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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Jenny’s Food and Ag Update for August 4, 2014

Jenny's Food and Ag UpdateWe Can Reverse Climate Change by the Way We Grow Food (Huffington Post)

Air Pollution Isn’t Just Bad for Your Health – It’s Taking Food Off Your Plate (Takepart)

Indigenous Seed Savers Gather in the Andes, Agree to Fight Climate Change with Biodiversity (Yes!)

India Stands Firm on Protecting Food Security of South at WTO (Common Dreams)

Mark Bittman on what’s wrong with food in America (Vox)

40 maps that explain food in America (Vox)

This Is The Summer Of Sunburned Fruit (Modern Farmer)

This huge corporation is tackling climate change – because it’s a threat to the bottom line (Grist)

McDonald’s Is Skipping the Meat – and Turning to Tofu (Takepart)

Cargill promises to get right with palm oil (Grist)

A Sobering Look at “The New Face of Hunger” (Travis Simley, Huffington Post)

Read the rest..

Big Food uses mommy bloggers to shape public opinion

by Anna Lappé

This past weekend, biotech giant Monsanto paid bloggers $150 each to attend “an intimate and interactive panel” with “two female farmers and a team from Monsanto.” The strictly invitation-only three-hour brunch, which took place on the heels of the BlogHer Conference, promised bloggers a chance to learn about “where your food comes from” and to hear about the “impact growing food has on the environment, and how farmers are using fewer resources to feed a growing population.” Though the invitation from BlogHer explicitly stated, “No blog posts or social media posts expected,” the event was clearly designed to influence the opinions — and the writing — of a key influencer: the mommy blogger.

Another invite-only event in August will bring bloggers to a Monsanto facility in Northern California for a tour of its fields and research labs. Again, while no media coverage is expected, the unspoken goal is clear.

Stealth marketing techniques, such as these by Monsanto, reveal how the food industry — from biotech behemoths to fast-food peddlers — is working surreptitiously to shape public opinion about biotechnology, industrialized farming and junk food.

The uptick in these stealth-marketing strategies coincides with growing popular outcry about agricultural chemicals, soda and junk food and genetically modified ingredients.

Monsanto is not the only food company engaging with the blogosphere. Mommy bloggers are the food industry’s newest nontraditional ally. McDonald’s has been wooing them aggressively too, offering sweepstakes in partnership with BlogHer for the company’s Listening Tour Luncheon, an exclusive event with the head of McDonald’s USA — framed as a two-way conversation about nutrition, but more likely a gambit to garner the support of a powerful group of influencers. And in Canada, McDonald’s offers All-Access Mom, behind-the-scenes tours of the company’s inner workings.

It’s not just through blogger meet-and-greets that industry is attempting to sway opinion. Video is an increasingly popular (and shareable) medium for PR disguised as content. This summer, for example, Monsanto is funding a Condé Nast Media Group film series called “A Seat at the Table.” According to a casting call, each three- to five-minute episode will cover questions such as “Are food labels too complicated?” and “GMOs: good or bad?” and will feature “an eclectic mix of industry and nonindustry notables with diverse viewpoints.” It’s hard to imagine truly free-flowing discussions resulting, paid for as they are by a company with a definitive take on — and stake in — the food-labeling wars.