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The Latest from AgMag

Friday, April 8, 2011

When Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-Ohio) spoke to the Organic Trade Association's Washington Policy Conference the other day, her talk had two parts: the part where she left the distinct impression that she had no idea whom she was talking to, and the part where it seemed she didn't care.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Proposals by the corn ethanol industry to have taxpayers subsidize construction of huge pipelines and specialized gasoline pumps and car engines designed to use large amounts of its product could cost taxpayers more than $9 billion – including increased consumer costs and federal funding of grants and assurances of loan guarantees – and would lock the nation into energy policies that are neither economically nor environmentally viable.

Key Issues: 
Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Coalitions often help bring about real change for the public good.  Not this one though.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

That some members of Congress are farmers is hardly new. Many of the Founding Fathers worked the land. But as the industrial age transformed America’s agrarian society and technology made it possible for fewer farmers to grow more crops on more land, the number of lawmakers actively engaged in agriculture dropped sharply.

Key Issues: 
Friday, March 25, 2011

Craig Cox, Environmental Working Group senior vice-president wrote the following op-ed in today’s (March 25) Des Moines Register. Cox manages EWG’s agriculture programs from our Ames, IA office.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Lobbyists for the corn-ethanol and the “advanced” biofuels industry had a meeting yesterday (March 21) organized by the United States Department of Agriculture Office of Rural Development to “discuss opportunities to find common ground and synchronize biofuels industry policy,” according to a news report.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Federal nutritional guidelines advise us to eat five-to-nine servings of fruits and vegetables a day. That’s not too difficult if you are lucky enough to have access to the fresh and tasty produce grown in Northern California, where I live.

But many folks in this region and in the rest of the country aren’t so lucky.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Two weeks ago in this space, my colleague Sheila Karpf called out the five largest commodity crop organizations over the glaring lack of women in leadership positions on their boards. Her impetus was agribusiness’ new effort to polish its tarnished brand by enlisting women in a PR effort called CommonGround.

Key Issues: 
Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Three leading environmental groups say they’re hauling Chicago’s sewer system and the Environmental Protection Agency into court over the pollution that pours out of the city, down the Mississippi and eventually to the Gulf of Mexico, helping to grow the perennial “Dead Zone.”

Key Issues: 
Thursday, March 3, 2011

To judge by the results of their budget-slashing, all-night tea party a few weeks back, Republicans must have swarmed out of their caucus and onto the floor of the House of Representatives with a single rallying cry on their lips.

Women and children first!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Big Ag is big business – and big profits. And when anyone raises questions about the billions of tax dollars lavished on the largest industrial growers of corn, soybeans and other commodity crops or points out the harm that these perverse incentives do to the environment, Big Ag’s lackeys lash out.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Attending the TEDx Manhattan event on the future of food and farming was a day-long drink from a fire hose of cutting-edge ideas, sobering realities and sincere enthusiasm about how America can eat better and farm more sustainably.

Monday, February 14, 2011

The Obama administration’s proposed 2012 federal budget released today targets several wasteful agriculture programs, including cutting $4.25 billion over 10 years from subsidies to large farm operations, wealthy landowners and the crop insurance program.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

America is emerging from a financial calamity that claimed millions of jobs. Hundreds of thousands of families struggle every day just to feed their kids. The tenuous economy has increased pressure on the government to reduce spending and rein in the mounting federal deficit. But not everyone is feeling the pain.

Monday, February 7, 2011

The government's decision to allow sale of gasoline blended with up to 15 percent ethanol, so-called E15 gasoline, means that one of these days we'll likely be pulling into gas stations that could have as many as four pumps with different kinds of fuel: one for E10 (up to 10 percent ethanol); one for E15; possibly one for E85 (between 70 and 85 percent ethanol); and – if we're very lucky – maybe one for pure gasoline. (But don't count on that.)

Key Issues: 
Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The Iowa caucuses are more than a year away but potential 2012 presidential hopefuls are already parachuting into corn country to pander to Big Ag. Perennially coy Newt Gingrich is only the latest to genuflect before Iowa’s long reigning monarch – King Corn. Delivering the keynote address at the Renewable Fuels Association summit (Jan. 25), the former Republican Speaker of the House (Speaker’s Bureau fee listed at $40,000+) and tax cutting champion called for continued mandates and support for the 30-year old corn ethanol industry.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Big agribusiness hates it when we talk dirty. The Dirty Dozen that is, EWG's list of fresh fruits and vegetables that are most likely to carry pesticide residues.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

New school food standards proposed last week by the Obama administration could nearly double the amount of fruits and vegetables that more than 32 million kids eat every day.

Key Issues: 
Monday, January 24, 2011

Last week was a reminder – if I needed it – of just how out of touch the powerful farm lobby is with the rest of America.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Here’s who lost out today (Jan. 21) when the Environmental Protection Agency decided to allow the use of fuel containing up to 15 percent ethanol (E15) in any gas-powered car or truck built since 2001:

  • Car owners whose engines and catalytic converters may be damaged even as auto makers void their warranties.
  • Owners of lawnmowers, outboard motors, chain saws, ATVs and a host of other outdoor tools whose engines will break down if they’re fueled with E15.
  • The environment, as this misguided policy encourages all-out corn production and the massive water pollution that results, ultimately reinforcing the devastating “dead zones” in the Gulf of Mexico and Chesapeake Bay.
  • Birds and other wildlife, which will lose habitat as large-scale farmers expand into marginal and highly erodible land.

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