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Think global, eat local

(Friday, Aug. 5, 2005 -- CropChoice news) --

1. Think global, eat local
2. Oxfam has it backwards
3. ACGA cautions Congress on privatizing U.S. export grain inspection
4. Concern grows about antibiotic use in food
5. CAFTA near win shows strength

1. Think Global, Eat Local

The sustainable food movement that began with Berkeley chef Alice Waters has blossomed in Portland, Ore. Are its proponents just dreaming? Or is a real revolution underway?

Los Angeles Times Magazine - July 31, 2005

By Jim Robbins
Jim Robbins is a freelance writer based in Helena, Mont. He last wrote for the magazine about Butte, Mont.

Greg Higgins, chef and owner of the tony downtown Portland restaurant Higgins, walks to the back of his bustling kitchen and opens a door into the heart of the latest environmental movement. The walk-in refrigerator is crammed with sides of beef covered with blankets of fat, glassy-eyed fish, rows of restaurant-made sausage and ham, trays of fresh vegetables in plastic tubs and assorted comestibles, nearly all of it originating within 100 miles of here, in what Higgins calls the Portland "foodshed." Virtually every item is brought in and dropped off by the farmer who raised it.

"There's nothing more threatened than the American farmer," says the tall, burly Higgins a little later, as he swirls and sips a glass of Oregon white wine. "The goal is to keep them in business."

A personal connection between a restaurant chef and the people who grow his beef or broccoli rabe might not sound radical, but it's a major element of a burgeoning movement. It's called "sustainable food"-a chain of supply and demand that theoretically could continue in perpetuity. A shorter food chain cuts down on oil consumption, puts money in the pockets of disappearing farmers, is more humane, helps protect soil and water and, best of all, usually delivers food that tastes better. Alice Waters of Chez Panisse in Berkeley is credited with starting the movement in the U.S. Now, from the ivy-covered dorms at Yale to the public schools at Berkeley to the grocery stores, white-tablecloth restaurants and fast-food joints of Portland, a grass-roots movement is sprouting that emphasizes food with a local pedigree.

That this kind of relationship is even news is an indication of how crazy the food production and distribution system has become. Brian Halweil of the Worldwatch Institute, an environmental research organization, estimates that just 1% or 2% of America's food is locally grown. He thinks the locally grown share could easily reach 40% or 50%, "and there's no reason why we couldn't grow all of our food."

The produce in the average American dinner is trucked about 1,500 miles to get to the plate, according to a 2001 study by the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State University, up an estimated 22% during the past two decades. And growing food is no longer an artisanal process, but a commodity. Large food producers focus on supplying products as cheaply as possible, and consumers are waking up to the fact that something's wrong. Things are getting weird out there in Hooterville: cloned cattle and sheep, genetically modified "Frankenfoods," schools of pen-raised and chemically dyed salmon, E. coli in beef, mercury and PCBs in fish, chickens crammed into cages the size of a sheet of paper, and giant hog farms that pollute watersheds and raise a stink for miles. Acres of topsoil get washed away by large-scale farming and pesticides wind up in human breast milk. Small farm and ranch families are disappearing, while large corporate farms reap huge federal subsidies, sometimes for growing nothing.

Peter de Garmo is the owner of Pastaworks, a sustainable grocery store in Portland, and the founder of the Portland chapter of Slow Food, a group that seeks sustainability in food. "Large-scale farming comes at an incredible cost," he says. "It's subsidized by the public at large without the public knowing it subsidizes it."

Some consumers are rebelling against the global marketplace and seeking out food whose history is known and friendly. While there are alternatives to mainstream food-organic, biodynamic, fair trade and others-the idea of a sustainable food system is generating the most interest.

The granola-and-Birkenstock types aren't the only ones behind the movement. The rock-rib Republican governor of South Dakota, Mike Rounds, supports a state program that requires animals to be tracked from birth, fed high-quality feed, treated humanely and otherwise remain well-cared for, under penalty of felony charges. Sustainable food is served in the restaurants of Yellowstone, Yosemite and other national parks. In Italy last year, 4,300 small farmers, chefs and other small-scale producers from around the world gathered for a conference called Terra Madre, or Mother Earth, to consider alternatives to the present food supply system.

