the irresistible fleet of bicycles


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AG GAG and other thoughts, by john ikerd

10 Reasons to Oppose ‘Right to Farm’ Amendments

 I grew up on a dairy farm and currently live in a small town in a farming area. I have spent my 50-year professional career working in agriculture, mostly with farmers and people in rural communities. I think farmers have the same “right to farm” as other Americans have to pursue any other professional occupation. However, I don’t think real farmers deserve, need, or even want special constitutional privileges. Here are ten reasons for opposing “right to farm amendments.”

1. Agricultural producers already benefit from special right to farm “legislation in all agricultural states. These laws protect farmers from frivolous nuisance suits brought by uninformed or intolerant neighbors who have moved into traditional farming communities.

2. People in rural communities who have the greatest concern for the future of family farms and rural communities are opposing right to farm amendments. National organizations, such as the Humane Society of the U.S. and the Sierra Club, support rural opponents because they don’t think agriculture should be exempt from public accountability for their actions.

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gmo labeling proposal shot down by safeway shareholders

…due to a lack of scientific evidence from anti-GMO activists, who were labeled as fearmongers.

“In the face of all of the uncontroverted scientific evidence that GMOs are safe, the proponent of the GMO-labeling proposal had the temerity to tell Safeway’s shareholders that no long-term scientific evidence exists to show that GMO foods are safe,” noted Danhof. “This is beyond willful ignorance. Some anti-GMO activists are shameless in their attempt to advance their agenda.”Click to read more—>


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monsanto and foreign aid: forcing el salvador’s hand

From this June’s Foreign Policy Journal

The United States will withhold the Millennium Challenge Compact aid deal, approximately $277 million in aid, unless El Salvador purchases genetically-modified seeds from biotech giant, Monsanto. The Millennium Challenge Corporation is “a U.S. foreign aid agency that was created by the U.S. Congress in January 2004,” according to Sustainable Pulse, and serves as a conduit for foreign aid funds. MCC’s unethical aid conditions would force El Salvador to purchase controversial seeds from the American biotech corporation instead of purchasing non-GMO seeds from the country’s local farmers– an action that would have negative effects on El Salvador’s agricultural industry in addition to presenting serious health and environmental risks.

To read more, click HERE!


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As part of our effort to report more on issues shared by immigrant as well as citizen farmers

this story about indignities suffered by Basque, Maori and other herders.

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Federal Appeals Court Invalidates Department of Labor Rules That Set Unfair Employment Standards for Sheep and Cattle Herders

Government Must Undertake New Rulemaking to Set Herders’ Wages and Housing Conditions

June 13, 2014

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. and foreign herders will benefit from a decision today by the D.C. Circuit to invalidate U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) rules that permit employers to pay herders far less than other agricultural workers and allow lower standards for employer-provided housing, Public Citizen said.

“Today’s decision will force the DOL to reconsider the unjust employment standards that it set for sheep and cattle herders,” said Julie Murray, an attorney at Public Citizen and counsel for the plaintiffs. “It is a victory for U.S. and foreign herders alike, who toil for unconscionably low pay and are often forced to live in abysmal housing conditions.” Continue reading


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who’s behind the u.s. farmers & ranchers alliance and why it matters

US Farmer and Rancher

On Thursday, September 22, the U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance (USFRA), a new trade association made up of some of the biggest players in the food industry—including the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, Dupont, and Monsanto—hosted what they called “Food Dialogues” in Washington D.C., New York City, U.C. Davis, and Fair Oaks, Indiana.

The USFRA describes the Food Dialogues, and their broader multi-million dollar media campaign, as an effort to amplify the voice of farmers and ranchers and help consumers know more about “how their food is grown and raised.”

Sounds good, on first blush.

Most of us are in the dark when it comes to the story of our food. And, farmers and ranchers—the people working hard every day to bring us our food—are nearly invisible in mainstream media. But dig into the Alliance’s membership, and its impetus for forming, and you start to wonder whether it truly represents the voices of grassroots food producers or whether this well-funded media campaign is agribusinesses latest attempt to push back against well-documented and well-publicized concerns about the environmental and health consequences of industrial agriculture.

When I asked a rep from Ketchum—the public relations firm hired by the Alliance—what motivated these groups to come together, without skipping a beat, he answered: Food, Inc. and movies like it. “People see Food, Inc.,” he said, “And think everything in that movie is accurate.” But, he continued, the film only presents one side of the issue and USFRA members feel they didn’t “have a voice in it.” Now, as the Ketchum rep put it, USFRA wants to “clear the air” and “get a national dialogue, a conversation, going.”

Click here to read more of this Civil Eats article—>


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landworkers’ alliance protests in london

Yesterday (April 17th) 100 farmers and growers from the Landworkers’ Alliance travelled to London from around the country to protest outside the head offices of DEFRA and the National Farmers Union.

Under the leadership of Owen Patterson over the past two years, DEFRA has strengthened its support of large-scale industrial agriculture and marginalized smaller producers, while the NFU has consistently lobbied for the interests of agribusiness and ignored the views of smaller farmers.

The land workers’ Alliance want to see small-scale producers put at the heart of decision making in agricultural policy.

“DEFRA needs to recognise the role of small-scale producers in contributing to the national food economy, as well as the environmental and social services provided by these producers,” says Ed Hamer from the LWA.  “As a matter of urgency we demand that DEFRA create policies conducive to a sustainable food future for all.”

The demonstration took place in solidarity with the April 17th – The International Day of Peasant Struggles. A global day of action called by La Via Campesina, the international union of peasant farmers which has over 200 million members worldwide.

Small farmers' demo outside DEFRA offices

(Above) The Landworkers’ Alliance catch minister for agriculture (Owen Patterson) in bed with agribusiness.

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