusta, ME 04330.