Sustainable food "is growing beyond the culinary fringe," says Worldwatch's Halweil, who also is the author of "Eat Here: Reclaiming Homegrown Pleasures in a Global Supermarket." "It's showing up in restaurants, supermarkets, even Wal-Mart."

A cascade of factors are driving this new attitude toward food. In 2001, the U.S. Surgeon General released a "Call to Action" that found more than 60% of Americans are overweight or obese, which is a major contributor to Type 2, or adult-onset, diabetes. Food scares also have raised awareness. In the 1980s, it was Alar, a chemical sprayed on apples that was shown to cause cancer, especially in children. In the 1990s, it was genetically modified organisms-the high-tech swapping of genes between disparate species to, for example, increase the output of milk in dairy cows.

But more than any single factor, mad cow disease in Europe has made people rethink what they put in their bodies. Mad cow, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy, is believed to be caused by an abnormal protein that leads to brain damage and eventually kills the infected cow. In humans, it's believed to cause a variant form of Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, which leads to a slow and agonizing death as the disease attacks the brain.

But it's in the food-savvy city of Portland that the new food economy has taken root, and where the future may be taking shape.

One of the first groups to respond to the decline in food quality was an organization called the Chefs Collaborative, which has some 1,000 chef members, including current Oregon chapter chair Greg Higgins. Higgins grew up on a truck farm near Buffalo, N.Y., one of six children in a single-parent family. He wandered west to cook, and opened his Portland restaurant with a partner in 1994. About that time, he says, he noticed that both the taste and the look of food were changing. "The cauliflower I was getting didn't look or taste like the cauliflower I picked as a kid," he says. "It lacked flavor, intensity, character and depth." But the revelation came when a salesman talked him into trying farm-raised salmon. "I didn't like the way it smelled, I didn't like the way it felt, and it smeared orange on my cutting board" from the coloring dye, he says.

Higgins is the godfather of sustainable food in Portland, a movement that started in earnest in the mid- to late-1990s. This progressive, environmentally aware town with European sensibilities is filled with savvy gourmets and food activists. With its embarrassment of gastronomic riches-wild mushrooms and salmon, an array of berries and fruit, organic dairy farms, rustic bakeries, coffee roasters, vineyards and a crop of top chefs-Portland has become a destination for serious eaters. The city was quick to grasp the idea that changing food choices made sense on every level and would ripple out into the natural, cultural and economic systems. Sustainable food has crept into nearly every culinary crevice.

It's nearly impossible to find white-tablecloth restaurants here, for instance, that would dare serve farm-raised salmon. There were two farmers' markets in the 1980s; now there are more than 20. Community Supported Agriculture, a movement in which people buy shares of produce from a farm family before it is grown, is booming. Higgins and other chefs meet regularly with fishermen and farmers.

Sustainability would not mean much if it were relegated to the world of elite restaurants or expensive organic grocery stores. In Portland the goal of food activists is to permeate even the culinary demimonde with local and sustainable alternatives. Burgerville, for example, a 39-store fast-food restaurant chain based in nearby Vancouver, Wash., buys all of its beef from the sustainable ranchers at a co-op called Country Natural Beef and local dairy products that are not genetically modified, and it's trying to work out a way to buy no-till sustainable wheat from eastern Washington. It also offers a special milkshake based on Oregon's hazelnut season. "Food safety is the No. 1 issue in our business," says Jack Graves, Burgerville's chief cultural officer. "And the way to ensure that is to know where the food is coming from."

New Seasons Market is a sustainable grocery store chain that has thrived in Portland, a fusion of Whole Foods and Safeway, with twists of its own. "Our goal is to try and change the food system," says Brian Rohter, chief executive of New Seasons Market. "People want to buy locally. We give them the opportunity."

The five New Seasons markets are as large, cheery and well-lighted as any modern grocery store. You can buy organic chickens and tofu, but also Doritos and Diet Pepsi. Things are most obviously different in the produce section. The provenance of apples from China and Chile is conspicuous on their labels. Apples from Oregon are labeled with the name and location of the farms where they were grown. So much of the produce is bought locally, one greengrocer's sole job is to make contact with Portland-area farmers and arrange to buy their wares for New Seasons markets.

