Wednesday, March 12, 2008

PASA 2008

In early February we attended the annual PASA conference in State College, Pennsylvania. Last year's conference was, in a word, transformative -- that's in large measure why we're here now. This year built upon that experience. The conference was slightly larger -- approximately 2,000 folks attended, from 39 states and 8 countries. We again did the pre-conference, day-long track for beginning farmers and learned a great deal about high tunnels for extending harvests into winter, effective pasture management, effective marketing, and many other topics.

In the business portion of the conference we learned the latest on PASA's effort to overturn the PA state regulation banning certain specific milk labels (see this link for the full story). The executive summary is that Monsanto got to the Pennsylvania Ag department and persuaded them to ban the use of any phrase on a milk container stating rBST/rBGT was not used to produce the milk. Call me a zealot, but I view the elimination of the corporation as the sine qua non for democracy's continuance. And if you want to follow me to the barricades and face the big ag/pharma juggernaut head on, see The Future of Food. Other frustrations at the conference included the news that the dean of Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences decided there was no need to replace the only one (1) retiring pasture scientist on his staff, because, in his words, "...there is nothing new to learn about pasture management." Absolutely amazing. And as long as I'm on my soapbox, we got to see King Corn at the conference. It offers more proof that our government is acting in the best interests of Monsanto, Pioneer , Archer Daniel Midlands , and other deep pocketed corporations, rather than we the people.

Beyond production and marketing workshops, book vendors, the art show, and political activism, we chatted up many of the equipment folks. I spent quite a bit of time at the BCS dealers booth. I'm convinced that's the solution for us, as opposed to small, conventional tractors and implements. I also bought a nifty stirrup hoe.

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