News from the Wild Side - September 2019

Catch up on the latest happenings from Wild Farm Alliance!

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What's Ahead for Wild Farm Alliance

Next week WFA’s Jo Ann Baumgartner will be speaking to the Central Coast Regional Water Board about how food safety and riparian habitat can be co-managed.

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In just a few weeks we will be launching a new StoryMap we have been working for the last year. Our StoryMap will showcase important sections of our publication, Supporting Beneficial Birds and Managing Pest Birds, and highlight farmers who are walking the walk and implementing practices that are making a difference on their farms. In addition to the narrative stories, the profiles feature videos showcasing the innovative farmers and researchers.

Keep an eye for the upcoming release and please help us get the word out about this new resource by sharing with your friends and colleagues. 

As always, the resources we create and work we do is a direct result of your support! Thank you for your commitment to building a wild and resilient farm movement. 

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Photo credit: Michael Bolte

Supporting Beneficial Birds and Managing Pest Birds - Webinar on October 1st

With authors of WFA’s bird booklet: Jo Ann Baumgartner, Dr. Sara Kross and Dr. Sacha Heath

Join us on Oct 1st to learn how beneficial birds can help farmers keep pest insects, rodents, and pest birds at bay. Birds act the same way that beneficial insects do in helping

with pest control. The overwhelming majority of songbirds are beneficial during nesting season because they feed pest insects to their voracious nestlings. With this webinar, we aim to help farmers and farm consultants make the most of birds on farms.

Read More and Register


Trainings Offered: Assessing Biodiversity and Natural Resources on the Farm

Wild Farm Alliance is joining the International Organic Inspectors Association and CCOF in co-hosting two trainings on California organic farms related to the National Organic Program's requirement for biodiversity conservation. 

"Assessing Biodiversity and Natural REsources on the Farm" are 300 Level Advanced Inspector Trainings. The interactive field trips to the Central Coast Region (High Ground Organics and Phil Foster Ranches) and to the Northern Central Valley (Full Belly Farm, Sierra Orchards and Free Spirit Farm) will provide hands-on training and sharpen observation skills. Trainers are conservation and biodiversity educators Tony Fleming (geologist and former inspector) and Jo Ann Baumgartner (Wild Farm Alliance Executive Director and former organic farmer).

Technical Service Providers, farmers and other non-inspectors are welcome to attend. Please contact Jonda Crosby, IOIA's Training Services Director, Jcrosby@mt.net 406-227-9161 about the training, logistics or the registration process and payment.


Organic Farmer Scholarships Available for the NOSB Meeting

The National Organic Coalition is offering a limited number of scholarships to farmers wishing to attend the NOC Pre-NOSB meeting (October 22, 2019) & National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) Meeting (October 23 - 25, 2019) in Pittsburgh, PA. 

The following important topics will be discussed during the NOC and NOSB meetings: DC organic policy update, oversight and enforcement for imports and dairy sector, Origin of Livestock, Pasture Rule enforcement, prohibition against genetic engineering in organic, transparency about GE contamination levels in field corn seed, marine materials, fatty alcohol (used for suckering tobacco), paper pots, sanitizers, parasiticides for livestock (fenbendazole, moxidectin), and others.

Interested farmers should fill out this online application: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/BYZ23VS

Priority will be given to farmers who apply by Friday, September 13. NOC has limited funds and may not be able to grant all scholarship requests. Farmers who apply by September 13 will be notified of scholarship awards around September 20.

Farmers who receive a scholarship will be reimbursed for expenses soon after the meeting – please save and submit receipts. Please direct any questions about the scholarship application process to: abby@nationalorganiccoalition.org


A Good Read and Upcoming US Book Tour

Wilding: The Return of Nature to a British Farm, by Isabella Tree

Forced to accept that intensive farming on their land at Knepp in West Sussex was economically unsustainable, Isabella Tree and her husband Charlie Burrell took a spectacular leap of faith in 2000 and handed their 3,500 acres back to nature. Managed with minimal human intervention, and with herds of free-roaming animals driving the creation of new habitats, their rewilded land is now heaving with life.

Author Isabella is currently on tour in the U.S.

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US Agriculture Now 48 Times More Toxic to Insect Life 

In August, a study reported that that U.S. agriculture is 48 times more toxic to insects than it was before neonicotinoids were introduced twenty five years ago. Unlike other pesticides that break down within hours or days, neonicotinoids (“neonics”) persist in the environment for months, even years after application, building up in soils, plants and surface waters creating cumulative toxicity.

This increase in toxicity corresponds with reports of significant declines in insect and bird populations in recent years. Neonics used on corn and soybeans have contributed more than other crops to the increase in toxicity. In 2018, the European Union banned neonics for field use, and Canada passed restrictions on their use in 2019.

Friends of the Earth, a co-author of the study, is asking Congress to pass the Saving American’s Pollinators Act to suspend the use of the most concerning neonics and other systemic pesticides.

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neva-award.jpgCongrats to WFA Board Member, Neva Hassanein

Congratulations to Neva Hassanein, a member of WFA’s board, for receiving the Excellence in Public Service Award from the Agriculture, Food, and Human Values Society (AFHVS) this summer. The award honors AFHVS members who have made contributions that have significant public service impact on the advancement of agriculture, food, and human values.

Neva, a professor at the University of Montana, was described as a “national leader in sustainable agrifood systems, someone who exemplifies the ideal of the public scholar.” Her work in training and mentoring students who have assumed important leadership roles at universities, non-profits and in the public sector was also cited. 

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The Healthiest Thing You Can Do? Get Dirty! 

This piece is written by WFA friend, Gary Paul Nabhan, and published in Earth Island Institute in July 2019

Americans now spend a stunning 90 percent of their time indoors. Our sedentary, screen-addicted lifestyles have been blamed for a range of ills — including obesity, attention problems, allergies and more.

We know that getting out of the house and into nature confers many benefits for physical and mental health. But there’s an additional benefit you might not know about: contact with the soil — good old dirt — enriches the gut microbiome, the community of microorganisms that inhabit our digestive tracts. A growing body of evidence shows that a healthy gut microbiome is essential for our wellbeing. Moreover, new research indicates that by restoring soil health, we can restore our internal microbial communities — a win-win for nature and human beings alike.

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Becky_Weed_and_Dave_Tyler.jpgOn Point Podcast with Becky Weed

In July, Becky Weed, a WFA Advisory Board member, participated in an On Point podcast entitled Climate Change is Transforming How Our Food Gets From Farm to Table. Becky, who farms sheep on 160 acre Thirteen Mile Lamb and Wool Company in Montana, is vice chair of the Montana Organic Association and co-author of the Montana Climate Assessment. During the podcast, she described how warmer temperatures and more volatile weather is impacting farmers. She discussed how strategies that farmers can adopt to build resilience in their land and adapt to climate change will also help mitigate climate change and improve their crops. Becky also noted the importance of the Farm Bill and a need for incentives to encourage diversified landscapes and grassland ecosystem restoration instead of commodity crops like corn and soy.

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