In the fish department, the fish are graded with green, red and yellow signs, a system developed by Monterey Bay Aquarium called Seafood Watch, which publishes a list of seafood that's caught or farmed sustainably. Red means they are not sustainably caught; green means they meet the sustainable criteria. Virtually all of the meat is locally and sustainably raised. New Seasons just started a program to mark with a special sticker all of its 35,000 products that originate or have value added in Oregon, Northern California and Washington.

Sustainability obviously makes some things more complicated. It's much more work to find vendors and manage 20 sources for produce rather than deal with one institutional provider. And small outfits have trouble providing quantity. Restaurants have to bend-they don't serve salmon all year, and only serve vegetables in season. That's why even proponents say this is not an effort to replace the big food companies, but only to replace what they can.

Price also is one of the drawbacks to buying food from small-scale producers. Pork in the grocery store is less than $3 a pound; the pork Higgins buys is $9. But proponents of sustainable food say that the price of goods on the grocery store shelf is deceptive. Large-scale operations can sell goods cheaply because of cheap labor, or by "borrowing" against the future by causing soil erosion or groundwater depletion, or because they get the lion's share of the federal subsidies. Often the global food supply is filled with hormones or pesticides, or is otherwise not as healthy.

"You can pay your farmer," says Higgins of the Chefs Collaborative, "or you can pay your doctor."

Rohter says that when most things are near equal, but people know food is local or sustainably raised, consumers overwhelmingly will buy local products. "We're not going to guilt-trip anybody or make judgments about what they buy," he says. "But we share as much information as possible. Eaters should be able to make informed choices."

At Clint Krebs' spread in the middle of the sun-baked eastern Oregon desert, he points out the wagon ruts from the Oregon Trail that passed through here.

His grandparents opened a store in what they called Cecil, but it closed as the homesteaders drifted away from this harsh, dry land. The store still stands, a monument to the ghost towns that now dot the rural landscape. As he drives through sheds filled with hundreds of sheep milling about with their rickety newborn lambs and points out grazing cattle, he describes the changes brought about after he joined forces with the Hatfields.

Doc and Connie Hatfield, the Roy Rogers and Dale Evans of the sustainable beef movement, founded Country Natural Beef with 13 other ranch families in 1986 at their High Desert Ranch near Brothers, an hour or so out of Bend.

"We were going broke," Connie says. She decided to talk to a guy at the local gym to find out why eating beef was so roundly condemned. "He was a big Jack LaLanne type with muscles," she says. To her surprise, he told her he loved beef, but he couldn't get it without antibiotics, hormones and excess fat.

A market was born. During the last two decades a new ranching philosophy has evolved on the high desert of Oregon, moving ranchers out of the anonymous commodity business and toward a higher-quality branded product.

"De-commodify or die," Connie says. While the co-op has grown to 70 families, it cannot keep up with the demand, and the Hatfields and other co-op families are teaching fellow ranchers the same approach, from Texas to Montana. "We turn someone who wants to buy beef down every week," Doc says. "Supply is our problem, not the market." As Connie puts it: "If you're truthful, you don't have to advertise it."

Krebs says his life, and the lives of other ranchers, has changed on every level. They stopped using hormones and antibiotics and started feeding minerals and handling the animals in less stressful ways. Sensitive riparian areas were fenced off, and cattle are moved more often. And he and other ranchers now try harder to understand their customers. The hardest part for some, Krebs says, is the "meet and greet." "Every rancher in the co-op spends two days a year in front of a meat counter meeting customers," he says. "For a lot of these ranchers, the thought of going to Portland is difficult. But everyone has enjoyed it."

They fetch a premium for their efforts. On average during the past decade, ranchers in the Country Natural Beef co-op got $120 more for each cow they sold over the price of traditional commodity beef. And their land is healthier because their operations better meet environmental standards and are verified by an independent third party, the Food Alliance. Young ranch families are coming back to work a ranch they thought they might have to leave forever. As a result, some Western towns may survive-or even thrive.

While Portland may be the capital, the push for a sustainable food system is a fledgling national movement. Catering institutions that run the kitchens on corporate and college campuses have rallied around the idea, in large measure because they have been pressured by college students, but for other reasons as well. "We were losing flavor on the plate," says Maisie Ganzler, director of communications and strategic initiatives for Bon Appétit Management Co., a Palo Alto-based corporation that serves 55 million meals a year at institutions such as Oracle Corp., Cisco Systems and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. "Tomatoes didn't taste like tomatoes anymore. We realized we had lost contact with our food supply-it's bred and grown to travel, not for flavor." They launched a "Farm to Fork" initiative that allows all of their chefs to buy ingredients grown within 150 miles of their kitchen-a tenth of the travel distance of the produce in an average American meal.

