Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group          |          August 2017
State Meat Processing Regulations: Taking What the Feds Give

By Farm-to-Consumer

The Wholesome Meat Act of 1967, legislation passed by Congress giving the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) the jurisdiction over intrastate meat slaughter and processing, ranks as one of the worst pieces of food legislation ever passed in this country. The act led to the monopolization of the meat packing industry, reduced consumer choice, as well as a deterioration in food safety and made it more difficult for small livestock farmers to have access to slaughterhouses. There are moves states can take, however, to make the best of the situation, and one of them is to adopt exemptions the federal law provides from the requirement in the Federal Meat Inspection Act (FMIA) that an inspector has to be present when slaughter takes place.

Tennessee is the latest state to take advantage of these exemptions. If states just adopt the federal laws governing exemptions and do not add requirements of their own, they are increasing the chances of small farmers effectively taking advantage of the exemptions to boost their farms' bottom line.

Lady of the Land

Ira Wallace wants to save the world, one seed at a time.

By Erin O'Hare 

A few years ago, an envelope containing about 20 seeds and a note arrived at the Southern Exposure Seed Exchange office at Acorn Community in Mineral, Virginia.  The note said something to the effect of, "Nobody in our family wants to carry it on. Hope you like it," recalls Ira Wallace, a worker/owner of Southern Exposure, a cooperative company. The sender of that little envelope, got the seeds from her grandmother, who obtained the seeds from a Russian woman in the 1950s. "A plant with a story is more likely to survive," says Wallace. "Taste is good, but when you have a story, a recipe, it takes you back to some time and some place that is really good." 

Five of the Most Valuable Crops You Can Grow in the US: And How to Grow Them

By Brian Barth 

Type 'world's most valuable crops' in your Internet browser and you end up with items like elephant dung coffee from Thailand ($1,100 per kilogram) and Densuke black watermelons from Japan (up to $6,100 each). In other words, stuff that no farmer in North America is realistically going to plant, harvest, and find a market for. But there are a few surprisingly valuable niche crops that thrive here--and can actually provide a livelihood for a small-scale farmer.

Should We Forgive Student Debt for Young Farmers?

By Alan Yu,  The Pulse

Farmers in the U.S. are getting older, and some say we should forgive the student loan debt of aspiring farmers to prevent a shortage in the profession. 

Jim Ladlee, a program director at Penn State Extension, works with a lot of farmers and studies what they do. He says with climate change and more extreme weather events, it's more important now than ever for farmers to go to school and learn how to grow more diverse crops, and choose the right varieties that can survive droughts or floods

New Labels for Conservation-Friendly Farming Practices
Sustainable farmers and ranchers now have two more ways to claim a premium for their ecologically-friendly management practices, thanks to two new labeling programs. Both are backed by organizations with strong track records in conservation. The Bee Better Certified program, operated by the Xerces Society, focuses on increasing flower plantings on farms to provide food and nests for native bees, honey bees, and other pollinators. 

And, the Audubon Society's  Conservation Ranching Program  is helping ranchers restore the large swaths of prairie where they graze cattle, on the theory that "what's good for the herd is good for the bird."
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Farm Bill Webinar Series

Join NSAC and SSAWG for a farm bill primer and grassroots strategy session. This four-part farm bill webinar series is designed to provide farmers, food producers and anyone who eats and cares about food an opportunity to get in-depth information about the farm bill, share information and concerns and develop ways to get involved and participate in farm bill grassroots activities. 

Aug. 15 -- Part 1: Farm Bill 101
Sept. 12 -- Part 3: Advocacy for Busy People
Sept. 26 -- Part 4: Strategy Discussion
All webinars will be held at  3 pm ET/2 pm CT. Click on each of the links above to register. 

Join in one or participate in all four! Help ensure the sustainable ag community has a common language and build a strategy to protect our resources in the 2018 farm bill. 
SAWG Seeks Board Nominations

The Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group Board of Directors is accepting applicants for consideration of a board appointment beginning in March 2018, and through March 2021. In a letter of interest, include a summary of your skills and experience as relevant to a SSAWG board appointment and your history and current involvement with SSAWG. Application Deadline: August 15, 2017.
Welcome to the Team!

Southern SAWG is very pleased to announce that Tavia Benjamin has been hired as our Conference Coordinator for the 2018 conference in Chattanooga. Tavia brings an exciting blend of experience in conference coordination, training, facilitation and strategic relationship building in a healing and anti-racist framework to Southern SAWG. She coordinated the 2014 and 2015 Service to Justice Conferences in Washington D.C. as well as the launch of the HEAL (Health, Environment, Agriculture, Labor) Food Alliance earlier this year. Tavia has also served as a Senior Project Manager with the Center for Community Change and was a "D.C. Place Matters Equity Fellow" with Bread for the City. We are very excited to have Tavia on our team!
Our Mission

Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group's mission is to empower and inspire farmers, individuals, and communities in the South to create an agricultural system that is ecologically sound, economically viable, socially just, and humane. Because sustainable solutions depend on the involvement of the entire community, Southern SAWG is committed to including all persons in the South without bias.
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