Agriculture Articles

AGRICULTURE

The Key to the Environmental Crisis Is Beneath Our Feet, Ellen Brown, resilience.org/stories, 1/2/20

The biggest environmental polluters are big agribusiness and factory farming.  Oil-dependent farming, industrial livestock operations, the clearing of carbon-storing fields and forest, the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, and the combustion of fuel to process and distribute food are estimated to be responsible for as much as one-half of human-caused pollution. By focusing on regenerative agriculture can drive carbon into the soil and keep it there, resulting in carbon-enriched soils that are healthier and more resilient to extreme weather conditions.

For the climate Minnesota needs a Healthy Soils Law, Centralminnesotapolitical.blogspot.com, 1/8/20

Eight states have a healthy soils law. It provides grant funding for on-farm efficiency, regenerative ag practices that enhance soil health and agro forestry.

Farming perennially as Kernza taking root in Goodhue County, Minn, Rachel Fergus, rivertowns.net/business/agriculture, 1/6/20

A decade of farm to institution efforts, Katie Costello, Institute for Agriculture & Trade Policy, 12/19

An effective way to increase the accessibility of locally-grown foods in schools and          hospitals. Small-scale farmers gain access to large, stable and predictable markets.

Farm state voters see soil as a solution to agriculture’s woes, Karen Stillerman, Common Dreams, 12/19/19

2019 was a truly terrible year for many farmers, especially in the Midwest. Now voters in Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska and Arkansas are saying that global trade ward and loss of markets are a significant threat; voters, including farmers are waking up to the threat of climate change; large majorities see significant threats from pesticides and fertilizers polluting the water, damaged soil, and the high cost of farmland.

Bringing beans and grains back into local food systems, Andrea Oyuela, Foodtank.com, 12/19

When it comes to staple foods, Americans have grown dependent on an industrial agriculture system supported by commodity subsidies. We can restore community economies that allow people to fill all of their basic needs through producers they know.

After a rough year, farmers and Congress re talking about climate solutions, Georgina Gustin, Insideclimatenews.org, 12/26/19

2019 revealed that fields that had been farmed with conservation practices recovered faster and had a significantly higher success rate of plantings. Fields farmed conventionally were slow to drain and remained waterlogged longer. Healthy soil is critical for sequestering carbon in farmland. Congressional hearings on this are being held. A majority of voters in the farm belt say they would be more willing to back a presidential candidate with proposals to boost healthy soils.

Looking at the future of local food – edible Manhattan, Gaya Sriskanthan, ediblemanhattan.com, 12/31/19, interview with Karen Hansen-Kuhn, Institute for Agriculture & Trade Policy

Many local farmers around New York and the rest of the country are trying to farm using agroecology. Agroecology is a holistic form of agriculture that melds ecological concepts and principles, scientific understanding, animal welfare and local farming knowledge, resulting in a practice that produces healthy food, maximizes biodiversity and keeps the soil healthy. Industrial farming is the opposite. We need to ask our politicians for policies that work for farmers that are trying to do the right thing. The more connected and knowledgeable we are about our food system, the better we can advocate for our local farmers.

Cilento Bio District – Local Futures (The experience of Bio-districts in Italy), localfutures.org, 12/30/19

The Italian Association for Organic Agriculture launched the first bio-district in 2009. A bio-district is a geographical area where farmers, citizens, tourist operators, associations and public authorities enter into an agreement for the sustainable management of local resources, based on organic principles and practices.  Cilento’s bio district encompasses 37 municipalities with 400 organic farms, working together to enhance land access for young farmers.  95% of the produce is sold locally.

House needs to go big to address climate crisis

The federal House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis will make a report in March on policies to respond to the climate crisis.

Food waste is a huge environmental problem.  Here are 5 ways to reduce yours

If factory farm conditions are unhealthy for animals, they’re bad for people too

How to reduce the carbon hoof-print: how a Minnesota farm family fights climate change, St. Cloud Times, Nora Hertel, 6/13/19

It’s not really my land.  I’m here for a short period of time. Cover crops go in the ground at the end of the regular growing season.  The family sells their products locally.  They implement regenerative agriculture, and sustainable grazing practices.