The true test, of course, will be the large corporations that dominate the global food system. Five supermarket chains account for 42% of U.S. retail food sales, according to a 2001 University of Missouri study, but they're apparently paying closer attention to growing consumer awareness about food.

Even Wal-Mart, one of those five corporations and widely considered hostile to local economies, has participated in "buy local" produce programs. Beyond food retailing, Anheuser-Busch recently announced that it would stop buying rice to brew beer in its home state of Missouri if the state allowed the planting of genetically modified rice. McDonald's website proclaims the company's commitment to the humane treatment of animals, and McDonald's and Burger King are discouraging beef producers from routinely using antibiotics in beef, which some studies suggest may lead to reduced effectiveness of antibiotics in humans.

The impact of these gestures is not yet clear. And mainstream food producers see locally grown food as a fad. The National Cattlemen's Beef Assn. in Denver says that while it supports Country Natural Beef, its safeguards are unnecessary but appeal to "people who might not otherwise eat beef," says Dr. Gary Weber, an animal scientist who is the director of regulatory affairs for the beef association. Of the U.S. Department of Agriculture inspection and certification process, he says: "We're very confident with all of the levels of protection in place. We have the safest beef supply in the world." While antibiotics and hormones are used in cattle, Weber says they are carefully monitored. "We're dedicated to making decisions based on science."

Food activists say it's time to look at the big picture. Brian Halweil of the Worldwatch Institute argues that a highly centralized food supply imported from around the world and controlled by a handful of companies leaves us much more vulnerable to disruption in the oil supply or climate warming. "Because agriculture depends on stable and predictable weather, it will be most affected by climate change," he says. "Anything we can do to make the global food source more diverse or more decentralized will help us cope with that shock." Terrorism also has given the movement a boost-"food security" is a term that wasn't heard much before Sept. 11, 2001.

In his best-selling book, "Collapse," UCLA geography professor Jared Diamond argues that what has brought down past civilizations, from the Norse settlers in Greenland to the inhabitants of Easter Island, was that they created ways of life that simply couldn't be sustained over the long haul. Many food activists say that locally raised food may never completely replace corporate farming, but it could grow to play much more of a complementary role.

Perhaps the most compelling aspect of the sustainable food movement is how quickly a community can create a local food economy. It doesn't take global agreements, and it doesn't require new legislation. Every locally grown tomato or hamburger from a nearby cow, the foodies say, is a vote for a less-polluting, safer-and more delicious-way of life.


Understanding sustainable food

Unlike the term "organic," "sustainable" has no official government definition, and other definitions can be slippery. And because customers will pay a premium, many businesses claim that their food is sustainable when it isn't.

A recent study by the New York Times of eight New York City stores offering wild salmon, for example, found that six were really selling farm-raised fish. A Wall Street Journal article found that the organic grocery chain Whole Foods was misleading consumers by implying that 5% of the retail price of fair trade coffee was going to growers, when it was 5% of the wholesale price.

Understanding sustainable food means understanding three types of labels. "First party" means the producer is making the claims. "Second party" means an industry group has evaluated the product. Urvashi Rangan, an environmental health scientist at the Yonkers, N.Y.-based Consumers Union, says the best labels are "third party" labels, in which an independent organization evaluates the claims being made.

One of the largest third party labels-and rated as accurate by Consumers Union-is Portland-based Food Alliance, which certifies 225 farms and ranches in 16 states and tries to bring some order to the chaos of "sustainable." Growers pay a minimum of $400 in annual fees to the Food Alliance, which dispatches an inspector to assess such things as the reduction or elimination of pesticides, whether working conditions for laborers are safe and fair, how well soil and water resources are conserved, and whether animals are treated humanely. Farms are inspected every three years and are required to file annual reports. Occasionally there are spot audits.

"For all this they expect market advantage," says Scott Exo, executive director of Food Alliance. "Access to new markets, greater market share, price premium."

