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Feeding your mind, saving the planet >>

The Latest from AgMag

Friday, March 5, 2010

First, the heavily subsidized commodity crop growers complained when the Department of Agriculture dared to send out encouraging messages about local and organic farming. Next, a coalition of Big Ag groups, including USA Rice and the Texas and Minnesota Corn Growers Associations, fired another salvo at organics, this time in an online broadside this week (March 1) that missed the mark by enough to become a self-inflicted wound.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

How threatened is Agribiz by the baby steps the Department of Agriculture has taken recently in support of organic and local agriculture? Threatened enough that one big grower personally castigated USDA Undersecretary Katherine Merrigan last month at the department's Outlook Conference.

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Thursday, February 25, 2010

Not so long ago, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) did a new life-cycle analysis of corn ethanol to see if the much-subsidized biofuel meets the standard Congress set in the 2007 Energy Bill for reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

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Monday, February 15, 2010

Today (Feb 15th) may be the President's Day holiday, but for the president of the National Black Farmer's Association (NBFA) it's the culmination of a remarkable push to bring justice to thousands of black farmers and their families.

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Friday, February 12, 2010

Trimming profit-ensuring farm subsidies to the largest growers of cotton, corn and rice continues to be a hot topic since president Obama announced his intentions to reform the wasteful programs. First in our roundup is this piece in the San Jose Mercury News where  subsidy recipient John Vidovich is holding onto the hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxpayer assistance he so despises.

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Thursday, February 11, 2010

The third in AgMag’s series of looks at the Obama budget is a hopeful one. First we examined attempts by the Administration to limit the taxpayer-funded payments that ensure profits for the wealthiest farm operations. That idea was instantly stonewalled by Minnesota’s powerful Congressional delegation, which has the Minneapolis City Pages fuming.

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Tuesday, February 9, 2010


By Craig Cox, Environmental Working Group Senior Vice-president and manager of EWG's Ames, Iowa, office. The debilitating cuts to US Department of Agriculture conservation programs proposed in President Obama's budget will do permanent damage to America's conservation efforts. These programs are critical to conserving and protecting  our soil, water and air.

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Friday, February 5, 2010

“The less we spend on food, the more we spend on health care,” author and food activist Michael Pollan said on Oprah. Today, Americans spend almost 20 cents of every dollar managing disease -- diabetes, allergies, asthma, cancer, obesity -- and only 10 cents of every dollar on food. The jury is still out on what exactly may be causing all these epidemics, but genetics don't change that quickly. The environment does. And increasing evidence points to the role that diet is playing in the onset of disease.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010


By Craig Cox, Environmental Working Group Senior Vice President and manager of EWG’s Ames, Iowa, branch. On Wednesday (Feb. 3), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) updated its Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) Rule, known as RFS 2, refusing to shift policy on one of the issues most contested by the ethanol industry, the “indirect land use change” rule.

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Monday, February 1, 2010


On Jan. 25, the Le Mars Daily Sentinel reported on growing concerns over Iowa's diminished wild bird population, specifically the ring-necked pheasant: "Last year and this year have been tough," said Chad Morrow, conservation officer with Iowa [Department of Natural Resources] for Plymouth County and part of Cherokee County. "But for pheasants, the true limiting factor comes down to the amount of habitat first; weather is a secondary factor."

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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Tonight, President Obama will announce a budget freeze as part of his State of the Union address.  The New York Times' Jackie Calmes described today (Jan. 27) what specific programs will be hit: "The freeze would cover the agencies and programs for which Congress allocates specific budgets each year, including air traffic control, farm subsidies, education, nutrition and national parks."

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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Clearly, the only criterion Forbes magazine uses when determining which U.S. corporation wins its yearly “Company of the Year” title must be profit. That’s the only way to explain how a company as notorious as Monsanto could possibly get the nod for 2009 from the mag, which proclaims itself “The Capitalist Tool.”

Monday, January 25, 2010

The Wall Street Journal's Real Time Economics blog interviewed Minnesota Twins' President Jerry Bell (subscription required) and asked him about the Twins' new taxpayer-funded stadium.

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Thursday, January 21, 2010

The American Farm Bureau convention irresponsibly passed a resolution opposing climate change legislation on January 12th. Laughably, at the same time they threw down the gauntlet on climate legislation, the Farm Bureau also created a Budget Deficit Reduction Task Force.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


If your family got its water from your own well (and a lot of people do), what would you say to someone who wanted to pump a whole grab-bag of chemicals into the ground nearby, including some that are known to be toxic or to cause cancer? Just guessing here, but I suspect you’d send him on his way with a few choice words.

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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

“Our research shows that native grassland is being converted into cropland at an alarming rate throughout the Prairie Pothole Region,” said Greg Fogel, study co-author and MS/MPP candidate at the University of Michigan. “As a result, populations of sensitive wildlife species are declining significantly in areas with high increases in corn plantings.” According to the report, U.S. ethanol capacity has grown almost 200 percent since the passage of the 2005 Energy Bill, which mandated a large increase in domestic ethanol production. In addition, the updated Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), passed in 2007, requires corn ethanol production to increase from 10.57 billion gallons in 2009 to 15 billion in 2015.

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Friday, January 15, 2010

Reliable Big Ag accomplice Collin Peterson, chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, made clear last week that he plans to vote NO on the pending climate bill, after signaling as much this spring.  Peterson's move comes after he extracted lucrative concessions in the bill for Big Ag -- concessions that were sold as crucial to securing agriculture's support for the legislation.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Last summer, EWG President Ken Cook dropped in on the Kickapoo Country Fair held by Organic Valley - a farmer-owned cooperative of more than 1,300 organic family farmers nationwide – in LaFarge, Wisc.  There he was interviewed by Dorothee Royal-Hedinger, the host, web video producer and blogger for OrganicNation.TV website.

Monday, January 11, 2010

The word hypocrisy gets tossed around a lot in Washington, where money and power masquerade as character and values. Rarely does the hypocrisy reach such craven heights, however, as a recent request from the leading ethanol trade group, Growth Energy.

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Friday, January 8, 2010

The Center For America Progress's Eric Alterman and Mickey Ehrlich have written an interesting piece on recent legislation and the impact that campaign contributions from well-funded special interests have had on the final shape of critical bills.

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