The secret to winning the Midwest: democrats must fight big agriculture, The Guardian, George Goehl, 9/4/19

The 1996 Farm Bill stripped away the last remnants of farm programs that used to ensure farmers were paid fairly.  After this bill, farm prices plunged and farmers scrambled to stay on their land. Factory farms profit at the expense of rural communities, displacing family farmers, bypassing main street businesses, and polluting the air and groundwater.  Some candidates have come out in support of a ban on the expansion of factory farms.

From apples to popcorn, climate change is altering the foods America grows, N.Y. Times, Kim Severson, 4/30/19

Climate change and a new agricultural system, IATP (Institute of Agriculture and Trade Policy), Juliette Majot, 9/1/19

We need to replace our current industrialized system by dismantling the power of large-scale corporate agribusiness to manipulate markets, drive consumer demand, and influence everything from our food safety regulatory system to the rules laid down in international trade agreements. All of the changes require the responsibility of people committed to our civic role in governance, mindful of the stakes, confident in our role’s legitimacy in a democracy, and tenacious in our determination to get it right.

Local farmer finds solar ‘crop’ keeps pollinators happy, Chisago County Press, 8/1/19

We only understand the tip of what bees, butterflies, etc. do in the vast ecology of things, but it’s obvious that when they are not thriving, this can’t be ignored.  The farmer installed an eight acre solar array with native grasses and flowers.

Organic farms are under attack from agribusiness, weakened standards, Nation of Change, Elizabeth Henderson, 6/13/19

Organic farming has brought environmental benefits – healthier soils, freedom from toxic pesticides and herbicides – to 6.5 million acres in the U.S.  Agribusiness has weakened standards to increase their bottom line and steal markets by underselling the farmers who observed the standards faithfully.

Paying farmers fairly could curb climate change and hunger, Nation of Change, Eric Holt-Gimenez & Heidi Kleiner, 6/17/19

Parity is the notion that family farmers should be paid a fair price for their product.  Farmers had parity in 1914, but lost it.  Then President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in the New Deal returned to parity prices. Not anymore. Parity policies today would stop the low-price/overproduction cycle that wastes resources, pollutes the environment, and sends farmers into debt.

Farming in Minnesota:  Climate will change what we grown and how we grow it, Star Tribune, Chris Mosel, 6/17/19

We need to stop being fixated on equating the worth of farmland with the ability to raise two crops:  corn and soybeans. Farmers could use a cash grain crop at another time of the year, like the fall, a nd harvest the next growing season, or if it was a perennial grain, it could be planted once and yield year-after-year without tillage or fertilizer.

Climate change and agriculture: a perfect storm in farm country, www.ucsusa.org, 5/22/19

The industrial model that dominates our nation’s agriculture – a model that neglects soils, reduces diversity, and relies too heavily on fertilizers and pesticides – makes US farms susceptible to climate impacts in several ways.  Rainfall patterns are changing. There are rising temperatures, more extreme heat, fewer sufficiently cool days during the winter, and more frequent cold-season thaws. Floods, droughts, changes in crop and livestock viability, and new pests, pathogens, and weed problems, and degraded soils are upon us. Business as usual won’t protect the future of our food supply, or the well-being of the farmers and communities that produce it. We must invest in local capacity and infrastructure.

Rural politics, climate change and the 2020 elections, Part I, Nation of Change, Dan Sisken, 5/30/19

Rural America is of critical importance for climate change. There is an ongoing crisis of small, family farms: a crisis that is largely due to the emergence of a highly extractive, corporate farming economy that has become increasingly powerful, displacing and absorbing the smaller farms that have always been the foundation for rural communities. As Big Ag has come to dominate the entire supply chain, from inputs such as seeds and fertilizers to products like soy, corn and meat, small farmers have increasingly lost bargaining power, which severely squeezes profit margins and drives many into bankruptcy. The solution is to reverse the balance of power between rural communities – particularly small farms – and the corporate giants that govern them, while promoting economic dynamism to build local wealth and restore the ecological balance to agriculture.

How a closed-door meeting shows farmers are waking up on climate change, Politico, Helena Bottemiller Evich, 12/9/19

Farmers and ranchers launched a working group to discuss climate change and how agriculture can help.  There is a growing recognition that farmers and ranchers should take control of the issue and make sure that any policy fixes work to their advantage. Food and agriculture companies are scrambling to meet consumer demands for more sustainably grown food. Maryland now leads the country in cover crops.  Farmer-led conversations.