Researcher Jessica Gelt contributed to this story.

2. Oxfam Has It Backwards

Re: A Third-World 'Farm Aid,' So to Speak, By MELANIE WARNER

Published: July 29, 2005

Oxfam would have everyone believe agricultural subsidies are cause of economic woes for third world nations. In fact, subsidies are only a symptom of the underlying problem.

Economic power concentrated in the hands of a few large players has effectively eliminated the price system upon which capitalism is thought to rest. Farm price is no longer cost plus profit. Instead it is a command economy in which those corporate players on top dictate farm price. All risk and all cost within the system are placed upon the farmer.

It is foolish of Oxfam to suggest world prices would increase without subsidies. Subsidies are in reality transfer payments to large corporations now totally dependent upon low cost inputs.

Concentrated corporate power and global trade of farm products are the root cause. Address the real problem and subsidies will disappear. As most everyone knows the horse must go before the cart.

John Bunting
Delhi, NY 13753

3. ACGA Cautions Congress on Privatizing U. S. Export Grain Inspection

For Immediate Release
Contact: Larry Mitchell (202) 835-0330

WASHINGTON -- August 3, 2005 - The American Corn Growers Association (ACGA) is urging the U.S. House of Representatives to reconsider a provision in the reauthorization of the U.S. Grain Standards Act that provides new authority to the Secretary of Agriculture to use private entities to perform official U.S. grain export inspections.

"The future competitiveness of U.S. corn and other grains in world trade hinges on the credibility of the U.S. export inspection system," said Dan McGuire, CEO of the American Corn Growers Foundation (ACGF). "Even with today’s extremely low corn prices, U.S. corn export estimates for 2004/2005 were reduced to only 1.825 billion bushels, down 72 million bushels from 2003/2004, in the July 12 th U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) supply and demand report." McGuire is the director of the ACGA-ACGF Farmer Choice - Customer First program.

"The last thing the U.S. export system needs is another level of uncertainty for U.S. global customers," added McGuire. "It is important that professional federal grain inspection experts, not private entities, do the official on-sight sampling, inspecting, weighing and certification of export cargoes if the U.S. is to maintain its reputation as having an unbiased, neutral and credible inspection service. Inspecting the quality and safety of grain exports is the regulatory role of government."

McGuire explained his concerns that many foreign buyers will simply refuse export certification from anyone less than the federal government and take their business to U.S. competitors. "It is an issue of accountability and who is standing behind the official certificate that represents the quality of the grain. Any appearance of a conflict of interest with a privatized inspection system will undermine years of farmer-funded U.S. grain export promotion and foreign market development work."

Larry Mitchell, Chief Executive of the ACGA pointed out that we already have enough other issues eroding U. S. corn exports. "European biotech giant Syngenta’s unapproved Bt 10 biotech corn variety has been detected in six U.S. corn export cargoes in Japan since the news broke in March that the variety had accidentally been sold."

Mitchell added, "The credibility and quality questions that are being raised as a result of Bt 10 are the very kind of credibility issues all U.S. exports could face if USDA hands over official export grain inspection to private entities." Mitchell went on to say, "In fact, the privatization of grain inspections will have a much more damaging effect, because it will cast a shadow of doubt over the integrity of the whole US grain system. American corn producers do not need this additional disadvantage in the marketplace."

"Privatization of grain inspections will make the U.S. less competitive in world corn trade, not more competitive as privatization proponents suggest," Mitchell said, "and the result will be that, again, we will hear the same old song calling for farmers to accept lower grain prices to "compete" in world trade. This is an unacceptable strategy that has failed repeatedly."

The American Corn Growers Association represents 14,000 members in 35 states. See www.acga.org


4. Concern Grows About Antibiotic Use in Food: Limited FDA Ban Comes As Ranchers, Retailers Pitch Range of Drug-Free Products

August 2, 2005; Page D1

The Food and Drug Administration's decision last week to ban the antibiotic Baytril in poultry production is among the latest in a series of steps to limit the use of antibiotics in farm animals. The move comes at a time when an increasing number of companies are marketing "antibiotic-free" meat.

The only problem: Many consumers are baffled by what risks antibiotic use in chickens, cows and pigs could pose to human health.

