Steve’s Weekly Update 10/27/10

Dear members,

Climatology 2010: Finally, a few cold nights and days.  Remaining crops in the field at MT are covered with double layers of row covers.  We are scrambling to get the chicken coops properly insulated for winter after a thorough cleanup and removal of old insulation spoiled by mice…

Steve’s Soapbox: No major soapbox this week as I am working diligently to prepare a “food safety core value statement” for use by NSAC (National Sustainable Ag Coalition) members as we move toward what we hope will be the final fight in the Senate over the food safety bill, S510.We have an amendment to that bill which is proposed by Senators Tester (D-MT) and Hagan (D-NC) which specifies a reduced set of burdens for farms and food facilities with annual sales under $500K and who direct market 50% or more of their products.  Major players such as the national consumer groups are twisting our intent and we have had an absence of good clear public messaging, and I am drafting a portion of our response.  I am devoting my “soapbox” time to that writing, and of course will share it with you along with any other information about S510 as soon as I can.

The bill is expected to be addressed during the lame duck session of Congress, but so much is unclear until next Wednesday (after the election) that all we can do is get prepared.

I will say that I have been very disappointed by the tactics of national consumer groups.  I had met the leadership people of 5 groups at the National Advisory Council on Meat and Poultry Inspection in September.  I had a detailed if brief conversation in which I proposed the idea that we all get together after the election and work cooperatively to resolve any remaining differences and push for passage of S510.

Instead they went on the attack against our attempts to clarify the burden of responsibility as it relates to smaller and direct market farms.

I guess that is how the world of power and politics works. I have reached out to these folks again and asked that they meet and talk with us, but I am no longer optimistic.

Here are two links that will give you this week’s news from Grist and the Food Safety News websites:

Debate Over Small Farm Exemptions Rolls On

Can Congress Make a Food- Safety Omelet without Breaking the Wrong Eggs?

This week’s Cow stories:  update on Mesa Top cows, Jim Miller Ayrshire projects and more:

The good news:  Kenny Carter at High Desert Creamery says that he has received approval from USDA of a series of small loans to at last get his facility upgraded so that he can attain grade A milk status on cow milk, and to further expand the cheese making plant.

The bad news:  They will not provide him operating funds so that he can pay his portion of the feed costs over the winter while the cows are dry.  They will not advance him funds for herd management until after he gets grade A inspection. He cannot get grade A inspection until he gets the improvements made, for which he is waiting on their loan money!

Sounds like a circular argument. And USDA wonders why small farmers are skeptical about their ability to help us in ways that are practical and relevant to our operations?

GEEZ!

This week’s cheese share update:

This week the cheese share will be a variety of artisanal cheeses.

This week’s Veggie/Share Update:

Mesa Top arugula looks beautiful.  We hope you enjoy it. This hardy green is among the remaining survivors in the field as fall finally segues toward winter. Also we have bunching onions form Mesa Top.  We have pac choi from Agricultura COOP as well.

Also we have beautiful tomatoes again from Virgin Farm and eggplant from Vida Verde.

Right now we are using a “utility grade” of organic potatoes from White Mountain, and will intersperse these with traditional baking russets as part of the share.   On average you will see potatoes twice a month during the cool season.  Also potatoes will be available for purchase weekly for folks who want more than what we are offering in the regular share.

We have our modest monthly garlic offering of Ojo Ajo, garlic forte, carefully grown and selected by Bill and Claudia Page at La Madera.  Bill has agreed to store his garlic for the entire winter and offer it exclusively through the CSA.  To make this arrangement fair to him, we are valuing the garlic by the head, as it will continue to dehydrate while it is stored.  If we were to price it by the pound it would not be fair to the farmer who is taking the risk and responsibility to store the garlic so that we can offer it all the way through March.  I want to express my appreciation to Bill and Claudia for supporting our CSA community by being willing to store and distribute garlic to us throughout the winter.

For members who want extra garlic between the times when the shares include the Ojo garlic, we still have some baja garlic available by special order or at distribution.  Garlic is one of those items that we realize, some members want more and others want less, so we try to take a “middle path”.

Apples continue and will be a staple fruit being the best “fresh” local fruit we can offer for quite some time.  Soon we will have Winesap from Cider Mill farms in the southern Sacramento Mountains in Mountain Park, NM along with the San Juan apples.

Membership news: We continue to grow at Santa Fe Prep and Albuquerque – please continue to refer your friends and neighbors for a $10 addition to your Farm Account.

Thank you for your continued support!

Steve Warshawer

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