Tag Archives | Farms

Food, Farms, Forests, and Fracking: Connecting the Dots

Picture: Zarateman (CC)

Picture: Zarateman (CC)

Ronnie Cummins and Zack Kaldveer write at Common Dreams:

If ever there was a time for activist networks and the body politic to cooperate and unite forces, it’s now. Global warming, driven in large part by the reckless business-as-usual practices of multi-billion-dollar fossil fuel and agribusiness corporations, has brought us to the brink of a global calamity.

Greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution in the atmosphere has now reached 400 ppm of carbon dioxide (CO2), the highest level since our hunter and gatherer ancestors evolved 200,000 years ago. We are now facing, even though millions are still in denial, the most serious existential threat that humans have ever encountered. Through ignorance and greed, through unsustainable land use and abuse, through reckless deforestation, through unsustainable food, farming and ranching practices, and through overconsumption of fossil fuels, we have overloaded the atmosphere with dangerous levels of greenhouse gases: CO2, methane, nitrous oxide, and black soot.

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The Next Real Estate Bubble: Farmland

HenrievilleUT farmlandWhat’s a poor farmer supposed to do when his or her land is caught up in an investment bubble? Via The American:

Farmers have been taking on mounting debt, creating an unsustainable increase in land prices and risking a crash that would ripple through our economy.

Eeyore should have been a farmer. It’s almost impossible to find a farmer happy about his situation. The weather’s too hot, cold, wet, or dry, and prices are too low or too high, depending on whether we’re buying or selling. We can’t, at least in front of our peers, admit to prosperity or even the chance of prosperity. Although we’d never admit it at the local coffee shop, the last few years have been good, at least for Midwestern grain farmers. Prices have been strong — strong enough to make up for much of the production lost to last year’s drought. That’s terrible news for livestock producers, who’ve been faced with drought-damaged pastures and high feed costs, but for farmers producing corn and soybeans, it has been a profitable few years.

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The Meat Industry Now Consumes Four-Fifths Of All Antibiotics

Will our taste for flesh be what leads to the creation of super-strains of bacteria impervious to antibiotics? Mother Jones reports:

Last year, the Food and Drug Administration proposed a set of voluntary “guidelines” designed to nudge the meat industry to curb its antibiotics habit. But the meat industry has been merrily gorging away on antibiotics—and churning out meat rife with antibiotic-resistant pathogens.

While human antibiotic use has leveled off at below 8 billion pounds annually, livestock farms have been sucking in more and more of the drugs each year—and consumption reached a record nearly 29.9 billion pounds in 2011. That suggests that meat production might be getting more antibiotic-intensive.  To put it another way, the livestock industry is now consuming nearly four-fifths of the antibiotics used in the US, and its appetite for them is growing.

 

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Oregon Farmer Eaten By His Pigs

Little more remained of hog farmer Terry Vance Garner than his dentures, the Guardian reports:

Oregon authorities are investigating how a farmer was eaten by his pigs. Terry Vance Garner, 69, never returned after he set out to feed his animals last Wednesday on his farm near the Oregon coast, the Coos county district attorney said on Monday.

A family member found Garner’s dentures and pieces of his body in the pig enclosure several hours later, but most of his remains had been consumed, the district attorney, Paul Frasier, said. Several of the pigs weighed 320kg (700lb) or more.

It is possible Garner had a medical emergency, such as a heart attack, or was knocked over by the animals, then killed and eaten, Frasier said, adding that at least one pig had previously bitten Garner.

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Food Ark: Will Seed Banks Save Our Sources of Food?

“Experts estimate that we have lost more than half of the world’s food varieties over the past century”. Charles Siebert writes in National Geographic:

Svalbard Vault Mountain (Cutaway). Illustration: Global Crop Diversity Trust

Svalbard Vault Mountain (Cutaway). Illustration: Global Crop Diversity Trust

A crisis is looming: To feed our growing population, we’ll need to double food production. Yet crop yields aren’t increasing fast enough, and climate change and new diseases threaten the limited varieties we’ve come to depend on for food. Luckily we still have the seeds and breeds to ensure our future food supply — but we must take steps to save them.

Six miles outside the town of Decorah, Iowa, an 890-acre stretch of rolling fields and woods called Heritage Farm is letting its crops go to seed. It seems counterintuitive, but then everything about this farm stands in stark contrast to the surrounding acres of neatly rowed corn and soybean fields that typify modern agriculture. Heritage Farm is devoted to collecting rather than growing seeds.

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Maine Town Declares Food Sovereignty

Sedgwick, Maine

Sedgwick, Maine

Do we really need the government to regulate our food? Sedgwick, Maine doesn’t think so and has become the first town to take action towards producing and selling their own foods. Sustainable Cities Collective reports:

The town of Sedgwick, Maine, population 1,012 (according to the 2000 census), has become the first town in the United States to pass a Food Sovereignty ordinance.  In doing so, the town declared their right to produce and sell local foods of their choosing, without the oversight of State or federal regulation.

What does this mean?  In the debate over raw milk, for example, the law opens the gate for consumer and producer to enter a purchasing agreement without interference from state or federal health regulators.  According to the Mayo Clinic, a 1987 FDA regulation required that all milk be pasteurized to kill pathogens such as salmonella and E. coli.  The Sedgwick ordinance declares that:

Producers or processors of local foods in the Town of Sedgwick are exempt from licensure and inspection provided that the transaction is only between the producer or processor and a patron when the food is sold for home consumption.

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