Smithfield Foods Inc., Smithfield, Va., a major pork producer, is expected to announce today that it will limit the amount and kind of antibiotics it uses in pigs in compliance with new guidelines imposed by a major customer, Compass Group's North American unit. Food-services giant Compass said it will buy pork and chicken only from suppliers that don't give animals growth-promoting antibiotics that come from classes of drugs also used in human medicine.

A range of other companies, including Whole Foods Market and Chipotle Mexican Grill, a burrito chain majority-owned by McDonald's Corp., advertises that the meat they sell is raised without antibiotics. Murray's Chicken, available in grocery stores with such labels as "no antibiotics administered" or "grown without antibiotics," has increased revenue 20% a year for the past seven years, the company says. The number of animals raised under the "Certified Humane Raised and Handled" program, which promises, among other things, that animals are raised with "a healthy diet without added antibiotics," rose to two million in 2004 from 143,000 animals the year before.

But as claims about antibiotic use proliferate, consumers are facing an array of confusing terminology, some vague and some highly technical. Pitches on food labels, Web sites and advertisements range from "antibiotic-free" or "no antibiotic residues," to "without added antibiotics" and "no subtherapeutic antibiotics."

Some of these labels aren't approved by the Department of Agriculture because they are misleading. In fact, no meat sold in the U.S. is allowed to have antibiotic residues, so therefore it is all "antibiotic-free." Because the USDA regulates language only on food labels, many companies get away with using unapproved terms in advertising and on their Web sites.

Such sales pitches and labels may help foster a basic misunderstanding among food shoppers about just why there is concern over the use of antibiotics in farm animals. According to consumers and scientists who specialize in food-safety issues, many people mistakenly think it is because meat and eggs from animals given antibiotics are laced with drugs.

"The problem is not antibiotic residues in the meat. It's in the resistant bacteria that contaminate the meat," says Stuart Levy, the president of Alliance for the Prudent Use of Antibiotics and a microbiologist who wrote a book on antibiotic resistance.

The problem of antibiotic resistance occurs when use of an antibiotic kills off all the susceptible bacteria but leaves behind a few that were able to withstand the drug. These resistant bacteria then can multiply, creating a new race of "super bugs" that drugs can't kill. Consumers and health groups have said that use of antibiotics in farm animals will create more resistant bacteria that live in the animals -- and that could infect someone who later eats the animal. In addition, resistant bacteria in animals can make their way into the environment through ground water, manure and other channels.


Antibiotics are used in livestock production in two distinct ways. One is subtherapeutic antibiotics, which are mixed in with feed and given to farm animals throughout their lives, even when they aren't sick. These antibiotics both prevent disease and promote faster growth for reasons that aren't entirely understood, but may have to do with enhancing the animals' immune systems. The other way the drugs are used is therapeutically, when animals get sick. Farm animals get lots of bacterial infections, for the same reasons school children do: They spend a lot of time together in close quarters where disease spreads easily.

On meat and poultry, labels that say "raised without the use of antibiotics" or "no antibiotics administered" (such as Murray's Chicken) assure buyers that the animals didn't consume either subtherapeutics or therapeutics. Producers that use these labels, which are approved by the USDA, meet the strictest standards for nonuse of antibiotics.

More common are labels that indicate the producer has limited either how or what kind of antibiotics were used. Among claims approved by the USDA: Products labeled as "Certified Humane" indicate that animals weren't given antibiotics subtherapeutically; they may, however, have been treated therapeutically. Labels on beef from specialty-meat producer Niman Ranch, based in Oakland, Calif., say cattle the meat comes from were "never given growth-promoting antibiotics," meaning no subtherapeutic drugs were given, but the animals were treated if they got sick.

Foster Farms, a poultry company based in Livingston, Calif., limits itself to subtherapeutic antibiotics that aren't also used in human medicine.

Denmark's Experience

Not everybody agrees that banning antibiotics is the necessarily right thing to do. Denmark, the world's largest pork exporter, has banned the use of subtherapeutics. Since then, overall antibiotic use in animals has fallen by about half, but therapeutic antibiotics have increased 30% to 40% as a direct result of the ban, according to the Danish Institute for Food and Veterinary Research. Paul Sundberg, vice president of science and technology for the U.S. National Pork Board, says the Danish experience shows that taking away subtherapeutics leads to sicker animals, which then need to be treated with more therapeutics.

