the irresistible fleet of bicycles


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how to intelligently argue for increasing land access

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The United States is entering a period of significant land transfer; an estimated 400 million acres will change hands in the next 20 years as farmers retire and sell or pass on their land. This is equivalent in size to the Louisiana Purchase and represents half of the farmland in our country.

Running with a crowd of like-minded earthy hippy commie-pinko queer progressives doesn’t always teach one the skills necessary to defend her morals when they are challenged. Which is why I am a big advocate for teaching yourself how to argue points that may seem obvious but— for seemingly mysterious reasons— are not accepted by the population as a whole. Towards this goal, I’d like to share something with you.

This article, co-authored by Ecology Center staffers Leah Fesseden and Dani Gelardi, appeared fabulously in the Greenhorns email inbox last week and concentrates particularly on the historic exclusion of people of color, women, Native Americans, and other disenfranchised communities from access to agriculture land and capital.

We approach a period of time in which both 400 million acres is transitioning from old to new owners and the price of farmland continues to increase dramatically. The issue of barriers to land access is particularly salient. Briefly detailing 300 years of institutional racism, the authors argue that we need to be doing everything in our power to lower barriers to entry for beginning farmers— and particularly those that come from historically disadvantaged populations. They have three suggestions as how best of go about this:

1. Advocate for changes to the farm bill

2. Support local programs like Agriculture and Land-Based Training Association (ALBA), that work to lower the barriers to entry for beginning farmers

3. Support local producers through markets, direct orders, and CSAs

And I’d add one more suggestion: read more!


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bumper harvest for commodity crops and subsidies

Nov 19 (Reuters) – U.S. farmers are about to reap a bumper harvest not just in corn and soybeans but also in new subsidies that could soar to $10 billion, blowing a hole in the government’s promise that its new five-year farm bill would save taxpayers money.

Because of ample supplies, corn prices have fallen well below the long-term average price used as a benchmark for one of the new programs. Ironically, this year’s bumper harvest may not be large enough to compensate for those price falls and revenues for some farmers could be low enough to trigger payments.

“Crop insurance has drifted away from that basic safety net concept and the farm bill has taken it even farther away.”

Click to continue reading this Reuters Article

 

 

 

 

Photo courtesy of Acton.Org


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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.

Continue reading


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usda press release: organic markets are growing, 2014 farm bill funding helps access these markets

USDA organic

In today’s press release, the USDA has announced new figures that show the organic industry continues to grow domestically and internationally. Certified organic farms and businesses in the United States have witnessed a 245% increase since 2002 while consumer demand continues to increase exponentially. To help producers further access these markets, the 2014 farm bill has included provisions to support the organic community, including:

  • $20 million annually for organic research, agricultural extension programs and education.
  • $5 million to fund data collection on organic agriculture for policy reform.
  • Expanded options for organic crop insurance
  • Expanded exemptions for organic producers who are paying into commodity “check off” programs, and authority for the USDA to consider an application for the organic sector to establish its own check off.
  • Improved enforcement authority for the National Organic Program to conduct investigations.
  • $5 million for a technology upgrade of the National Organic Program to provide up-to-date information about certified organic operations across the supply chain.
  • $11.5 million annually for certification cost-share assistance, which reimburses the costs of annual certification for organic farmers and livestock producers by covering 75% of certification costs, up to $750/year.

For more information,  check out the USDA Organic Resources Page


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great context-setting events

 

Part IV begins next week. Screen shot 2014-03-19 at 6.17.02 PM

Our policy workshop webinar series investigates four broad themes in food and agriculture policy. Part I explores linkages between theory and practice in food justice; Part II, a legal framework for the new food movement; Part III part examines GMOs and intellectual property; and Part IV, the farm bill and the future of farming.

To join the webinar mailing list for updates and registration information, please contact Susanne Stahl at susanne.stahl@yale.edu. More information is available at http://envirocenter.yale.edu.

The Farm Bill and the Future of Farming
Kari Hamerschlag, Senior Analyst, Environmental Working Group Wednesday, March 26, 2014 | 11:00 AM – 12:00 PM EDT

Martha Noble, Vice-Chair, Agricultural Management Committee of the American Bar Association’s Section on Environment, Energy, and Resources Thursday, April 3, 2014 | 12:00 – 1:00 PM EDT

Ariane Lotti, Assistant Policy Director, National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition Wednesday, April 16, 2014 | 12:00 – 1:00 PM EDT

Sarah Carlson, Midwest Cover Crop Research Coordinator, Practical Farmers of Iowa Tuesday, April 22, 2014 | 12:00 – 1:00 PM EDT


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mainstream on farm bill

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Farm Bill Reflects Shifting American Menu and a Senator’s Persistent Tilling
By Jennifer Steinhauer, MARCH 8, 2014

WASHINGTON — The farm bill signed by President Obama last month was at first glance the usual boon for soybean growers, catfish farmers and their ilk. But closer examination reveals that the nation’s agriculture policy is increasingly more whole grain than white bread.

Within the bill is a significant shift in the types of farmers who are now benefiting from taxpayer dollars, reflecting a decade of changing eating habits and cultural dispositions among American consumers. Organic farmers, fruit growers and hemp producers all did well in the new bill. An emphasis on locally grown, healthful foods appeals to a broad base of their constituents, members of both major parties said.

read the full article HERE

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