Jenny’s Food and Ag Update for August 18, 2014

Jenny's Food and Ag Update
Eye On The Prize: Addressing A Food Desert In Oakland (Forbes)

No Appetite for Fixing School Lunch (Common Dreams)

Communal Lands: Theater of Operations for the Counterinsurgency (Truthout)

The Percentage Of Americans Who Can’t Afford Food Hasn’t Budged Since The Recession Peaked (Huffington Post)

Report: Hunger in America 2014 (Feeding America)

Teaching a humonguous foundation to listen to small farmers (Grist)

Missouri’s Right to Farm Law Divides the State (Modern Farmer)

Cannabis-Based Batteries Could Charge Your Phone in Seconds – And Change the Way We Store Energy (AlterNet)

Iowa’s Corn Farmers Learn To Adapt To Weather Extremes (NPR)

Farmers Need To Get ‘Climate Smart’ To Prep For What’s Ahead (NPR)

Photos: Fighting to Save the Icelandic Goat (Modern Farmer)

Read the rest..

Vandana Shiva on the Problem with Genetically-Modified Seeds

Bill Moyers talks to scientist and philosopher Vandana Shiva, who’s become a rock star in the global battle over genetically modified seeds. These seeds — considered “intellectual property” by the big companies who own the patents — are globally marketed to monopolize food production and profits. Opponents challenge the safety of genetically modified seeds, claiming they also harm the environment, are more costly, and leave local farmers deep in debt as well as dependent on suppliers. Shiva, who founded a movement in India to promote native seeds, links genetic tinkering to problems in our ecology, economy, and humanity, and sees this as the latest battleground in the war on Planet Earth.

Monsanto-funded USFRA trolling food blogs (like this one). Again.

Look what just showed up in my inbox..

Texas Farm Bureau and the U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance is hosting the Food Dialogues: Austin Sept. 18. We will have two, 90-minute panels and will accept questions from the live audience and social media.

The first panel, “Animal welfare: Beyond the hype” is set for 10:30 a.m.-noon.

The ways we raise cattle in the Lone Star State are as diverse as Texas itself. Grass-fed, grain-fed, cow-calf, stocker, purebred operations—all play a unique role in providing a safe, nutritious product for niche and mainstream consumer markets. A priority shared by Texas cattlemen is providing proper care to raise livestock efficiently and healthy. How we get there—animal handling methods, antibiotics, beta-agonists, growth-promoting implants—can be controversial. Should consumers be concerned? A panel of cattle experts will discuss the variations on animal husbandry techniques and technologies used in the Texas beef business.

The second panel, “Farming methods. Consumer interpretation.” is set for 1:30-3:00 p.m.

Texas consumers have bountiful opportunities when it comes to the food they eat. But are they making wise choices? How do they distinguish between information and misinformation in the daily bombardment of food messages. Organic, conventional, local and natural–consumers read these labels, but do they understand their meaning? Their decisions shape food supplies, and in turn, farming practices. A panel of experts—representing all aspects of food production in Texas—will address health and safety concerns related to the foods we eat and the technology used to grow them.

We would love to have you, and some friends, attend.

For more information about the panelists and event logistics or to RSVP, visit

If you have any questions, I’d be more than happy to answer them. A formal invitation will be emailed soon. If you are interested in attending, please let me know and we will have an invitation emailed to you.

Julie Vrazel
Texas Farm Bureau Assistant Editor

Jenny’s Food and Ag Update for August 10, 2014

Jenny's Food and Ag UpdateAmericans Are Totally Over Fast Food Burgers (Huffington Post)

Open Source Farming: A Renaissance Man Tackles the Food Crisis (Truthout)

Farmers’ Market Values (NYT)

San Francisco Approves California’s First Tax Incentive for Urban Ag (SPUR)

Plan Global, Eat Local: UC’s Food Initiative Starts on Campus (Civil Eats)

How Do You Recruit a Food-Industry Whistle-Blower? (Takepart)

Food Integrity Campaign: Protecting Food. Empowering Whistleblowers.

Read the rest..

GAP Certification for Small Farms

Carolina Farm Stewardship Association (CFSA) recently launched a series of videos to supplement the “Good Agricultural Practices for Small and Diversified Farms: Tips and Strategies to Reduce Risk and Pass an Audit” manual. This video series continues to document real-world examples of how small, diversified farms can employ these tips and strategies to meet GAP certification requirements.

Many of the farms participating in this research program were already third-party certified under the USDA’s National Organic Program (NOP), and others followed NOP practices but were not certified organic. For produce to be sold as ‘organic,’ it must be certified as being grown in accordance with practices and standards developed by the Agricultural Marketing Service as part of the National Organics Program. These regulations detail the practices that are accepted and prohibited in the growing, cleaning, packaging, and marketing of products labeled as organic. The regulations include requirements for maintaining and improving soil health and fertility and specifically prohibit the use of synthetic fertilizers, soil and product fumigants, and chemical pest control practices in organic production. In addition, sewage sludge may not be used in the production of the crops, and crops may not be processed using ionizing radiation. The regulations include a National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances to guide growers and certifying entities in the use of the label.

What Toledo’s Water Crisis Reveals About Industrial Farming

By Doug Gurian-Sherman via Rural Madison

As you may have heard, about half a million people in the Toledo, Ohio area lost their municipal drinking water supply on Saturday because of possible microbial toxin contamination from Lake Erie. A combination of heavier spring rains, exacerbated by climate change, and runoff of phosphorus from fertilizer applied to crops is the likely cause. The good news is that farmers can adopt better practices to eliminate this problem. The bad news is that the agriculture industry, and the public policies that it lobbies for, work against these solutions.

Industrial Agriculture: Providing Band-Aids for Hemorrhages

A toxic microbe, or cyanobacteria (a.k.a. blue-green algae), has been causing big water problems in Lake Erie and other bodies of water around the country for the last several yearsScientific research pointed to the combination of agricultural and climate change as the cause of the historic 2011 toxic Lake Erie microbe “bloom” and subsequent dead zone. And research shows that farm pollution, which feeds the explosion of toxic microbe growth, especially from phosphorus fertilizer, has been increasing since the 1990s. Now, new research published in the Journal of Great Lakes Research has further solidified the connection between industrial ag, climate change, and an explosion of toxic algae.


Industrial corn and soybean production are clearly linked to the problems in Lake Erie via fertilizers. But factory farming of livestock is also suspect. Concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) have a manure problem. Because so many animals are confined in such as small area, they often produce far more manure than can be applied to the surrounding farmlands without causing runoff. That means more nitrogen and phosphorus gets into streams.

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