In the case of Baytril, the FDA says the drug still can be used to treat sick cattle and other animals. Because it is typically given to flocks of chicken and turkeys through drinking water, scientists are concerned that it is dispersed too broadly into the environment. Baytril already has been phased out of use by many big chicken producers, including Tyson Foods, and never was used by Perdue Farms, the companies say.

The best way to protect against resistant bacteria and even nonresistant bacteria is to handle and cook meat properly. For information about safe food handling, see www.foodsafety.gov1. [Antibiotics] Label Games: Claims on food packaging can indicate a variety of policies on drug use.

5. CAFTA near win shows strength

The following editorial was authored by Cap Dierks, a Nebraska rancher, former Nebraska state senator, and an OCM board member. If you would like to arrange an interview with Mr. Dierks, would like a photo to accompany the editorial, or need any further information, please contact:

Chase Carter, Executive Director
(402) 817-4443

This editorial is authorized for reprint.

When the official 15-minute voting period ended, CAFTA had gone down to defeat with 180 "nays" and 175 "yeas." House leadership violated the time limit to allow one hour of voting. The CAFTA-DR passed, but was the closest trade vote in history. Independent agriculture made its voice heard. If two more people had voted "no", the agreement - which out sources American sovereignty and American agriculture - would have been prevented. Two legislators. The last issue debated so hotly in the House of Representatives was Medicare in 2003. Without the voice of independent agriculture, the vote would have never been much of an issue and CAFTA-DR would have passed overwhelmingly. I call this a win, and please don't call me crazy.

We saw the spectacle of President Bush, Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez, and U.S. Trade Representative Rob Portman engaged in horse trading, bribery, and threats to eke out a victory despite overwhelming public opinion against CAFTA. The House leadership promised to "break arms into a thousand pieces" as Arizona Representative Jim Kolbe said. House Ways and Means Chairman Bill Thomas of California held up the all important, for pork, highway bill until the CAFTA vote was clear, so rewards and punishments could be meted out. So much for immovable values and morality. CAFTA was a win because we bucked the globalization trend, made future trade deals harder, and set the stage for advocating competition in the next Farm Bill.

Proponents that argued the economics of CAFTA were compelling; until it became clear the gross domestic product of each CAFTA country was the size of a small U.S. city, hardly an economic boon. We also showed NAFTA impoverished Mexican farmers, making it unlikely CAFTA farmers would prosper. Indeed the U.S. became a net food importer for the first time in history during NAFTA's reign.

Proponents then abandoned that argument stating this was a democracy issue for the CAFTA countries. But producers revealed CAFTA guts and out-sources our democracy by allowing unelected foreign bureaucrats to strike local, state, and federal American laws if they believe the laws interfere with CAFTA.

Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, Rep. Dennis Rehberg of Montana, and Rep. Stephanie Herseth of South Dakota are among those to be commended for voting against CAFTA and for America. All Nebraska's representatives voted for CAFTA, as well as all Iowa's representatives except Leonard Boswell.

We must not be forgetful. Farmers, ranchers and feeders need to remember who voted for CAFTA. This information is at www.competitivemarkets.com. There are 217 House members and 54 Senators that voted for CAFTA and against America. Remember also that Ag Secretary Mike Johanns told the world in July that beef prices were too high, and now he has driven prices right back down after opening the Canadian border. Rural communities are hurting again.

Independent agriculture went toe to toe with the administration, Cargill, Tyson and the multinational monopolists and nearly won. We implanted a backbone in some House members who would never have thought to oppose the economically and democratically devastating globalization trend. This is not the time to give up. It is the time to pour on the coals.

Now comes the Farm Bill, in which producers' competition reform, including a packer ownership prohibition, captive supply reform, contract arbitration fairness, and other pro-competition solutions to agriculture. USDA is holding its carefully staged "listening sessions" while restricting discussion issues on the Farm Bill. The Doha Round of WTO talks are threatening to further restrict our ability to govern ourselves.

American agriculture has risen up in strength to come close to victory where demoralizing defeat was the prior norm. Our obligation is to hold our Senators and Representatives accountable for doing the wrong thing, and praising those doing the right thing. Our Founding Fathers sacrificed more and achieved more. We have sacrificed some and achieved some. It is time to do more.