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The Latest from AgMag

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

It’s time to face facts: the biofuels mandate Congress established in 2005 is creating too much bad biofuel and not enough good biofuel. This year, that mandate requires American refiners to use 13.8 billion gallons of corn ethanol – more than they can actually blend into their gasoline. By contrast, fuel makers are expected to generate only a little more than 5 million gallons of non-food-based biofuels that could reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Many doubt whether the industry can hit this target.

Key Issues: 
Thursday, March 7, 2013

In recent years, millions of acres of America’s native grasslands have been plowed under to grow corn for ethanol to blend into gasoline. And new research is clearly pointing to the federal ethanol mandate as a main driver of this tsunami of land conversion in the Midwest.

Friday, March 1, 2013

If you’ve ever wondered how hunger and obesity manage to exist side by side, go see A Place at the Table, a powerful new documentary that unwinds the knotty problem of hunger in America. It opens nationwide today (March 1).

Key Issues: 
Monday, February 25, 2013

The South Dakota researchers, Christopher K. Wright and Michael C. Wimberley, focused on grassland conversion in areas close to wetlands in the Prairie Pothole Region – a critical Midwest flyway for migratory birds. They wrote that, “in South Dakota... 80% of grassland conversion is occurring within 500 m [meters] of neighboring wetlands.”

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

One of the better tools that conventional row crop farmers can use to increase the environmental health of their land is to plant “cover crops” of legumes and grasses. These help control erosion, sequester carbon, improve soil health, fight weeds, add nitrogen to the soil and make soil nutrients more available, reducing the need for chemical fertilizers.

Key Issues: 
Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Tomorrow, the Senate Committee on Agriculture will hold a hearing titled “Drought, Fire and Freeze: The Economic Disasters for America’s Agricultural Producers.”

Monday, February 4, 2013


By driving up the price of food and gas and causing costly engine damage, corn ethanol has been bad news for consumers. And by driving up the price of food, corn ethanol is also costing all of us money – by increasing the cost of federal programs like food stamps and school lunches.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Faster is better, right? So is it a good thing that it now takes only 59 days for an Iowa lake to undergo a change that once took 631 days? No. Not when we’re talking about how long it takes for a lake to fill up with mud.

Key Issues: 
Friday, January 18, 2013

In a recently posted blog titled Something’s Gotta Give, Marcia Zarley Taylor proves once again that she is one of the most cogent observers of crop insurance. Taylor is executive editor of the agriculture website DTN, and her post warns farmers that the once-sleepy crop insurance program is taking center stage as Congress starts over on the farm bill. She quickly explains why.

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Friday, January 18, 2013

I need to start by publicly apologizing for not engaging in the debate over genetically engineered crops, technically, genetically modified organisms or GMOs, until two years ago.

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Friday, January 11, 2013

Ethanol related stories for January 5-11, 2013

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Friday, December 21, 2012

House Speaker John Boehner made the right choice when he refused to include a trillion-dollar farm bill in legislation designed to avert the “fiscal cliff.”

Friday, December 21, 2012

Events that used to be called “acts of God” – but that we now realize are increasingly driven by human activity – became the most important environmental news stories of 2012 in the opinion of Environmental Working Group’s staff of scientists, analysts, lawyers, organizers and others. Topping their list was the devastating and ongoing drought that beset much of the United States. As a group, climate-related events – including superstorm Sandy – garnered more votes than any other topic.

Key Issues: 
Tuesday, December 11, 2012

EWG’s Scott Faber joined representatives of several fiscally conservative organizations in calling on Congress not to slip a full farm bill reauthorization into any legislative package they cobble together to avoid the imminent “fiscal cliff.”

Monday, December 10, 2012

Congressional leaders in search of a compromise to avoid plunging off the “fiscal cliff” are under growing pressure from the agriculture subsidy lobby and its friends in Congress to attach a subsidy-laden farm bill to legislation ostensibly designed to straighten out the nation’s finances.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Congressional leaders in search of a compromise to avert the “fiscal cliff” are under growing pressure from advocates for subsidized agriculture to attach a $1 trillion farm bill to legislation ostensibly designed to straighten out the nation’s finances.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

A New York Times headline this month (Nov, 13) read: “The Problem is Clear: The Water is Filthy.” It should have read: “The Problem is Clear: Agriculture Granted the Right to Make the Water Filthy.”

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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

It’s a new day for those who have felt poorly served by California’s chief food and agriculture agency.


Monday, November 19, 2012

Democrats in Iowa tried hard to turn Congress’ failure to pass a federal farm bill into a political liability for their Republican opponents. It didn’t work.

Friday, November 16, 2012

With the elections finally behind us, Congress has returned to Washington to try to wrap up a slew of unfinished business. Among other things, lawmakers are grappling with how to revive the expired farm bill, while at the same time they must somehow address the looming “fiscal cliff” of higher taxes and crippling budget cuts that could drive the economy back into recession.